Spring-Tooth Harrow

Joanna, Kevin, Nola, and Ellis came out to visit from Idaho back in May. Among other things, we started to prepare the soil in the new orchard site. First we raked up sticks and brush and carried them aside to a new compost pile. Then we broke up the soil with the Kubota tractor and an old gray spring-tooth harrow. It was slow, hard going, since despite the stumping last fall, the soil was thick with a mat of roots that bogged the tractor down and clogged the tines of the harrow. We’d get under way and lower the harrow, then raise it when we started to stall out, and then drop it back in; when the tines got loaded with roots we’d rake them off to the side and go in for another pass. Eventually, we got the bulk of the roots out so the harrow could pass cleanly through.

Another issue was that the north side of the orchard was still too wet to work; this seemed to be related to the bedrock being relatively close to the surface, so the water that fell as rain in the ground above the orchard had nowhere else to go. We put Dave to work with a little bobcat excavator, digging a trench on the back side of the eastside stone wall to collect the surface water and shunt it off to the north. The trench seemed to be effective, or at least, groundwater started to flow in immediately, and it ran to the north end of the trench and pooled up. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to continue the trench off down the hill, so it had the effect of further drying out the south side of the orchard at the expense of the north side.

We’re all hoping that Joanna and Kevin will tire of snowboarding and come back east, to help take care of the apple trees and get the farm going. They do the best they can at agriculture in the Teton valley, but at well over a mile of elevation, frost comes any time of the year, limiting what can be grown.


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