Thursday, April 27, 2017

Have Heavy, Huge, Awkward Stuff; Will Haul

This morning I was going to write about all our spring preparations and brag about how we are almost ready and spring is already popping--but now it is snowing! It  won' t stick, though, and that doesn't really change what we have been doing to prepare, however, so here goes, three projects involving crazy hauling challenges.
In March, we had a terrible windstorm, with 60 mph and greater gusts.  Our farm survived ok, with the exception of the greenhouse losing a couple of  panels which had been ripped off and destroyed. Naturally, they were the panels on the northwest end, the most difficult to access because the ground drops off steeply on the west end and is soft, deep mud this time of year.
A greenhouse with a view in. The only place to get the 12-foot lengths of  twin wall polycarbonate was Farmtek, a considerable drive away in Iowa. Had to be done, as events and planting season were imminent!  So, I drove our old beater pickup down to Farmtek on St. Patrick's Day and lashed them onto the  truck bed with the tailgate down and panels sticking out yet another couple feet behind. It was still so windy (but only 40 mph gusts) I was worried about getting them home, but I made it without the panels taking flight.
Rog is the most creative problem solver, and devised a bracing system with  2x4's suspended across the peak of the greenhouse so he could clamber (somewhat dangerously) up to fasten the panels to the frame.  We hope to never have to  replace a greenhouse panel again, so this was a repair accomplished with a bit of overkill.
Our next spring project involves a buffalo. Our bison farmer friends, Ron and Bonnie Shepard, are retiring. They sold their herd and their farm, and their life-sized metal bison needed a new home.  Ron and Bon generously gave it to Squash Blossom Farm for the sculpture garden we are creating!  However it needed some  repair--the  front legs had broken off.
Fortuitously, I happened to be taking a welding class a couple weeks later, so Rog and I loaded up the 2-legged bison into our little trailer and I hauled him to class in Zumbrota. I was a bit worried about pulling the trailer on the highway, so I took the back roads, forgetting that I would drive right past the  bison's former home in Mazeppa. The coolest thing happened. As we came to the Shepard Buffalo Farm I hollered  out the window to the bison to  say one last goodbye to his old home, and at that very moment, a huge bald eagle flew slowly right over the hood of my truck!
The class is held at Custom Iron in Zumbrota and the staff there really went above and beyond, helping me make the tricky tack welds on the  thin metal sculpture.
That  evening I drove the mended bison back to Squash Blossom Farm (along with my sculpture creations--you can see the reclining  garden arbor in the back of the truck.) I took the highway this time, getting a lot of double-take looks  from passing cars!
The bison (which I have named"Sonny" in honor of Ron's  herd bull) is now proudly  guarding the hill (actually  our new septic mound) at the edge of the woods. I have seeded lots of wild flowers around him, so hope this summer he will be standing in a colorful meadow.

One of our project plans for this spring was to build a deck and pergola on the south side of our barn. Rog designed a 22-foot long deck, and then priced materials--ouch.  But, being an avid recycler, he searched Craigslist and found somebody near Minneapolis selling two 22.5' x 5.5' heavy-duty redwood greenhouse tables.  Perfect!
Our beater farm pickup was too small and unreliable for this job, so he rented a large truck and a large trailer, upon which the two massive tables were securely strapped. When he arrived home, our neighbors, who conveniently have a construction business with a lull, came over to unload the tables.

Rog spent a couple weeks digging out the deck area. He had to dig out the 275-gallon water catchment tanks and repeatedly pump out water that would fill in his holes because it rained frequently.
He designed a  multi-level deck and  cut up one of the redwood tables to create the levels and stairs.
We thought we were going to have to hire our neighbor with a skidloader to set the large table in place, but didn't want to tear up the grass with big equipment. We were  blessed with daughters, a boyfriend and an intern here for Easter who were willing to heft the 1000-lb table into place. This was done by rolling the table on plywood sheets over round fence posts-  sort of like the ancient Egyptians moved huge stones for the pyramids on logs.
Some lever power helped ease the table  into Rog's perfectly-dug spot!
Then, we relaxed on the new deck and feasted upon lemon meringue pie in the sunshine.
Rog completed the other deck levels in time for our ReBlossom Earth Day Festival, last weekend--stay tuned for those photos, coming soon!


Aunt Wrenny said...

Sounds like a farm day that ends in "Y" to me. LOL

Susan said...

It looks like you don't have enough to do around your place :-)