Monday, May 27, 2013

As One Shed Goes Up - Another Tumbles Down

We finally tackled the big tear-down project:  the old goat pen.   The goat pen is basically a miniature barn, with a hay loft on top - but the goats got everywhere, and left their droppings everywhere as well. This building has always been beyond repair, and even our homeowners insurance does not cover it.  We thought the three day weekend would give us plenty of time to tackle the project, except that we also had to prune 700 grape vines and plant the second patch of corn.

It was not until Sunday afternoon that we actually got started.  We began by tearing off the first outside boards and cleaned out everything from the attic level.    It was a smelly, dusty mess... we carted 2 full wagonloads of junk to the burning pile, and started a stack of lumber that can be re-used.  We basically saved all the old barnboards that looked somewhat salvageable, removing all the nails and hardware before stacking.

Mid-day Monday

On Monday morning we continued tearing off the outside siding boards and removing everything from the lower level of the goat pen.  Another two wagonloads of junk was carted to the burning pile, and our lumber stack started to grow.   By lunchtime,  daylight was visible through all sides.  We stopped tearing off the final boards because every time we tried prying a board off, the building started to shake.

Lars and Jeff took off the tractor bucket, so that Jeff could use the bracket as a ramming tool.  It only took about 10 minutes for the building to collapse once the tractor started pushing:

By Monday evening, this is what was left:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Produce Stand - Part 2

There has been progress on the produce stand:  the "boys" worked on it a little all through the week, adding the roof trusses,  measuring and cutting tin and getting more supplies. Caleb and Lars finished putting on the roof this evening:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Blueberry Patch Maintenance

To keep our blueberries happy, we apply ammonium sulfate as a nitrogen source every spring which also helps to maintain the lower pH that blueberries need.  We check the irrigation hoses to make sure we don't have any leaks or plugged emitters and then we weed...and weed. ( It is always amazing how quickly weeds can grow in the spring, especially after it rains.) Finally, we apply mulch to the entire blueberry patch - to help increase the organic matter of the soil, retain moisture and keep the weeds from growing.  (Just remember to apply extra nitrogen to encourage decomposition of the mulch)


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Building a Produce Stand - Part 1

Looks like we will have a movable produce stand for the vegetable and fruit season this year.  The motivation behind building a produce stand comes from Caleb and Samantha.  Some of the design improvements come from Jeff and most of the labor is done by Caleb and Lars :)

The project has been going on during the week, when the floor and walls were put together separately.  The stand is designed to be "moved", meaning there are strong beams under the floor, which can be attached with chains to the tractor.  Today, they dragged the floor base to the "seasonal location", right off the new gravel patch by the grape field.  It took some time to level the base on cement blocks, but once that was done, they assembled the wall pieces and started to add the siding to keep it straight.  Unfortunately it got dark before they finished the siding ... but tomorrow is another day.

First steps to building the produce stand:

Build Walls
Build Floor

Level some more...

Move to desired location,
level and assemble

Start adding siding

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Avoiding Frost Damage

We may have had the coldest night on record for May 14.  A frost advisory had been posted all day Monday already, so we knew it was coming.  Since our Chambourcin grapes had already formed tiny grape clusters, frost damage was a real concern, so we decided to monitor the temperature during the night.  (We used our high tech digital thermometer, which comes with a probe that is connected by a fairly long cable to the actual display and just hung it out the bedroom window, with the display on our nightstand).  Around 4 am, the temperature had dropped to 37 degrees, and Jeff went out to spray water.  He used the tractor with our sprayer, which had already been filled with water, and ran it through all the rows - twice.  By 5 am, clouds started moving in and the wind began to blow, at which point spraying more water probably would have done more damage than good.  We'll know in a few days if this worked - it was definitely worth a try. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Installing Drain Tiles

While Tina was in Boston for a few days, Lars and Jeff made huge progress with laying drain tiles near the lower pond, where the overflow turns into a small stream.  We had already installed a "running" bridge, so we could walk - and run - around the pond, but there was no way to take the four-wheeler or even the tractor from one field to the next. 

They cleaned out the small stream bed and made space for 2 sections of drainage tile.  Each section is about 18 inches in diameter, and 8 ft long.  After they placed the tiles, Jeff used the tractor and back-filled against them, making a path across.  It is certainly very efficient and a lot cleaner looking.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Plowing Another Patch

Today, Jeff plowed nearly another acre, right below the first Chambourcin grape patch.  He plowed all the way down to where the "wetlands" start, near the little pond.    The plan is to plant sweet corn, followed by a cover crop and then - hopefully - planting more grapes next year.  For right now this means that we have a lot less grass to mow.  After the ground dries out a bit, Jeff can start disking the new field.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Spreading Lime - Manually

We recently bought 3 tons on lime (that is 6000 lbs, which sounds a lot heavier).  We intended to use our lime spreader, and pull that behind the tractor between the grapes and blackberry rows.  Turns out, the lime spreader does not really work with the lime we just plugged up.  So this weekend we shoveled lime onto the small wagon, which Jeff then pulled slowly with the tractor between the rows, while Lars and Tina shoveled the lime back off, "flinging" it along side the plants. (Some of us were better "flingers" than others)  One wagon load of lime was enough for 4 rows at a time.  We could manage 2 wagonloads, then we needed a break.  At this point, we are nearly done, just more more wagonload to go - what a great upper body workout!