11/24/2010: "June: Feral Bees, Bad Dogs, & Weeds"
Well, I offer my apologies for dropping off the blogosphere for nearly half a year. I blame it on a combination of factors: new camera, too busy doing work to document work, and most of all, being sick of this one big project. The drainage project.
As you can see, by mid June the weeds had turned my tidy piles of dirt into mini weed-mountains... I was forced to run the sickle bar mower up and down between the trenches just to keep some semblance of order. I was going down to the farm on a weekly basis to work on the project, but progress was slow: it would take nearly an afternoon to grade one of the trenches so that it would flow downhill, and then there was the rock and weed cloth to add.
I had ordered a delivery of seven or ten cubic yards of septic drain rock, which resulted in two piles that looked small when you looked at the bill, or large when you looked at the wheel barrow. The plan was to grade the trenches, lay down weed cloth, then perforated pipe, then rock; then seal up the weed cloth so that the pipe was more less sitting on a bed of rock inside the weed cloth. The idea was that the weed cloth would provide additional barrier to silting, while the rock would provide an additional path for water to move. I had no idea whether this was overkill, but I only wanted to do this once in my lifetime, so dammit that's what we're gonna do!
I came to my senses, however, and realized that my current rate of progress was going to put completion somewhere deep into the fall (little did I know that that was when completion was going to occur anyway). I decided to hire some laborers to help me. This was actually a smart move. I picked up juan and Roberto at Voz, the day laborer site in Portland, and drove them down on a Saturday with the girls. They were good-natured hard workers, and I was hard-pressed to keep up with them.
I think that they thought the gringo farmer's notions were a little loco, but they put up with my directions. By the end of the day we had graded three trenches, poured rock, and were buttoning up the weed cloth with a stapler.
The result was three fat sausage-shaped parcels that ran 150 feet down three trenches. I hoped that they ran downhill; I was having some trouble explaining to Juan, my translator, how the slope was important.
Nevertheless, this was significant progress: three out of the five drainage trenches were ready for covering.
Meanwhile, Pepe was building herself a bad dog reputation. By the time she killed her third chicken I suggested to Lou that he try the traditional cure for chicken-killing dogs: tie the corpse to her collar for a day or two. Well, she knew she had been bad then; she slunk around that whole day.
Unfortunately, the treatment was unsuccessful, and Pepe went on to kill two more chickens before Lou farmed her out to a brother-in-law, who was delighted to get her (and didn't own any chickens).
Lou also pointed out some feral bees in one of the walnut trees up by the road. They're hard to see in this photo, but they were busily going to and fro collecting the early summer nectar and pollen.