These are photos of the work on the vineyard that happened in May.
Eric digging holes for couple of apples in the orchard.
[Anna] We’ve finally gotten the rainwater catchment cistern in & approved. Although we did develop a leak & had to empty out 2 rainshowers worth of water (2000 gal) & 2000gal of well water out onto the orchard, etc. That was disappointing but, hey, the grass is the orchard looks wonderful (there is not green grass anywhere else - it’s been insanely dry).
[Anna] We started building the stone bench around the cistern. First we’re putting in a box around the pipes coming out of the east side of the cistern so dirt doesn’t infill around all those fittings. In our hard as rock clay soil nobody wants to dig anything out a second time. Eventually we’ll expand the stone bench all around the cistern creating a 1ft wide & about an 18″ deep plant bed. We’re building the planter/bench out of local rock we’ve dug up while putting in either the barn or cistern & a mix of straw/mud. Mom & I are imagining climbing roses (or clematis or ivy) stretching over the 4 corners of the cistern.
We started out using a heavy straw & clay mix as the mortar. The clay is the dirt form our land. I don’t think there is anything but clay in that dirt … it is so sticky! I mixed in a med-high amount of straw. We didn’t have any sand so we decided to do a few courses w/o the sand in the mix because we were too impatient to wait It worked out ok but I really really want sand for the rest of the stone laying. The mix is just too sticky & wet w/o the sand. I guess this was just a nice way of reinforcing what all the book say about having a mortar of sand/clay/straw
We have all these large balls of pure clay from leveling the floor of the barn. They wouldn’t break up when wet & partially frozen. Now they are like dry clay rocks. We’ve been soaking those overnight & then they break up real nice & mix with the straw. I also tried screening dirt from other areas to see if they were more workable. I didn’t have to wait for the soaking water to break the screened dirt up … but the clay dirt from everywhere in the meadow is pretty uniform in type. We still need to get rid of those clay balls so I guess we’ll continue to use those until they are gone & then we’ll start using screened dirt.
[Jo] Have spent the last week working on the rain water catchment system, proving once again that no matter how simple the plan is, the enactment will take five times longer, and cost 20 percent more than the estimate. We hope to finish hanging the undergutters (which transport the water from the gutters to the cistern), and plumbing the tank tomorrow. High windsÂ kept us from finishing today. Nowhere near as windy yesterday and we still managed to topple a threeÂ level scaffold. Luckily no one was under it!Â Â
Wildfires in Edgewood & ABQ today, blown intoÂ infernos.Â The barn is all metal, the house will be straw bale heavily plastered with clay and metal roofed.Â Siting both in the meadow, we think the structures will come safely through an ordinary fire. Will follow forestry recommendations about plant material etc. We don’t have to worry about tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, or most other natural disasters–but wildfire has to kept in mind at all times in this dry place.
We think we’ll have enough water between the well and the water catchment–pumped two thousand gallons into the main tank with no problems (well, the fittings leaked and had to be fixed). Most of our plantings will have very low water requirements after they’re established.Â All of our appliances will be low water (and energy), and we’ll designing in a grey water system. We’ve already got the composting toilet.Â
[Anna] I couldn’t resist posting Bruce giving his mommy a kiss before we started planting berries.
Bruce & Wink marching to work.
Â Bruce carrying very heavy (yet empty) 6 gal buckets. Hey - that takes coordination for such a shorty.
Berry Patch [Anna]
Counted up our berries. We planted 78 berries on Saturday: 14 thornless Navaho [sic] blackberry, 11 Hull thornless BB, 8 Heritage raspberry, 7or 8 thornless Chester BB, 5 Polana RB, 10 Apache thornless BB, 4 Pixwell gooseberry, 12 Shawnee BB, & 5 Caroline raspberry. We still have about 15 Navaho’s in town but we’re waiting to see if they green up and a few we’ve set aside for a friend. We should get at least 1 or 2 of every variety. I’m expecting many of the Navaho, Hull, & Polana to take. We’ll wait & see on the others. Many have greened but they could die back & the others are still brown sticks but the roots look like they still might have some life in them.
We bought the dormant, bareroot plants from either Nourse Farms or Simmons Berry Farm. Because the plants arrived before we could get the irrigation in up on the farm we went ahead & put all the plants in 1 gal pots using a local potting mix from Western Organics. It was nice to see what looked likely to take but we did lose a few (2 Navaho & 3 Caroline boo hoo) that were leafed out–shriveled & dropped their leaves when we were out of town a few days & it got really hot. There is a possibility they’ll leaf out again … but probably not.
Â In the berry patch we put in a “deep pipe” (for description of these see the posting on the grape vineyard in May) & drip line for each berry. The berries are spaced 3′ apart and the blacks alternate with the reds (gooseberry was counted as a red even though it’s a green) so that we will never have to wonder if that plant on the cultivar border was a Hull or Apache. I tried to put a greened up plant at the end of each cultivar so that the plants can sucker toward the center and fill in the blank areas.
Working up on the mountain today, Bill, Belinda and I finished off the hole for the cistern. Because we hit a high shelf of rock, we moved the hole several inches (by shovel) then raked and leveled by hand. We had to tractor in several loads of dirt to level, then used a compactor to tamp the soil. The hole was a little better than ten feet across. Moving the 5000 gallon tank from its position and getting it into the hole was great fun. Bill had to skinny into the top of the tank to thread the gasket and collar on the hole he’d cut–while the tank was still on its side and rolling slightly (even though it was chocked). Then we had to get it upright and dropped into the hole. Rotated it with the tractor and heavy straps till it lined up where the rain catchment pipes will exit the guttering.
Still waiting for the rest of the metal guttering from Mueller. Only have till the 28th to meet the deadline from Soil & Water Conservation to get their rebate. Will finish getting the plumbing in tomorrow.
[Jo] We’ve spent the last few days moving mulch–chippings from our forestry project. We’ll use them on our plants. Put in two apricots and a cherry. Got one of the apricots mulched but not the others, and watered. Checked them today. The mulched one was still nice and moist but the other two were bone dry.
Planted more than 50 berry bushes today, also a KY Coffee tree, and a Horse Chestnut. Must get all mulched!!!
Trenched for a grey water line (broke a water line and had to fix it)–so much more to do tomorrow!
[Eric] We are offering another all-day, do-it-yourself biodiesel workshop on July 15th at 7713 Bates Rd. SW, (Barela Landscaping Materials) starting at 9:00 and going ’til 5:00 or whenever we finish.
The price is $80 and includes pizza and beer (we’ll explain why beer at the workshop) and a course pack.
We’ll cover sourcing oil, economic and ecologic pros and cons, preferred vehicles, how to make your own biodiesel processor for under $400, how to brew on small and meduim scale including testing oil quality, safety issues, washing fuel, politics, why we drink
beer when we brew and much, much more!
Rain or shine, wear weather appropriate clothes as we will be outside most of the time, and to take advantage of the hands on experience, wear clothes that were otherwise headed for the dust bin. You will get greasy!
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 977-9846. Space is limited. Payment in advance guarantees your spot.
[Anna] Today I was discussing our irrigation system with Eric. He pointed out how elegant our system was because of the way we use a recycled windmill to pump water to the top of the hill. There the water is emptied into a recycled plastic drum we’re using as a cistern. Finally all the water is gravity fed to the vineyard; berry patch. To waste as little as possible we’ll be using drip lines inserted into deep pipes buried 18″ which will deliver water directly to the deeper root zones encouraging deep root growth; reducing evapotransportation of the preciousfossil water. Hopefully, one day we’ll be able to switch to a rainwater catchment system & more of a dry-farming system.