Our fourth day down at the waterfall saw us with a full work crew. All three kids were with us and Hair had the afternoon off, so she had plans to join us not too long after we headed down. So we loaded up all the gear into the wagon and hung out while Mr W went to fill up the gas cans at the station.
While we waited, Thing One got hold of the camera and once again managed to sneak in a really cool shot.
I swear that girl has an eye…
Once Mr W returned and refilled the tank on the tractor, we headed down to the waterfall. As we unloaded, Thing One snapped another winner…
Oh yes, that’s the chainsaw you spotted. It seems like every day we work, we find more work that needs to be done. Such is the life of maintaining 22 acres I suppose. Today, we knew we were going to have to attack the under-brush and the vines on the far bank. Before we did that though, we had to cut up the trees we’d dragged across the bank on our previous work day. Mr W went to work on the trees and I started building piles. They may not look big in the picture, but if I stood next to that back pile, it was as tall as I am.
Since most of what we’d cut down at that point was live, we knew it was going to need to dry out for awhile before we could burn it. Nonetheless, we’d brought cardboard and lighters, so Mr W made a fire underneath the biggest pile to help dry it out.
Of course while we were busy on tree duty, the kids were chilling out on the blanket.
One nice thing about day four was how clear the water in the pond was. We’d had a few days of good rains, but the water level was now back to normal and the sediment had had a chance to settle. That gave us a great chance to see where the drop-offs to the deep parts occurred. Pretty handy since we planned on going in to the pond to clear rocks today.
We knew the pond was a little over three feet deep in the center, but it was very helpful to get a better idea of where the drop off was. This was especially useful on the dirt drop-off side of the pond because we could see the impact a retaining wall might have on both shoring up the side and on deepening the pond at the edges.
Once we’d gotten a good look at the water, we realized just how much cleanup we still had to do from day three. The creek below the dam was absolutely full of sticks and leaves and tree remnants.
And the far bank looked like it had been clear cut…which it pretty much had. But there was some serious raking to be done.
Since it was still early enough in the day that we had sun, we figured the water wouldn’t be too bad. So we rolled up our pant legs, switched to our aqua shoes and waded in. To be honest, in the 55 degree weather, it felt a little like walking into a slushy. In other words, FRIGGIN cold! On the plus side, it was just the initial shock. Once we’d been in for a bit, it only felt cold when we moved our feet. (Whether that’s because we adapted or went numb I’m not sure…)
And one by one, we started picking up rocks.
Of course every time we did, it stirred up the sediment so much we couldn’t see the next rock. So we decided it was a better bet for Mr W to pick them up and for me to find new homes for them on the other side of the dam.
And in very good news, we did actually discover living things beyond snails in the pond. (We’d been a little worried because we hadn’t seen much proof of life. We’ll still do some water testing before we let the kids actually swim though.) Right as Mr W went to reach for a large rock, this little sucker shot out from under it.
Then we spotted a couple more. Unfortunately, after about an hour of working on the rocks, we still weren’t making much progress. We tried scooping things up with a shovel, but it got so cloudy, so fast, it was tough to see what we were doing. We’ll likely get my father’s input on this when he’s down in a few week’s time, but we may just have to wait until August when water levels drop and we can get in to work on the shallow areas more effectively.
So we turned our attention to the far bank. I went to work with a rake, Hair went to work carting all that brush across the creek and Mr W took the chainsaw up into the brush to start taking out briars and vines at the base. That resulted in even more brush to cart across the creek. We worked for about two hours cutting, hauling, raking and dragging. (Which is why there were no pictures.)
Once we were done, Thing One brought me the camera and everyone headed back across the bank while I snapped some pictures.
You may remember the shot of the upper bank from Day Three…but here it is again. Note the brush and growth behind everyone…
The vines, briars and underbrush was too thick to fight your way through and stretched for about 25-30 feet down the creek bank. Once Mr W and I got hold of it, it looked like this…
We honestly hadn’t though to clear this area until the kids crossed the creek further up the yard and worked their way down to a dead end before shouting “Dad! Help us! We can’t get through!” So of course Mr W came to the rescue with the chain saw and I got to work with the dragging. By the time we were done, you could step past the tree and bush shown above and you had a great view.
Of course now we have to figure out what to plant on the far bank. The dirt level is pretty shallow because it sits on a bed of slate, so I’m not sure how well standard grass will take. On the other hand, we want something we can walk on. My mom is going to bring some periwinkle down to put in as some ground cover. I figure we can always reclaim some slate from the creek and put stepping stones in to form a path. In fact, I started doing that to some extent while I was wondering around snapping pictures.
All in all, it was a good day. We put about four hours worth of work in and the far bank looked absolutely wonderful by the time we were done. Funny how much work you have to do to clear the canvas so you can get ready to start landscaping.
We haven’t managed to get back down there in nearly a week. Between Easter and the rains rolling through, it’s just been to wet. Hopefully we’ll manage to get some time in over the weekend to take stock and see what’s next on the agenda. At the very least, we’ll need to give another shot to burning the brush pile. Stay tuned for more updates.