Now that the easy part was done and the field is burned off it needs to be disced. My little tractor can just pull a double set of four foot discs. It doesn’t like to do it and I have to use four wheel drive and if the ground is too wet I cannot get enough traction to pull the discs. The field was a little wet but I managed to get it done over the course of two days. I always have something else to do on the way to pull the discs. I stopped on Saturday and pushed the burn piles together with the tractor and got one end of the double downed trees burning again. I hope they burn up the entire tree but I am not holding my breath. All the extra limbs are now on fire so it should be pretty easy to work around. I then went and dug the front ditch out for another 25 feet in the upper prime pasture. If I don’t clean it out it starts to grow in and spread out. It was also eroding the ground behind the large blackberry bushes and I just about could not get the tractor past. I am using the dirt from the ditch to backfill a new passage by the blackberry bush. I looked at the upper prime squared pasture and it needs some more ditch work. My initial digging is helping but I need to extend it out and dig a new exit channel, but I had already messed around long enough so I hooked up the disc and started to drag it around the field. I also made a vow to pick up every single rock I found. I had an offer from a friend to bring in a big piece of equipment that would smooth out the entire ground. The trick is rocks are a killer on this machine so I vowed to pick them all up! I just tipped the front bucket upwards and every time I spotted a big rock I jumped off and threw it in the bucket. There were not very many rocks, I bet I got less than ten in the few hours I went in circles.
There were lots of voles and mice throughout the entire field. I almost regretted not bringing the dogs as they love killing them, but they eat every one and after 15 or so each they get some very smelly farts. So I left them in the yard, knowing that Zeke was off the run and hoping he would stay put. I kept spotting various wildlife but I never could get a picture! I chased up a vole and this hawk swooped down out of the sky, snatched it and landed on a nearby wooden fence post. I watched that bird for almost a minute before deciding it would stay put for a picture, as soon as I reached for my phone it flew away, vole clutched in its talon.
I spotted a four foot bull snake partially in a vole hole, again I stopped the mistress and watched for 30 seconds then reached for my camera. The picture above with no snake but various vole holes was taken 2 seconds after it disappeared down the left most hole.
I spotted various baby killdeer running around and had to stop once to let them get out of the way. I really wanted to get that ash layer down into the dirt before it rained so it could get absorbed into the soil and not washed or blown away.
I was circling around and suddenly a hawk jumped off the ground on the far end of the field. I looked over and spotted a nest with eggs! So I skirted around the nest and left a patch of grass and weeds for the hawk and its nest.
The amazing part of this is driving the tractor is a very good core workout. I hear the scoffing now but try to stay on the seat with the tractor bouncing around and trying to throw you off constantly. I finally put the seat belt on and tightened it up across my upper thighs but this does not stop you from keeping your stomach and back muscles tightened the entire time.
I disced the far side and was working down near the upper prime pasture end when another hawk jumped out of the grass and there was another nest with eggs! The amazing part of this is we burned the field on Friday but both nests were placed such that fire could not get to them but the birds could see predators coming. I finally ran out of fuel and had to drive back to the house.
I ended up getting more diesel then digging out the barn lot front creek by hand. I will keep digging a small patch at time until I get it cleared all the way up to the spring.
Sunday I did the same thing, as in I procrastinated in going right to the discing portion of the day. I stopped in the upper prime pasture, as there was no fire to play with and started working on my ditch network. I had tried to dig a small pond but there was too much water and it was forming another swamp. I needed to dig a channel connecting the side ditches with the main ditch. I did this then dug the side ditch down and extended it out into the field. I really need to dig out the center of this area as I have dug a horseshoe shaped ditch. I started digging the dirt out of the middle of the horseshoe with my box blade on the tractor but I only got about ten loads out before it got too muddy. Once the tractor tires fill up with mud and the ground turns muddy I cannot use the box blade. This is the seventh year on my original tractor tires. I am going to try and milk them along for another 2 years. It will be an expensive fix to replace all four tires, probably around $1500-2000.
I did manage to get the entire field disced except for the two hawk nesting areas and the upper end where the super wet low spot is located. I have circled the wet area on the picture below. It is probably almost an acre and it is still too wet to work with my light tractor. What I want to do is let it dry out a little more then get in there and drag it down about 18 inches and use that dirt to build up the entire surrounding area to keep it dryer and let a natural swamp occur. The real trouble is it always dries out in the summer which limits the type of plants we can plant. I would like to plant some type of native grass that can survive the wet time and the dry time. I want to place tall “pecker poles”, 2-3 inch wooden posts that are 8 feet tall. These will be easier to see when the alfalfa is planted, therefore allowing us to avoid the damp area with the haying equipment and tractor. I may even put up some bird nests for the red winged blackbirds. I would love to put up bluebird boxes but I have only ever seen one bluebird here, we are too low in elevation.
I started dragging the dirt out of the swamp area but the predicted rain turned into a deluge and I was loosing traction and body heat fast. I stopped long enough to hike up onto the rock bluff to take pictures. Zeke decided that he had enough confinement time and had dug his way under the yard fence and joined me. He did kill lots of vole and mice while he was busy getting covered in mud.
Every time I go up on the hillside and see the old rock wall I want to rebuild it. Since it has taken me multiple years to work on the one behind my house this will have to wait until I win the lottery or a parent needs a summer punishment for their child. The child must not be afraid of snakes and must be able to move 150# rocks. This probably limits my options way more than they were before which was slim to none before the lifting requirements were added.
Next week I attempt to get the yard mower running as I told Perm Boy that the fuel container was in the old wood shed. Turns out he found the only can of diesel not out in the machine shed. I had to drain the gas out today and managed to get the mower to start once and then it died. I put fresh fuel in it after emptying the tank. I also need to spray some weeds! Oh and the trim inside the house needs to be finished. I did no trim this weekend as the field took precedence. I will now be able to spray both fields and then they can sit idle until this fall. I suspect I will need to spray one more time this summer.