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Mid America Buckskinners Info Page
Stories

The Brushpile


Missouri Iowa Nebraska Kansas
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No, it's not skinning bucks............ Developed and maintained by JP Finn





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I have a brushpile in my back yard. We bought the place in the late summer of '95 and worked on the house until the late fall, when we moved in. It had been empty for some time before we bought it. There are several walnut trees, four pear trees, two mulbery trees, an elm with an 8' diameter trunk and assorted ornamentals. Shortly after we moved in, I pruned them and started the brushpile. Three of the pear trees were more than half dead. One was cut down leaving two suckers that were about 1-1/2" in diameter starting at the first fork, so I believed they were not from the rootstock and would have good pears. The main limbs past the fork were 6" and 8" diameter and dead. Between the tree, brush and vine prunings, I had a pile about 8' wide by 12' long and 5' high. I had plans to use the wood for smoking meat, so I tried to keep as much off the ground as I could. A couple rotten fence posts were on the ground and the rest was piled on, alternating direction as each layer was tossed on. I wanted lots of air flow through the pile so it would dry instead of rot.
As winter set in, and the time for smoking wood was reached, I wandered out to the brushpile to collect some. I discovered that my pile had become home for a rabbit family, and several dozen "little brown drab birds". The wood was gathered from another dead pear tree that I had left standing.
Over last summer the grass grew up in and around the pile, more prunings were tossed on so the shrinkage was replaced. More brush and vines were tossed on to make it a little more waterproof.
It snowed here last week and I was in the "back 40" (half acre) the next day. I noticed rabbit tracks and where the birds had scratched under the low trees and the bird feeder. Squirrels had been digging buried walnuts. A cat had wandered through the backyard. I saw where a hawk (?) had caught a mouse, complete with a wing featherprint in the snow where he had grabbed the mouse. I checked the brushpile and was amazed at the traffic around it. It has become an wildlife apartment building in the suburbs.
I set out feed for the critters in the winter; birdseed , several ears of corn, suet and such. (Mice eat the seed that hits the ground, I see) More importantly, I set out water. Finding drinkable water after several days with the highs in the teens can become a real problem. Set in the ground with about 1" of the sides above ground, next to the detached garage is a old metal pan. It may have been an oil changing pan way back when. It's about 3' in diameter and 6" deep. A heat strip is wrapped around it (underground) and plugged in when the temps are predicted to remain below freezing for a couple days. It has a constant series of visitors, both from the resident critters and those that come from somewhere else. I have to refill it every other day in the winter, to keep it half full or better.
What's the moral of these ramblings? Make a brush pile in a corner of the back yard, plant vines to cover it up (gourds were on mine last summer) so the neighbors won't complain, put out a little food and make sure there is water and you will have a constant source of entertainment for your viewing pleasure. Beats most of what I see on TV, anyway.

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If you want to plaver, do so. Hey, jp!