Sign progress, and checking the water levels

One of the tasks I got a bit of progress on yesterday, was the sign I am making to replace the one with my late father’s name on it, that identified this farm.

Before adding the second coat of paint, I cut a scrap piece of 2×4 from the wood we found in one of the sheds and brought to the basement a while back, and made “legs”. They are short, but they are something I can work with when we are finally able to put the sign up. Mostly, I wanted them screwed in place before the second coat of white paint was added. That way, I could brush over the screws to make them less visible, while making sure not to fill in the holes for the screwdriver, so they can be taken out easily, if necessary.

They also did a better job of keeping the sign above the top of the freezer while I painted, than what I was using before. 😀

There is one problem with working in the old kitchen, though.

The wasps are somehow getting in from the hive in the crawl space.

So far, they are staying at the north window, trying to get outside; the south window faces into the sun room, and the west window is covered with foil, so there is actually more light from the north. Plus, the old kitchen is not heated in any way and is always a few degrees colder than the rest of the house, so the wasps were pretty groggy. Still, when I first came in to start working on the sign, I did have to move a wasp off that had landed on it, while the paint was still a bit wet. If it had been warmer and the wasp less groggy, it probably could have flown off on its own. As it is, when I gently brushed it loose, it just fell to the floor, where I could no longer see it.

They won’t last long, as wasps die off over the winter, but it does mean my husband has to be careful going into there, since he is allergic to stings.

With the second coat of white paint done yesterday, the next step on the sign for today will be to take it outside and use the reflective spray paint on it. I’ll have to read the label on the can again, to see if it should have more than one coat or not.

I can do this part outside, as we are not expected to have rain again for a while. With how much we got recently, this morning I decided to check out the old gravel pit that the renter got dug deeper, so see how it was. Along the way, I checked a pond, and there was no standing water at all, though the bottom has a lot of green growth at least.

The old gravel pit is wonderfully full of water! This is the most it has had all year. Thankfully, there is a lot of clay to keep it there, too.

The hill created when the pit was deepened has been noticeably affected by the rain, as well, and I could see where actual rivulets had formed, washing things away.

This is the bottom of one of the rivulets, where you can see a deer had made its way through the clay and silt. All around the bottom of the hill, there are now patches of clay and silt like this, but this is the only one that had tracks in it. 🙂

I’m really glad the renter was able to get this pit dug deeper. Even with all the rain we’ve been having, the water table has not recovered yet, so this is the only water around for wildlife. Of the dugouts in the area that I can see from the roads, only one, about two miles away, has any water in it, and it was also dug deeper this year, too.

Well, things have warmed up nicely – it’s currently 15C/59F right now! – and it’s time to get outside and get some manual labour done! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Checking things out

After all the wonderful rain we’ve been having, I just had to go and check out some areas beyond the outer yard.

Of course, that included the old gravel pit! Here’s a slideshow, covering just over 3 weeks, from being newly dug out to today.

The first photo was taken the day the pit was dug, on the 7th, though it was deepened slightly a couple of days later. The next photo of the first puddle of water was taken on the 10th. By the 14th, it was noticeably lower, and by the 20th, looking almost gone. The next photo was taken on the 21st, and the last was taken today, the 23rd.

There’s a nice little pond started in there, thanks to the wonderful rains we have been having. Had the renter not had this dug deeper, there would have been little more than a muddy puddle, only slightly larger than the pond not far away. I checked that out, too, and for all the additional rain we’ve had, there really isn’t much more water visible there than the last time I checked it out.

Since I was in the area, anyhow, I decided to check out another low, almost marshy, area close to the road that is partly in where the renter has his corn. Driving past, the feed corn looked pretty good, but this was the first time I got a real look at how it was doing.

What a mix! In some areas, the corn was taller – though still only about 4 feet high – with swaths of shorter corner, here and there.

This spot was the most extreme in corn shortness! Not far past this, it started getting tall again. Especially right in the corner, near where the low area I wanted to check out was. While walking along the fence line, I could see where deer had chomped off the tops of some of the developing corn cobs.

Our views while driving by on the road was deceptive. While most of it seems to be doing okay, if shorter than normal, there is a lot where the feed corn isn’t much better than our own sweet corn! Though even the smallest of the feed corn is sturdier than ours. That would be the difference in soil nutrients. The renter has been good about amending the soil with manure, composting in old hay and straw – even the stalks from last year’s crop – and keeping up the nitrogen.

Last year had been such a bad year for crops, and this one has been even worse. Depending on the next few weeks, though, it does look like the renter will have something to harvest, at least.

As for the low area I had gone to check out, there was no sign of water there at all. Not even where it merged with the ditch along the road. It was, at least, looking a big greener than the surrounding areas, but that was pretty much it.

The Re-Farmer

A quick pit check

Starting today (Sunday), we’re supposed to get hit with high temperatures again, and the thunderstorms that were predicted for Tuesday are now forecast for Wednesday or Thursday, depending on which app I check.

Yesterday evening, I decided to check on the gravel pit and see if there was still water from our last rainfalls.

The water level is definitely lower. Between the cows drinking from it, and the return to hot and dry conditions, I’m almost surprised there’s water left at all. There may even be groundwater seeping into it by now, too.

I sure hope so!

The Re-Farmer

So exciting!

I’ve just got to share this, first thing!

Yesterday, it started to rain. Off and on, all day, we got real, solid rain.

During a break in the rain, I went out to check the newly dug out old gravel pit.

I had heard the sound of heavy equipment earlier, and found that the pit had been dug a bit deeper.

Some of the big rocks in there were definitely not helping! One I’d noticed earlier was completely shattered, while others had big scrapes on them, or were shifted slightly, but would not move. That’s the sort of thing that will damage equipment, so I don’t imagine it’ll be dug any deeper. At least, not with a front end loader. While everything was damp from the rain, of course, there was no accumulation of moisture at the bottom at all.

The rain continued overnight, sometimes with heavy downpours, and continued through this morning. While we also heard/saw thunder and lightning during the night, we didn’t get an all-out storm over us. In other parts of the province, particularly in the far south, there were hail warnings, too.

This morning, after doing my rounds, I just had to go back and see.

We have water!!!

It’s barely more than a puddle at the bottom, but that doesn’t matter.

We have water!!

Given the clay layer at the bottom, it should actually stay, rather than drain away. We’re supposed to continue to get a bit of rain, off and on, over the next few days, though whether that will continue to reach us, I don’t know. Every little drop we get, however, will be a blessing, and with the pit dug deeper, a boon for the renter’s cows and the wildlife.

I’m just so excited!

The Re-Farmer

Gravel pit dugout

This evening, I just had to go out and see how things were in the old gravel pit. It looks like the dugout is done!

The first thing I saw, coming through the trees, was our new mountain.

I’m guessing, at its peak, it’s getting close to 20 feet high.

Check out those rocks!!

And there it is. The deepened dugout.

The guy said he’d seen a bit of moisture as he was moving the gravel, but if there was any, it’s completely dried up, now.

My hopes that water may seep in have gotten lower.

There were quite a few large rocks, loosened, scraped or, like this one, shattered.

Once there is water in here, the cows and any wildlife in the area will have an easy time getting to it.

What amazed me is that, for all that this was a marshy area and sediment had collected, making the original dugout shallower, the top soil is still amazingly thin. Barely six inches, from what I could see.

Of course, I had to check out the patch of fine sand that was uncovered. Just look at that! So soft!

Just a couple of feet away, the sand was much coarser, but still most definitely sand, not gravel.

Here’s the view from the top of the new hill.

Do you see those divots in the gravel, between the tread marks?

Yup. The cows have already been up here! Silly things!

The treads left behind some compacted clumps, and when I first saw this, it made me think of petrified wood.

It’s just clay and sand and a bit of soil. I think how the outside was compacted to such a smooth surface is really neat.

So here we now have access to such beautiful sand and gravel, and I’m at a loss of how to get it. Even if we were able to get a floor on the trailer frame and hook it up to the riding mower, which does have a tow hitch, we could never get it into the pit to where the fine and coarse sand is. The riding mower just couldn’t handle it. The trailer would be too big to maneuver in there, anyhow, but even if we had a small trailer, it would be too much for the riding mower to handle in there.

The only thing I can think of, based on what we actually have, is to bring our folding wagon (lined with plastic) over.

Man, wouldn’t it be nice if we had access to something like a Bobcat, with a front end loader?

:-/

Must. Not. Be. Bitter!

Now, we just need this pit to fill with water. Even just a little! For the cows and all the other critters around.

The Re-Farmer

Digging it!

Not very long ago, after walking around and seeing that our dugouts were completely dry, I had given permission to the renters to dig them deeper, if they wanted to, to have water for their cows. It wouldn’t be much use this year, but I wanted them to at least know they could.

Since this looked like something that wouldn’t be done this year, if they decided to at all, I forget to tell my brother I did this.

You know. The guy who actually owns the property. 😀

I was talking to him on the phone this morning when I got a message from the renter. They had decided to hire someone to deepen the old gravel pit and I was informed that the guy should be there in a few hours, so I would know what the commotion was. The funny thing is, I was already hearing the “beep, beep, beep” of heavy equipment backing up!

So… I told my brother I’d given them permission, then headed out to take a look.

A pretty good start was made, by the time I got out there.

As I moved around and took pictures, I was noticing that there were some really nice pockets of beautiful sand.

When the guy saw me, he stopped and came over and we chatted for a bit. When I mentioned the sand, he pointed out one area in particular that had really, really nice, fine sand.

I remember, as a child, playing in pockets of sand among the gravel. Those were all on the north side of the pit. I don’t think we’d ever dug that far on the south side before, and that’s where he’s uncovered the nicest sand.

I’m really excited about this.

I asked if he expected to reach water, and his immediate response was, NO! He did mention there was an area that was a bit damp (you can sort of see it in the picture), and that he was hitting clay on the bottom. If there is rain, it might collect in there, and there might even be seepage. He also said it might take a few days to finish. I’ll have to come back later to take more pictures.

Since we were standing right next to what had been a muddy area (of all two places they could have dug deeper, they made the right choice by deciding on the old gravel pit), I mentioned that this was the first time I’d seen this old pit completely dry. I actually do think that, given how deep he’s going, water might start to seep in. Here’s hoping! Otherwise, this is basically being done for next year, and to prevent future water issues like we’re having this year, but if water can start seeping in now, that would be a big benefit to our renter and his cows. I’m sure the deer and other wildlife would appreciate it, too!

Me, I’m just so excited by what I’m seeing. My brother had been told that this gravel pit was basically depleted, but he can’t remember who told him that anymore. Clearly, it is not. The renter may eventually be getting water for his cows from here but, at the same time, we’re going to get sand and gravel we can use. Very much a “win win” situation!

I’m already daydreaming of sand covered paths between garden beds, infill around the house, and if we can get plywood for the floor of that trailer frame we’ve got, we might even be able to get enough gravel to spread on our driveway.

Of course, if the Bobcat were still here, we could have dug into the pit ourselves, though not at this level, of course. Having it would have made getting gravel to where we need it a lot easier.

Of all the things that got taken while this place was empty, that Bobcat is the one that I pine for the most. Maybe because a part of me still hopes it might get returned. Most things we can make do, one way or another, without them. It’s a lot harder to make up for the loss of that one, large piece of equipment. The Bobcat is on the list of items we know our vandal took, included in my response to his suit against us. The optimist in me hopes the judge would see fit to not only throw the case out, but order our vandal to return some of this stuff. Much of it can’t be; the lumber, for example, was used in buildings on his property. But things like the Bobcat and it’s attachments, or even some of the tools he took, would make our lives much easier when it comes to taking care of this place! Since the property now belongs to my brother, all this stuff would have been included with it, so he would be the owner of it all, too.

Ah, well. One can dream, right?

For now, however, I will happily dream of sand and gravel, and the things we can do with it!

The Re-Farmer