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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Plans for Spring erosion control

Predictions of a dusting up to two inches yesterday turned into yet another winter weather advisory and actual accumulations neared eight inches this morning.  As daylight waned, the quiet of the falling snow was broken only by the hum of neighbors and friends playing outside on their snow machines. 

While watching them travel past the front of the house I noticed that the inches of accumulating snow had only barely covered the extra foundation that had become exposed after years of neglect.  My grandfather fell ill in the late nineties and passed in 2000.  In his years of declining health, the regular maintenance which he had always so diligently attended to, fell by the wayside.  We are guests here and have inherited the long overdue chores required to maintain a 200 year old family farm house.

Built on a slowly sloping hill, behind the house the land raises up to a ridge line which runs south from the Canadian border and Minister Hill continuing past the farm and into the next town beyond.  Gradually leveling out in natural terraces at the ponds behind the house, down more to the relatively flat area where the house and retired dairy barn reside, then gently sloping further down past the garden and across the corn piece until it is met by the water of the spring fed lake. 

Years of erosion have steepened the hill in front of the house and torn between six and ten inches of soil from the yard.  Over the past few years raised beds have been added to the hill in front of the house to supplement the main garden space.  Each is level with the hill at the back of the bed and a three-sided retaining wall  (some stone, some cedar logs) in the front frames each into the hill.  Incorporating the beds have had an added benefit of curtailing the erosion from the yard behind them.  Noticeable erosion continues on either side of them.

As plans for 2013 include additional vegetable and flower crops I am looking into incorporate erosion control into the planning of more growing locations.  Although I have a cousin and other extended family who are skilled in masonry work, cement or stacked block retaining walls are well outside of this fledgling farm's budget.  Perusing the Internet I have found several configurations which include more natural components, although will not last generations like stacked stone would. 

One of the options which looks most promising is something like that pictured above.  It will take a winter of preparation including rehabilitating my abused back and spinal musculature and the procurement of an additional chain or two for the chainsaw.  My chainsaw skills are sufficient to cut up a down tree or clean up some dead branches, but I usually end up with a dull chain or two in the process.  A project like this will require a little saw re-education so that I don't burn out the unit in the process.  And since the terracing will occur on a hill and the resulting spaces will probably be too narrow to hold the tractor, much of the hauling and placing of the trees will occur by hand.  Soil moved to install the trees will need to be back filled and soil amendments (compost, etc.) will be added by hand.

This morning the snow continues falling.  Later, we will head back out into the cold and the snow to clean up the driveway, clean out the chickens and the rabbits, and hopefully take Little Man for his first ride in the sled that Santa brought him for Christmas.

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