• helpinghensfarmri

Dirt Pile Movin'

This is a story about one of our "Year Zero" projects to help get us set up for bigger things. I think it's also a story about using things in different things, and of reuse, which is always a good thing.


Meet "the dirt pile". It arrived in our back yard 2 years ago this month. 10 yards of soil in a big dump truck. What did I need it for. Well, we didn't need it. But we had a 6 year old boy who loved to dig, so I figured $200 worth of dirt (give or take) was a good investment for summer break. "Redneck Summer Camp", I called it.




That's the pile 2 years ago, on the day it arrived. Over two years, the pile has gotten packed down, bit of it spread around the yard by little hands, and it's suddenly finding itself in the way.


That area where the pile sits will be an entryway into one small chicken run and an extension to the larger one. The leghorn chicks plus a few other odds and ends will get a small run, and the rest will be a a run extension for the "big coop" flock when they arrive.

Here was the pile one month ago, with a couple holes dug into it by the kids when I mentioned moving the pile.



Packed down, but still a lot of dirt!


So, we started picking away at it....sunny weekend days, a quick wheelbarrow full after work, etc.


Here's a series of pictures over the 1 month of picking away at the pile to show the progress.


1st day:



16 days later, roughly half way through the 30-day project and the pile:



Part way through Day 30:



Finally done around 4:30 PM on Day 30. Nice and smooth:



So, where'd all the dirt go? We rebuilt a couple of flower beds, but the bulk of the dirt went to help complete a project from last summer.


Our yard is a tree heavy one. Lots of leaves, lots of shade, lots of trees. It's why we never really had a garden, and struggle to grow much of anything. We like the trees, but decided to get a few cleared out from one side of the property to let more light in. One of these was a massive pine tree.


Here that tree is part way through coming down.



That thing was a monster! We had the stump ground, and that left a big hole in the yard. The bulk of the dirt pile will help remedy that area and get it ready to plant some grass.


The process also left a big pile of wood chips, which got integrated into the chicken run because it would have cost as much to haul them away as it cost to grind the stump. Might as well keep that carbon on site and leverage it!


Here is the area where that monster tree once stood, complete with a lot of the dirt pile dirt spread over it.



That picture was taken yesterday after we finished working. It rained hard today, which should help pack the soil down and get it ready for planting.


We'll throw down some lime to counteract the acidity of the pine tree this week, and hopefully plant this weekend. We'll be planting a mix of sun-friendly grass, some shade grass right around the fence, and some white clover mixed throughout.


Some people don't like clover in a lawn, but I figure it's nitrogen fixing, pollinator friendly, and the occasional handful of clover is a treat for the livestock.


So, a pile of dirt made a great "toy" for 2 full years, then provided a month's worth of exercise, and now it's going to provide a nice base to grow some grass, clover, and flowers in. Not bad for dirt!

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