Here is the front lawn in spring ’22. Now we see that all of our work last year is worth all of the effort. Pete has just mowed so I went out to take pictures showing how the grass seed grew in quite well.
Not all drainage problems are dealt with yet at the base of the rock walls but the largest majority of it is so much better now. Above is an example showing how much better the erosion is controlled where the grass is planted vs bare ground.
In the middle is our own “grassy knoll” pun intended. I put dead furrows on the downward slope of this hump of dirt between the trees. Wildflower seed is planted there but not yet sprouted. I transplanted extra flowers, mostly red poppies, from the garden in rows also.
You can see that one breakthrough in water drainage occurred after last night’s rain. It made a gulch right down the center of the mound. The seed and tiny transplants only can hold so much. Everything that can be done is complete at this point. Now, we will have to wait for the warmth of summer to help get things sprouting, growing, and holding the soil in place.
Before we can fill for the lawn landscaping we have to try to level out the existing area. You know, push the high spots into the low spots and discover where there are rocks. We have a plethora of boulders at the Woelk’s in Elk. They vary in size from human pickup-able to nothing short of dynamite can move me.
There are two majestic firs in the middle that have a large mound of dirt between them. We have to leave this dirt so our main water line remains at least 5 feet below grade or we will have broken water pipes in the winter. The building code calls for 4 feet of cover but we have learned the hard way over the years to go the extra foot. Fixing a water line in freezing conditions is not a fun way to spend a day.
Peter discovers a dynamite daring boulder on the south side of our house. It is bigger than our Kubota and will simply remain right there. Our landscape will incorporate that into the rock garden above. Besides, it is probably part of that rock garden anyhow.
Walking back up to the house after a hard day of work, my husband has finished leveling and making a flat base course area for building the rock retaining walls below.
Pete discovered a playground rock, during rock wall adventures in the landscaping project. Sometimes run into a really large boulder that asks to be made into a piece of solid playground equipment. That is what happened this week. This giant had to be moved so we could cut a dead tree down which is where we are going to build a rock wall in front of our house. Etc Etc Etc.
How many tires are actually on the ground as Pete moves it around with the Kubota? As we move this heavy rock, notice the squished front tires when the rock is being pushed. Do you think it just maybe a little beyond this piece of equipment’s capacity? Sure hope this little tractor is up to the test.
Roll, roll, roll. Push, then tilt.
This granite guy has a flat top just perfect for climbing on, and two stairs on one side with a single stair on the other, it’s perfect for the lawn area. It is truly a climbing piece of playground equipment. The grandkids have already tried all the surfaces out for us.
The rock movers union has a new member here at the Woelks in Elk. All it takes is to be an expert “operator” of equipment or be a rock mover by trade. Really, just ask Pete! You too can become a member of the Rock mover’s union and learn how to make a Ph. D pile of rock just like this. Are you wondering what a Ph. D pile is? Here is a quote from Pete, “It is a stack of rock Piled Higher and Deeper!”
BTW. Expert, as defined by my father, is a drip under extreme pressure.
Besides, if Peter breaks the tractor he knows how to order the parts and fix them himself. What is the problem?
It takes real talent to move rocks while using equipment that is lighter than the object that you are trying to pick up or move. Just last week Pete had to re-weld the shift lever twice for this poor little tractor. It broke while doing “the impossible”. I wonder what this Kubota tells all the other pieces of equipment in the yard… after the moon comes up each night. It would be interesting to put a baby monitor down there at night to see what the tractor tells the lawnmower, and rototiller when we are not there.
Here is a pictorial sequence of hooking up to move a big rock with a tiny garden tractor and a chain. Simple, really! Sometimes you have to start with digging a little to be able to reach underneath and put the chain around it.
Then you hook the chain to the bucket and start to back up real slow and pulllllllll.
I can see this little orange Kubota sweating as it strains.
Look at how interested Max is in seeing the rock move. Not even a little bit.
When it reaches where it is going to rest, for now, placing a rock under one edge allows us to easily hook a chain around it next time without having to dig under it.
This is the beginning of the west side of the fence for the garden. It is a fenceline that is 53 ft in length stretching out from the south side of the garage.
Here is how the old fence and gate looked on the other side (northwestern) of the garage. We walked in here to pick blueberries or apples.
We took down all the wire and pulled the old fenceposts/braces down, then smoothed out the ups and downs in the dirt along the fenceline. So, now we don’t have gaps between the ground and the wire at the bottom of the fence to deal with.
One Kubota tractor with a phenomenal operator can move mountains and valleys. I will never doubt the power of a man and his Tonka toy! Prior to the tractor, we left all the hills and valleys just were they were. Unfortunately, we used to have to put old logs at the base of the fences to keep turkeys out. They would come in every gap where the ground was uneven. Leveling the ground before building the fence, could be thought of as an act of forethought and planning. Wow, that is scary isn’t it? Are we getting smarter in our old age?
This is the west corner going 50 ft. then turning a 45º angle for 40 feet to go around the apple tree. Covering approximately 70 feet before it makes the turn uphill into the northern side of the fence.
Can you identify this mystery tool and what it is used for?
I wonder what part this tool plays in the process of fence building?
Rolling out 150 feet of wire fencing can be hard on your body. Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s easy. First, my legs get tired from rolling out the wire. Then, the biceps get a good workout from lifting it up so it is vertical with the posts. Honestly, how many times can you walk up and down a fence line in a day before your legs wear out?
I learned how to straighten the wire. It is required that you pull with all you got, then pull again. Following this, my hands, arms, shoulders, abs, and legs are talking to me all night long.
Say hello to my little friend!
A Fence Tensioner
The mystery tool above is called a fence tensioner. I think I am in love. It is an old tool from Pete’s secret stash in the garage. A basic block and tackle assembly with a cogged clamp on one end that grabs the wire, and a dual hook chain on the other side. Pete showed me how to slip the chain around one fencepost, then hook the clamp end to the top wire of the wire and pull the rope. Yahoo! Nail the top in, then repeat for the bottom. This tensioner makes a wobbly crooked fence to a straight line. Sweeeeet!
Now all that is left is to staple the wire three times per post. The south side of the garden is about 150 feet long, with 15 fenceposts.
You can see how the wire is drooping down on the top row of wire before we used the wire tensioner.
We shift into a mode of making a new fence, starting with groundwork including tree and stump clearing. Then on to moving any other obstacles, like gargantuan boulders. The tractor easily flattens out the grade once the obstacles are clear. This grade work was done by hand using shovels, rakes, and wheelbarrows prior to buying our brother and sister’s tractor. Whew! Those were not the good ole days.
Last week we completed the rock retaining wall located along with the asparagus patch. This wall holds an entry corridor open on the lower level for secondary tractor access. About 4 feet of the bank is there between the upper and lower portion of the garden.
Slowly But Surely
Yesterday, we completed the west side (5 fenceposts) located on the south side of the garage.
Today we started on the longest straight fence line which is the south side of the garden. You can see the first group of posts in the ground starting at the lowest elevation down by the garage. This length of fence is approximately 150 feet with a walk-in gate in the center and a duplex equipment gate up at the top for equipment.
You may be able to notice the two tree stumps laying on the right side of the picture. These are from two dead trees that used to stand right where the new fence is going in.
We were picking up one pole at a time and taking them to the appropriate post hole to install. Lining up the tractor and dropping the post into the hole. Adjusting to make sure it is straight, followed up with upside-down-shovel tamping. Then on to the next posthole using the post hole digger on the back of the tractor. Once the hole is ready we drive back over to the fencepost pile for a post, chain it up and come back to put the next posthole in.
Demolition of the old fence begins with Pete taking down all of the top rails on the existing fence. Our demo construction experience “kicks in” as we prepare to build a new garden fence. All the new posts are painted and stacked to dry. Now we decide what is good enough for reuse and what is not. We sort and stack supplies, then burn debris in the fire. Then, do it again. Next, we remove the wire staples followed by taking down and rolling-up old wire for reuse.
The ground is graded after clearing the old fence away. This allowed easy and accurate measurement for South and Southwest corner posts locations. We stretch the blue bale twine line to use as a guide to help make the fence straight. Consequentially, by the end of the day, the first 5 fence posts are set on the southwest side of the garage.
Since this is not a one-day affair, we must construct temporary fencing each evening as we work. Why? Because Bambi is always a threat in our area. If you look at the middle of the dirt expanse in this picture you can see how we placed temporary fencing for this evening.
We have a total of 10 fruit trees in our orchard. It has taken years to get them all healthy and happy and they are beginning to bloom. It is so beautiful and fragrant. If we want any fruit this year we must not leave them out in the open for the deer to eat up. We hope that the weather doesn’t decide to freeze up and snow again before summer gets here. Just another thing that we are crossing our fingers for. Unfortunately, it is all over if those beautiful little flowers get frosted.
Fence replacement preparation steps. One of the first concerns with any project prep is being able to handle the cost of getting all of the necessary supplies. But, luckily Pete had already thought ahead by stacking a deck of logs to dry that we could use to make new fenceposts with. Thank goodness, the man is always thinking.
A couple of years ago, wild turkeys decided our garden was a local delicatessen, so we installed new wire then. We knew our material costs will be low if we are careful with the demo. Hopefully, we will be able to reuse a lot of the wire. It is going to be a lot of sweat equity.
We are well aware that it is not going to be an easy task!
But, what the heck. What else are we going to do with the hours at the home front during quarantine?
Pete and I set a corner post at the southeast corner discovering obstacles at the southwest corner. Two large trees with broken tops and a large rock which are removed.
Next, The logs are cut into 14-foot lengths and peeled. Then Peter began to split the larger logs by using 3 simple tools. A maul and two wedges, combined with lots of strength (sweat) and determination produced our 50+ fenceposts. Splitting fenceposts (an informative article), used to be a common yearly deed for Peter on his family dairy farm, but I found it to be an amazing thing to see in modern-day life.
Truthfully, old age is not for wimps. Increased energy expense requires aspirin consumption at night. Honestly, we both have had to make use of our jetted bathtub to ease sore muscles during the evenings of this project.
Preserving Fencepost Bases
I mixed all of the enamel paints we had leftover from house constrution together. It produced a real yucky purplish-brown mix. Luckily, it blends in well with the color of dirt. Painting the post bases helps provide some protection for the wood. As the logs were split, they were moved to the painting area (pictured above). Afterward, they were again stacked to dry and await being put into the ground when we were ready.
Pete is amazing to watch as he moves the posts from one area to the other. He also alternates between removed top rails of the old fence line and clearing and/or leveling the grade where we want to put the new fence. We are both quite busy.
Our goal was to do the best job we could. After all, we don’t want to be doing this fencing replacement project on a yearly basis, just because we were too lazy to do it right.