A Little Earth Moving

EarthworkThis week we had a little earthwork done for the farm. I say a little, and for the farm, because in our state, under the “right to plow” law, if you are moving a reasonably small amount of dirt and it is for farming activity, you don’t have to get a grading permit. Grading permits take a long time to get in our county, and are expensive, so this law is definitely a boon to a small farmer. The above picture is a panoramic view.

SwaleWe had them process the rest of the fallen barn wood with the excavator, separating out the big beams from the rubble. They stacked it neatly in piles. They took out two maple trees that were growing sideways from long-term erosion on the hillside. We had them recover a road from the hillside bench down to the pasture- a road that was always there, but had gotten filled in with barn waste pushed over the hillside.

They smoothed out the area by the barn, and moved sandy soil onto places where we want to drive, as a base for gravel. They stockpiled some great composted barn waste for later gardening use. And, they dredged out an old swale that drains the first pasture- it had not been cleaned in ages, and its culvert had become blocked, which made the pasture wet. Lastly, they got rid of a lot of blackberry vines- huge ten-foot-tall ones that were too big to manually clear.

BarnRubbleThey are going to return next week to do a little more smoothing, and add a section of French drain along the barn. This should resolve a lot of the standing water issues we were having in many places. And, it will allow us replace the noxious blackberries with grass and plants that are better at erosion control and easier to maintain.

We went to our local farm co-op to pick up 100 pounds of grass seed for this re-seeding project. As luck would have it, they had just that amount in two year old seed in the warehouse, that they were looking to clear out of there (since seed starts to lose germination viability by a  few percent each year it’s stored). Maybe because they see me shopping in there at least once a week, they gave us a great deal- they sold it to us at cost! This is nice grass seed, specially mixed for our area and for low maintenance properties (not lawn seed). It’s normally almost a hundred dollars per fifty pound bag, and we got it for half that!


Above is a “before” picture of all the barn wood that was still in a tangled mess- we had processed about 2/3 of it last summer, but this pile remained. Blackberry and morning glory vines were all over it, making it even harder to try to untangle the wood. So we were so glad to see an excavator do in a day what took us all of last summer to do!


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