Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘natural berm

Snow Coming

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I’m usually grateful to have advanced notice of coming weather, but sometimes I don’t like knowing we are about to receive large amounts of heavy, wet snow in April.

The snow is predicted to come in a narrow band, so it could shift a little, but we are located perilously close to the highest risk of seeing 6 or more inches of snowfall. Look to the right of the letter “e” in the word Moderate, just above Red Wing. Oh, joy.

I spent yesterday tinkering with the slowly developing berm we are constructing at the edge of our property where the neighboring cultivated farm field drains onto our land. It’s been 2-and-a-half years since we installed the latest version of erosion fencing and much of that has filled with so much topsoil the fabric is laying almost flat in some places.

Granted, the following photos were taken at different seasons, late summer vs. early spring, but the difference is rather striking.

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The bales obviously disintegrate. Progress that may not be evident can be found in the number of volunteer plants that have taken root and naturally help to hold soil in place. The thing is, though, that helps to hold our soil from eroding, but we still get large flows of the neighbor’s topsoil washing over our property.

If I can get the berm established enough to pool his runoff, it will serve as a natural replacement for the Polypropylene fabric and, most important to my sensibilities, be a less unsightly barrier.

I have found the use of gnarly dead branches that are too big for my chipper makes for great starter material in establishing a natural barrier. The highly fertilized runoff tends to fuel thick growth of tall grasses that ultimately create a tangled wall of live plants weaving through dead wood.

Looks like I’ll have a fresh opportunity Monday to see how my latest upgrade to the barrier yesterday will impact the drainage of many inches of melting snow.

Wouldn’t you know it, I changed the tires on the ATV yesterday to swap out the aggressive treaded winter tires for plowing snow, with the smoother treads of summer tires that are kinder to our land.

I could be in for a complex day tomorrow of clearing heavy, wet snow that will be a big problem for a day or two, and then melt. Then we can get on with spring, which is on the verge of swiftly getting sprung.

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Written by johnwhays

April 11, 2020 at 9:20 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