Thursday, July 21

I surprised a mama turkey and her two little babies yesterday while I was taking a walk in the back field by the fledgling orchard. They raced into the tall grass next to the creek bed when they noticed me which is completely dry. Normally flowing at about 4 feet deep in some places, we can now walk on the bottom and it is not even the least bit mucky. 

A slightly rare classification of "severe drought" has been announced for our area and we have not ad a substantial rainfall in almost a month. The passing thunderstorms that rolled through the area a few days ago gave us a very small bit of much needed rain, but it was not nearly enough. We need a day of good, steady, soaking rain but each day I scan the weather websites looking for a big green blob to float over our area of the state, seeing nothing but a radar map void of anything resembling precipitation. Days and days of no rain to come.

We have been watering the fruit trees every other day in hopes of getting them through this drought so they can survive and become productive next season. Such new trees being stressed is not something I like and losing trees is not an option after all the time and money put into this venture. With no running water in the back field and the creek completely dry I decided to put two, 50 gallon plastic barrels on my smaller wooden trailer and install a hose hose attachment with a shut off valve on the bottom of each barrel. I them bought two 25' garden hoses and attached them, knowing that the pressure would not be much, but it would have to do.

I secured the full barrels to the trailer with some tie-down straps and bungee cords and away I went out to the field, towing the trailer with the 4 wheeler. Turns out that it takes upwards of 4 hours to hand water 250 fruit trees and the pumpkins and squash plants between each tree. The four of us, myself and Roy hauling heavy buckets and the kids with their sandbox pails, went through 4 refills of both barrels before we got everything watered sufficiently. We are currently doing this every two to three days after work and chores. 

The embarrassingly weedy center portion of the orchard where the
drainage ditch project has dragged into its 3rd month.

Ironically, the drainage ditch that we have not needed at all this season is still a project that is yet to be completed, and that is turning out to be one of the most annoying homestead projects I have ever done. At this point, we have the trench completely ready for the gravel and pipe. There was a great deal more hand digging with the shovels and pick axe than should have been required given that Roy spent so much time out there with the backhoe. 

My frustration level with this project has almost boiled over in that it is taking so much time away from other projects that need to be completed. This past weekend we managed to put the first layer in the trench - the black landscaping fabric. This sits in the bottom of the trench in a "U" shape with the sides secured temporarily to the sides of the trench. The next step is to shovel in about 2 inches of small gravel and to lay the black drainage pipe, wrapped in a fabric protector sleeve, on top of the gravel. 

The landscape fabric in the trench, "U" shaped to allow both sides to be folded over the top of the pipe
 and gravel before the dirt is piled back on.
hard to see, but the black wrapped pipe is in there with the gravel on the bottom and the top.
This has required hand shoveling of all the gravel and trying to maneuver around tall and prickly weeds which have grown up around the trench. Mowing has been impossible even with the large bush mower since the dirt piled up from the original trench digging has made the ground drastically uneven.

As of this date, we have 100 feet of fabric and pipe installed with the 2" of gravel under the pipe. This weekend will hopefully result in the rest of that 100 feet of pipe being covered with the gravel and the rest of the pipe being put in. This depends on both undependable weather and labor (a 7 year old and a 4 your old).

The never ending list of homestead projects continues......

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