Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘property improvement

New Garden

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Sunday afternoon launched our effort to create a new produce garden at Wintervale on the slope at the end of the driveway.

We plan to use old reclaimed wooden fence posts for a retaining wall that will create a terrace for a flat garden plot. There is space below it to add a second level farther downslope but we are going to start small. If all goes well, next year we can expand.

After my first challenge of devising a way to connect and secure all the posts, the more complicated next step involves installation of barriers to the local wildlife who are known garden pests. Cyndie wants me to bury hardware cloth to block burrowing critters. Great idea, in theory. A hassle to accomplish in reality.

I’m recommending Cyndie put in a giant hasta spread nearby to offer deer a more enticing alternative to leaping over the fence I plan to build. Then I can make that barrier primarily designed with rabbits in mind.

Cyndie got right to work breaking up the turf and confirming how much of our soil is clay. There will be a fair effort to doctor the soil toward maximizing the plant growth potential. Of course, there is a handy resource of composted manure available a short distance away, but she is talking about also adding some sand, too.

I’m just the muscle on this project. I’ll leave those decisions up to her for now.

Before calling it a day and heading in to shower, I snuck down to hook up the come-along winch to the pine tree stump to see if it would stand up straight.

Close enough for my purposes, of which I currently have none. Just seemed like something to do. I have a high suspicion it will tip again at the first trigger of high wind or excess moisture since the roots have all been thusly stressed and held for months in that previous lean.

That fact has me hesitant to plot any significant artistic endeavor for the stump until it has had time to settle in the upright position.

It is located beside Cyndie’s perennial garden, so carving it into a gnome seems like a great idea. Unfortunately, I don’t have any plan to learn how to carve a gnome out of a tree stump, so that most likely won’t happen.

If it stays standing for a year or so, I’ll have had plenty of time for inspiration to strike.

I’ll likely be busy fixing garden fencing in the meantime.

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Main Weed

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It appears that we are in the peak year for the biennial Queen Anne’s Lace that thrives in our hayfield. Last year had me thinking we had almost eradicated it with frequent mowing. I guess that was just the off-year.

It’s an edible wild food belonging to the carrot family and is second only to beets among root vegetables for sugar content. I think I’ve said this before, that maybe we should be harvesting it as a crop to sell.

The plants are interesting to look at, except when you’ve seen too much of them and would rather not have it growing in your fields.

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Messy round bales of old hay can be interesting to look at, too, unless you’d rather they be stored somewhere else to allow the grass underneath to grow for a second cutting this summer. The fields have been rented out, so I guess they can do what they want.

I’ve got a forest of toppling trees to focus on instead this year. The difference is, I don’t drive through the forest every day, so it is a bit more “out of sight, out of mind” than the fields.

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Written by johnwhays

August 6, 2019 at 6:00 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