The Bridge at Remagen

The Dry Creek Project has produced a crossing that verily is stout and capable of withstanding a Panzer attack, but it’s not beautiful by much means.

Maybe a couple of strategically placed boulders will offset the pedestrian aspect and create a counterpoint — but still there are no handrails or things of that nature so a drunker lawnmower-driver might plunge awkwardly to an ignominious plight.

However the main point of the project was to manage and improve drainage, and that has yet to be tested…

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Dry Creek

Dry now because it’s 88-degrees outside. It was 100 yesterday, but we caught a cool breeze or two today – and besides, it’s a dry kinda heat up here…

Anyhow it’s taking shape nicely without much help from me, and the little Kubota tractor is useful to haul the 2-inch rock and also the bigger cobble down from the big pile in the driveway to line it, and the tanbark to edge it.
The twin piles of dirt will become earthen ramps for the bridge so I can drive the mower across from sorta dry land to sorta dry land.

Maybe I’ll stick an umbrella and a beach chair on the tufted-grass island…

Earthworks

Got some guys to help out with the shallow entrenching. The cute little Kubota tractor is no match for the soft ground and mud however and we are using shovels. Then rocks and a bridge…

Turns out the 8-inch pipe that runs underneath the field, from the overflow catch-basin on one side to the fence where my neighbor’s cattle water, has perforations. That would explain the standing water when it’s really wet in the fall-winter-spring, but conceivably should also help the drainage.

Summer Haircut


The weedkiller did its job, and then I set about doing mine. It took about two and a half hours to plough through the mess, but at least this time it was not so high and thick.
Putting a mess of tanbark around the big oak and the other, distant one (hidden on the right) allowed for mower standoff room – that was twenty bags, including three down on the little volunteer pear in order to refresh it.
The big wet spot in the distance was still wet but I was able to get around “the duck pond” without incident or needing a tow strap.
The near middle stripe where I did some drainage trenching is a bit of a undone problem, but will define the area to be dug out and rocked.

Spray Rig

I got the Spotlyte 15-gal sprayer the year before last but didn’t find a use for it until now. With Spring bursting out and much of the broadleaf dock wrangled-up, a noxious new Devil’s Spawn emerged in the gap: Erodium cicutariumhas AKA Storksbill AKA Redstem Filaree… Having spread so widely and rapidly throughout the field it required a put down, and we went to the specialty Agricultural Supply outfit for a dose of herbal euthanasia. Also I needed a bigger (longer) wand for application with a fan-shaped nozzle instead of just a simple blaster-gun.

The little Black Wagon of Mud, Branches, and Death was put into service as a vehicle — but first I needed to secure the tank somehow. I measured-out and screwed down the straps that came with the big plastic jug, according to the molded-in pattern on the thing…


We would soon find out how well that worked, but first a test of the system was in order using water. Hook up the electrical ledes to the mower, flip the switch to “On” and turn the flow-valve to “go”…and Spray!



After mixing the proper dosage and including a surfactant for adhesion, we discovered that bouncing around the field easily overcame the minor obstacle the the straps presented, and the jug jiggled loose banging around the wagon and the secondary ledes disconnected, halting the sprayer. So without totally re-doing the straps, we re-positioned them and it stayed-put nicely.

It was nice to work on a beautiful day with mild temperatures and almost no wind, because I wouldn’t want that weed-juice blowing back into my face.

UPDATE: With rain banished by circling high-pressure and temps climbing to 86° today, the first week of consistent over 70-degree weather has arrived, and the end of Spring. May ends on a hot note and it appears we are in for another week of nicey-nice before the heat and the awesomeness of Summer…

Chill

Today the nearly month long dalliance with Summer-in-Winter that we’ve been enjoying got frosty. The Pacific high pressure zone parked overhead got nudged aside a bit, as an arctic blast swung down from Alaska to dust the Sierras with snow and the Western Slope with cold air.
At the Army-Navy surplus store I got a Carhartt furry-lined vest to stay warm while working outside — not that I am very inclined to work outside much when it is bitter cold, but sometimes these things can’t be avoided so it’s best to accommodate them in some degree of comfort.

Yesterday the weather was fine and digging went well, and as a means of avoiding the black mud sticking to the dumper-wagon I put down a layer of pine-needles in the bottom.



It worked! The loads slid out of the wagon easily, and I made four runs until I got the John Deere’s tires all loaded-up with muck and stuck under the pine tree. After a bit of digging out I got free and decided to call it a day and go hose the machine off. My back was also not too stressed and only required one ibuprofen.

Drain the Swamp!

Turns out it was a buried irrigation line, not electric. So I started pulling it up in one direction, then the other. It’s empty and just gurgles. Don’t know where it could possibly have been feeding-from, but I got about twenty-feet pulled-up before I decided not to risk my back further and turned my attention to the swamp and began to cut watery turf. Just me and my shovel.
After about an hour and a couple bottles of water, I had nearly doubled the size of the mud-pit and banked-up turf in various low-spots, as well as filling-in about half of the rocky brown-patch.
There’s a couple dumper-wagon loads of mud to take up and fill-in the old burn-pile ditch, but with this fine weather it’s hard not to just keep at it making hay while the sun shines.
It’s fun to see progress being made, bit by bit, but now I’d better throw a couple mosquito “dunks” into that mess where there’s standing water…

Digging Out Step-1

On Thursday amid the sustained good weather under this umbrella of a high-pressure zone, with bright skies and temps in the low 709’s, I went and fetched the shovel to do a little more digging. From one angle looking towards the fence, and then across the ditch to the other side towards the fence, with lens and Photoshop distortion. It was a good two-hour workout, and still more to do.


From one view you can see what might become an island, as the water percolating down out of the field runs around it. Instead of a really large “pond” area (dry in the summer, of course), that might be where I place the center of the bridge span, so the mower can get across.
Afterwards my Wranglers and t-shirt needed a little washing-up.

Also I discovered a black pipe running along the direction of the fence-line, about where the water drains into my neighbor’s cow-watering hole. I have no idea what-for, but it’s soft like irrigation drip-line, and that size. At some point it’s coming up and then we’ll find out what it is, and whether it might be/contain wiring for an electric fence? There’s nothing out there to water anyhow.

De-rock-ifying

Started-in on the main rocky patch off crap-dirt where not much grows. In the summer when the rest of the grass is a foot high, this ten-foot square area is just a bumpy, scrubby, dust-bowl and the mower kicks-up rocks and dulls the blade. Kicking up rocks around here can also spark a fire, so leveling it out is another safety precaution.
There’s another similar-sized patch off to the left, but this one is close to the drainage cut I’m making, and anyhow there’s always more work to be done if you look for it! I wish there was a contraption I could pull behind the mower that would gather up rocks and gravel while leaving the nice soil behind, but I’m not aware of such a thing – even for a big tractor. If there was it might justify buying a tractor to do this job, but since there is not it’s just me and the shovel. When I finished with the shovel I spread a lawn-patch mixture of seed and fertilizer on it, in case I don’t get around to filling it with turf cut out of the drainage channel.
Up in the corner of the property, underneath the old pine tree and by the fence, is a kind of junk ditch that may have been the old burn pile. Anyhow that’s where the rocky crap-soil is destined. The small mower couldn’t make it up the hill because of the clearance, the slippery pine needles, and the scrub oaks, so the big John Deere (with locking differential) was called out. I made about six runs with the dumper wagon half-full (because of the weight), and there’s always more to do but at least it’s a start.
You can’t really see the wide ditch from the picture because of the combination of angles, hillside, and lighting, but it’s about as wide as the fresh dirt and rocks. Six half-loads was a pretty good job, but it’s all soft and there is room for more.
Rain possible today at 3:30, so maybe a bit more work is in order while I have the cool pleasure of an overcast day.
UPDATE: Got outside where the temperature has already peaked at 51 and dropping as the storm comes in bearing Sierra snow. I bent over to move some rocks by the fence and my back called-up to remind me of my current age and decrepitude. Between shoveling and bouncing around on the John Deere yesterday I probably should have worm my motocross kidney belt, but it doesn’t match the yellow and green color scheme. Anyhow there will be more time for more stuff after the rain blows through.

Prairie to Pasture to Parkland

Well not quite parkland, probably never, but I had a hankering to get some tanbark down around the trees and see how much floats-off during the winter. With an initial load of twelve bags for two trees (6-each) and results that appealed, I got up early this morning and went to Home Depot for another sixteen bags for the larger (and smallest) trees. I spread the bark with an eighteen inch gap around at the trunk (conveniently the width of my steel rake), and stomped-around in a circle to make a four-inch deep apron. Or thereabouts.
The big oak I’m leaving alone because it get’s the most wet under there.