Some people dream of sports cars, whilst others dream of large houses and overseas holidays. I however dream of excavators. There are times here when a small 4 tonne excavator would be really handy.
The farm is located on the side of a mountain, so any reasonably flat site has to be dug out of the side of the hill. The highest point the excavations are about a 1.8m (6 foot) drop from the natural soil level to the ground. All of that clay is being used to make new garden beds, so nothing is going to waste here and the new flat area is starting to look really good and expansive.
|The excavations continued this week|
Rocks are used in these new garden beds as retaining walls. Many years ago, I got the idea for using the local rocks as a retaining wall after seeing that the historic hill station gardens in the area used their rocks this way. The best ideas are always other peoples and I had a lot of rocks about the farm and was wondering what to do with them, when it occurred to me that they were an untapped resource. Fast forward to today and with many hundreds of metres (feet) of rock walls about the place, rocks are in a bit of short supply now. I’m only really ever half joking when I suggest that the farm has hit peak rocks!
|Rock walls used as retaining walls|
Incidentally, the two rocks in the bottom left hand corner of the photo have now been rolled up hill to form part of that retaining wall. It was no easy feat because they certainly weigh more than I do. Oh yeah, an excavator would be really handy!
I’d been thinking of ways to move some of the larger rocks about the place whilst I was reading the comments section in last week’s blog entry. Tip of the hat to Lewis, because he mentioned the origin of the term Skid Row which was actually a timber roadway that timber was skidded along back in the day, possibly pulled by bullock teams. This got me thinking about how to roll a very large rock down the hill using timber as a guide rail. That is sort of important here because being on the side of a mountain, rocks which roll out of control down the hill can quickly gather momentum and squash fruit trees and even solar panels. Ouch!
I’ve heard it said that with the right lever, you can move anything.
|A very large rock rolled downhill with the help of timber|
|A wrecking bar being used to lever the large rock into position in the rock wall|
We now interrupt this blog for an important chicken community service announcement. Pan the camera to the chicken enclosure where the author is sitting typing this week’s blog entry on a laptop with a somewhat surprised expression on his face.
Beep (the actual words spoken have been censored due to legal advice)! Right in front of me, two young local parrots attempted a smash and grab raid on the food in the chicken enclosure. I couldn’t believe it. All was going well for the two rapscallions and much food was quickly consumed. Unfortunately for the two mischief makers, their small brains didn’t quite provide them with the intellectual grunt needed to be able to navigate their way out of the enclosure again through the open door.
|Rosella and companion trapped inside the chicken enclosure|
A rescue operation was quickly mounted involving leather riggers gloves (very necessary as their beaks are lethal), eye protection and a towel (a very useful tool too, according to the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy). They were easily apprehended because as they flew past in distress, I simply threw the towel (pun intended) on top of them. At that point the offenders were decamped to the east and thus were now outside of the chicken enclosure free to ponder the errors of their evil ways.
|Rosella being released. Not quite the white dove of peace!|
Earlier in the week, I also did what I call borage bombing an area. This involves removing almost a hundred cuttings at a time of the plants from a weed infested area of the forest and bringing them back here to act as companion plants, bee food, chicken feed and all round general soil conditioners.
|Borage collected from the local forest|
What was interesting though was that I noticed this week that a few established borage plants were displaying their normal blue flowers but there were also some unusual purple variants too.Who knows what this means?
|Borage plant with both blue and purple flowers|
As both the air and soil temperature has risen in the past week, the fruit trees have continued to break their dormancy and the photo below shows some Asian pears and a Gala apple tree producing their leaves and blossoms. You can also see the chickens happily scratching around in the background too.
|Pears and apples breaking their dormancy|
|Daffodils, jonquils and snow drops enjoy the early spring sunshine|
A golden rule here is: that no soil shall be left exposed to the sun. In the photo above you’ll notice that there is a very dark brown patch below and to the right of the shed. This is because I’ve distributed a 50/50 mix of woody mulch and mushroom compost over the excavated fill. Generally my editor bars me completely from talking about soil, but given that she is currently elsewhere, I thought that it may be worth mentioning that this mix of toppings helps establish top soil quickly by providing both feed, bacteria and fungi which are all vital elements in a healthy top soil. There are already very hardy plants planted into that mix which hopefully will establish themselves over the next few weeks before the really hot weather kicks in.
This past week has been a mix of both cloudy and sunny weather with temperatures most days were in the very low 20 degrees Celsius (68’F). The temperature outside here at about 7.30pm is 11.6 degrees Celsius (52.9’F) and so far this year there has been 583.4mm (23.0 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week’s total of 580.6mm (22.9 inches).