Monday, May 28, 2012

memorial weekend 2012 pond updates

Joel had some time to play on the tractor so we were working on some pond updates this weekend. When he did the last digging over a year ago with a backhoe, he ran out of time and wasn't able to move any of the clay piles around the pond. My nephew started moving one on the SE corner a week ago and Joel started working on it this weekend. The huge claypile was on the very edge of the pond so you couldn't access the water and we had a low area just East of there that needed filling in. So they began moving the clay pile to the area to the East ..under the big pine tree and south. This is very hard heavy clay so it was a lot of moving. There is also another clay pile North of there and several West of the pond.

The first photos show where he flattened out where the first Clay pile was, and you can see where it is being moved to, that area will still need to be levelled and any extra clay will be moved out of there when the levelling is done. There will be more digging out of the pond in this area eventually, probably later this summer, and then this area is destined to become a Japanese garden. We have a pine, an eastern hemlock, 2 russian olives and a weeping and a swamp willow in this area. This is the SE corner of the lower pond.

I have planted baby Jerusalem Artichoke hedge to HIDE the ugly travel trailer at the neighbors across the field, they pulled it back into the field right in the center of our view..yuk. I'm standing on the SW corner of the lower pond bank here, eventually the flat clay area will be dug back to the pine tree so the pond will be larger there (it was but the dig made it smaller, but deeper). The banks will also be graded and the swamp willows removed, so that there will be a gradual bank to the water's edge when we re dig.

The pond bank will be dug nearer the base of the trees and shrubs here (I'm standing on the East side of the south pond) and eventually this will be levelled and turned into a japanese style garden.

Thiis area below is a spot across a wetlands area on the NE side of the upper pond, that we leave shallow and with cattails for the red wing blackbirds and cover for the fish. It is my favorite place to sit and watch the wildlife.

The dock has an arbor over the end of it with baby "tickled pink" seedless grapes, baby woodbine vine and just popped up baby morning  glory vines as well as shrubs and flowers growing all along that North bank.

Here is the boardwalk and bridge leading to the tiny little island between the upper and lower ponds. The ponds are shaped like a wierd figure 8 with the island in the center. There is a pump north of the bridge with a pond filter and a waterfall on the island. I have just begun to plant baby perennials and shrubs and trees on the island this year. I have also begun to plant marginal perennials on both sides of the boardwalk at this end of the bridge.

You can KINDA see the waterfall where it goes into the water here (better photos to follow). I put in the baby Bloodgood Japanese maple along with a lot of other perennials, lemon balm, bleeding heart, hosta, a pink rose, miscanthus grass, artemesia, lambs ears, Gold  Coast Juniper, sedums, mosses, daylillies, and others. Also have planted baby Carmine cherry, goji berry, Aronia, and a Giant Breda Medlar on the island, some have frosted though so I am not sure they'll survive.

On the right at the edge of the photo is a bit of the Giant Breda Medlar baby tree showing, I'm on the island looking SE toward the yard where we are putting the clay piles to level a low area, and also where we are removing the clay, that area will be dug farther back.
Another view of the south pond, there are Hardy Lotus and water lilies planted all over the pond, but raising the water level "sunk" them below the surface, they'll be back in no time reaching for the sun.

In this view I'm standing on the island looking North at the north pond . That BLUE LINE you see on the bank is the hose that we used to raise the water level by a foot, it has since been removed. You can't see the waterfall here but it is on the other side of the rocks and will be visible in other photos. The island bench is behind me here. There are a lot of water lilies planted in this area but they sunk when the water level was raised a foot..they'll be back. The cloudiness of the water is caused from pumping all that water in over such a short period of time (neighbors are lowering the level of their pond for some construction and they were testing their pump so we got the water..woo hoo) Just N of the pond bank you can see where the trails begin through our North woods.

This is my favorite sitting place on the entire propoerty, I have partial shade from the aspen, I have privacy from everyone but the cars passing on the road on the far side of the field that we are reclaiming to woods.
My lawnswing is on the shallowest end of the wetlands area of the pond, where I can watch the redwing blackbird feeding their babies, the turtles and fish, listen to the bullfrogs and tree frogs, and be entertained by birds and critters. I sit here whenever I need to clear my mind, and swing.
On the far NE end of the pond you can see a mess. Joel put some clay pile dirt around the apple tree on the East side where our overflow raise the overflow level of the pond so we could get another foot of depth. And then when they brought our pond level up by pumping water into it last night, Joel went over to that side and found the lowest land spot and dug a v trench and put in an overflow of PVC pipe JUST about an inch or two above the water level, so we won't get flooding of the surrounding land. The clay was wet from an all day rain, so he was slipping and sliding with the tractor and made a mess, but we got the overflow in and will clean it up when it dries off. He is going to use the clay piles on that side of the pond to raise the soil level on the East side of the pond, and will regrade all of the banks on that side of the pond (and maybe do a little enlarging when we can get another backhoe rental under our belts).

Here is another view from beside my swing. I have planted baby trees and shrubs and flower and groundcovers all along this north bank, but they are hard to see from here. You can see the clay pile that Joel started moving yesterday, on the far bank, he cut more than half the height off of it already but it has a lot yet to be done.

In this photo now you can see the waterfall on the island, you can see part of the south pond (I'm standing on the North pond North bank looking South). You can see where the one clay pile on the SE was removed and partially levelled where Joel intends to dig out more of the pond and you can see the clay pile that he is working on digging out to the left beyond the end of the dock and NE of the island. You can see a few of the baby trees planted along the north bank of the north pond in the foreground.

Baby grapes, woodbine vines, morning glories will be going up over this arbor soon, above the photos out of site is a bluebird house (swallows are nesting in it).

Slip Slidy Clay the very very edge of the left side of the photo is the LOW spot on the waters edge. After raising the water level by a foot yesterday we located the lowest spot and Joel went over there with the tractor, slipping on clay, and dug a V into that area and laid PVC pipe for an overflow about 2" above where the water level is now, so that it won't flood. Obviously he couldn't do any more work other than getting the pipe in and covering it cause the clay was so wet from lots of rain that day. EVENTUALLY, when it dries out enough, he'll take the tractor back over there and he'll finish taking down that clay pile on the right side, spread it over the low area to level it and bring in more fill if necessary to get a nicely landscaped bank there (not sure if he plans to dig more there in the future to enlarge the pond to the east but he likely does. He will eventually get it all landscaped, levelled and we'll get the gardens planted. Just 2 days ago this was mown lawn..yukko..not now.
This is the far East end of the North pond, which used to overflow just THIS SIDE of the apple tree leaving the roots of the apple tree flooded when the water was high. Saturday night Joel brought clay from the piles and filled in this area around the apple tree and along the ditch (beyond the clay fill) and also this raised our water level area of the pond so that it would not overflow here. After raising the water level yesterday, we found the NEW LOW area and it is just about the far right hand side of the photo, looking hard you can see the new white pvc pipe that was just buried there last night about 2" above the water level. This will be the NEW overflow pipe to the pond (to the ditch beyond) and it will allow the water level to go only 2" higher than it is now before it will overflow into the ditch (we need to screen that pipe to keep our fish in but right now no water is flowing through it.)
You can see ONE of the baby bushes that are planted along the pond edge (a red barberry) but there are lots of baby shrubs and trees planted all along the entire North bank and also along the woods edge here, including roses, apricot trees, heartnut trees, maples, alberta spruce, white pine, white spruce, box elder, junipers, etc etc..and there are also dozens of marginal plants and perennials and even some fruit crop babies like elderberries growing along the edges. Eventually we'll get the banks all graded and gardens planted esp the Japenese Garden that Joel really wants to have in his view from his house. This apple tree is an unnamed self seeded early yellow apple (we'll have to think of a name for it)..very good if eaten fresh and early, not a good keeper.

Here you can get a small glimpse of the baby perennials we have planted on the bank edge, and there are some siberian iris out in the water as well as some sterile lytrum in magenta pink and lots of water lilies that sunk below the surface when the water level was raised last night.

Looking back at the best seat on the property. You can see that eventually there will be trees all around this seat and lots of flowering perennials and food bearing crops.
Here is the view from the best seat on the property. I'll be 61 in less than a month, sometimes I wonder if the construction of this pond, the planting of the gardens, etc. will ever be done in my lifetime, but if not, Joel will continue to enjoy it. Still in the plans, finish the digging and landscaping, put in a flowing artesian well (maybe this year) and eventually have real fish besides the hundreds of goldfish in the pond now..and then ..just enjoy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

earth moving

Joel had some time off of work, so he started playing with the tractor last night after working on the new furnace connections all day. He gets a lot of stuff done in a short period of time with the tractor. He began moving one of the clay piles and using it to level a depressed area of the property east of the pond. Hard to do with low hanging branches of pine and hemlock trees, but he was patient with the tree situation and has gotten a lot of the levellling done. Needs to do an oil change on the tractor before he can finish up, but the progress is amazing. I'll have to get some photos soon.

Well the wood furnace has been replaced and tested on Friday. We tested the heating of the hot water in the house also and it worked really really well. It is going to be a lot different than our old hot water furnace, but I hope it will be much more efficient. There are a few wirinig things that have to be finished up in the house and woodshed to add more outlets now that the furnace (with pump and fan) is taking up more outlets we need more for lighting and to run to the pond pump and filter and waterfall..and probably some lights by the Joel will begin to work on that today. He may be off work but he'll be thankful for him.

Friday, May 25, 2012

crazy Jerusalem Artichokes

Well I dearly love my Jerusalem artichokes but I'll never again plant them in a small garden space. I have just spent the last 3 or 4 weeks digging them out of 5 beds in my food forest garden..and now I have to wait for all the tiny little baby sprouts, to sprout, before I can rebuild the beds.

I have moved the Jerusalem Artichokes now to a long hedgerow in the field along a ditch, also along our property line for about 250 feet and then a curvey hedgerow in the woods ..we'll see how they like that..I also have a hedgerow north of our food forest garden and hope it doesn't decide to move back in..via that route.

I started out with 3 tubers a few years back ..and have given away or moved the past two years approx 20 or 30 wheelborrow loads..from those 3 tubers.

Dont' get me wrong they are yummy and they are beautiful, but they are prolific.

I am basically digging everything out of those 5 beds except a few dwarf fruit trees..and burying aspen and alder wood in the beds to form mini hugel beds...and then replanting them with food forest gardens, again.

All the trees but a couple will be moved out of the I rebuild, and then I hope to put in a couple peach trees to replace the moved ones..and start those beds over.

the comfrey and all the perennials were pretty much bogged down by Jerusalem Artichokes so they also got moved or are getting moved and so to make surey it is JA free..I'll wait a few weeks and then dig out the soil down about 2 or 3' deep, pile in the wood and compost and then replace the soil and replant..oh fun.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

winding down on the chainsaw trial..end of week 2

OK, well it is time to wind down the chainsaw trial..end of week 2. I have probably cut around 10 face cord of fire and other wood, trees, etc..still have a LOT of it to haul. The pole pile still has the largest logs and some smaller ones that are buried left, and my nephew Nick came over and got the gas saw (that has the powersharp bar/chain attachment) and cut up a few of the larger logs for me today. The Oregon Powernow saw was very effective on logs up to about 13 inches, but larger it just bogged down too much to try to attempt to cut them on a regular basis.
We set aside the larger logs and I cut up as many of the logs 13" and under that I could handle. I'll admit my hands are aching and I'm very very very tired of cutting. But the saw performed perfectly and I do highly recommend it. It was very easy to use for a person like me with disabilities and old and unsteady, but I'm getting ready to return it to Oregon with a huge thankyou.

I still have a large number of very small diameter ash trees that are infected, and I hope to cut those down and cut the trunks up for firewood tomorrow, and then I'll be cleaning the saw up and preparing to return it. Would I love to keep it, absolutely, if I could afford to buy it I would.  I believe that it would be the perfect saw for a small homestead as long as your cutting isn't much over 13" that has to be done it will handle what you need to do.

Now that the furnace that we are getting requires smaller logs, it really would likely be the main saw that would get used around here if it did belong to us, as with my husbands disabilities and my son's "too busy".. most of the cutting would fall to me, and I would choose it over the other saws that we own, the powersharp is the main feature that sold the saw to me besides being battery run.

The ease of use and maintainence is super user friendly..If you are looking for a saw please consider this saw for your homestead.

If interested please contact: Luke Weintz at
Tell him that you heard about it from Brenda Groth, thanks.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Trails in the alders

I've mentioned on the forum that I have been putting some trails through an alder "forest". If you can call it a forest. This is black dirt, swampy area and it is nearly all just alders, which tend to die out in the center. I have been pulling out the dead and cleaning up the windfalls and piling it along the trails, and I would like to take advantage of the nitrogen fixing of the alders and their ability as nurse trees to plant some food forest trees among them but am trying to figure out what to plant here. Right now the paths are mainly grass and wild violets. There are bear and deer that use these trails here, so planting both human and animal food is a goal. The stacks and piles of deadwood would also help to protect any small plants feeding them and protecting them from browsing.
Right now the woods is partially flooded so I can't walk far along the trails to photo, but I took these two photos this morning of the alder trail "start".

As you can see the alder trees are quite small in diameter and don't grow very tall, they tend to die very young. There are some areas near a drainage ditch that is higher and drier and I'm thinking that some full size fruit trees might be a good idea for planting in the drier areas. I am considering seeding in apple, pear, plum, peach, etc..and maybe putting in cuttings of seedless grapes to grow up and thru the alders. I am also considering lining one of the path areas with some black raspberries (as I have a lot of them). Leeks were mentioned, or ramps, so I'm going to see about getting either some starts or seeds of those to put in. Thought photos would be helpful in giving me advice on what to put in.

photo progress of woodpile after 1 week with saw

Well after one week of using the saw on the woodpile, or thereabouts, here is the progress from Saturday to Saturday...
the first photo is  taken on day 2 of using the saw and the next one is of the progress in one week (one day I didn't go out).
also this tree behind the pile with the two trunks has to come 2
This is a pile of wood that I cut up from the piles above and have stacked near our woodshed (can't put wood in yet as we are still waiting on our new furnace to be put in the shed, scheduled now to start May 15).

I'm pretty pleased with all that I 've gotten done in a little over a week with the saw (2 days I didn't use it). These photos do NOT include any of the other pole wood I cut up or the trees that I cut down and cut up, this is just from the woodpile shown in photo 1.

Today the plan is to take some more trees down at the edge of the woods early in the day (sun is ocming out now) and then after that I hope to go back over to the pile of pole logs and cut up some more. Pretty soon I'll have to stop on that pile though as a lot of those logs are too large for the 14" bar on the saw,  so we'll have to use a larger saw for the larger logs...later.

Here is the area where I plan to go out and  work on in a few can see a short stump where a top broke off and the 3rd tree front from the left is also broken off at the top (you can likely see  it at the very top of the photo) that one has to come down and the top is lying on the ground and has to be cut up. Also to the right center of the photo below you can see 2 dark brown trees, those are dead and I'm going to take them down as well as a few others in the woods, today.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A glimpse at some of my food forest guilds

Most of my food forest guilds are very very young, but I have a couple photos of some of them that are beginning to mature, taken last week:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

saw came a week ago

Well I got the saw a week ago, and have used it every day since. Just heard from Oregon Rep and he said that they are now approving it's use in the rain. However, I don't think I'd likely be comfortable using it in the rain myself, as my disabilities make me a bit clumsy and I'd be more likely to slip and fall or somehting like that.

Yesterday the rain stopped in the afternoon and I went through 2 battery charges..cutting just under a cord of wood. They say we might have a break in the rain this afgternoon again, so if we do I'll try to cut some more today. Was just outside attempting to walk around the garden and got dumped on and had to come back in, so that wasn't successful...but we need the rain.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

chainsaw trial day 5, exhausted !!

Day 5 has left me totally exhausted. I started out this morning clearing trails in the woods. Decided to get the zero turn mower out there and mow those trails, big mistake. I got it stuck in the mud and had to do a lot of pulling, falling down and finally Ron came out and helped me ..he drove and I pushed it out of the fun fun.

After lunch I went over to the pile of poles and went through 2 batteries on the saw cutting through poles, partway through Joel got out the tractor and he and I moved some of the BIG wood from the ash tree pile. I also moved a bunch of branches from that mess and piled 3 smaller piles of cut up pieces I had cut yesterday.

After I went through those 2 batteries I came back in and put them on the charger, took a break and heated up some mini frozen pizzas cause I was too tired to do anything else.

Then I went out and weeded and planted seeds in the garden, as they say we are going to get 3 days of rain, good time to put seeds in.

Ron is using the tractor to haul the wood that I cut up over to the woodshed area (can't put it inside the woodshed as our new furnace hasn't been installed yet.)


Well it has been pouring rain today (good for my gardens)..and is supposed to rain tomorrow and the next day possibly heavy storms, therefore, I'm not getting any cutting done outside today.

There is a chance that it might clear for part of the day, each day, and if it dries enough for having a battery operated chainsaw going I MIGHT get some cutting done later today...but likely won't be doing days 6, 7 and 8 are a real toss up.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

day 5 chainsaw trial, totally exhausted !

Day 5 has left me totally exhausted. I started out this morning clearing trails in the woods. Decided to get the zero turn mower out there and mow those trails, big mistake. I got it stuck in the mud and had to do a lot of pulling, falling down and finally Ron came out and helped me ..he drove and I pushed it out of the fun fun.

After lunch I went over to the pile of poles and went through 2 batteries on the saw cutting through poles, partway through Joel got out the tractor and he and I moved some of the BIG wood from the ash tree pile. I also moved a bunch of branches from that mess and piled 3 smaller piles of cut up pieces I had cut yesterday.

After I went through those 2 batteries I came back in and put them on the charger, took a break and heated up some mini frozen pizzas cause I was too tired to do anything else.

Then I went out and weeded and planted seeds in the garden, as they say we are going to get 3 days of rain, good time to put seeds in.

Ron is using the tractor to haul the wood that I cut up over to the woodshed area (can't put it inside the woodshed as our new furnace hasn't been installed yet.)

Having some really bad back spasms and my arms and legs are shakey tired, so I'm planning on sitting the evening out.