We can get up our driveway almost to the house. The 10 inch mud ruts are smoothed out by the grader that has been sitting in our yard for the purpose of pulling stuck 4×4 trucks out of the mud. The new improved gravel-not-mud driveway stops about 100 feet from the garage. The gravel truck sunk in the mud and broke the culvert causing an immediate work stoppage.
This has been an odd winter that came suddenly and left suddenly. As a consequence we have record high ground water. For weeks no gravel could be gotten because the gravel pits were having to run pumps 24×7 to get the water pumped out so they could take the gravel to people like us who were drowning in mud.
The pits are pumped and the trucks dumping. We have had several sunny 50 degree days with a wind which has added to the recovery from the mud. Today my spouse bravely went out to “knock down some of the ruts.” I went out to see how things were going and there were a few rocks from the high side of the rut shoved over into the low side of the rut. He had been there a long time so I was not sure I understood. I tried to move one shovel full and understood immediately. The soil is clay and with all of the water followed by sun we have a clay pot yard.
We are familiar with this particular type of landscape, and in fact, with the clay pots fired. On one side of our house that burned we had the type of mud that called for roping up like a mountain climber if you wanted to just walk across it when it was wet. I built a path with steps reinforced by natural things I found around the woods. I ended up making little retaining walls with logs and rocks and the packing the clay dirt in behind. We had several days of rain so I took advantage of potting my stairs. I am glad that that area was not in view from the road because I would have ended up on the cover of the Times Review.
Imagine me in rain gear, boots so heavy with mud that they would have held you down in 0 gravity, wet hair, and mud from my shoulders to my knees across the front of my rain gear. Because I was working on a down hill slope and the mud was so slippery, I was lying on my stomach to align the stairs and pack the mud. After the rain my stairs dried and were fantastic. Then the fire came. My wet-thrown stairs that had baked to a satisfying firmness became fired clay. You could not crack it with a staff, even one with titanium tip.
So, we are experts on clay-mud. I have learned some things that grow well in clay soil but mostly I am happy to know that I am going to put raised beds over the top of the clay soil. I will install a handrail from the house to the garden so I can traverse the slippery slope from the house to the garden.
Upon reflection, perhaps I should use a zipline from the deck.I don’t think the bears will learn how to operate it so they won’t be able get on the stair-less deck and snag our steak.