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Large rice straw bales for mulch on swale

 
Paul Miller
Posts: 13
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I am new to permies and have been reading a lot since I subscribed. You are a very inspiring/convincing group!

I finally got my Schaeff HT11 backhoe mounted on my old Unimog. Now I can easily move dirt! I am making several 200 foot long Swales on my steep slopes to store more water from our 1.5m annual rainfall through our long Mediterranean summers. Our soil is a 5'+ layer of clay/loam and occasional soft shale so it holds lots of water.

My main goal is to provide my donkey pasture in eight areas so I can move him every four days to a new paddock/swale; mob grazing plan but with just one animal. The cleared areas from the surrounding forest get very hard in summer so I need to somehow reduce evaporation. I am also considering a chicken tractor on steroids as presented by geoff lawton to improve soil life.

Someone has offered 8 round rice straw bales (1/2 ton each) for free. I just have to rig something to load the 8' long 4' diameter bales one at a time onto my Toyota pickup by myself and unload with mog backhoe.

After scratching the swale surface with the backhoe teeth, I'm planning to overlap pallet size squares of thin cardboard, then unroll the straw bales, then plant after the first fall rains. I made a Fukuoka seedball machine from a barrel and treadmill so I'll try that for seeding alternating with a broadcast lawn seeder to see if there is any difference.

I am spoiled by our great forest here so I am new to growing things, my experience has been with simpler things like machines. I hope I have considered the most important points. Is my plan reasonable?

 
Miles Flansburg
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Howdy Paul, sounds like you are doing some great stuff! Post some pictures when you get a chance!
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Paul Miller wrote:Schaeff HT11 backhoe mounted on my old Unimog.


Now there is a swale making toy!! How fun. You need to post pics!! If you are going to burn diesel, do it in style.

Too bad you can't use it to LOAD the toyota. It is much easier to unload bales--just hook them with a couple balehooks tied to a tree and drive away.

It isn't bad to load them if you can get them stood on end, back up to them, then push them over (TIMBER) into the bed. But not something I would do with a truck you like...
 
Paul Miller
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R Scott wrote:

It isn't bad to load them if you can get them stood on end, back up to them, then push them over (TIMBER) into the bed. But not something I would do with a truck you like...

Miles, Thanks for the info on loading! My Yota can carry 1750lbs and the bales are actually 900 lb. 3x4x8 rectangles, not round as I first thought.

I may try the 'timber' approach but put a valveless, barely inflated inner tube as a shock absorber where it lands in the front. Also a come-along under the bale to prevent backsliding. Haven't come up with a way to make the bales vertical by myself however.

I have been working on a wheeled winch contraption to drag the bales up some Uchannels screwed to the tailgate. A farm jack and concrete form stake hammered into the bale can lift it to put a block under it. It only has to be high enough to get a 3" wide wheel under it with axle vertical. I'll route the winch line under the axle and attach it to the trailer ball. Then, pull enough tension to push a pair of foot long sharpened rods offset several inches above the axle into the bale. Once the winch contraption is pulled into the bale, I"ll put a longish pipe lever over the axle stub I left sticking out about 18" so I can flip the bale to rest on the wheels 3ft side down then pull it up the Uchannels onto the bed. The bale has to fit in the 39" space between wheel wells.

I have it half built so details may change. Hope my description is not too dense. If this works I"ll post pictures.

Hope I can get it built and tested while bales are still available.
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