The barn is built – well, let’s say the builder’s part is done – we still have a whole lot of work ahead of us to finish it to make it functional per our “Grand Plan“, but let’s take a moment here to enjoy the fact that one MAJOR task has been completed. The structure is up, insulated, doors, windows and gutters installed, concrete poured, rough-in plumbing is in. Check.
We need to install the door hardware and caulk around all of the doors and the window. I’ve started designing the floor plan for the finished processing area so we know where to bring in propane and electrical. M is going to get the solar electrical stuff together so we can pull our permit for that. Next steps are to frame and finish the market garden processing area and the bathroom.
M fired up the excavator and dug our first hugelkultur. This is a Sepp Holzer sized hugelkultur (he likes them BIG!). M gave me a quick lesson on running the skidsteer and I spent the weekend grabbing stumps, branches and logs with the grapple hook and placing them in the ditch M dug. I also grabbed a few bucket loads of sod from the barn site clearing pile, but since the pile is sitting right next to one of the wettest spots on the property (and where the large pond will be dug eventually) I had to stop as I was starting to sink in the muck. It didn’t help matters that it rained cats and dogs the night before…
After we mounded the stumps, roots, branches and logs in, M pulled the dirt back over the top. Normally you would plant the hugel right away or at least cover crop it, but with the barn construction a couple of months behind schedule and the heavy equipment being at our disposal only for a limited amount of time, we decided to go ahead and get it started. Since it is almost winter, I am hoping that means no weeds will get a strong hold on it before I can get some things planted in early spring.
We finished the hugel late that Sunday evening. Exhausted and with a 2 1/2 hour drive ahead, we stripped off our muddy gear and headed for home. If we had read the weather report we may have noticed below-freezing temperatures forecasted for the entire week. And if we had thought hard enough about it, we may have realized it would have been prudent to get the shovels out and dig the mud out of the tracks on the excavator and the skidsteer before we left. Unfortunately we did neither, so when our good buddy J and his Uncle showed up to do the drain work and dig the pond (too technical for us newbies) the following weekend, guess what? The tracks were frozen to the ground! Holy crap. M fired up the propane torch and tried to melt the mud enough to dig it out, but after an hour of messing around with it, J called it a bust. Boy did we feel dumb especially because it’s J’s equipment. But J is such a sweetheart he didn’t give us a hard time at all. He actually said it was his fault since he didn’t think to tell us to dig the mud out. What a guy.
We still felt pretty dumb.
M installed the door hardware and I spread straw on the hugel. It was easy to climb up and down it being frozen solid, so I didn’t have to worry about compacting the soil or sinking. We also picked up our half Tamworth hog from a local farmer, so the trip wasn’t an entire bust. We’ve had a couple of Hampshire/Yorkshire/Duroc/Berkshire crosses, so we are excited to try the Tamworth pork.
It’s finally starting to warm up and we are hoping it will be thawed out enough this next week to get the drains and the pond done. Fingers crossed. Guess I’ll be digging mud out of the tracks this weekend.