Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rockin the muuuuuuud!

 Peaches on a new layer of crushed gravel outside the dairy:  Photo by David Lygren

The mud is drying out and we're taking advantage of the sun to bring in truckloads of crushed gravel:  almost ten tons so far (sub 1" crushed rock @ $8 per ton) and SO worth it.  The entrance road to the Alsea Quarry is about 1/4 mile away from the farm.   Old rusting dump beds and the skeletons of giant loaders line the sides of the steep one lane gravel road to the crest of the hill.  The giant scale, just up the hill from the crusher, gives us the vehicle weight.  Then we circle around and chug our big Beastly Flatbed back to where the looming black and gray pyramids of crushed rock dwarf the biggest yellow front end loader I've ever seen.  This is not my first time at the Quarry.... I know where to park so the loader can maneuver.... I'm familiar with the pantomime that lets the operator know to keep it coming... "yes, we really DO need THAT much!"  I don't think he sees many women driving up there for rock, however, the crusher and scale are "womaned" by a nice blond lady.  We drive back to the scale and get our weight slip from her.  Crinkled, damp, pink weight slips from the Quarry clipped to the visor of the Beastly Flatbed are sure signs of Spring every year.

We are about 1/2 done but it's always a temptation to stop putting down gravel once the weather turns and the ground begins to dry out.  If we do that though, we're sorry in the fall.  Do it now and keep at it till it's done.  About every other year we really go to town on it, putting gravel down in the area between the two barns, around the dairy, all the way out the driveway, around the backyard firepit and on all the paths.  In the goats area, we dig out the mud at all the gates and replace this with gravel.  The more it's walked on, the more the gravel just sinks and disappears.  Wherever a vehicle might be likely to be brought in for barn cleaning or hay delivery we both dig out the top few inches of broken down goat poop, and then top it with a few inches of rock.  In the worst weather, we only sink a few inches before our boots hit the rock underneath.  David will take the uneaten stemmy hay from the feeders and spread it into the worst of the mud so that we are walking on top of a layer of wet adobe consistency.  But since we're doing the gravel anyway, we make a path out to the field so that the kids, venturing out with the Moms, are out of the mud.  Once they are in the lush green field, they run, jump on their stumps, or curl up next to Mom for a nap in the sunshine.

Composted manure and bedding, newly piled on all the flower beds and greenhouse beds.... dark, earthy, black, full of worms.... and the new solid grey expanse of gravel.... the lush green of all the growing things.... the cheery color of the Spring flowers..... the healthy goats enjoying the Sun.....  the SUN!!!!! Oh my, the Sun makes the farm look SO good! 

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