ALBERT LEA, Minn. – A surprise snowstorm halted a winter project the Rubles were trying to get done. This spring, they plan to put up new fence around their new pasture, but portions of the woods on their property must be cleared to make way.
“We are just kind of hunkered down trying to keep warm,” said Doug Ruble during a recent phone interview.
“Last time we talked, it was 40 degrees out, now it's stinking negative 20,” added his son Grady, who is in South Dakota.
A few weeks ago, when there was barely any snow on the ground, the Rubles hired an excavator to clear away trees that are in the path of the planned fence line. They knocked down about 60 trees of various sizes.
The tool the excavator used actually cut the trees off at the root underground and then pushed them over. That meant there were no stumps to deal with.
“Where the big trees were, there is a bit of a crater, but it is not a humongous hole,” said Grady.
A path of about 10-15 feet from the proposed fence line was cleared.
“That way we don't have branches falling on a new fence, it is amazing how those fence lines just continue to grow up,” said Doug. “That would be a continual battle for us keeping that woods pushed back.”
Over the years, the woods on their property has slowly been expanding out into the fields. By clearing a way for the fence line, they are really reclaiming land from the woods.
At least with the stumps removed and the roots severed, the trees won’t be able to regrow in the same locations.
The plan is now to go out and cut the tops of the trees off. The straight trunks will be cut up for firewood and the smaller branches will be added to a burn pile.
Unfortunately, on Friday, Jan. 18, about 11 inches of snow fell in Albert Lea. A few days later, another four to six inches fell and then the wind picked up, blowing it around.
“It is going to be tough for any of us to get out and play lumberjack,” Doug said
In addition to clearing a path for the fence, there is also a plan to thin out the trees in wooded pasture.
“We are going to try and open that up, get a little more sun to the floor of the woods and get some more grass seeded in there,” he said.
With cows due to calve in the coming weeks, the cold weather and snow also makes that a more challenging task. Constant vigilance will be key to keep the calves healthy.
“Get the calf dried off as quick as we can, warmed up and try to make sure the ears are good and dry,” he said. “We frosted one last year, it's amazing cause it didn't even seem that cold that day.”
The Rubles have a three-sided structure that they will bring the expectant mothers into. It keeps them out of the snow and, with fresh bedding inside, gives them a dry place to have their calves.
PS 0201 Ruble Cattle.jpeg: Ruble cattle.