Saturday, February 13, 2010
Mud management and erosion control
Lest you think this post is going to detail various high tech or sophisticated solutions, let me tell you, from the very start, it will not.
This post is about recognizing a problem and trying to fix it, as best you can, with whatever resources are available to you...in other words, "the farm way". It's not always going to be pretty, quite the contrary in fact, but the goal is to fix - at least temporarily - the problem at hand.
One of the issues we continually face, living where we do, is the slope of our property. It is very steep. Steep can be good for a view, but it's not good for what large animals have to do to gain traction on it. When it's dry, the ground crumbles beneath their feet. When it's rainy, snowy or icy, it can be quite difficult - and treacherous - to navigate.
This is what the hill to our barn looked like in early fall of 2008 after six months of half a dozen foster donkeys lived here. It's dusty, it's dry and the slope of the hill has gotten steeper due to erosion from all the traffic to and from the barn:
Fortunately, my dairy farmer and hay growing friend, Dale, offered a temporary solution to our erosion woes and we went to work:
He called it "hogs fuel" and loaded up a truck for us. Hogs fuel turned out to be giant bark chips:
It's nice to have a strong farm son around to help with these things:
The result was beautiful:
and lasted until, well...about three days ago. We have had one of those winters Oregon is known for...extremely rainy and wet. And wet makes mud:
Everywhere I look, there are hoof-covering puddle pockets:
and deep, sticky, foot-coating mud mounds:
Since I haven't been able to get my hands on additional hogs fuel, we've had to find a work around. Never underestimate the scores of uses for a simple bale of straw:
Using straw as ground cover will provide some temporary mud control on the trail up to the barn:
And now I will hope and wait for the rain to finally stop.
Even in areas where mud is not an issue, hillside erosion remains a concern. Our third pasture, where the chicken coop is located, has a small hillside that we have dug steps into. This allows us access to the chickens without further eroding the hill. Unfortunately, the llamas and donkeys have noticed that this is where I come into the pasture and have decided to hang out there.
What was once a gently sloped hillside, is now a small, jagged drop-off:
This hillside, if not protected, could erode to the point of damaging the existing fence line. We have left shrubs and grasses in place to provide some strength to the hillside, but with 400 to 600 lb animals traipsing up and down, this won't help a bit:
Enter the power of orange twine:
Never, ever throw away the twine that bundles your straw and hay:
You never know when it might come in handy:
Case in point, when some of these twine strands are tied together, they make a great temporary fence:
Like I said, the resources used may not be pretty, but if they solve a problem, even temporarily, they have served their purpose:
And this allows me to put off thinking about the fact that my property may not be able to withstand the weight and energy of five, large, farm animals for an extended period of time.