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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

We're still here.....and working

We haven't been able to get a blog post up in a week or so.  It's not because we've stopped working...it's more because we are involved in two really big projects right now.  We really can't do either justice online without having photos of the end results.

The first project (which at the time of this writing is almost complete) is the planting and care of 11 apple tress.  We admit it....these were an impulse buy...but the price (75% off) was too good to pass up.  It's not as simple as digging a few holes.  We've got to make sure that these trees receive good soil, lots of water, and protection from critters who'd like to snack on them.

There is about 4 to 6 inches of good soil on our land and then it turns into sand, hard packed sand, some more sandy stuff, and some stuff that looks like ash.  Needless to say we will be doing sheet composting somewhat like is shown in the Back to Eden film.  We have also have lots of experience in Lasagna Gardening.

We will also be putting up protection from the deer, moles, voles, mice, and other animals that love tender little trees.

What kind of apple trees are they you ask....6 Dwarf Winesap, 1 Dwarf Golden Delicious, 4 Semi-dwarf Lodi.

The road is another story altogether.  For about 20 years or more tractors have been driving in and out of the farm with almost no maintenance done to the almost 1000' length of it.

It is rutted, muddy in the rain, and up to this point impassable by anything other than a full size four-wheel-drive truck.  So Nate's small truck and the minivan just don't cut it.  But very graciously the neighbors have been letting us use their lane (which connects to our field) until we can get ours fixed up.

I won't give away all our road building secrets just yet - but let's just say it involves an old mini-golf course, dump trucks from the 1960's and lots of time in a skid steer.

More to come on this and the orchard.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Diggin for Rocks

So we decided that it was time to dig a bit and see what "lies beneath".  The hillside that we'd like to build on had the potential of hiding a big rock ledge....the neighboring property has exposed rock...so it was time for us to check.

So, Nate got the Kubota with backhoe from work and set to digging...and learning how to use a backhoe.  Not too hard to do...but this one is pretty old...let's just say the action on it is a bit "sloppy".

After 8 feet - no rock ledge....just dirt and sand.  That's good for us. 
Now we have a hole.  Yeah!

Three tractors on the farm....that's 2 tractors too few right?!?

Tonight there were three tractors up on the farm. 
Lloyd's for skidding trees.  It got a flat and had to be fixed up. Scott brought his up so we could use the forks to lift logs.  And the Ace Hardware tractor for digging.  Soon they'll all go home.  Thanks everyone for letting us use them!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Work Day! Part 2

 The day was so big it needs two post entries!

We basiclly had two different jobs to do today.  The crews rotated between peeling trees and clearing brush.  The logs were so big they all had to be lifted by tractor (thanks Scott for the use of the little John Deere).  The brush piles were huge - think the tops of about 50 small and medium sized trees.  But with so many hands the work got done quickly.

This group finished in 3 hours what would have taken us weeks to do!

The Crew!

 How much can one man carry?  Obviously quite a bit!

 Getting ready to feed the crew.

 One of the only pictures of Terry not working....oh and Bruce too.

Check out the videos coming soon to Part 3 of the work day.

Work Day! Part 1

  Well the big day happened.  Twenty-six of us decended on the farm on a very hot July day to finish the peeling and stacking for this year.  We've decided to stop peeling at this point because peeling has turned into chipping....that is...you have to chip the bark off the trees now...no more nice easy peels.  We estimate that we have about 26 cord peeled and we will get the remainder in the spring.

The big push today came with the help of some of the summer staff from Beaver Camp.  We've come to love Beaver Camp and the staff there.  It is a great Christian camp!  They worked SO hard and with cheerful and Christ-like attitudes the entire time.
 The biggest trees sit ready to be cut to 146" lengths and peeled.

Terry keeps right on working while Bruce and Christian chat.

Maria, Brian, Johnny, and Alex get their first taste of peeling.

Ella, Zane, and Collin try out the tractor.

Kala helps clear brush.

The work site.

Lisa gets in on the act.  Hard work must run in the Zehr household.

"Florida" Dave doesn't mind the heat....or peeling.

Make sure to check out Part 2 of the work day!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Work day reminder

Hello Friends,

I know you’ve been getting a lot of requests from us lately for work days……I promise this is the last one….for a while…..

This Saturday, July 14th we have a crew of people coming from Beaver Camp to help out.  In order to give all of these people something to work on we need some chainsaw operators as well as other helpers.  If you have time from 9am till 1pm on Saturday, we will be up at the farm trying for a final push to get wood done.

If you have a chainsaw please bring it.

We will be grilling – so lunch is provided.

Let us know if you can make it.

Nate and Denise

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

This is how it's done

Here is a video to show you the steps in getting a tree from standing
to peeled and on the pile.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Big Ones

Today we started taking down the biggest Quaking Aspen on the land.  It will take a few days to get them all.  That means lots of tractor work for Lloyd....which he won't complain about!


 When I asked Lloyd how long he thought the tree was he said, "65 feet".  I got out the 100' tape measure and they were......63 feet.  When you're good you're good.  With the tops these trees were around 80 feet.

We had a new recruit today.  Michelle got her first taste of peeling...too bad these logs were some of the hardest to peel.  Thanks for hanging in there!  Edna continues to amaze us with her pep and smile...even when peeling stubborn logs.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fun Night with Friends

When there is hard work to be done there is no better people to do it with than those who make it fun.  Tim, Cindy, and Scott know how to make it fun.  

If you want to join the fun we'll be having another work day on Saturday, July 14th starting at 9am.  We'll be grilling out for lunch so bring something to charbroil if you like.  We'll try to provide enough drinks and snacks for everyone.

 This is how we eat our dinner every night.  Denise packs us an awesome meal (pulled BBQ chicken, potatoes, and peas from the garden tonight).  Benches and kitchenette compliments of our friend Jim.....he made them from shipping pallets.

The end view of part of a pile.

The trees we are cutting are Quaking Aspen.  Around here they call it "Popple".  It is drying out super fast.  Notice this crack/check in this log.  It's about 6 inches.  This is one of the worst ones.  Obviously this guy will get split.

Because we are in a hurry to get logs peeled before the bark starts tightening in the next few weeks we've been leaving them in the the long 146" lengths.  This has turned out to be a good thing because of how fast they are drying.  If we had shorter lengths and they dried fast we'd lose a lot more of our pieces to checking and cracking.  As of right now it is only the end of the log where this is happening.

Hopefully on Saturday we'll being cutting the 146" lengths into 8 - 18" lengths and then splitting some of it and stacking all of it for use in the cordwood walls next year.

A birds eye view of the work site.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hot, HOt, HOT Night!

Tonight on the farm was a hot one.  Well into the 80's with lots of yummy humidity.  Nate's found out that wearing chaps in the summer is like wearing rubber pants.  In other words, chaps don't breathe very well.  Tonight was a night to catch up on a few things so we only got one tree down....but it was a biggie.  We've taken down 45 trees so far.  Only about a dozen to go on the property and then we start collecting from other places.  We need about 30 face cord of 18" lengths and about 6 face cord of 10" lengths.

Eying up the angle the tree is leaning.

 Making the cut.

This is how we skid most logs out.  Nate's pretty purple truck is getting quite the beating.


The kids got the night off.  We brought a generator up from work and after dinner they lounged in the van and watched some videos.


Some of you wanted to see how the pile of logs was stacking up.  Well here is one of them.  It's about as tall as Zane.  The picture doesn't do it justice.  We've already split a pile about half this size.  You can barely see it in the back left hand side of the photo.

The brush pile on the other hand is quite large.  This is only one of three...and it is the medium sized one.

Can you find the children in this pile.  They like hiding in it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Loggin' It

Wow!  Tonight we got some work done! 
Lloyd and Edna both came up and Lloyd skidded logs with the tractor while Edna peeled.
Then Evan showed up and the bark really began to fly.

Thanks for all the help!  It's great to see both young and "older"
getting involved in this project.

Getting ready to cut.

A full tree, skidded out and ready to be cut to length.

 Edna, Nevin, and Evan gettin' it done!
Lloyd.  This tractor is like an extension of his body.....he's that good!

Skidding a couple small ones.

This is what a "spud peeler" looks like in action.
The men finished out the night strong. 

 Nevin took some video of Lloyd skidding out some logs.