Brambles again

We live in the woods and it can be pretty dark. So about 7 years ago we took out a bunch of hemlocks to the south of our home. Since then we have also taken out a big Oak that was leaning over our house and a few other trees. We have a lot more light now, which my wife loves, but naturally, with the light, a lot of brambles grew up in the newly brightened areas. We have a lot of wonderful ferns growing densely around this area, but sadly that's not what moved in to the opened up areas. I'm willing to mow and have a grassy knoll instead of a brambly one, but that's not feasible until I can clear out the brambles, large rocks, tree stumps and scattered logs that are currently there . It would have been much easier to tackle this when the trees were freshly cut and there were no brambles, but hindsight is 20/20 and I'm stuck with the situation I have now. Young saplings are now starting to grow up amidst the brambles.
I keep putting this task off because of time and expense and it keeps getting worse. So I'm trying to figure out the best way to clean this area up and make it into an area that we can enjoy. I'd say it's about 1/3 acre of land that I want to pretty up. It's not just brambles, but dotted with deciduous trees that I want to preserve.
I've considered clearing it slowly with a manual tool like a ditch- bank blade. That appeals to me in concept, but my back's not great and I would surely end up in traction before I even made a dent. Same problem and more with any type of hand-held brush cutter resembling a weed-whacker with a saw blade.
I've considered renting a walk-behind brush mower, but I think the stumps/logs/large rocks would pose problems.
And anyway, those solutions would not leave me with smooth mowable ground. I think I really need to clear out the stumps and the rest of the detritus at the same time and end up with a mostly smooth surface that I can then mow or otherwise keep in order so that it doesn't get overgrown. Which moves me into the realm of more heavy machinery.
I need some advice on how to tackle this job - or if it's best to hire it out, what kind of person should I be looking for? Whenever I've searched for "landscaper" they seem to be nothing more than glorified mowers and are not capable of doing any earth moving. I like the idea of renting and using some heavy equipment, but I'm guessing that no place would rent and deliver the necessary equipment that I would likely need (whatever that might be) to a novice like me.
A brute force approach would probably be easiest, but I really want to make sure that I don't injure any of the trees that we have purposefully left - so some finesse will be required.
Please... how can I get this done? If I end up hiring someone, what might I expect to pay? I live in Central NY, close to Ithaca.
Also, would there be a preferred time of year to tackle this job?
Thanks.
-J
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Try <rec.gardens> Lots of savvy people there.
HB
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JJ wrote the following:

You would need a heavy equipment company or operator. A back hoe might do the job.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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Right now is the best time, a lot of teenagers have been unable to get summer jobs and you are offering work. Contact your local schools and find out how they say to let the teenagers know you have work to be done. An adv in the local paper is another possibility, or you might even get a free mention if you contact someone at the paper and say you are looking to hire some teenagers for a few weeks.
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As noted by another, a backhoe could likely do the job, and it wouldn't take very long either. You would just want to mark the trees/saplings that you want to save, and make it clear that these should not be destroyed.
A small dozer would also do the job, but is probably overkill. Call an equipment company and tell them you want an estimate and when they come, ask them about a backhoe. One advantage of a backhoe over a dozer is that with the front bucket, the operator can scoop up debris as he goes, and put the debris in piles so they can be burned. Also, a backhoe on wheels (most common) causes less damage (roughing) of the land.
James
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JJ wrote:

Look for... land clearing bush hogging site preparation tractor work et cetera someone with a tractor and blade. _________________________

Of course they would, all sorts of equipment rental places, but you'd be time & money ahead by hiring it done. _________________

Doesn't really matter but if it were here in central Florida I'd be having it done in the rainy season so I could burn the trash.
--

dadiOH
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Get some sheep or goats. The property will be bare in a month or so.
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Thanks for the replies. I've thought seriously about goats (and still am) - but then I've got to worry about setting up fencing to keep the goats in. Also they won't take care of the stumps and other large items.
I figured that a backhoe or excavator would be good for digging up stumps and moving stuff, but I wasn't sure if it would then be able to smooth out the ground after digging up and moving any debris. I also wasn't sure how it would work at clearing the brambles - something I figured a small dozer (or something with a blade) would be perfect for.
I've found some local outfits that seem like they have the equipment to do what I want, so I'll ask for some quotes.
As for hiring teenagers, it's a good idea in principle, but too much opportunity for injury resulting in an insurance nightmare.
I'm also not sure what to do about the resulting debris. I'd be worried about piling the stuff up and burning after a year. We're not in a real danger zone for forest fires, but we are still in a forest.
Thanks.
-J
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Push it off the edge of the property and let it rot.
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