The Gravel Works to Finish Everything

As I've mentioned before, our wooded lowland below the house has a large dry creek running through it. In time of deluge, five different creeks from higher up on the ridge converge on this lowland creek bed. Over the years, tons of rock have tumbled down and formed their own gravel bed that is quite deep. Water also began to undercut the bank and our lower fence. This was going to become a real problem so a solution was needed.

Xander by his reworked creek bed, trench right below his feet, dam on the bottom left.

Enter our youngest son – Xander. He made it his mission to straighten out this problem and to fix another glaring problem – in a word – MUD! We had areas of the farm that were just nasty to walk on in rainy weather. We wore our mucking boots but still, it was slippery. We’re a hillside farm and sometimes walking down to the henhouse became a dangerous affair if it was icy or snowy.

Working gravel into the edges of the campground bridge.

Xander has fixed that by bringing tons of cleaned gravel up from the creek bed. He’s made the path to the henhouse and the lead in to the main market garden safer for everyone who works those areas. He also graveled in the path to the goat pen. He started on the paths.

A muddy slick path through the woods.

Our campers needed a safe path to come up to the main firepit recreation area and Xander has graveled the path along the lower paddock fence. This is a pretty area with the woods and a teeny tiny wet rill on one side and the bee yard on the other side of the fence – safely far enough for folks to see the hives but not close enough to be in danger from the bees.

After the path has been graveled. It gives nice footing now.

We also wanted the campsites to be graveled around their firepits but we wanted a finer grade of pea-gravel. Xander created two different sifters to separate out the rocks we needed. The campsite is graveled with the finest grade. The paths are medium grade and my cobblestone path that I’m still working on is made out of foot sized rocks. All of these stones are coming out of Xander’s Gravel Works.

Xander digging in the quarry part of the gravel works. Sifters in the foreground.

This is not the easiest work around the farm for sure. First, he shovels dirty gravel from the creek bed into buckets. He tosses the buckets into the sifters that are positioned over four other buckets. Then he shakes the top sifter and that removes all the big rocks. He tosses those to the side and puts that big sifter aside. Some of those rocks will go into the cobblestone path.

Filling the sifters

Then he goes back and sifts out the gravel that is suitable for the paths through the woods for folks to walk on to keep their feet out of the muck. What he is finally left with is pea gravel and fine clay dirt. We could wash that dirt out but the rain does a better job. The dirt washes off and ‘sets’ the gravel a little, making it less likely to migrate as quickly as it might otherwise. This pea gravel is kinder on the foot, so nicer around the campsite.

The sifter works by man power and builds muscle at the same time.

He fills buckets full of the required grade of stone and then loads them into the work mule of the farm, our little John Deere’s cart. The paths through the woods were made so that they are large enough for that little tractor and cart to get around and so they are wide enough for two people to walk next to each other.

The work cart on our little tractor.

Moving all of these tons of stone around the place has changed the direction of the dry creek so that the water run off will no longer be undercutting the bank. It’s wider and a second channel leads water around that area. It has a little room to spread out and the bank has been shored up by the addition of a lot of larger rocks that can stand the water rush a little better. It is working and the loveliness of the lowland woods has been enhanced by his careful work.

The new creek bed to the right, the dam and old creek bed to the right. That dark part is the undercut bank.

All this gravel works to give a finished look to all our projects and keeps the farmstead pretty, too. Here's a video of Xander at work in the creek bed.

There is always some project or another going on at Windy Thistle Farm. Thanks for Visiting!

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