Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘ditch

Extreme Pruning

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I understand that there is a significant road right-of-way distance that the township is responsible for managing, but I didn’t think our low-traffic rural road warranted clearance as wide as a county road. Had I known they were going to do such extreme pruning to our road this summer, I wouldn’t have wasted a good part of a day doing a quaint version of the job myself this spring.

Back sometime in May I suppose it was, I had taken the pole-saw to the trees after a close call on my bike. When rolling down our driveway, I couldn’t see if there was anyone coming from up the hill until just as I reached the road. It didn’t allow time for a calm stop, if you know what I mean.

On Thursday afternoon, I started mowing the grass and came upon a very strange item obstructing my progress along our driveway. As I was picking it up, I saw Jackie driving in and I held up the shredded shrapnel of a leg-sized tree for her to see and gave a quizzical expression of “What the heck?”

She rolled down her window and told me there had been some serious work done along the road because there were pieces of trees all over our trail.

It surprised me a little, because they had already come by relatively recently to cut the weeds down like they do every year.

This time was different. For the first time since we’ve lived here, they came by with some monster machine that eats trees and spits the pieces out hundreds of feet away.

I would have loved to have been around to see the spectacle, except I don’t think there is a safe distance from which you could view it, based on the size of scary chunks of tree pieces that are now strewn surprisingly long distances away from the scene of the carnage.

They left the cottonwood trees, though. For now, anyway.

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I wouldn’t be surprised to discover they left them only because the size of those trees would require different equipment.

I’m a little sad that the “efficiency” of using a machine that chews up anything it touches ends up leaving so many shredded half-trees and tangles of branches. The front of our property looks like an advertisement for disarray and neglect.

I want to go cut this poor remnant to the ground.

Or, I suppose I could make a flat cut at the top and balance a stone on it, for accent.

It looks like they left rabbit ears on it. Maybe I should carve a bunny face.

If I could reach as high as their machine, I’d cut off the 18-inch shredded limb stumps on the side of the cottonwoods, the way a proper branch pruning is supposed to be done for a healthy tree.

Maybe their not doing so is a clue about the future of those cottonwoods.

Time will tell.

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Written by johnwhays

July 28, 2018 at 9:50 am

Shaping Terrain

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dscn5371eDespite the sprinkling rain that pestered most of the day yesterday, I decided to try moving some dirt and turf from the drainage ditch along our southern property line to the adjacent sloped path.

When the new fence was installed and the drainage ditch improved, there wasn’t much width remaining beside a little bend in the fence. It was an impediment to being able to use the tractor to mow that section of path around the outside of the hay-field fence.

Originally, I envisioned using the loader on the tractor to dig out the sediment that has been accumulating in the ditch, but it hasn’t been dry enough to do that for months.

Since I was already working along that fence line this weekend, I decided to see what I could accomplish using a shovel to dig it out by hand. It was a little messy, and a bit tedious, but it was probably a better method for then using the material removed to improve the path.

Using blocks of dirt and turf that I could barely lift with the shovel, I built up the low side until it was wide enough to fit at least the lawn tractor, for now. Might be dicey fitting the diesel around that bend.

The strip around the fence only received infrequent attention and would grow tall and thick, so I had been mowing navigable portions with the brush cutter. Now that I will be able to drive the lawn tractor around, it will be convenient enough that I can keep it cut short all the time.

Well, as short at the rest of the lawn, which all grows so fast that short is a relative term.

With that little narrow bend of path fixed, there was only one other barrier remaining to allow driving the full circumference of our horse-fenced fields. Back in the corner by the woods there is an old ravine that was created by years of water runoff. Previous owners had dumped a lot of old broken up concrete in it to slow the erosion.

We have created a better defined intentional swale a short distance above that directing the bulk of energized flow into the main drainage ditch. It crossed my mind to fill in the ravine, but some water still wants to follow the ease of that natural route and I’d rather not fight it.dscn5373e

Simple solution: a bridge. For now, nothing fancy. I used a few left over fence posts and then broke down and actually purchased additional lumber to make it wide enough to drive across.

I placed them across the washout yesterday in the rain, leaving the task of cutting a notch in the dirt on each side to level them for today.

Then I will be driving to the airport to pick up George and Anneliese. I’ve come to the end of my solo weekend on the ranch. They are going to return the favor of airport transport after midnight tonight when Cyndie arrives home from Guatemala, so I can get some sleep before the start of my work week.

I’m looking forward to having everyone home again.

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Written by johnwhays

October 30, 2016 at 9:15 am

Rockin’ Now

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I rescheduled a planned work day at the old job in order to be home Monday morning for the confluence of both landscaper and fence contractor arriving to work on our long-awaited projects. As Cyndie headed out the door for her work, I made some passing comment about my high anticipation, and the number of other mornings I had suffered disappointment for similar expectations.

After rising promptly to eat an early breakfast, and getting outside for chores that would make me conveniently available to greet the crews, I received a call from my fence guy. They were hit by a few “Monday issues” that would delay their arrival a day. Why was I not surprised?

DSCN2472eLuckily, the landscape crew arrived and saved my day from being a bust. They started quickly and had the ditch created so fast that I thought the project was going to be a cinch. Then, the process of adjusting the slope of the ditch, with a laser as reference, slowed things considerably.

It didn’t help that the end they needed to make deeper was through thick clay soil, which made for very difficult digging. The upper part of the run involves an easily visible drop, but the lower portion levels out. That created something of a challenge for them to achieve an evenly descending slope.

When the drain tube was finally dropped into the channel and covered with pea gravel, I felt a sudden urge for more rain, so we could see how well it works.

Boy, if that isn’t an unlikely thing for me to be writing… an urge for more rain.

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Written by johnwhays

October 7, 2014 at 6:00 am

Big Day

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IMG_0244eLately, every day seems to be a big day around here, but yesterday was bigger than most. We had excavators and fence installers working at the same time at two different locations on the property.

A ditch was dug to lay in a water line and an electrical wire to supply an on-demand water station between the two paddocks, which will be heated to keep from freezing. They need to move a lot of dirt, to get below the frost line, and to make a ditch wide enough to be safe for a person down in it. It was a fascinating process to watch.

The backhoe is like a toy. I can see why there are “big machine” camps where adults can go to “play” with them.

The man running this one was a real artist. After they finished with the water installation, he drove around behind the barn and shaped the ridge beside our new driving lane. Then he moved out to the fields where he buried what remained of our two brush piles.

IMG_0034eThey worked non-stop till after 6 p.m., pausing only briefly for lunch.

Now that the work requiring the backhoe is complete, they can finish the fence around the paddock.

If we don’t pay attention, these paddocks will be ready for horses, and we won’t have yet prepared to bring some on. We’ve been waiting so long – since we moved in last October, really – it would be a shame to have not prepared in advance for the moment we’ve dreamed of for a long time.

After all that waiting, it suddenly feels like things are moving real fast.

That’s good, but also, a little scary.

Written by johnwhays

July 25, 2013 at 7:00 am

Posted in Wintervale Ranch

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