Thursday, May 16, 2013


Today turned out to be another productive day. Much more productive, in fact, that I had expected since the weather forecast had been calling for rain. It turns out, however, that most of the rain missed us, and it only sprinkled for around 30 minutes just as I was getting off from work.

Before that, however, Andrea had to take Jack to the vet. She noticed a place on the inside of his leg, which was obviously bothering him. As we began to pay more attention we saw that he was limping, and was less active than normal. Fortunately our vet is very flexible and was able to see him today. It turns out this problem was related to the gunshot wound he sustained back in late February. The bullet is still embedded in his leg, and had become infected. They gave us some antibiotics to give him, and scheduled surgery for next week to remove the bullet.

I really hadn't decided ahead of time what I was going to work on this evening. I noticed, though, that the backyard was mostly dried up for a change, which I had been waiting on before trying to clean the ditches. With rain in the forecast for the next three days I thought it was a good time to try to get them cleaned out while I had the opportunity.

I used the tractor with the middle buster to clean the ditches as I had done before. I was able to do a more thorough job this time. However, I've come to realize that it isn't an easy task. This is partially because the terrain is so uneven, since the ditch is along the base of an incline. The other issue is that following an existing ditch that curves is much more difficult than I expected.

The middle buster pushes the dirt out to either side, leaving it piled up along the ditch. Because most of the ditch runs along the base of an incline I do not want dirt piled up on the upper side, as it will prevent water from entering the ditch, and will eventually just be washed into the ditch, filling it back in. Because of this, I had quite a bit of work to do with hand tools after finishing with the tractor.

For part of the ditch all I had to do was use a hoe to pull the dirt from the upper side of the ditch across to the lower side. The result is that the berm along the lower side gets built up, which should prevent the ditch from overflowing as easily. In some places this still needs to be built up, as it is only a few inches above ground level, but in other areas it is close to a foot tall.

Other parts of the ditch were not as easy, however, and required a shovel and mattock to finish up. In these areas the dirt was saturated with water. I know it only makes sense, but I feel that its worth stating, mud is much heavier than dry dirt! Luckily I was able to pile a lot of this dirt/mud along the lower edge of the parts of the ditch that regularly overflow, which I am hoping will help to keep the backyard dry. The ditch itself can't be due any deeper due to rock, so my only options are to build up the berm along the lower edge, or chip out a section of the rock itself. Piling up dirt is certainly the easier option.

Cleaning out ditches is not something I am accustom to, so it tires me out quickly. I ended up not being able to completely finish the job, but did get around 170 of the 215 feet cleaned out, which I'm pleased with. The section that I left unfinished is mostly in a level area, so having dirt on the upperside isn't as big of a concern as the section running along the incline.

While I was working on the ditch Andrea was planting herbs in the herb garden. She was able to get several things planted, and could have done more if not for the fact that we still need to finish up the stepping stones. Hopefully we can get that done soon so she can finish planting.

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