Monthly Archives: March 2013

Trellis Construction Part 1

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Back in January we cut down the cedar trees to build our trellis system. This past weekend it was time to get them standing again.

John rented an auger to help dig the holes needed to place each post. The auger worked great when we weren’t hitting large rocks, tree roots, or to our surprise, a suspicious metal barrier, later determined to be an old chicken coop buried on the far southern section of the field some time ago. Each time an object impeded the 12-inch blade, a manual search and remove tactic was employed. Each hole took as little as sixty seconds to dig when simply dirt and small rocks were in the blade’s path, to as much as 15-20 minutes otherwise. The auger got us down about 30 inches, so in order to reach our 3-foot minimum the last half foot was dug the old fashion way.

DSC_0379 DSC_0387The cedar posts ranged from just under 16 feet to over 20 feet in length. We decided that 14 feet above ground would be our height limit so the posts were trimmed to those specs. Not only were the lengths not uniform, but because we didn’t purchase these posts from a timber yard, their sturdiness differed as well. I’d say the average diameter at the base was about 6 inches, but some tapered off a bit more than others. We took what appeared to be the strongest posts and used those at the ends of each row; the remainder were used in the middle.

DSC_0370 DSC_0374Tamp, tamp, tamp-a-roo. Each hole was lined with about 2 inches of gravel before placing the post in. The clay displaced from the auger was mixed with more gravel and then filled back in the hole about 6 or so inches at a time, tamping the clay/gravel mix down at each increment, while attempting to keep the post level. Even with three people tamping in sync and one trying to keep things level, this was the most time consuming part of the process.

DSC03090Our planting area consists of 5 rows, each 120 feet long. Post spacing within the row is 40 feet (rows are 10 feet apart). So when we finally tamped that twentieth post in the ground as the sun was setting, it was nice to step back and see that this project was truly taking shape.

Unfortunately, the following day was a rain out. We attempted to use the auger to dig our anchor post holes, but it was not going to happen. With the auger needing to be returned and day jobs to be attended, it looks like we will be breaking out the post hole diggers next weekend.

DSC_0480A big thank you to everyone that came out to give us a hand. Mariah, Trocki, Alex, Jesse, Mike, and Sharon, we really appreciate your help!

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Prepping the Land

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We’ve been working to get the land ready for the hops since last fall, when we first broke ground with the tractor and began hauling rocks and other debris. The initial plan of prepping about a 1/4 acre was reduced in half after realizing just how much work was ahead of us. The current plot of roughly 6000 sq ft is still plenty to keep us busy and test our hop farming abilities.

Back in January we spent a weekend harvesting cedar posts for the trellis system. The farm is over 100 acres so there is no shortage of trees, and plenty the size we needed. Engineering the trellis system has been an ongoing discussion and evolving blueprint ever since the first tree fell, but the effort it took to cut, trim and move all those trees gave us one constant that was definitely staying put.

February through mid March has been a repetitive, slow-going extraction of wire grass and rocks. Slow and steady win the race, right? The occasional tree root or artifact (you may call it garbage) was a nice surprise, however. The stump from an old apple tree also allowed for a change of pace recently. Removing it, like the wire grass and rocks, was done one section at a time. With the help of an axe, tractor, and what turned into a bit of a battle we were not willing to lose, there is now a small crater that needs filling.

Here are a few photos of the progress: