Time. Is It On My Side?

Let’s hope the Rolling Stones were right as we have a lot of plans for this fall and they are going to run smack dab into the all of the summer projects we are trying to finish up.

Summer projects included getting anything done that required dry, firm ground for the tractor. Oh, and can I say how much we LOVE having a tractor?  Digging holes, trenching, moving logs, grabbing huge piles of branches, turning compost piles, moving dirt, lifting straw bales – all thanks to our trusty tractor Wiley (he’s a Kioti you know). We debated long and hard about whether or not we should get one, and man are we glad we decided to bite that bullet.

So to recap the summer to-do list, we moved the rest of the logs under cover, got in two mowings (it takes about 16 – 18 hours to mow our property), the roundabound is 98% complete, retaining wall is built, built a couple more large compost piles, thinned out the woodlot and secured this coming winters firewood supply, limbing up Douglas firs to prevent frost pockets and chipping the branches is getting under control, and we are in the middle of trenching for the well line.  Speaking of thinning the woodlot, we just heard back from the county and our forest management plan was approved so we should see a significant break on our property tax bill next year. Yay for us!

This weekend M reached the end of the swale and made the turn down hill towards the barn.

It's all down hill from here

It’s all down hill from here

Once he hits the top of the curtain drain (just beyond the Douglas fir behind him), he needs to stop trenching for a bit while I have a zillion yards of drain rock brought in.  Once the drain cloth, perf pipe and rock are installed in the curtain drain we will backfill on top with dirt and then re-level the site to ensure water moves away from the barn and the future house site.  M will then finish trenching from the curtain drain down to the barn and God willing – we will have running, pressurized water!  Woo Hoo!

Another project we are trying to finish before the rains set in is caulking the underground cistern.  It’s about a 20′ section of an old grain silo we put in the ground last winter and plumbed our barn roof runoff into it.  Within a month of installing it, a section of metal crumpled from the force of the water (an underground spring?) about halfway down. No one saw that coming, but yet it holds water up to that point.  From there up it seeps out (all underground and on a downhill slope), so we are sealing all of the seams and bolts and hoping that will keep more of the water in.

Now I know there is nothing lurking at the bottom, but there is something a little creepy about lowering myself into that cold, dark water…  It was about 90 degrees this past weekend, so I quickly got over my creepies and enjoyed the cool respite.

WP_20140906_006

We’d like to dig in another swale but not sure we are going to have enough time to get everything else on our plate done, and as we had to learn the hard way with the first swale – you need to plant it out completely so the pasture grasses and weeds don’t take over.  And you also need to fence it to keep the deer from devouring all of your freshly planted trees and berries…

Next week we will be digging perc holes for our septic permit. We need to get those dug while the soils are dry and the water table is low.  We also want to get our septic design submitted and our perc holes inspected now to make sure we won’t have any conflicts when we are ready to start the micro-hydro project.  Our septic design guy has convinced us we can install the septic system ourselves (his wife installed theirs!) but thankfully we won’t need to start on the install until next summer.  It just means another long, wet winter with the composting bucket…[heavy sigh]

On the fall to-do list is to sow more cover crops in the zone 1 area to help build that compacted clay soil into something more hospitable for our eventual gardens.  The Chicken Food Forest is also going to be staked out and the perimeter fencing installed so I can get the trees, shrubs, vines, etc… I’ve been growing at home planted this fall. Not all of the plants will go in the chicken food forest – we need nitrogen fixers and other supporting plants for the nut trees, and some of the Black Locust and the Paulownia’s will be planted in various spots around the property for their quick shade and mulching properties.

Finalizing our design and filing our permit to build out a section of the barn for an eventual processing kitchen and a bathroom is next on the list. If we can pull that off we will spend the wet months framing the space out so we can install our solar battery bank in the space above and hang the solar panels on the roof of the barn. Hopefully by next spring we will have power in the barn. Imagine that – running water, electricity and dare I say it? – a flush toilet!

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About La Femme Farmer

Starting up a small farm is the goal for the second half of my life. It's a late start I know, but better late than NEVER! Growing food, cooking and eating are my passions and now I get to do it full-time (and then some). and yes, that's a tomato from my garden!
This entry was posted in Barn, Construction, Farm Machines, Homesteading, Preparing the land, Sustainability, Water Management and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Time. Is It On My Side?

  1. mashazager says:

    I am in awe. You guys are making so much progress! Wonderful to see the changes from each blog post to the next.

    • Why, thank you! I know we are working hard and getting stuff done, but sometimes it feels like the progress is soooooo slow. Your comments are encouraging. I’m so glad you stopped by – I had your last post bookmarked to read later and almost forgot!

  2. I second Full Circle Farmstead. Wow. What a ton of progress you’ve made. If I’d read this post before commenting on the last one, I’d know where all the tree transplants are going, except – chicken food forest? Is that on the zone map a zillion posts ago? I’ve read a bit about food forests, but not chicken food forests…

    • Keep telling her we are making progress! I get the “we aren’t moving fast enough” spiel a lot at my end. 😉

      Chickens cost money to raise, so how best to feed and house them to get what they need? Food, protection, shade, fresh air. Our grape harvest at home was cut short by some very greedy squirrels, EXCEPT where the thorny black locust seedlings were in the way. Those locusts make fine posts, and coppice and pollard well. They also are fantastic bee fodder, and the seed pods are edible. So imagine Salmon berry, which the chooks adore both the new leaves and the berries, grapes (leaves and fruit), plums, etc… in small paddocks where we also pile fresh compostables – again chickens LOVE to scratch and peck et compost and clearly get good things from it. The thorny bits are great aerial predator protection, the locust will replace rotting fence posts and likewise give shade in the summer… you get the picture. Add some annuals like sunflowers and it is a chicken food forest. Add weeds like chickweed and comfrey that can make a comeback when rotational grazing practices are used. Stick a worm bin on the edge and we benefit from the “tea”, castings, and surplus wormies add protein. (L hates that part). Chuck in a few rotting logs and all kinds of good fungus has a chance to spread, and gives a temporary home to more little protein goodies.

      I am considering a double fence, poultry wire on the outside and 4″ wire on the inside and plant the fence line so that the overflow is easily accessible to the chickens, but can’t be completely decimated. Eventually we may get a real “Hedge Row” to take the place of fencing altogether.

      • Holy Moly…that is amazing. All based on black locust. Wow. A warning about real hedgerows – I have them, and they are absolutely NO barrier to a determined chicken.

      • Yes, L. loves/hates it when we get a new brood, The little fluffers slip right through our electric poultry netting. Having real chicken wire in the mix of plants is a must. I suspect this is the case for hogs too.

  3. I think it is in that post – at least on one of the layouts if not discussed directly. It’s a small food forest we are planting with as many trees, shrubs, vines, herbs that chickens will benefit from. We will rotate the laying flock through a series of paddocks so they don’t destroy everything. Just like pastured poultry but with fruit trees, berries, vines, etc… planted along the perimeter of each paddock and then grains, greens, etc… planted in the open areas. I’m not sure if you searched for “chicken food forest” you’d find one, but it seems like a good way to grow some of their food. We would also like to try to grow grains for livestock feed as well as for our needs. All in good time…

  4. Bill says:

    I’m impressed with all your planning, preparation and (most of all) hard work. I’m sure it’s a labor of love and I hope you’re going to enjoy many happy years on your homestead. I think you made the right decision on the tractor. I doubt you’ll ever run out of uses for it. It will certainly pay for itself.

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