Sunday, July 20, 2014
Wood Chips and Alfalfa
Well I finally got the big pile of shredded wood spread out over the area where I want the next batch of fruit trees to go. I don't know if you all remember the huge pile about 8 foot tall by 40 foot long and 20 foot wide I had of fresh wood chips last year or not. I tried finding the old pic of the pile but can't remember which folder it's in. Anyway working a pile of still kinda wet woodchips with a front loader is a very interesting experience. It's kinda like spreading out big rocks held together by almost dry glue if you can imagine such a thing. The pile had actually shrunk down to about five foot tall over the Winter and Spring and had finally dried out enough I could kinda get it pushed where I wanted it.
I had to use the Massey with the front loader and I am not afraid to admit a few times I was at an angle that scared me a bit as well.
I have been slowly spreading and leveling the whole mass down with a rake now as the blade on the tractor just bounces off this stuff. Once I get it about level more or less I will run around on it with the tractor with maybe a roller a bit and then allow it to dry some more now until next Spring. After another Winter of decomposing this covered area should be perfect for putting in 12 or 15 various fruit trees and should fertilize the ground under it too . That's the plan anyway.
The Alfalfa pretty much came back fast and managed to choke out the weeds and Clover that had been growing in it. There are a few bare spots here and there but nothing of any real size. The next cutting in about another two weeks should yield some nice pure Alfalfa bales for next years lambing season. That is going to save us some serious feed costs and should really up the margins on keeping the sheep for next year.
Here is the same patch of field after I had it raked a little over two weeks ago. Amazing how fast it grew back and we haven't had that much rain since then either.
I also found another great use for wood chips. They work wonders as rut and hole filling material.
This little section was a huge rut last year partially filled with some of the 3 inch base rock you see on the RR tie. It was so deep and the rocks stuck up so far I couldn't mow over it with the garden tractor but had to brush hog it. I filled it in with wood chips over the Winter and now I mow right over it. The wood chips decompose of course and sink so I have added a layer twice over the top but eventually the grass starts growing in it and breaks it up. In less than a year already it has become almost like soil. Another bonus is that as it rotted and intertwined even when wet it wouldn't push back out like dirt would have, it more formed a solid mat. After I put it down you could actually drive over it and not make the rut reappear. I have used these wood chips to fill in several holes and ruts already and also put them around the horses water tanks to cut down on the mud that forms there during the wetter periods.
So that's how I spent my day. Spreading out wood chips and tying up Tomato plants to their trellis. I had neglected the poor garden almost all week and it needed some serious love today. I had about half a dozen blown over Sunflowers and a bunch more Squash Bugs to spray. So far I have killed thousands of them but there seems to be no end to their numbers and they have now began attacking the Cucumbers and Watermelons. My bet is those plants will not hold out more than a couple of weeks tops.
Oh well next year I am going to start the Squash Bug buffet way off in another location and maybe at least make em travel a ways to find their food. I was talking to the daughter of a guy who used to plant acres of Pumpkins every year and she told me he had to rotate or the Squash Bugs would kill his crop. I kinda figured that was about the only way to control them I just hope I have enough space to make a rotation work.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!