Notes from Windward: #66


Following up on the hay liner

adding a curb to the hay barn

  November 17:

     It turned out that we weren't as finished with working on the hay liner as we thought we were, something which never comes as a surprise because no matter what you do, nature bats last.

     Over the past few weeks we've gotten more than a foot of rain. Since the hay barn measures twenty feet wide by thirty feet deep, that's works out to some six hundred cubic feet of rain, a bit more than five thousand gallons of water coming down along the sides of the hay barn in a fairly short period of time.

     Later on we want to expand the roof of the hay barn by adding "lean to's" to the north and south sides in order to provide a dry place for the sheep to heat their hay, and to provide winter protection for the ewes and their new born lambs, but that's down the road a ways. When those additions are in place, we'll install gutters to capture the fall rains for use in the main garden during the dry months, but that too is a project for another summer.

     For now, we needed to figure out a way to keep that rain from running into the hay barn and pooling on top of the liner. What we installed is actually intended for lining pools, and given all the run-off from the barn's roof, it was taking its original purpose to heart. That wouldn't do because the water would cause the bottom layer of hay to go mouldy--not only is mouldy hay less palatable, it can cause all sorts of health problems in the sheep so we had to do something.

the new curb in place in the hay barn

     First we pulled up the bales along the edges of the hay stack and set them aside to be next in line to go to the sheep for feed. Then we swept the accumulated water off the liner, and rolled it back so that we could install a curb of treated 2x4's up against the base of the poles. With that in place, we replaced the liner and screwed in to the curb using special wide-headed screws.

     And so it goes--there are always details that need to be attended to, quirks that need to be dealt with as each solution seems to come with a problem or two.

  November 19:

     We had more steady rain last night and most of today, so I was curious to see how the curb was doing at keeping water out of the hay barn. I'm pleased to report that although there was a small bit of water due to rain that was blown into the barn, the flow of water was around and away from the liner--in short, the bottom layer of hay was no longer at risk.

     The rain finally slacked off in the afternoon, and a quick check of the list of things that need doing before snow comes showed that if the soil conditions permitted, this would probably be one of our last chances to get the asparagus planted. Gurney had a two-thirds off clearance sale on two-year old asparagus crowns, so we had ordered fifty as a start on a permanent bed, and time was running out on getting them into the ground.

     Back when we built up the terrace in front of the trailer we call Dunnigan (after a place in Todd's book The Luck of Madonna 13), we covered the fill dirt with half a foot of rotted compost and bedding from one of the old animal pens, so even though it has been raining, I thought it might be possible to work that area in spite of the rain.

the newly installed asparagus bed

     Our unamended soil has enough clay that when it gets wet you have to leave it alone or risk forming hard pan. I was pleased to find that the rain had wetted the combination of compost and fill dirt enough that it worked easily without clumping, so it was time to grab hoe and shovel, and start ditching. After a couple of hours of pleasant work in the foggy mist, we had our new asparagus bed ready to settle in over the winter.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 66