Friday, December 30, 2011

The Tractor Shed

Over the past couple of months a tractor shed has appeared on the landing. The tractor exactly fits in it's new home; 16 x 6 permit required because there is less than 120 square feet. It is entirely waterproof, with the new carbon plastic on the sides that is resistant to sunlight damage. Because there is so much light inside, it feels larger inside than it really is......
The main reason for the shed is to protect the tractor from the extremes in temperature; to keep the rain and snow away and to shelter the hydraulic hoses from the UV Light because they will deteriorate quickly in the sun. Now the barn I am building can be used for other more fun purposes!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's been a long time......

I haven't added a post in 10 months.......a combination of circumstances has kept me from the Blog, but, now I am back! The last picture showed the beginnings of a french water drain, and this picture shows the completed barn slab that will be the foundation. All this winter this freshly poured cement will be able to cure in the outdoor weather and rain, and become ready for the building that will begin to grow in August of 2012. After the earth was leveled, we set the forms and ordered 8 yards of concrete. The delivery company had to come out and do a site check to make sure they could actually get their truck in and out of the designated spot. Under Matt's direction, all went according to plan, and a major first phase of this project was completed. Now we are focusing on the the next steps to make the building rise up into the sky.......and with any luck, that will be happening this summer. Thanks for tuning into the stroy of Noel's Apple Farm.......more to come!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Draining that Water...............

I spent yesterday up at the apple farm, doing several important tasks. First, four apple trees were replaced due to poor quality performance. Sometimes a tree just doesn't take. The week before I did an inspection of all the trees, and there were four that were clearly diseased and on the way out. Sure, they would have bloomed this year, but, root rot quickly infects the trunk of the tree, and soon it is struggling just to survive, let alone produce apples. When that was accomplished, using a tree graft solution, all the trunks of the trees were painted for protection. This action will prevent the trees from being so vulnerable.
The other project, as pictured to the left, was the installation of a "french drain" on the bank side of the site where the barn will be built. What I found after leveling the site was that there is a spring area where the water weeps from the ground. Maybe this will only happen in the winter, but nevertheless, the water needs to get drained away from the building. Using the Kubota, I dug a ditch so that a perforated flex pipe can be installed, which will be covered with drain rock, to assist water to flow away from the barn and down the hillside. While digging, I was amazed at the quality of clay soil coming out of the trench. It made me wonder if maybe there is a more steady year around flow of water, only a few feet below grade. I have decided when I fill the trench, I am going to include a two inch PVC pipe, which is rated as "drinkable", and try to capture some of this water, especially if it continues to flow even after the rains stop. Always looking for new water sources! I have now had the Kubota for more than a year, and I have about 30 hours of operation on the machine. I am getting more skillful on the kinds of moves it can make, but, every time I use it, I learn a few new tricks. So, although a complete beginner, I feel like I am getting more comfortable with this rather amazing piece of equipment.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A little help from my friends!

Sunday afternoon at the farm and this time around, I've got a little help. While I was pruning, grafting and planting trees, Silas was working on the Kubota, changing the oil, greasing and putting the correct pads on the stabilizer bars. The day was beautiful, though it rained during the night, but by noon there was nothing but blue skies and sunshine. It was a productive and fun outing!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's All about Water!

It's funny to be thinking about water during the winter when the earth is saturated and the seasonal streams are flowing briskly. However, for the experienced gardener up in these hills, the hot dry summer afternoons are not far from my memory where the fields are parched, the ground is hard and brittle and every living thing is pining for H2o to survive the heat of the Sun. The heart of my agricultural summer water availability is the concept of storage. The tank pitured here is a modern 2500 gallon plastic tank that is a part of my system. However, this past year, the 9000 cement tank has been progressively leaking due to a crack along the southern side. By all accounts, most likely this has been caused by expansion and contraction as the tank has a cement lid that is embedded with steel in the side walls. As the summer sun heats up, the tank expands and in the cold it contracts. Easy to say now, but, this is way too much movement for a container that holds water! When the tank was designed back in 1980, it was experimental, and no one could have guessed this would happen. So, the plan is to cut the roof off the tank and remove it entirely, thus eliminating the possibility that the whole tank can expand. Expansion will still happen, but to a much smaller degree. To fix the crack, heavy duty foundation wire, known as "re-mesh" will be rolled around the outside of the tank, cinching it upon itself. This will set on a new cement base. Galvanized gofer wire will be applied over the foundation wire. Then, the plastering will begin! The entire outside surface will be re-plastered and with any luck, the leaks will be repaired. With the roof gone, it will be easy to get inside and sandblast the interior and apply Thoroseal to that clean surface which will seal the cement against tiny hairline cracks. With these modifications in place, the tank should give another 30 years of service, we hope!

Monday, January 24, 2011


This world is a playground of possibility! Everything we do is a Zen like activity. The "Part" is in the "Whole" and the "Whole" in the "Part". As we focus our attention on any task, even just walking the mountain paths, we are on some level engaging in Everything. I enjoy being able to think about what can be, and make choices about how the material world will manifest on this particular spot on Earth. There is no substitute for time. To germinate and unfold, the Universe reveals itself in its own rhythm. No one can force beauty to appear, but we can induce the process especially by being open and receptive to wonder and the imagination. The physical exertion required to set the stage to complete certain tasks is all part of the play. "Let us be happy in our work!"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Sunday at the Farm!

We spent the whole afternoon at the apple farm today, finishing some started projects and just taking advantage of the beautiful sunny January day. It felt so much like spring, but, I won't be fooled! There are plenty of cold wintery days ahead. My traveling partner Lil was with me, and even though she is an old doggie, she so much loves the land......and she sticks right with me no matter what the project. Although, she will not ride in the tractor with me; she thinks that's just a little over the top. We reshot the barn site with the transit to make sure it is level, and all looked good. The site is close to being ready for a concrete foundation and slab. We transplanted small volunteer Italian Pines that sprouted under some trees I planted some 20 years ago near the big cement tank. So this is the first Bell Springs generation tree. I am excited because clearly they want to be here or they would not have geminated from seed. I brought up some supplies to do repair projects on the road and the cement tank later in the spring. It was good to get the materials organized, and it gets the gate open for these important improvements to occur before the growing season really begins. We stayed until just about dark.....first time this year I felt inspired to be there for every moment of daylight!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter, that Magical Time

I love wintertime @ Bell Springs Road....of course I don't live there, so I don't experience the same burdens and hardships that the "year rounders" enjoy! There is a certain peace that descends upon the land and hovers over everything. The Red Tail Hawks still glide around in the upper winds searching for a meal, and the seasonal creeks gush with rain runoff, but the sounds are natural and soothing. The view out to the ocean is as glorious as ever, though mostly what I see is cloud cover. The air is brisk and chilling, but it tells me I am alive, and energetic, hoping to continue my give and take relationship with the elements. The Land is always teaching me something about myself and revealing the secrets of proper care taking. My psyche is nourished and my Spirit is filled as I wander over the hillsides. Though I need not do any work, it is a very productive time of the season.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Barn Continued......

So, for the time being, the tractor is covered by a large canvas tarp; It certainly is protected from the weather. The animals like to get under the trap as they want to be protected from the weather too, but they will damage the unit in the long run if I let them stay. They eat the wires, build nests in the engine, etc etc...My hope is to finish the leveling of the site, maybe as soon as tomorrow, because the weather has been dry for a week now, and it would be great to move some earth before the next storms come so the rain water settles the loose dirt in its new level location. I am also going to install a new spring box in a seasonal creek that generates lots of runoff water that can be used by the hydro generator. This electric generator can produce 4 to 5 amps of electricity at 24 volts, but the hydro itself is very thirsty drinking about 30,000 gallons of water a day at a minimum. Every new source of water is a good thing. And who knows, maybe during the summer, this newly developed spring will glean a little water from an otherwise dry hillside that will go directly to the maintenance of the apple trees.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The New Barn.....

There is no barn here yet, but, on the ideal realm, it is being built. Even Plato said you must create the idea first, and then the form will follow. So, the plans are drawn, the permit has been had, and the site work began before the rains did. There is more leveling to do, but that will have to wait until mother nature is ready......and dry! It will be fairly tall, with a loft and an overhang on the front of the building, so when the tractor drives in the sliding door, the door can remain open and the rains won't blast us. The concept is that the foundation will go in this summer and the actual building will happen in the summer of 2012. It will have a metal roof, possibly green or blue, and lots of redwood on the front entrance. I would like to have plenty of room for storage of tools and tractor attachments; like a box scraper, and who knows what else will manifest that needs dry storage? If I were Bill Gates I could have it done in a week, but the best things do take a long time. What's the rush? We'll keep ya posted!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Now the wintertime has come, and all is sleeping. Apples need at least 800 hours of dormancy, and who knows what a human being needs? What I am sure about is that it is fun to pass out freshly picked apples and then later, baggies of dried apples, to persons who will appreciate the taste and special qualities of this organically grown product. Right now I am savoring the year gone by and the abundance that was forthcoming from nature's bounty. A lot of work lies ahead to prepare for the next crop, but, right now, hibernation seems to be the order of the day! From the farmer and the gnomes at Fellowship Farms, we wish you all a Happy New Year. We know the life cycle is endless, and some of us jump on or off, but for those of us that are here now, let's enjoy and be thankful for the abundance that surrounds us. Amen!