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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Water management and ditches , close to completion

Winter is such a thing... we have have 60-70+F degrees drop. Thankfully this one came with some snow to cover. One day it's 60-69F another it's 10F... to 0... that was a 2 day drop. But the ditch was almost completed, only there was too late to do rock and it started freezing already.
Previous post is about beginning of the BTE wood chips filled drain.

Some more of the logs from the stash were put to good use, mostly longer ones
This is from the last week when we had to pause... for obvious reasons because it froze...
 Then it was 65F again and on the weekend, so the area was covered because that's necessary

Because that's the same area with the weeds cut already several times between he berm and the grass, 6 types of different perennial weeds at least and 4 types of annuals including cheat grass and cochia and thistles and good old bind weeds

same covered

this is the other side of the same ditch when it was still open so the area between the grass and the rock can be seeing open , it is de-facto a dry creek that does redirect water that was rushed from the lawn, it indeed will make the back berm drier,
but because I put some xeric plants there and drip irrigation and doing some deep mulch soil improvements that will not be an issue even this year due to massively increased soil moisture retention compared to clay and rock cover it used to be... without weed fabric and rock, picture taken in dead summer heat in July and the area was still wet (we do not water this type of grass a lot, it's also a xeric type, not typical lawn grass it does have rhizomes so and spreads past the edging unless it's edged often... learned lesson the hard way :) )
this is the beginning of this ditch-dry creek (left), all the flush flood water is redirected to kitchen garden (right, protecting play area with the drains)

 Where are logs there are some bugs sometimes. and here is my busy clean up crew going after the grabs with...hunger

Completed side and log work before wood chips
 And after
 Also some log work on the side of the lawn and bushes
 And here was our 70F degree drop.

 Hope we will get more snow than this, it is too wry

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fermenting ACV (apple cider vinegar) and canning

Winter is time for reflection... looking at this
I go inside do some cooking, do stuff with things that are clean and slow.
Fermenting ACV from scratch. It's about 3 weeks. First batch was done in half-gallon jar
 Here is second run of the ACV fermenting from organic apples, also used acv with mother sediment in both batches. The first batch did not develop strong mother. This one looks better but its still small, in half-gallon
 and larger fermenting jar
there is the growth, just not like some show nice and very thick to over an inch.

video I watched :

Some canning, musings ... this is stock from home grown birds, also canning some store bought protein, fermenting daikon radish.
Testing big boss (all american 930) and my large chicken stock pot (38 quart commercial stock pot)
 My canning workhorses that do all the jobs
 Stock... I can lift that pot only when it's about that full even after tossing lots and lots of logs that solid stainless steel pot full of stock at 38 quarts... nope that's probably 2 people job I guess, for one when it's hot, nope :)
 Canning this, large commercial bowl does good job marinating... that's a table spoon in there, 12 inch tiles...
 ready for pantry

 and stocked
 Pickled daikon radish Japanese style, turned out good
Good to use in things like this (my musings with sushi)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Water management and ditches retrospective, looking back ... and forward

Looking back at how system of ditches and dry creek is forking now I can say that so far so good.
Secondary system of ditches i close to be done... the only thing that is holding it is our winter weather. When we have several warm days and really warm week we did water ditch with french drains covered in wood chips and berms that help to keep dry playground.

Ditch system N1 - first line of defense:

I put a post about first set of irrigation ditches before. In high mountain desert we do not have much water to begin with, 2 month no rain or snow - that's normal. It does happen multiple times in one year.
When it rains it does rain :). We did have something called 100-year flood and 1000-year flood or something among those lines depends on  what source one is looking at :), long story short ... it's about lots of water in very short time. If that amount of water would be more spread out say over those 3 month we have not a drop and some morning dew... that would be great, perfect. It does not happen. We can have what is called a flush flood. The effect on bare not protected dirt is not good.
Initially the property had one very small dry creek, and we have learned very quickly why we have to have it
and spotless clean of any leaves, mulch bark (why would pro landscapers do that bark in a windy area... for decoration...)  and other vegetation bits and pieces or whatever could grow in it (water brings many seeds of all kinds). We had to change it to the (left picture, added more rocks), and then when bigger rain came to the (right picture, even more rocks, slate wall) 
this above is a small rain so, when it's bigger and the dry creek did not take it (was too shallow and was fixed very quickly... like in the rain :) , one has to do what they have to do you know...). The structures can be flooded if the dry creek is not big enough and that's no good, that's why we did good deeper dry creek and water management system. We do not like floods. Working dry creek defense system pictures are here :)

Back at the beginning the was a little portion of the dry creek lower than the structure, for decorative purposes I guess,  it goes by that empty spot ... that spot did grow most impressive thistles of all things first spring ... and I do not like thistles that much...
The small trees forest is indeed around these exact rocks... hard to believe right? In high mountain desert... No. For real... Kind of before and after picture of the dry creek. It did take a while to get to that... but man those 2 scrawny aspens did turn into a mini forest/grove. 
Because at the back of the structure ... there was nothing but distressed pasture and weeds of cheat grass and other species and more weeds... the water flush flood was not that much of a concern initially... except of the mud everywhere including the road which we did raise about a foot+ by now. Before where the road is was the mud pit... why would anyone put a gate there to drive over the mud pit... the story I'll never know... :). 
And we really needed a shed... and did not like thistle and weeds field either in that spot and did not want to roundup the entire property either. that was the weedy dry creek dump spot before. Way way better now. That's how we took care of the weeds organically and managed to end up with mini dry creek grove in the desert. Does not look too bad by our desert measure :). 'Weeds be gone' organically accompanied with the rustic stumps sitting and snacking area to enjoy the country scenery.
Well not all the bindweed, but a lot less of it and much less thistle... still get some here and there, much easier to manage and chickens scratch weeds there too an make me compost.
It turned out this area makes very good wood chips compost.

Looking back several years ...when the bigger rain came and most of the property was covered 2 inches or more with water and then has turned mud till it froze eventually that was a clear 'nature told you so' call. The property needed to be improved if I wanted to grow something and do not make it dead. For the garden all I had was this
And view perennials and some rocks in front of the house mulched with tree bark.
Several new trees on landscaped with some rock and tree bark berms on 2 sides of the typical pro landscaped lawn. Looked very neat to sell the house and compensate for dry dead pasture on the entire property... Later we found previous owners made dirt bike track and moved property flush for that. Hey that was another kind of fun and I do not own a dirt bike to appreciate that fully.
For us that was just muddy ground on most of the property and that was not very fun.
That's why we did all that ditches system.

In spring we got this in picture below ... it was taken 2-3 years or so... ducks in garden and standing water right next to the structure... well the standing water we did not like and that's why the ditch system came to be ... and yeah... the chickens... those plaid the role too, about that later.
I was glad we put the garden where we did so for sure. And that's below is in mid May after 15-th several years back. Weeds and cheat grass are nice and green at the back of the garden, only time of the year they are green there.
So in the past think the garden area garden was flush flooded. It's a reclaimed area ... think raised about a foot flush flood reclaimed area of mud and weeds loving long drought and flush flood conditions. hey  I did grow something that year and good bit of it too and was very very happy about it. After summer sun burns the grasses all that turns brown like below... but that year (3 years ago or so I think) I've got chickens to deal with grasshoppers... so the dry creek ditch had to be longer because flooded chicken house is no good thing and where truck is that's the farm road... and that was muddy all the time too
dry creek had to become deeper like so

and the ditch had to be made initially like so (left) and be finished later (right, took over a year)

Also I found the source of wood chips and lots of it and took care of the muddy mess at the back of the garden for good, no it is building very nice compost

Ditch system N2 - second line of defense:
This ditch system runs along tree berms and follows what previous pro-landscapers did.
Completed ditch part is at the end-lower portion of it. Upper portion will be rock

First we had to make berm and swales a bit cleaner, tree berm is on right, swle on the right side and that one does protect play ground from most of the water flowing in spring or autumn.
 After that the ditch is lined with weed fabric. This area has lots of bindweed and other weeds. So I'd love to do no weed fabric, but here I'm buying myself time

 When done the french drains went in like so, 2 of them

 And the area between rock part ( of these drains and hidden french drain part is stepping logs walking bridge, the logs are on stones.

 Here is not complete part off the dry creek/ditch, to be lined with weed fabric and filled with river rocks (left).And finished portion of the french drains covered by wood chips(right)

Now looking at the garden I started with... here
It did really come the long way
To this and this and this and this ... took a lot of work I admit it.
Drain and ditches now protect that. When I'm done with second set of ditches I hope that's it and we can manage 1000 years flood and be quite fine. The water will be absorbed or redirected. Whave learned  lot about the property.