Tuesday, February 21, 2012

High Tunnel Beginnings

As we may have mentioned somewhere along the line, we have decided to add "season extension" to our growing practices here at Fair Share Farm. So with the help a a Federal NRCS grant we bought the materials for a so-called "hoop house" or "high tunnel," and have begun construction.

On February 11, Rebecca and I traveled to Morgan County Seeds to pick up the 6,000 or so lbs of steel, wood and plastic and safely made our way back to the farm. Yesterday Rebecca, Luke and I began staking out the layout, and putting the ground posts in.

Hoop house on the farm

Along with leveling the site (something we did last month), this is one of the more critical steps. Once the posts are in place the remainder of the work is similar to an erector set.

Laying things out

Setting the posts (we got half of them in before the rain) has been a learning experience. To provide stablility to the tunnel you need to drive them 32 inches into the ground with whatever means you have at hand. Our primary source of power is a Bobcat. Our initial attempts were a bit precarious, lifting the bucket 11 plus feet and then pushing/hammering the posts in.

We decided that we didn't want to tip over onto Luke in the process, so came up with a new method. Searching the barn for old metal parts we found our solution...a compressed gas cylinder top and some old, old tractor tire chains (this is why I never wanted to throw them out!)
As you can see from the picture, things were less tipsy that way and we proceeded to drive 14 posts in a couple hours. We plan on finishing them on Wednesday or Thursday and will be ready to put the rest up during a "tunnel raising" on March 10 and 11th. More in the post above.

Post pounding method 1
Post pounding method 2
Post pounding method 2

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