Cleaning up the Mess in back of the shed

Created: August 31, 2015
Last Revised: April 19, 2020

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Satelite View of neglegted area behind shed
Here's a satelite view of the area behind an equipment storage building that had been stacked full of old rabbit cages and other miscellaneous stuff.
Brush had grown through the cages and trees with trunks up to a foot in diameter made the place great for wildlife, but impassable for humans.

Overgrowth before any cleanup 1 Overgrowth before any cleanup 2
Here are a couple of images of the mess from the ground. These two are before ANY cleanup.

Ground View of the mess 1 Ground view of the mess 2
Here we had already put many hours of work into cleanup before these two pictures were taken.

Once we got the cages separated from the trees, we had large brush fires every few days to try to get the metal out of the wood.
Next, we had to remove the stumps. I used my old Ford 4000 backhoe for this.
Here's the link to a video showing the removal of a couple of those stumps, with the smouldering brush pile in the background:
Removing a couple of stumps with the backhoe

Then we had to get rid of about 1000 rusted-out rabbit cage units.
Just stacking the blocks of 10 to 18 cage units onto the 20 foot trailer wasn't an option, since it's 20 mile one way to the recycling center so I decided we'd need to smash them first.
I had already used the backhoe for a lot of the land-clearing work and for removing stumps, so I thought I should be able handle and smash them by machine. I simply used the backside of the bucket to smash the cages:

So Then I built this simple, easy-to-remove "Thumb" for the backhoe to help me to handle the cages before and after they were crushed:
Thumb in Barn

Some Cages smashed and loaded, some waiting to be smashed Bavkhoe Thumb holding rabbit cage in bucket
Here, in the first picture,is what the cages looked like before and after being smashed. The second picture shows how the thumb-and-bucket grab a section of cages.

And here's a close-up of how the thumb pinches the material against the bucket. The "thumbnail" of the thumb is just a "T" shaped piece that slips into the thumb itself, with a setscrew retainer. That makes it easy to replace or to redesign if a different "end" is needed for another job. The whole thumb is held to the stick with four 5/8-11 bolts.

Here are a couple of pix of the area after the cage and brush, then stump removal had mostly been done.

Two years later, all grassy North-looking two years later
And here's what the area looks like a couple of years later, all covered in grass with more lawn to mow.