This is the disaster edition of the weekly farm blog!
Since we discuss the good, the bad, and the complete disasters here with no fear or favour, all of the discussions last week about water tank disasters inspired me to take you - the reader - on a journey into the distant past to unveil the ultimate water tank disaster here.
Firstly though, this week the weather here has been superb, with warm sunny spring days. The bees have been buzzing about the place and Cathy’s suggestion last week about leaving a couple of bee boxes out in the orchard just in case the bees returned home has been done. As an experiment, I’m thinking of placing a dish of honey in each of the boxes to lure the bees back into their original hives if only even to familiarise them with the boxes. I’d welcome suggestions and feedback in relation to this as I’m no expert.
|Bee boxes in lower shady orchard|
I had to take some time out from projects this week to fill up the firewood bays. The bays hold quite a lot of timber, but realistically they are required to be refilled three times during the year so are completely inadequate. This is one of the reasons I’m in the process of excavating the site for the water tanks and firewood shed. The firewood that is in the bays now is about 4 years old and it burns really well. The photo shows just how dry this stuff is.
|Firewood in bays|
Speaking of the excavations, the ground around the water tanks has been excavated to further reduce it. It is now at its final level so landscaping around the area began. This involved placing a rock wall along the path behind the new water tank and existing shed. Once the rock wall was in place, a soil mix of 50/50 composted woody mulch and mushroom compost (basically horse poo and straw from stables) was pressed onto the steep cutting. The reason for the high carbon content (i.e. lots of woody material) in the soil mix is that such an environment favours fungal growths which in turn send millions of fine filaments through the soil which holds it together which is crucial on a steep slope. A sandy or loamy mix would wash away in the first big rain storm. Into that soil mix I have planted a huge number of borage plants. These plants have large root systems and are fast growing so they will hold the whole lot together reasonably quickly. The clay path and around and also between the water tanks was covered in a layer of screening material which comes from a local quarry and contains lime so it binds together well, whilst still allowing water to infiltrate.
|Borage planted into the newly landscaped cutting|
The fill from the excavations is being used for new garden beds and that also has had a layer of the 50/50 soil mix applied to it as well.
|Mulch starting to be applied to the new garden beds|
This week has seen the apricot trees come into blossom. They’re an interesting plant because I originally planted them on the shady side of the property. They happily grew but produced no flowers. Last winter I moved about 15 apricot trees from the shady side to the very sunny side of the property. Last summer they struggled as it was their first year in that location, but now they seem to have adapted well to their new location and hopefully I’ll start to get some fruit from them.
|Apricot trees now in flower|
The daffodils are continuing to produce more flowers too. Interestingly too, the largest flowers and stems are found growing next to a mulch pit which infiltrates rain water into the ground from one of the drains, so I’d have to suggest that these plants like wet feet.
|Daffodils with borage and lemons in the background|
It was a dark and stormy night. Well not really, but that year had been unbelievably wet with record breaking rainfall of 1,437mm (56.6 inches) to be exact. That year, I was also in the process of building the house here. Construction sites and record breaking rains equal mud. All of the mud meant that truck deliveries were difficult.
The day came for the delivery of the water tanks and the first tank was rolled off the trucks trailer and down the driveway perfectly. Mind you, it was very heavy at about 750kg (1,653 pounds) and required six people to manoeuvre it down the slope. After the first water tank had been delivered safely, I was basically a bit frightened because this thing was huge and would kill you if it rolled on top of you.
I suggested to the delivery dude that since we had a bulldozer on site, how about we use that to help roll the tank down the driveway and save everyone the risk of getting squashed. The delivery dude saw the world differently and just wanted to deliver the tank and be out of there as fast as possible. The water tanks sit on a trailer in a cradle on its side for transport. So the delivery dude ignored me and started rocking the water tank out of its cradle and then something went horribly wrong. I could see and still can see in my memory, the water tank falling in slow motion off the side of the trucks trailer and there was not a thing anyone could do about it. The water tank hit the ground with a thud and then simply started rolling down the hill picking up speed and squashing fruit trees as it travelled. I’ve never seen people scatter out of the way of some object as quickly as that day.
Fortunately the previously mentioned bulldozer stopped the water tank dead in its long escape down the hill. Unfortunately for me the water tank also landed upside down on its roof whilst managing to smash the window of the bulldozer (which was not my machine).
|Water tank meets bulldozer|
Moving the water tank back up hill required the services of a 20 tonne excavator. The photo below gives you an idea about just how large the water tank is in comparison to the excavator.
|20 tonne excavator used to move the water tanks about the property|
Repairs were attempted on the water tank, but the damage was too extensive and the company eventually turned up – after much complaining and about 6 months – and cut up the water tank so that it could be recycled.
|Attempted repairs on the water tank|
Some things are simply not repairable.
In sad farm news Frizz, the Frizzle Isa Brown chicken, died this afternoon. It was weird because she was in excellent health this morning and I found her still warm body in her enclosure in the early evening as I was writing this blog. An observation I once heard from a New Zealander is that if you have livestock, sooner or later you’ll have dead stock. Vale Frizz.
This past week has been both a sunny and warm week and temperatures most days were in the very low 20 degrees Celsius (68’F). The temperature outside here at about 7pm is 13.5 degrees Celsius (56.3’F) and so far this year there has been 561.8mm (22.1 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week’s total of 561.2mm (22.1 inches)