Tag Archives: project

Broomcaust 2014: The Beginning

Our friends Spencer and Leela came up for a bit of farm work and dinner this weekend, and we decided to take advantage of the lovely weather to begin our assault on Mt. Scotch Broom, up on top of the East hill.

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The crew headed off with Weed Wrenches in hand, up, up, up the hill.

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In 2012, we cleared all of the broom from the west side of this fence, but left the east side, which is not a fenced pasture area, alone.  This year we’d like to add those few acres to our pasture area, rather than continue to leave them for the blackberries to claim, but the first chore is to take advantage of the wet ground to pull a few hundred Scotch Broom plants!

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45 minutes of pulling complete: a nice bare patch behind us and a big pile of vanquished plants to haul down for burning.  Chore season is off to a good start!

Shelter

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The big project this year, aside from the garden fence, was to put up a barn in the Neutral Zone, so that we could use it in bad weather without having to walk animals across the road.  John and Thaddeus got things started after several weeks of considering, and then reconsidering, design options.  And then, alas, having to mentally pick the whole building up and move it 30′ back from the road, because it turns out you probably should check with the county before you put a building in the right of way.  Lesson learned!

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And now it’s finished! And we love it.  It’s beautiful to look at, which is good because we see it directly out the living room window. It has a nice clean milkroom, and enough room to house all the goats if need be.  Hooray for an easier summer ahead, and in case I haven’t said it enough already, thank goodness for skilled and helpful family members… we are so blessed.

Green Pastures

Our weekend of fencing culminated yesterday evening with the installation of a new gate! Fabricated by Thaddeus, it looks awesome and is considerably lighter than one commercially available. So handy to have a skilled set of hands on the farm.

This morning the sheep got their first taste of the new pasture! 30 minutes after this photo was taken the little bastards found the weak spot in the fence (the un-gated opening to the garden area, blocked only by a wooden pallet), and were in the road. Jerks.

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New Frontier

Last winter, we lost our chance for a winter garden to the hungry, hungry deer, who jumped THROUGH our garden fencing and demolished it, and all the winter crops we’d attempted to plant.  Deer make bad neighbors.

So this year, it was time for some more serious protection.  Some planning, an auger for the tractor, and the help of friends, and voile: from ugly old horse fencing to a brand new huge fenced garden area!

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The new garden fence will be 9′ high, and actually encloses the front part of the house, all the way down the hill by where the trees we recently cut down were.  It’s HUGE!  We won’t be using all of it this year, but it’s allowed us to double the garden space we had last year, which seems pretty big right now.

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While digging the postholes we discovered an interesting phenomenon — just 10′ apart, the auger brought up vastly different soil types:  a nice red topsoil to the east, and to the west, sand.  So curious about what’s going on under the surface…

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Another view of the new fence – we worried it would seem bulky out the front windows of the house, but mostly when I see it I just think about all that food we’re going to be eating in December next year.  Take that, deer!

 

Farewell Fencing

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Today we hit a milestone! The last of the original horse fencing, which we had left by the house, was torn down and removed in preparation for garden fencing this week. Farewell, rotting fence boards! We won’t miss you at all.

Log Removal

You may remember that after bucking up the rest of the two huge trees that we cut down, we were left with a massive stump.  The stump was huge – too big to cut with our chainsaws, and, conveniently, lying right where we wanted to put in our new garden fence.

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Our neighbor Stan brought his cat by and hauled the log up onto a flat area, where it was safer to make cuts (it was lying on a steep hill; the wrong move and it could have rolled down into the road, or, worse, on top of someone).  With the log in a safe, flat place, John came up with a borrowed chainsaw long enough to do a little more damage, and by making cuts through on both sides, was able to start taking off massive rounds.

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Teamwork – one runs the chainsaw while the other drives wedges and uses the pry bar to pull the logs apart.

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The reason this log was so huge was that it was actually a split stump – two full sized treees growing out of a single stump.  There’s a huge gap in the middle, full of pitch, and in the photo above you can see the separate trunks on either side.  When they cut into the gap, pitch ran out like maple syrup!

Teamwork, borrowed tools, and great neighbors… all it takes to move a two-ton log out of your garden.  Well, that and a sunny day.

Firewood Forever

Remember those huge trees we cut down?  Well, we had to put the resulting firewood somewhere, and it was a LOT of firewood.

20130224-184615.jpgA mountain of firewood, stacked in the barn to keep dry until it can be split and stacked this summer.

20130224-184623.jpgThe goats don’t mind having a new climbing gym just for them.

Timber!

When we moved in last year, one thing was high on the list to get done, and that was taking steps to knock down the four very large fir trees on the east side of the house.  As much as we hate to take down any trees, these were not the healthiest trees on our property, and they were very, very close to our house.  Already, in strong wind storms, we’ve had some pretty significant branches hit the ground, but luckily not the house…. yet.

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This spring, the need to drop the trees became a conflict with another high priority task: a permanent garden fence.  We wanted to get the garden fence up before the seeds went in, but the best direction to fell the trees was…. right on top of the garden.  So, time to call the arborist!

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Because of the risk of a wayward tree hitting the house, falling into the road, or taking out an electric pole, we hired professionals to take the trees down for us.  With the right tools and expertise, the trees came down exactly as planned: smack on top of our garden!  So that left us with the next step:  Operation Find the Garden.

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With the help of lots of friends, we worked several weekends in January and February to cut the tree up into firewood, and haul massive amounts of fir branches across the road to the Neutral Zone for stockpiling – summer forage for the goats.

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End result:  an ALMOST clear garden plot.  The stump you can see in the distance remains: it’s a split stump, and at the conjoined base, the log is too thick for our chainsaws to cut through.  So it remains, awaiting additional tools.

 

Next step: sheet mulching the new half of the garden, and putting up the new fence.  We’ll have a garden soon…

Leaf Piles

With the goats set up for a winter, and the freezing weather on it’s way, we turned our attention to the chickens today. Their original bedding was straw, thick stacks of it put in in March. But a years worth of chicken scratching, and the bedding was more dirt than straw.

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The fallen leaves froze along with the dew this morning – winter is on it’s way!

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We scrapped out the last of the original bedding, and swept the floor clean.

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Then we hauled huge loads of maple leaves down from the trees by the shop, and filed the coop up 3′ high with leaves.

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The chickens were a little weirded out by the leaves at first, the ground shifted so much beneath them!  But soon they’ll get the bedding flattened out, and in spring, we’ll have new mulch to add to the garden!

Fence Party!

As fall has approached, two things became clear to us:

1) There was not enough available fodder in our current pastures to keep our 7 goats fed all winter, let alone keep the 15 goats we expected to be hosting when Thaddeus returned for the winter.

2) Due to a number of issues, there was not going to be any new major goat barn construction happening before the weather got very bad.

So, a mini epiphany came to visit us, and we decided to put in a new, temporary fence off the north side of our current barn, down into the forest, for the winter.  The goats will have plenty of blackberries and brush to eat, and would still have access to the barn when the weather is terrible.  It avoids the compromise of having to deal with a half-built shelter for the winter, and gives the goats access to way more food variety than they would have had.  Win-win!  But we still had to build the fence.

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We started with fiberglass posts and bags of insulators.  A few West Wing episodes, and our 100 posts were fabricated into equally spaced insulated posts for a five-strand electric twine fence.

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The best way to get anything big done on the farm (and in life) is with helping hands.  So we prepped some delicious food, and invited our community to come out and swing some mallets in the damp November weather.

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Two hours of putting up the posts, around what would be a 2-acre pasture.  We took a break for hot soup lunch, then went back out for 4 hours of putting up the electric twine, setting up the gates, and reinforcing the fiberglass posts with steel t-posts at the corners.

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Nearly finished on our way back to the barn – a little math, and we had a fully enclosed pasture in just about 6 hours!

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The goats (and the sheep) are in favor of these new developments…

We are so grateful to all our friends and family who drove out on a cold day to help us put the fence up so quickly!  Our community is amazing, and we feel so blessed.