Monday, November 28, 2016

Utility Sled...Money Well Spent

So, I need to move many straw bales.  I've been moving them by hand and with a wheelbarrow.

Why do I need to move them?  I'm stuffing them in the erosion problem and spreading them over the bare dirt that will run down the hill this winter without some help.   When one's land is made of snot (actually, it's mostly clay.  Clay and live gopher meat), one must try to keep it in place.  It needs some organic matter.

So, I got a bunch of straw bales.  Chopped straw is used on erosion issues.

I don't have a picture of the bales stuffed in the erosion issue.  The "erosion issue" is also known as "the path of the water line from the well head many hundreds of yards up the hill to the storage tank."  With the top of the tank also just being bare clay dirt that turns into runny snot.  The waterline path was an actual river all last winter and spring and eroded into a mini-canyon with depths varying from 2 inches to 2 feet, width from about 4 inches to nearly a foot.  Cripes.  SO.  I thought long and hard and decided if everyone else puts a few bales crosswise, I will also put a few bales crosswise to the problem, and a whole bunch more stuffed down IN the problem.  Then, I plant them with whatever seeds I can get my hands on.

The bales I got are not organic.  One only has so much money and time and I appreciate the farmer letting me know what the main herbicide is.  No broad leaf type things will grow.  BUT the bales will double as thistle killer so that could be handy.  I will try to get organic next time.  For now I am working with what I have.

Anyway, moving them by hand, carrying, turned out to be OK when they were dry.  At least OK for the first dozen and if I wasn't going far.  It's hard on the back.  And the butt.  I started using the wheelbarrow which was much better, but required that I carefully place the bale to avoid tipping it over AND that I balance the thing on the way to where it went.  Still, a good option for part of the job.

Removing all of the lifting seemed like a better idea.  So I got a utility sled:

It is "Otter" brand.  I haven't tried others.   It's made to move stuff around.  I measured the interior below the curve on the leading edge.  It is just big enough for 1 bale.  If I got one big enough for 2 bales, I'd try to do more weight than I could handle.

Here it is with a bale in it.

Works great.  The bales were stacked so I could put the sled by the side of the pile, pull a bale over the edge so it fell in.  Then I pull it with the included rope (which is crap but when it breaks I'll find something better), to where it goes.  Tip the whole thing over and go get the next one. 

I had all the bales stuffed in the path of the erosion issue so I was spreading some out around the bare earth.  I cut the strings off and raked the straw over the exposed ground, which had some seed on it.

As for the bales in the erosion issue.  I've added "nitrogen" to almost all of them now (yes, pee).  I also spread rye grass seed and whatever other random seed on them.  They are also sprouting lots of wheat.  WHATEVER.  All biomass is good.

As I was raking this straw about over the bare spots, it was covering clover and rye grass and winter pea seed.  It was also upsetting the odd gopher.  A group of vehicles on the highway were treated to the site of an old woman with a garden rake madly slamming it randomly and wildly into the ground.  Had they been closer, they could have seen that I was trying to impale a gopher.  So much for my karma.  Though I'm pretty sure he escaped unscathed.

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