A farmstead owner's work is never done

The list of projects my husband, Brian, and I want to do on our farmstead far exceeds the time we have to do them, so we have to prioritize. Over the July Fourth weekend, pulling out trees from the pasture fence line was at the top of the list.

corn planter
After Ann Bailey and her husband, Brian Gregoire, pulled out trees, they moved old equipment like this corn planter, so he could mow the area.
Ann Bailey / Agweek
We are part of The Trust Project.

My husband, Brian, and I tackle outdoor projects at our farm, similar to the schedule my parents followed on the farm where I grew up, when there are snippets of “down time.”

For my parents, who were farmers, the small windows of project time were after a rain that kept my dad out of the field, in between spraying and haying, which usually was around the Fourth of July, and after harvest.

Brian and I have full-time off-the-farm jobs, so we sandwich in our projects late in the evening, on weekends and on holidays.

The list of projects we want to do on our farmstead far exceeds the time we have to do them, so we prioritize them. Over the July Fourth weekend, pulling out trees from the pasture fence line was at the top of the list.

Fertile soil and plentiful moisture make our farmstead an ideal growing ground for trees. That’s a blessing when young ones take root in the tree grove that surrounds our farm, replacing the old trees that have fallen down. However when the saplings shoot up along the fence line, crowding the posts and breaking the wire, we wage war.


When the trees are little and have slender trunks, we use clippers to cut them as low to the ground as possible. After a few years when the trees’ circumferences have expanded, we get out our 3010 John Deere tractor and some sturdy chains and pull out the trees.

My initial plan over the long Fourth of July weekend, was to pull out all of the trees along the fence lines of two pastures, starting with the outside corner where they adjoin. But when we started to work in the corner, I quickly realized there were a lot more trees there than I had thought. Hook and pull, hook and pull … and still there were more trees.

After the third hour on the job, I thought about a saying my dad had during our rock picking projects, about every rock having a brother, and decided that mine would be that every tree has a sister.

When we finally had every tree pulled out of that corner, I wasn’t quite done, though, because during the project, I had noticed that some of the machinery that we had parked in the corner was barely visible because of the tall grass that had grown up through and around. it I asked Brian if we could hitch up a hay trailer and the antique equipment, which included a couple of potato planters, a corn planter and a hitch of some sort that was connected to iron wheels, and pull it out so he could mow the area.

A fence
Ann Bailey and her husband, Brian Gregoire, pulled out trees from a fence line.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

The project, like the tree pulling, was more involved than it looked. Some of the hitches, for example, wouldn’t match up with the tractor hitch, so we had to drag out the chains again and wrap them around the machinery to pull it out of the grass.

I was careful during the machinery moving, as I had been during the tree pulling, to stay well out of the way during the process, because I didn’t want to chance getting hit if the chain snapped. Nor did I want to get hit by a tree or piece of equipment that was dragging across the grass.

An antique potato planter is parked in grass.
Ann Bailey and her husband, Brian Gregoire, pulled an antique potato planter out of the grass with a chain hooked to a tractor.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

Despite my caution, I did sustain a relatively minor injury when I gave the hay trailer hitch a mighty pull to loosen it from the tractor hitch, lost hold of it, and dropped it on my second left toe.

I thought about taking my shoe off to examine the damage, but decided against it because we were close to being done with projects. Besides, I reasoned, nothing can be done for broken toes, anyway.


After Brian mowed the area, I helped him hook up chains to the machinery again, and he pulled it back in place and we called it a day.

The corner of the corral fences looks neat and tidy now, which makes me happy to see when I drive by it on the lawn mower.

By the time we have time to finish pulling out trees along the fenceline, I should be "toetally" fine and ready to tackle that project, and the next, and the next…

Ann Bailey lives on a farmstead near Larimore, N.D., that has been in her family since 1911. You can reach her at 218-779-8093 or

Related Topics: RURAL LIFE
Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
What to read next
"After a couple of years of celebrating apart because of the pandemic, and also for having just lived through another rancorous national election, we all could use the joy and hope and anticipation that is promised us in Christmas, in the birth of a mighty little king born in a manger."
Katie Pinke looks at the positive impact of 4-H on youth.
Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - November 24, 2022
This week's Nonfiction November feature is "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer.