Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘drainage swale

Rain Ready

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It feels rather unusual to be saying we are ready for rain to fall after so many spring months through the years where we have battled managing too much rain. It could be because I finally built that footbridge over the drainage ravine that we have a dry spring. All our drainage swales are bone dry.

The exercise of mowing the grass yesterday was an exceptionally dusty one.

Our forecast paints a picture of soaking rain due to arrive later today and lasting through tomorrow. We could get up to two inches according to the weather folks. This morning will be a rush of completing as many outdoor chores as possible before confining ourselves indoors where Cyndie has plans to sew more masks. The face coverings have become a necessary accessory for being out and about in public spaces.

The inverted stump planter has a combination of geranium, lantana bandana, vinca vine, and potato vine installed and ready for watering. She transplanted some catmint from the labyrinth to surround the stump. They can spread out in the new location, where they were expanding problematically into the pathway in the labyrinth.

After felling all those trees under the two big oaks, one of which is in the background of the image above, we have two big stacks of wood to be converted to chips that Cyndie intends to use around all her new plantings. I may try to begin that process before lunch today, but from the looks of the sky already, I may run into a rain delay.

That won’t bother me at all.

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Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2020 at 8:28 am

Bridge Built

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It hasn’t started raining today yet, but precipitation is on the way. Knowing that, yesterday I made it a priority to finish the bridge I started a week ago. I wanted to get it done while the weather was nice. I’ll let the pictures tell most of the story:

Once the frame was complete, I used the cut pieces (previously employed as shims to level joists during assembly) for reducing friction when I single-handedly dragged the base across the gorge. It was heavy!

For now, there will be a step up onto the deck, but at some point in the near future, I plan to dig down so the ends will be at ground level so the lawn tractor can roll smoothly up and over.

I wonder how heavy it is now.

If we get too much water flowing, the whole thing will get pushed out of position. However, if that happens, we will have other flood-related problems to deal with that will make the shifted bridge a minor concern.

I’m going to bank on the likelihood that’s not gonna happen.

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Written by johnwhays

March 28, 2020 at 9:23 am

Working Alone

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My high hope of building a footbridge in a single weekend fell victim to my need to accomplish all the tasks without a helper and also my being the sole entertainer for Delilah’s high-energy needs.

Add in the less-than-ideal windy and cold spring weather, plus the limitations of the batteries for my cordless circular saw, and my inability to finish by the end of the day yesterday was not all that surprising.

I resorted to two different solutions for supporting the long boards that I cut. That treated lumber is really heavy compared to the remnants of the old cedar deck boards I’m using for bracing.

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The pallets had a tendency to collapse, so I switched up to plan B on the second day: old moldy hay bales. That provided welcome consistency.

Because the bridge will end up being very heavy, I decided to build the frame right next to the washout I’m covering and then drag it into position.

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I was able to haul the boards down by the fence and begin to screw some of the cross-supports into position but quit when the time had passed for Delilah’s dinner. I’ll leave the finishing until next weekend.

Trying to screw the pieces together square and true proved challenging on the uneven ground. I want to give that the time and attention necessary to get everything precisely the way I want it. Then I plan to move it into position before screwing down the floorboards.

I’m not sure I’d be able to lift it if I waited until it was completely built. I mean, not without someone with a strong back to help me.

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Written by johnwhays

March 23, 2020 at 6:00 am

Pandemic Loneliness

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It is hard to predict what the situation will be 10-days from today but based on comparison with geographic locations where the coronavirus outbreak is that far ahead of here, it seems that people who don’t feel sick now may have symptoms by then. That really does make it feel strange to carry on with life as usual.

Sure, the odds go down if you only expose yourself to a handful of people every day, but what good does that limitation do if one of those people have the virus and don’t know it? So, the safest bet is to stay home entirely. All by myself.

It feels a little apocalyptic.

I’m going to build a bridge.

While Cyndie is hunkered down with her parents in Florida, I’m alone to pick eggs and walk the dog. Between tending to animals, I’m going to try solo construction and use leftover deck lumber to make a bridge over the eroding drainage swale. It will take some ingenuity to manipulate 16-foot boards into the chop saw all on my own, but I think I can figure something out.

The muddy effort we put in to re-establish the concerted flow of the drainage swale across our land appears to have paid off.

That provided motivation to get on with this bridge project sooner than later. Actually, I have a little extra time before the primary need arrives. During the growing season, I cut the grass along the strip just beyond the pasture fence to maintain a walking path, and the erosion blocked my ability to drive the lawn tractor beyond that point. The bridge is a solution to that barrier.

I won’t need to mow for a few weeks yet. Look at how little in the way of green growth there is to be found in our current landscape.

That will change real soon.

A lot like the looming intensity of a certain virus outbreak underway.

I wonder what our landscape will look like in 10-days.

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Makin’ Mud

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When the snow disappeared from the ground in our hayfield, the ruts from the tractor that had picked up the round bails during winter became clearly visible. Those tire tracks weren’t a concern for me until I could see the drainage swale water was following them instead of flowing straight in the direction we want.

Then I had an “aha moment.”

If the water was following tire tracks, I just needed to make some new tracks.

I decided to try using the ATV. Knowing it wasn’t as heavy as a big tractor, I accepted the chance it might not make the impressions I wanted, but it was safer than bringing out the diesel and getting it stuck in the mud. The surface is already too soft to be in the field with the big tractor.

With the plow blade still on the front, I added cement pavers to the basket on the back for added weight and headed into the field. Back and forth I drove, working to re-establish the track we want the water to follow.

The ATV, plow blade, and I got splattered with mud, even though the path was grass-covered, but I think I succeeded in creating a new preferred route to the curving ruts left by the hay bale tractor.

Now we just wait for the next dose of precipitation to see it work.

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Written by johnwhays

March 16, 2020 at 6:00 am

Few Views

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Here are some more views captured during our walk last weekend in the bright sunshine while the snow was melting fast and the water was flowing freely…

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Written by johnwhays

March 11, 2020 at 6:00 am

Runoff’s Flowin’

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The impact of 50°(F) March temperatures was obvious yesterday and not unexpected. Our drainage swales were flowing with zeal in stark contrast to just 24 hours prior.

Where it doesn’t flow away, it puddles up and can even hide just below a cover of old snow.

I thought stepping in deep snow-cone snow was risky, but it’s nothing compared to plopping a boot into a puddle of melted snow that rises over the top.

Green growth and leaf buds can’t be far behind!

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Written by johnwhays

March 8, 2020 at 10:23 am

Early Worms

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The saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. The ground has barely thawed, but the chickens made a mad dash out of the coop this morning to scour the sloppy paddock for something. Are the worms already out and about?

I peeked out from under the overhang to see how wet it was because the sound of the rain on the metal roof of the barn made it sound like it was pouring.

The land is already saturated by the spring thaw, so, even though this April shower slowly moving across our region has been gentle, it has triggered some substantial flow in all the drainage swales. Water, water everywhere.

It always causes me to think about the people down stream, on the rivers being fed by countless other drainage tributaries. Sorry, you guys.

Maybe all the water will carry some worms for your chickens to find.

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Written by johnwhays

April 6, 2019 at 8:45 am

Flowing Water

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Our drainage swales are finally flowing!

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The largest ditch along our southern border was a babbling brook yesterday.

Eventually, the ditch narrows and meanders away from our property, wandering its way through our neighbor’s cow pasture.

The snow is leaving, and it will travel to rivers that travel to the Mississippi that flows to the Gulf of Mexico.

B’ bye.

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Written by johnwhays

March 29, 2018 at 6:00 am

Triple Fenced

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The heat and humidity have broken and it finally feels a little more like September now. We were expecting the transition to involve a lot more rain than showed up yesterday. The line of precipitation slowly moving west is doing so at an angle that is sliding from the southwest to the northeast and for some reason, most of the rain moved around, rather than over our region.

Ironically, now I am wishing we would actually receive a heavy dose of rain, because last Friday we put a lot of energy into shoring up the silt fence at the property line adjacent to our neighbor’s corn field. In fact, we turned it into a bit of a terrace with three-tiered layers of silt fence.

The first two are short sections to slow the flow before it reaches our long fence. Between the top two sections there is the skeleton frame for a berm, in the form of piled dead pine trees. The soil runoff will accumulate around the branches and hold them in place. Eventually, weeds and grasses will grow through the branches and that forms a nice natural barrier that will hold soil in place but allow water to flow.

We have added support to the fabric fence by using old hay bales that we can’t feed to the horses because they have gotten moldy.

If I am able, I hope to trek out there in the middle of heavy rain to observe the action as it happens. At the very least, I now know that we need to check it after every big rainfall and remove excess soil if it accumulates.

I don’t know why I originally assumed the soil fence wouldn’t need regular maintenance, but after the soil conservation consultant pointed it out so very matter-of-factly, digging out accumulation makes total sense to me now.

If our enhancements work to mitigate the mud overflow messing up that area, we will be one step closer to being able to enjoy a good cloudburst when it happens. There still remains a problem in the paddocks, where a terrace or silt fence is not an option.

We plan to do some digging to create a couple of better defined routes directing runoff straight to the drainage swale beyond the wood fence, hoping to reduce the amount of flow traveling to one spot with energy that washes away our precious lime screenings and creates a deep canyon of a rill.

It’s fine if a little flow goes that way, but it is currently a problem because most all of the flow is combining to rush sideways along the fence, instead of straight under it out of the paddock.

The trick in the paddocks is, our solution needs to be horse-proof. Their heavy hooves have a way of disrupting all of the simple spade-width channels I’ve created in the past, causing runoff to flow every which way, and ultimately not where we really want it to go.

The next version we have in mind will be scaled up. Maybe I should triple-size it.

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Written by johnwhays

September 26, 2017 at 6:00 am