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.
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.
We also attended the 2011 "Frog Fest" at the Herkimer Fair Grounds and had a blast, but that's for another post to come.