I had some gravel delivered this week, 10 yards of 3/4″- and 1.5″- for use around the farm. We have purchased at least 100 yards of gravel over the years probably closer to 150 yards. I now set all the railroad fence ties in gravel as they are a lot more secure and not as prone to softening in the spring. We were running low and I am thinking about drilling holes in the barn lot to create a pen for the bull and rams so we can start controlling our time of delivery on all babies. The bigger rock is for the road that loops behind the machine shed. The road was always just a dirt path but we have slowly started to gravel it in and build it up. The single most important reason is that is how the garbage man loops around and leaves the property. Trash pickup at our house is a luxury and we want to make it easy for them. We also realize that our weather is changing and we get a lot more rain than we used to, this has caused some drainage issues and access problems. Gravel is a wonderful cure all for a lot of those problems. I spread about 8 yards out onto the dirt path behind the shed. We will give it a couple of months then have some 3/4″- brought in and have them dump it directly over the road. We will be ordering some more panels for our barn to help sort sheep and they will come on a semitruck. Also our new haying equipment will come on a semitruck, access is vital for us to have year round. I took the last two yards and spread it in front of the corral loading chute. We now have year round access to the chute and mud will no longer be an issue. This also happens to be where the mobile slaughter parks and since I moved the gate opening this process should go a lot smoother also. The mistress is doing well. She needs a bath and I still need to bang that dent out of the hood but she is a trooper. I remembered lunch after completing these tasks and then went back out to check on the upper prime pasture. Annmarie told me we had water running into the ditch in it.
Water is my nemesis! We just don’t get along and after Annmarie told me it was running in the upper field I just knew the Mistress and I needed to tackle the next problem. Or in my history, create one involving water.
There was indeed water running in the upper prime pasture. It had gotten to the blackberry bush but was not running any further. I dug out the ditch on our side of the blackberry bush and used it to try and level off the area near the fence there. It is very hard to get the tractor by as the hill is slanted into the bush. I will keep using the soil I dig out of the ditch to level this off. I went down the ditch farther near the hand dug well and dug out a trench in the ditch. The ditch. Is covered in grass and if I dig down about a foot then the water runs faster and it will create a low spot where the animals can drink. We just opened the upper prime pasture to the sheep yesterday. The horses are confined to the barn lot so they cannot fallow on all this fresh new green grass.
I drove up through the upper prime pasture into the next one (still working on a name) and noticed that the water was just starting to run out the end and form a swamp by all appearances this started in the last 1-2 days. I had a trench at one point from the central ditch running across the field to the original spring starting point. This got worked away during the hay growing process. I went in and dig a ditch starting at the spring so there was no water in the ditch I was creating. I built up a berm on one side so we can find it and we will just have to work around the ditch. It is needed as another swamp is not needed if we can avoid it. The spring in the middle of the field is running again. The only way to make a pond here is to line it. I have tried twice and the stream just cuts through the berm or the water gets absorbed. If I put a lining in we could have a little pond up here for about 6 months out of the year, probably enough to get a pair of ducks to stop and have babies. This is a project for a later time. The water coming out of this second spring is almost as much as the first so the downstream load is doubled. I expect this to cause us problems down in the barn lot. We think it may actually start running and eroding another path above ground. We may have to put in a culvert to allow us to cross the water. I am trying to avoid any crossings where we drive through the water. It’s not always possible but with the front spring the water is slow and not crazy, just persistent.
I went up and drug out an old ditch on the wheat side of that same field and then dug it back out. There was a 50 yard section that had filled back in over time. I dug it back out. I think when I rent a backhoe next time I will dig this down another 3 feet. If I can get it lower I think it will help drain the field. I need to finish the fence in this section so we can turn the animals loose in this area to forage and eat it down. I will be keeping it clean and weed free this summer in preparation for planting in the fall. We are going to plant Round up resistant alfalfa.
You can see the first spring starting point above. It looks like a little pond but if you look closely you can see the water bubbling out of the ground and forming a current. Its pretty cool. I kept chasing deer out of the fields and noticed these freeloaders eating the new wheat, almost 40 deer. I drove up to the next field to inspect it. This is one I have not burned yet. This needs to be done soon but it keeps raining and I would like a little wind to fan the fire and drive it across the field. Its wet enough I don’t have to worry about it jumping off the field and going elsewhere.
This is the field where Ted, father-in-law, got buried in his mule in the middle of the summer our first year here. Annmarie tells me stories of burying wheat trucks when driving through it at harvest time. The dark patch is solid water and the lowest spot in the field. You can see the two places I tried to drive out into that area and got stuck in the mud. I had to push myself out with the bucket on the tractor. This is with four wheel drive and I kept the box blade on the back to add weight to the back tires. I want to stake out this area this summer. The plan is dig a shallow area about 18-24 inches deep and drag all that soil to the surrounding area. Then I will build a fence around this area to keep the livestock out and just plant grass in the fenced in area. It will either survive or not. Hopefully, this will contain the water enough that we can use the field. I might look into some marsh plants to plant in this area also. The trouble is it doesn’t hold water year round so it does dry out in late summer/fall. So I am unsure how a marsh plant would fare as it is not truly a marsh. Its just a low spot with a high water table some years.