I think everyone felt the same way, but what a good weekend I had.  Marian and I drove up Thursday evening to the Windham house and stayed there over night.  A quiet and relaxing night, we spent the time realizing that while real life is taxing, and we can be short with one another, we're still in love and enjoy our time together.  

The new (actually used) pick-up is a blessing.  Even though the F-150 bed is the short version due to the large Crew Cab, it carried plenty of materials including the Big Feet cement foundation forms.  We left windham and headed to Red Hand via the Oneonta route.  A quick breakfast, a stop at Home Depot to pick up the garbage compactor and a couple of deck chairs and we were off again to the farm.  I love driving the back roads.  The sights are for me, just wonderful to take in.  It started with just beautiful scenes of all the corn rows greening up on the numerous farms.  Then when we arrive, there's our lower pasture cut for hay and the bales out in the field with a rusty old row rake sitting in the sun.  That picture alone was worth the trip.  It's no wonder I'm turning into a hillbilly.
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There's a simple beauty in a freshly cut hayfield
With the spring hunting season well behind us, the continued development and enhancements to the property are now running at full throttle.

Early this spring, prior to the May 1st opening for turkey season, I got the mule (a Kawasaki utility vehicle) stuck in a mud bog while running the western ATV trail brushing in some hunting blinds.  Thankfully both Jake and my father were with me because it was a 3 man effort getting it out.  After busting the steel cable on the Arctic Cat's winch, then driving to Richfield Springs for additional tow straps we finally extracted the mule from the mud 4 1/2 hours later pulling with both 4 wheel drive ATVs.  Basically a wasted day.

One of the older local dairy farmers, after hearing about our UTV getting stuck, told me that in the 1950's the farmer who worked our property back then lost a team of plow horses in the same bog when they became so entrenched in the mud they had to be put down.  

As of now we've not been able to address the drainage issues on the western property line.  The heavy storms even washed out the western bridge.  It is currently unuseable with the machines, but we can still walk on it.  The flood lifted it up and floated it down stream about 10-15 feet.  Hopefully we can lift it with a tractor mounted bucket loader and set it back on it's foundation.

The eastern bridge that we built last fall fared far better.  While the rushing waters eroded parts of the bank on either side of it, the bridge held firm.  Many thanks to Mark from Candlelight Cottages on Lake George for his design and direction on how to build it.  Without that bridge surviving the flooding we would have lost machine access to all the hunting on the property.  But we still had a problem.  The field on the opposite bank flooded out so badly that the mule got stuck there also.  This time Kellen was with me and Jake and we got 'er out rather quickly.  After the 1st episode of getting stuck I had a lifter kit put on the mule to increase ground clearance and equipped it with new and larger "mud" tires.  Still got it stuck!!!  So that was the 1st order of business ... design drainage to control the run-off from the the upper pastures and the ridgeline.

A backhoe was brought in and a trench was dug branching into an upside-down "Y" formation with each arm of the "Y" draining into the creek on either side of the bridge.  A culvert was buried in the main trench and covered with cobblestone sized rocks.  The stones were extended into a small road until firm ground was reached.  We were able to ride the mule with 6 passengers and not get it bogged down.  The only issue, and it can be easily remediated, is the rough ride due to the large size of the stones.  A cover layer of small stones will solve the problem.  The eastern ATV trail is now clear and open to ride.  The western trail still requires some planning and then the work to open it up for machine access; it's still usable by foot.

The last chore we accomplished this past weekend was to fill in the cross planks on the bridge's surface.  Basically this was done to smooth out the ride for the tractors.  The smaller front tires had to "jump" over laterally nailed 2"x8"s.  We filled in the gaps with more 2"x8"s creating a smoother surface.
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The additional planks make for a much smoother ride
Now I don't count this as work, but in reality it is a necessity, but fun.  Jake took out a woodchuck Sunday morning around 9:20 AM.  He and Erin sat out on the deck enjoying the calm of morning and scoping out the dogs as they popped out of their burrows.  They are a nuisance because of the danger that their exit holes present.  The holes are quite large and deep and can damage equipment and cause broken and/or injured legs for livestock and humans.  So we've decided to eliminate a few of them as we have so many in the fields.  We may get it mounted and turn it into a table lamp.

So ended the "work" part of our weekend.  Somehow, despite its physical nature, it doesn't feel like work to me.  It's enjoyment.  Jake put it right,  if we did all this for someone else, for pay, it would feel like hard labor and it would suck.  Doing it for ourselves, it feels good and rewarding.  It's still hard but weirdly fulfilling.  

We also attended the 2011 "Frog Fest" at the Herkimer Fair Grounds and had a blast, but that's for another post to come.
Jake
6/22/2011 12:27:58 pm

Couldn't agree more, a great all around weekend (except for the speeding ticket... oops). Also, let's not forget Kellen had some friends come up who I think really enjoyed the experience and the country lifestyle. I'm sure they've never been woken up by the sound of gunfire outside their window before. Actually, after living in the Bronx, maybe they have. Anyway, this weekend was fun times 100, I'm glad we got to share the experience with some guests.

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Ben
6/22/2011 09:52:06 pm

Sounds like we missed quite a bit of fun. You guys are becoming bridge and irrigation engineers with all the experience! Jake did say it best; it's not work if you enjoy it.

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