Well, I haven't been good at keeping up with this thread
this year. Let's see about catching you all up on the ranch. And maybe call this the year of "sometimes money really does help progress"
Planted a ton of garlic last fall, double dug with wild cow manure. Got irrigation set up by the time summer hit full swing. The plants did great. Cows came along and ripped the garlic out of the ground about a month before it was mature. Still need a fence. I swear I'm not totally procrastinating here... just prioritizing. And it's gonna be have to be a hell of a fence to survive our winters + snowmobiles (snow is usually 5-10ft standing, well above most fences). I've come to appreciate the subtlety in the "just plant!" mentality so common in permies. Just plant! (So long as you live in an urbanized area — yes this includes every farm in America — and have a fence and live at your property full time and have steady rainfall or irrigation and...)
Hired some guys to work on the road this year. They came out here with a dozer, skid-steer, and dump truck. It's looking great! The biggest part of the project
was widening and smoothing out our nasty steep curve we had in our road. Since the picture below, there's been about 3 truck-loads of 1" rock dumped along the road. Now that the curve's much wider, the slope much shallower, and rocked, I'm hoping it ends up being a lot more stable. I also had them sand the last 500' of road or so from a borrow pit on the property. It was an interesting experience
going from "do you have a borrow pit?" to the guy showing me "yup, you can clearly see the front loader path here". All in all, this has reduced summertime dust by a factor of a billion.
In order to get the road fixed, we needed water, so I finally set up an over-the-ground overflow from the spring-fed water tank to feed
into their water truck. Which means I've finally got a prototype of what I want happening with the small garden pond
: a continuous flow of water. It only took a week from the pond
to go from murky to super clear! Unfortunately now you can see all the rocks I dropped while building the border...
Quick up on the life upgrades end, I bought myself a Nature's Head composting
toilet. I'm super impressed with it! It's nice to have a built-in urine
diverter and get a break from the ever-filling outhouse
built from the previous owners. It's also helped reduce the yuk-factor a lot of guests get from pooping in a hole. Now they can poop
in a plastic hole and seem to be much happier. For now, it's just temporarily set up in the bath house, which awaits a full remodel.
The bulk of my time this summer was spent getting the solar
rig put together. It took quite a few trips back to civilization to get little electronic parts I forgot, but it's been working great so far. I cannot stress how nice it is to not be firing up the generator to work the power tools. The end result is a 24V 1KW system on a skiddable
structure, capable of about 4500W max output (I think
30min threshold?). I learned a ton about wiring and electrical building this, and it'll be fun to use this in the future.
Next up is tackling the bath house remodel. It's got a lot of work to make it critter-proof, and I plan on replacing the old copper and compression fittings piping with PEX to better weather the winters, as well as adding a toilet room and outdoor shower
. To better figure this out myself, I've been modeling it in SketchUp (another thing I learned this summer). Which is something I'm pretty stoked about — I've been meaning to sit down and learn SketchUp for years now and it feel great to be able to play with the physical world in the digital.