Ending the year happily

Pond Builder/Tree Guy and I have made some more progress on farm projects. We have finally broken ground on our North Carolina pond!! Not sure when we’ll be complete but it’s a good start.

One task that has been hanging over us is taking down the large black walnut trees near the pond site. We were hoping to have someone take them down for us, but the pond builder/tree guy thought he could tackle the job. His accuracy with the direction of fall has gotten pretty good and we decided to use some ropes to ensure the tree would miss structures.
The first tree was an easy cut towards the pasture. Not too large, about an hour to take down, cut up and clean up. The second tree had multiple trunks and we took our time. We took the back side trunks falling towards the garage down first and they all fell perfectly. We decided to take the final large trunk down the next morning. This trunk was partially in the large cypress tree next to it. When we cut it, the cypress tree did a good job holding it up. We used the tractor to pull on the trunk and eventually it came down. Unfortunately it pulled one of the cypress tree’s large limbs with it. I’m hoping it will heal. Sidebar: the tree guy noted we should have pulled with our truck for more power and maybe we should consider a more powerful tractor.
The black walnut wood is very pretty. We had a friend come out to pick up most of the wood. He will be drying it for a few years for some project. We sliced off a few cross sections to dry over the next few months. I have a good friend who does woodworking and will most like find something he can do with the cross section.
It was difficult to cut the cross sections smoothly with the 20″ chainsaw. So Santa came early with a new 25″ Stihl chainsaw. I will say that having the right tools makes all the work easier and safer.
Another project we worked on was putting together a greenhouse (8′ x 12′) behind the house. I did clip one corner the other day with my tractor but a little duct tape makes the damage look relatively unnoticeable. We have spare parts and one day we will do the repair the right way. Meanwhile, I am wintering some peonies from my garden in Minnesota, random herbs, and I just moved the tea plants inside. We had to dig up the tea plants for pond dirt removal, so they will enjoy a cushier winter this year. I will need to read up a little more about using the greenhouse because some tomato plants I had started from seed keeled over. I will most likely need to put some source of heat in the greenhouse (like a lightbulb). A lot of gardening projects on the farm are in the trial and error phase.
This is not a tree we have to clean up but you can see how trees fall randomly around the property. We are working on clearing the forest floor and getting the dangerous, large trees down. The forest clean up project is measured in years and will probably never end.
We travel a lot, we had visitors over Thanksgiving – a full weekend on the farm to work have been few the last two months. Free weekend – time to rent a tracked loader to start digging the pond. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great and winter daylight hours are short, but we still got a fair amount of work done. Our pond will be partially in the ground and about 30 inches of water will be above the ground. We need to dig down about 4′ and completed about half of that.
It seems easy enough but it’s actually hard work even with machinery. We were also trying to avoid creating ruts.
My job was to move some of the dirt away from the pond site. You can see the storm clouds that were rolling in. Our state really needed the rain though. We had enough rain that the burn ban was lifted – important for us because we end up burning a lot of the forest undergrowth that we cut.
Some of the dirt we dumped behind the house to build up areas that have eroded from the gutter drains. We have extended the underground drain pipes and filled in some of the mini-gullies.
Pond builder took his loads of dirt and has reshaped the area going towards the bamboo forest. There is still a lot more dirt to remove as we continue to excavate but we have a number of areas around the farm that could use a little extra clay to mend erosion.
It doesn’t look very impressive but it was a lot of digging and hauling over the weekend. I’m hoping we can get to the next digging phase in early January.
Wintertime is also a time where we make plans for future projects. So this area doesn’t look like much but as we clear it some more, it might turn into a home for tea plants.
Kind of a fuzzy light early in the morning…this area might be used for raised beds of lettuce in the summer. The garden by the barn is too hot and sunny, causing the plants to bolt. The deer like to walk through here so they might mistake it for a free buffet… The hammock might find a home here as well.
we are also thinking about what we can do with the waste water and overflow from the keep fill. We will run drain pipes to our gully but maybe we can catch some water along the way to water the plants. Another little engineering project.
Today we received and unpacked our last POD container in North Carolina. We unpacked a 16′ container in about three hours. Exhausted but needed to be done since we are heading to Minnesota tonight. The house, barn and garage are full of boxes but we’ll get to unpacking when we return.

With mixed feelings we are saying goodbye to our Little Siberia home, garden and ponds in a few days. Not going to miss the bitter cold or shoveling snow but we enjoyed living here very much. Sorry to be leaving the ponds that we had fun building. However, pond builder always reminds me that life is a journey and he’s always happy to build something new with me.