Here’s an update on activities at The Farm for the infrequent visitor.
- Round Pond
The clearing of trees which were threatening the very old and substantial dam at Round Pond has been completed. As a result we have accrued quite a bit of excellent mulch, mostly cedar, available for gardeners. There are abundant fish (blue gill, bass) in the pond too. Have a look (or fish!) when you visit.
- Farm House
The dormers on the west elevation (above left) have been replaced, including new windows, siding, and headers. These windows are now operational making the second floor southern bedroom and hall much more comfortable and attractive. The main entry door and surrounding windows (above right) have been replaced. Old termite and ongoing water damage destroyed much of the framing around these structures and as a result there has been considerable settling. Appropriate repairs to structure are underway. Finally, as recommended by Susan Cromie, some of the the original, deteriorated siding has been removed for inspection. Severe underlying damage has been discovered (image on left – click on it for larger image). These areas will require repair which is ongoing now. By use of new materials recommended by Susan, we hope to preserve the spirit of the Defty design while avoiding its inherent susceptibility to water damage. Once these critical structural issues have been addressed we will be in a position take on the replacement of the remaining deteriorated siding/windows as well as consider suggestions that have been made about enhancing the overall space. Obviously our finances will dictate our pace and what is feasible. We anticipate the need to take these projects on piecemeal over the next few years.
- Invasive Exotics
Recently we made note (link here) of a new eco-friendly approach to clearing brush honeysuckle that has been implemented by Jay Deatherage on the property. Jay has had his 10 Boer doelings at work for the past three weeks, moving them across infested areas. There has already been remarkable improvement as the accompanying photo will show. The ground cover and lower tree arbors are left intact but the brush (poison ivy, honeysuckle, etc) is devoured. The result is akin to burning, but without fire, and of course we are spared the expense of the RoundUp. Meanwhile, the goats thrive and will be a source of lean meat. Again our thanks to Kathy Skinner for providing the reference book Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan) which described the Polyface Farm’s use of this sustainable farming approach
- New Bridge
Increasing volumes and speed of water in our intermittent creeks has resulted in deeper and steeper banks. This has hampered access to several areas on the property, especially Aunt Grizelda’s Pond. We have just completed a six month project to remedy this, a pedestrian bridge across the creek at the barn to access the stile at the foot of the Pond Pasture.
Aided by the forestry skills of Conrado Marquez, two 40-50 foot white oaks were harvested from the woods near the Pond Pasture. He used a chain saw to plane two sides of these, and he and Neal Fuhr teamed up to move these giant timbers across the creek at the stile.
Yours truly then added planking to create a walkway over the creek. Note: Rails have not been installed yet so children crossing will require adult supervision until these are in place. The big pond is now much more accessible.
There are two ongoing challenges with our gravel roads. Pot holes will always be with us. Last month we re-graveled sections of the roads most in need. A more worrisome problem however is erosion from Brushy Fork Creek, which had been encroaching on the main entrance road. The Highway Dept has been extremely helpful in attacking this. Last summer they placed a giant revetment which should remedy this threat for the foreseeable future. The snapshot below shows this completed project. St Charles County did a marvelous job for us here.
We have had an exceptionally cool spring and the farm has never looked prettier. We close with a glimpse of Aunt Grizelda’s Pond….
A report on the Skinner Memorial Day Reunion to follow…