Building Cheap Temporary All Weather Farm Roads

Posted on: July 16th, 2016 by

Kirksville's Giant Mulch Pile

Kirksville’s Giant Mulch Pile

On many forums I have ran across people discussing roads and how expensive they can be to build and maintain on farms. While the way I handle this problem might not be perfect for everyone’s situation I bet some will find it useful. If you have more time than money you may find this solution useful. It is also ideal for temporary roads and as a way to fix ruts in fields.



In my area as is common throughout Missouri most cities have free mulch composed of wood chips. In many cities they will even load you for free. This is a great resource that I have utilized for everything from making trails through the woods and gardening to a wood chip access road to my big field. Just in my area the cities of Macon, Kirksville, Moberly, Mexico and Columbia offer free wood chip mulch. I am sure there are even more cities offering this resource in the area but these are the cities I have gotten mulch from.

My Bevier Driveway Almost Completed

My Bevier Driveway Almost Completed

I have used a blade on the back end of my Ford 8N to carve a driveway on my Bevier property. Adding a bucket on the back would have made the job even easier. While not as fast as a dozer or bigger tractor the rig costs well under $2000 and gets the job done. It is often better to spend time than money. Once you have a roughed in road all you need is some topping to prevent erosion and provide an all weather surface to drive on.

By covering a dirt trail in gravel/mulch or other materials you are preventing it from turning into a rutted eroded mess in wet weather. For most country access roads this is accomplished by gravel, but you might get sticker shock on the price. Even a short road can require hundreds of dollars in gravel. Luckily this is where a local free resource can be used.

Big Field Access Road Under Construction

Big Field Access Road Under Construction

To get this job done I use mulch. while not a permanent solution it can last up to two years and is very inexpensive. I was out time and fuel costs to build a quarter mile access road up to my big field. This road cuts through the middle of my property and runs across the big pond dam. Before I started this road was not usable by my small truck. There were ruts and mud holes that would easily stick my little truck. The pictures here are the second time covering it with mulch.

LFF Dumping The Mulch, Building A Road

I have used this method for years. It will eventually break down and turn into dirt but in the meantime it allows you to have all weather travel. Anytime a mud puddle or ditch will start to develop I fill it in with more mulch. This keeps my access lane nice and usable. During the growing season grass can grow up through the mulch and will help to stabilize the area. The hardest use of the road is during winter when I have to haul hay everyday to the cattle. Winter weather is often wet here, and things can get very muddy. The mulch road allows me to get this job done without digging ruts all the way to the cattle.

Mulch Road

Mulch Road

To build my road I asked permission to bring my loader down to the city yard in Macon. The Macon mulch pile is a mere five miles from my farm. Macon is the closest free mulch, but they don’t load it for you. During the winter of 2013-2014 I covered the worst areas of this access road using only a pitch fork and my Mazda truck. I would get a load everyday when I dropped my son off at daycare in town. This time I utilized bigger equipment, a loader, tractor and dump trailer.

LFF Getting The Mulch

Even in the wettest winter weather this access road has been usable. The worst areas just get an extra layer of mulch. When we first bought this farm the access road was rutted terribly by tractor traffic. By filling in the ruts with mulch I have turned this road into a serviceable and flat road. Maybe some day I will put gravel down, but so far this approach has saved me a lot of money.

LFF Building a Mulch Road

LFF Building a Mulch Road





Farm Updates:

 After trying many different breeds of chickens and other poultry we have slimmed down. It started last year as we pared down to three breeds of quail, two breeds of duck, Embden Geese, Two types of Guineas and six breeds of chicken. By the middle of this year we are down to four breeds of chicken and Muscovy ducks.

The geese had pooped on the porch for the last time, I hope to have them again, but with better fencing to keep them away from my house. Geese are awesome, they can sustain themselves on good pasture. They do have some drawbacks though. During breeding season my son was afraid to go outside because they were aggressive towards him. We tried to train them, but they refused to respect the kids or the concrete and we decided to sell them.

We suffered a major disaster as a suspected mink or opossum wiped out 20 quail in one night. It was a bloodbath and not something I had experienced before. I thought the small 1/4″x1/2″ wire provided protection, unfortunately the real protection was our dog who in his old age isn’t much help anymore. We also think the geese did a good bit of guard duty. The disaster continued when they attacked another cage we thought was even safer as it was higher off the ground.

Our losses made sustaining the quail program unfeasible. The survivors were sold at auction and we will not keep quail until we have an electrified perimeter or a better guard dog. The culprits are not getting off the hook though as it is war. With the use of a driveway alarm set under the cage we are alerted in the house when motion under the cage triggers the sensor, not as good as a dog but lead does solve the immediate problem. We also started using traps by the cages to get the perps.

On a good note our Dexter’s have added Five more to there numbers with more on the way. So far we have 3 bull calves and 2 heifer calves. Arod seems to throw a lot of bull calves. Our little herd is now numbers 28 head.

LFF Dexter Heifer Calf Lewis' Naomi #29

Heifer Calf #29 Lewis’ Naomi

Bull Calf Nero #26

Bull Calf Nero #26

Bull Calf Nigel #27

Bull Calf Nigel #27

2 Responses to Building Cheap Temporary All Weather Farm Roads

  1. Becky had this to say about that:

    Thank you for this idea of mulch to stabilize the surface of a road. We also need to make some roads and trails and have been balking at the idea of the expense.

    I got two bull calves this spring from my Dexters, they’re adorable at the moment; they will be dinner in due time.

    Which breeds of chickens did you decide to keep? I had this great plan to have chickens for eggs and meat, but I’m realizing that a true dual purpose bird may not exist. My chickens take FOREVER to get up to size and then they’re tough. :( I’ve got some ducks and guineas and they’re reproducing like rabbits though, so maybe we eat them.

    Take care,


    • JL had this to say about that:

      The expense and permanence of a gravel road is what got me to use the mulch. It does take a lot of work, but sometimes you have more time than money.

      I have never raised Cornish x, so the only experience I have with chickens is the dual purpose heritage breeds and a few of the production egg laying breeds. That said my chickens provide good meat and eggs, I am sure they don’t have as much meat on their frame as a true meat bird but the cost is lower as they feed themselves to a certain extent. Everything is always a balance of goals time and money.

      We have really decreased the different breeds of chickens we are keeping. Due to the profit potential we have decided to start keeping rare and in demand breeds like the Ayam Cemani. Currently we keep Lewis Mixes, Ayam Cemani, Black Jersey Giants and Easter Eggers. This is paired way down from the 10-15 different breeds of poultry we normally keep. We also have Muscovy ducks but they are slated for elimination.