This project that started two years ago is finally done! And of course, by “done” I mean simply moving into the next phase because nothing is ever actually done at a farm.
This week a landscaper came out with the fill dirt and topsoil and got the thing graded and even raised the wall in spots where it needed it. They did a phenomenal job and all in just one day. Remarkable what six guys, the right equipment, and a ton of experience can accomplish!
I seeded the area with clover just to get a nice ground cover while we decide how to map out our garden and paths. My sister gave us some calendula and chamomile seeds that I added along the edge of the rock wall, as well. The weather is perfect this week for growing grass from seed; rainy, not too cold, bits of sun here and there.
Next step: adding path lighting along the wall and some spot lights on the walnut tree. I think it will make it possible to see better in this area at night without the prison-yard effect of the big overhead light on the garden shed, seen above.
The front lawn of the main house has a triangle shaped yard, bordered on either side by the driveway which loops around the back of the house. Down near the tip of the triangle is the garden shed and a nice (although small) garden with a mature grape vine, some berries, and flowers. It’s fenced in to prevent deer from eating the plants. We have decided to remake the front yard and the first step is removing this small fenced garden and plowing the lower portion of this triangle. We have finalized our future plans yet although we’re thinking an English style mostly edible garden, possibly with terracing rather than having the sloping grade as it is now.
Demo’ing the existing garden proved to be hard work. The person who built it could have been using it as a small prison. For dinosaurs. It’s had ten foot posts in two foot deep holes, spread about six feet apart all the way around. These were wrapped in a fairly heavy gauge wire fencing material which was secured using the largest brads I’ve ever seen. They were like U-shaped 16 penny nails. But even once the fencing was removed I would also have to take apart the planter beds which were made out creosote telephone pole sections… pinned into the ground using three feet of rebar. Serious overkill for a flower garden.
I removed all of the fencing by hand. Initially I was going very slowly and removing the brads in order to preserve the fencing material. This was taking WAY too long and was extremely tiring and tedious. I changed tact and started snipping the fencing material at the poles. It will still be useful in the future, albeit for smaller jobs.
Once the fencing was moved and the poles were taken down, I fired up the tractor to remove those giant, heavy creosote telephone poles. I used the tractor bucket to lift and pry them and once I get one corner off the ground a bit I would wrap a chain under it, connect the chain to the tractor, and drag it away from the garden area. This was tough work and required some careful finessing with the tractor. Just before the sun went down I had all of the poles removed and pulled over to a storage area.
Tomorrow I will plow this garden under (except the grape vine; that stays) as well as about half of the front yard. Then on to the new hayfield.
My sister and I decided to grow our own hay for the sheep. This winter we’ll have to buy it, although if we start the growing process now then next winter we won’t have to. Plus, it seems the highest quality hay gets shipped to Japan mostly and is very expensive here. I think we’ll write a separate post all about hay, this one is about the tools to make it.
We’re starting out with a 12″ plow for the tractor. I bought one with a depth guide wheel and a cutting wheel since this ground has never been plowed before and we’ll have to cut through existing vegetation. Here’s the plow that I purchased for our John Deere 1026R compact tractor:
It’s a “land shark” brand, made in the USA, and designed specifically for a tractor like ours (25 hp). It hooks to the three point hitch which will need to be adjusted to stay steady via the turnbuckles. The videos always make it look easy although I’m sure it will be a trial and error affair. I’ll post pictures of our plowed field once the implement arrives and we get to use it. We’ll also be using this to expand the garden beds.