Great story, thanks for sharing! Fun read.

I was also stubborn about clearing out roughly 5 acres of heavy brush, many <10" diam ash trees, and lots of Virginia creeper and grape vines, my nemesis. I could not get a leg up on the brush without the right machinery. It was just too much work. It did allow me to eat anything I wanted and drink craft beer with impunity. I was making nice dents in parts of it, but other parts got so thick, I couldn't even get through it.

Fast forward: I finally purchased a nice 50HP Bobcat compact tractor with the FEL. Suddenly I started making amazing progress and got the first acre cleared in a couple weekends. Right up until a sumac stump popped up under the engine cover and smashed in the oil filter. The odd side-effect of that was 2 weeks of inoperable head-scratching. Turned out it was nothing more than a blown fuse, but the last thing in the world I would have expected. Just a lot of sweating that it blew something critical and serious.

A week later after changing the fuse, I was letting my kid give it a shot. He was being very very careful about using the tractor, just a nibble at a time. I let him go for a while until I got frustrated. I swapped places with him to show him "how its done!" 5 minutes later, I ran over another sumac stump, it sprung back up and it went up into the engine compartment. It promptly dismembered the radiator fan and poked a small hole in the aluminum radiator.

So after 8 weeks of waiting for a new radiator and fan due to parts shortages, and spending ~$1500 for a fix, I stopped being stubborn and hired out an operator of a skid-steer with a forestry mulcher to get 'er done. Cost me less than the radiator repair, and got the entire area cleared in 8 hours. It wasn't nearly as much fun for me though. Next time I am renting the mulcher and running it myself. I will probably have trouble getting the s*&t eating grin off my face though!

If things go well I may get another 8 acres of swampy land in dire need of new vernal pools for skeeter control annexed to my property this spring. *crosses-fingers* and then I will have another project very similar to yours other than starting right off with a mulcher.