Tending The Land

While the bathroom floor demo was big news, if we put it in terms of square footage, it was only a tiny, tiny part of the progress I made over the weekend. An even bigger project that needed to be tackled (for the first time in 18 months) was this…

imageThe weeds in my back field are about shoulder height, which is what happens when you let things grow wild for years. This property, all of it, is a blessing. It gives me space to breathe in a way I’ve never known anywhere else I’ve lived. It also created massive amounts of anxiety, because it turns out that weeds do not just sit around waiting for you to get your shit together and finally buy a tractor before they start growing.

In fact, I’m pretty sure they can sense weakness and double-up their efforts to take over when you’re least prepared to handle them.

Now that I have my very own tractor (and brush hog) I am finally, finally prepared to actually handle all this. I didn’t mow the field straight away when I bought the tractor because there’s a bunch of milkweed out there, and I come from a long line of people who love these guys…

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That’s a Monarch, if you’re not familiar. And milkweed is kind of their deal. The tractor is less fond of it…

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Can tractors look unamused? If so, mine just managed it.

Still, with frequent grill and filter cleanings, I ended up here…

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(Yes, that’s a beer in my cup holder. What else would you use it for?)

Sooooo much mowing, but I could not have asked for better weather for spending a couple of hours out on the tractor…

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The back side of the barn was also driving me crazy. I thought it was going to take some serious work to get it under control…

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Or, you know, two swipes with the brush hog. Amazing.

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There is way, way less stress in my life now. I have no idea why for some reason I thought farming would be different, but like every other project in life… you have to have the right tools.

Next year I plan to get things organized on this side of the barn. My compost piles need to be turned and moved, there’s a pile of rocks that needs to be dealt with, and I’d like to set up a rain collection system back here to gather irrigation water for the field from the roof of the barn. (It’s a 10,000 sf barn, which means even if I collected the rain from half of it, I’d get around 2500 gallons of water per every inch of rain. Right?) But above and beyond all of that, I plan to keep it mowed.

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I’ve got a couple more acres to take care of, but spending all that time out in the field gave me plenty of time to think about my future orchard. I may have done a little preliminary shopping for some apple and cherry trees over the weekend too…

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I didn’t actually buy anything yet, but soon…

The other big thing I need to do before tree-planting is get the garden cleaned up. I also took a first pass over the weekend and got a surprise crop of kidney beans out of it (I thought they were just really big green beans. I’m such an awesome farmer.)

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There are still a lot of eggplants, Kale, and herbs that are holding on, and I’ll be swapping out some of my failed crop of tomato plants for garlic planting in the next week or two… And while my garden days are coming to a rapid close, but I did get one last breakfast out of it…

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Not a bad reward for tending my land.

12 Responses

  1. 1,440,000 Cubic inches / 1728 (cu in. in a cu ft.) x 7.5 (gallons per cu ft.) = 6,250 gallons / 2 = 3125 gals. I think that’s right.

    How would you store all that? I think you’d be better off drilling a shallow well 25′-30′ you could do it inside the barn to keep it secret. All the water that falls off the roof goes in the ground, so you let the ground be your storage (and filter). If you don’t want to drill it yourself you could hire someone to drill and case, then you finish it off.

    I actually did this at my last house so the system does work. I bought the plans and the bit but built the drill rig myself because the guy’s prices are a little high.

    http://howtodrillawell.com/

    If you really love butterflies, this is something to check out:

    http://www.meijergardens.org/calendar/butterflies-are-blooming/

  2. Oh my gosh, I hear you on the anxiety… Living on a farm is like living in the most beautiful Dickensian work camp you’ve ever seen. 😉

    Have you seen the new interlocking underground cistern systems they’re developing for cities? They look like plastic milk crates and stack on top of one another, so you can dig a big hole and add some gravel, and it’s self stabilizing. We’ve thought about adapting one for our barn run off; it sure would be easier than hauling in a big plastic or concrete tank. StormBrixx is one of the brand names, but I think there are others too. Looking forward to seeing what you do next year — we really need to get a cistern going here too, the run off from our barn floods the yard from February to April!

    Be careful cutting that tall grass; I learned the hard way this September that yellow jackets nest underground! Neighbors tell me it’s a lot safer when it’s below 45 degrees outside, apparently they can’t fly then. Isn’t farm life romantic! 🙂

  3. I have three fields of weed/hay/grass and have let it go uncut for two years because there are beneficial weeds for butterflies and birds. When I did cut it, the cuttings laid on the field and I was concerned about smothering new growth. Would be interested in knowing your thoughts on this.

  4. The multiplier I’ve got for rainwater is .6 gals per sqft of roof for every inch of rain.

    So collecting half of 10,000 sqft roof would be 3000 gallons per inch of rain.

  5. You may not want to mow your whole field, Kit. There are lots of animals and insects that need cover and food throughout the year. If you don’t plan on using the plant material for hay, I’d leave at least part of it for habitat.

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