North Path Project

Our property has a path, which we created intentionally, that runs around its perimeter, so that we can “walk the loop” as a method of getting places, or as a form of leisure, without disrupting the ecology of the interior parts of the land, particularly out back where it is more wild and therefore also more sensitive. The loop runs from behind each of the two houses, up the long north and south sides of the property, and connects in ashort stretch on the western edge.

Unfortuantely, our North Path has a problem. A couple of problems. The acequia (irrigation ditch) also runs along the north edge of the property. In some areas, the path is up on the edge of the ditch, where it stays nice and dry, but in other areas, the edge was filled with thickets of wild brush, which we let grow to provide habitat for little birds and other wild creatures — we had a nesting pair of roadrunners in there one year. In those areas, the path dives into the property a bit, to circumvent the shrubbery, and this means that whenever we irrigate, the first thing to flood is the path. Which renders it quite un-path-like.

In the last couple years, that thicket has died, creating a fire-hazard. So we decided to remove the thicket and move the path up onto the ditchbank for the entire length of the north edge. No small feat!

The day began like this:

Alan and Jenny taking apart the thicket by hand. This involved six people, a couple pruning shears, and two pruning saws, over the course of the day.

We sawed and yanked and broke pieces of wood out until we had a massive pile of sticks, and then people stuffed these into wheelbarrows and took them back to the Stick Pile, which is a problem we’re hoping to address next month.

Several hours of such work resulted in this:

our wwoofer Becky poses for the camera while Jenny continues thicket-wrangling


we did a great deal of pruning live elms, as part of making it possible for a person to walk down the new path, as well.

and after all that, towards the end of the day, we were able to move west along the path to the next blocked area — a thicket of Johnson grass. after a day of battling intertwined dead trees and shrubs, it was positively satisfying to stomp on the grass and create a path in mere minutes.

at the end of the day, this view:

had transformed into this!

complete with bonus dog.

this week our formiddable team of amazing interns through wwoof are finishing up the work by bringing many, many, wheelbarrows of clay back onto the new path, raising and levelling it so that it will be nice to walk on, and remain above the floodplain when we resume irrigating next spring.