I want to build a check dam bridge thingy. In order to do so, I need to get our little Kubota excavator and tractor into the ravine in the right spot. I also need to get into the ravine for some other erosion management beneath a big trough that carries all the runoff water from the area of the buildings into the ravine. Most importantly I also really want to build a trail, because trail building is fun.
The trail in question crosses the berm which separates the tame civilization of the farm buildings, near the hops, from the wilds of the ravine.
While at it, I added a rain garden on the near side of the berm. Basically I dug a hole, threw in some barrels, and then added some seeds. It being April, this pretty much just looks like a pile of dirt in a hole in an area of dirt.
The first step was laying out the trail. That I did while the snow was still deep on the ground. The snow was a surprising aid in this, it filled out the curves of the ground, clearing away distractions, and making it much easier to see the contour of land, and outline and adjust the path in trampled snow. The basic principle is to make the trail a long as possible while traveling up the slope, thus reducing the overall grade of the trail. Go around as much as possible, never straight up.
To do the grunt work, we do have the aforementioned Kubota excavator, but I built more of the trail by hand than by machine. That is because machines can roll over on steep slopes and are rather brute engines. The McLeod, the pick and cutter mattock, and a spade do the job rather well. Hack into the upslope side of the trail and slowly widen the trail.
Well, some work with massive finger-eating bolt cutters was also necessary to clear the slope of old barbed wire cattle fences. Lots of strain on the back was necessary to lug around massive concrete slabs in the slope. The hillside is filled with interesting remains of a century of farming. The soil was certainly the relic of that past, thick and rich with eons of cattle dung.
Speaking of animal life, working in the dirt with chickens around can be rather amusing, yet also difficult. Chickens naturally scratch dirt to reveal bugs and other tasty treats. Colin, with his big iron claw, was an upgrade. The chickens have become fearless, diving in right next to my soil moving implements to get the best first. They have too little fear, except for one which is now rather nervous after I stepped backwards onto it accidentally (it appears to be fine).