Tag Archives: siltation

Current Brush Dam Project

When I began this a person couldn’t tell there was an oak tree without standing off at a distance because it was so choked with cedars.

A gully was being cut down to bedrock in the swale.  I’ve got a lot more cedar in the immediate area I’ll be clearing, but I’m figuring before I put anymore on the dam I’ll stand atop what’s there and cross cut as deep as the chainsaw bar will reach to compact it as much as possible before adding more material.

Incidently, once I got most of the cedar cleared from around that oak I found this great, long, straight one.  It’s a keeper, though I don’t know what for.  Assuming I can get it loose and untangled from the upper parts of the oak without having to cut it.

There’s a watershed of maybe fifteen acres with a lot of slope draining into this spot.  My thought is I’ll bring the dam roughly six feet high after compacting, then thicken it with whatever cedar’s left in the immediate area.  Afterward I’ll move upgrade and create a series of brush berms across the grade to slow down concentration times.

Lots of work left to do on it, but watching that dam grow’s a smiler for me.  Someday I’m going to try to figure out what makes me tick.  This whole sudden new joy of doing all this came out of nowhere.  Gale’s up there laid up, doesn’t have a clue I’m doing most of it on his property, though I describe most of it to him.  He shrugs and tries to seem encouraging, but I doubt he can picture what’s going on here.

Meanwhile, me just down here working my arse off for the hell of doing it, not a clue why.

Old Jules

Salt Cedar Latillas for Erosion Control

During the toughest times of the post-Y2K years the blessing I appreciated most, but enjoyed least was cutting salt cedar in the bosques, trimming it,and selling it as latillas off some busy intersection in Albuquerque.  The best bosques weren’t accessible by vehicle, were loaded with ticks, and all the bosques on the Rio Grande are home to more rattlesnakes than live in the rest of New Mexico combined.

But when nothing else was working, when they’d cut off the utilities because I couldn’t pay the bills, I’d hitch up Old Faithful, the pickup bed trailer, load the chainsaw and loppers, and head for the bottomlands for a couple of days.

The work was grueling.  Bundling them and pissanting them back to the trailer took forever and assured a person would have a dozen ticks fighting over every inch of skin, and avoiding Brother Rattler required lightning reflexes along with a wary eye.

Once I had a full trailer-load I’d bundle them, pack them down and find a busy street corner where I’d sell them for $10 per bundle.  Usually took all day, but I’d try to get back to Grants in time to reach the city offices, pay the utilities and have the power turned back on first thing the next day.

It’s a lot easier in Texas, though I doubt there’s any market for them.  Never heard of anyone in Texas using latillas.  But salt cedar’s as water-hogging, damaging, invasive and pervasive here as in New Mexico.  Grows in the grader ditch between here and the State Ranch Road 385.

I can get a truckload of it in half-hour or so, and in a lot of ways I think it might be better than juniper for erosion control.  In that particular length of driveway between Gale’s front gate and his house the last runoff bypassed some of the earlier work and cut some new channels.  The salt cedar’s easier to obtain in this instance than juniper, so I’m shoring it up with salt cedar.

I’ve built four more rock and brush dams downstream from the first one in the creek to the east, hopefully to catch whatever washes out of the main one, come next runoff event.

Hmmm an aside.  A digression.  A parenthetical remark:

The new neighbor up the hill’s got him a spanking new machine to back up his track loader dozer and his rubber-tired backhoe/frontend loader. 

It’s a lopper of the magnum variety mounted on a Bobcat with tracks over the tires.  Air conditioned, everything computerized, even got a rock rake with it.  Only $57K.

I reckons I’ll just stick with my $8 thrift store Chinese repair job loppers.

Meanwhile, on a more exciting note.

I was telling my friend Rich on the phone about weirdness and anomalies I was getting on barycentric calculations for Old Sol positions.  While we were talking he went to the US Naval Observatory site and pulled up the ‘Read Me’ file for the MICA software. 

Rich, generous, amazing friend that he is, spang right-then-and-there ordered a copy for me.

Turns out they discovered an error for multiple calculations that didn’t exist for single calculations.  They’ve released a new version, 2.2.2, with the errors corrected, along with some other improvements I’d grumbled to myself it needed but suffered silently.

Only trouble I’ve found with it is that it won’t allow me to import my hundred-or-so custom locations.  I’m having to feed them in individually, longitude, latitude, elevations, each freaking one!  The Location Manager’s designed so I can’t even copy and paste them.

And when I luckily installed it on the old machine first, just in case, it over-wrote my old location manager.  Freaking erased it spang off the damned computer.

Damned pointee-headed astronomer bastards.  Rot in hell.

Old Jules

A Plethora of Pinatas

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Mostly it’s just a hodge-podge here at the moment.  Got a call from Gale and Kay before sunset, they were on the way home, he’d been released from the hospital.  So things are good on that front.

The rainfall event following the most recent post was about three inches according to the new neighbor.  Below’s a pic of Ranch Road 385 crossing the Little Devil Creek [locals are adamant it’s a ‘river’, not a creek].  Provides some perspective about how frequent three-inch rain storms are in this vicinity, and how much more maudlin and sentimental another inch would have been.

The rock and brush dam survived.

There’s a goodly bit of silt  dropped ahead of it, the parts that washed out weren’t maudlin and sentimental enough to kill the deal.

Speaking of which.  Although there’s a surprising dearth of bumper-stickers for an election year, this [I conjecture] non-political one is still at the top of the charts on Texas bumpers and back windows.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about what drivers who choose this in one form or another are attempting to convey about themselves to other drivers, but thus far it escapes me.  No parking lot in Texas is complete without a few vehicles decorated with some variety of the plethora that must be available from the bumper sticker/decal magnates of imagination.

A roll of toilet paper on the ground there under the hat would go a long way to clear things up, if that’s the intended message.  But most likely it ain’t.

The demand by Texas drivers that other drivers support undeclared Presidential Military Adventures might be becoming stealthier, though it was fairly stealthy from the start.  Replacing the red-white and blue with cammie at least, is an uncharacteristic approach to honesty in motivation.

But as for explicit political bumper stickers, I only saw three.  One for some wannabe king who isn’t, the other demanding the current king be dumped without confessing a preference for an alternative.

The other political bumper sticker:  SHAFFER FOR SHERIFF – The Next Generation In Law Enforcement, struck me as a bit ominous.  Evidently the candidate wants voters to know he intends to incorporate more sophisticated surveillance, cameras, cow prods, computerized profiling of drivers at traffic stops, weaponry with more fire power, and newer vehicles for deputies to ride around in.

Finally, I got my chainsaw back finally from putting it in to let a real person work on it, finally.  Haven’t fired it up yet, but I know from what it cost to get it worked on and how long it took, that it’s gonna be a bull-goose chainsaw now. 

You folks looking for an entrepreneurial enterprise to occupy yourselves might be well served by considering small engine repairs.  This guy had a parking lot filled with riding lawn mowers waiting to be fixed, and if the chainsaw’s any indicator, there’s a fortune waiting to be made.

Old Jules

First Observations – Brush Berms and Rock and Brush Dam

One of you expressed an interest when I was describing the project, so I’ll add a bit of detail on initial observations.

The effort appears to be doing exactly what it’s intended to do, the floating cedar leaves doing a better job than the Pinon I used in New Mexico.  The fresh cuts on the berms don’t appear to be doing much, but those where the leaves have dropped are blocking with dead leaves, slowing the water enough to cause it to release the silt.  And the dead leaves are sealing the parts of the berms where that’s far enough advanced to allow it.

Meanwhile, a rock and brush dam I constructed last week in the arroyo to the east is performing well, also.

The steel grille used to lie on the scoured bottom so’s to allow a truck to cross without blowing a tire on the rough bottom.  I stood it up and included it in the dam because earlier efforts have filled the bottom voids with silt enough to provide a comparatively smoother ride across, making the grille redundant as a bottom surface.

The brush and leaves on the right were what was left of the earlier effort, prior to the most recent rainfall.

Depending on the intensity of the coming runoff events, the grille might actually be knocked down and require some remedies if the water level goes high enough to put leverage on the top, but if it doesn’t I believe the bottom will catch enough to provide stability.  Those rocks are heavy enough to withstand water to a level of a couple of feet, catching more brush and dropping more silt.  Higher than that, they’ll probably wash downstream.

My thought is that the bottom might fill with enough siltation ahead of the dam to need that grille, again, to keep truck tires from going up to the hubs in mud, anyway.

Old Jules