Thursday, November 7, 2013

High Tunnel

Since I missed posting anything about this project in September, I thought I better get some pictures up on it soon.

We found out in May that we had been approved for a grant through the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) to help us put up a high tunnel on the farm.  The objective of the program we were joining was to help farmers extend their growing season as sustainably as possible by giving them a structure to grow in.  Once we actually complete the high tunnel, it will allow us to grow plants earlier in the spring and later in the fall than what we could in our fields.

So after a busy market season, at the end of August I finally got around to researching tunnel options and ordering a tunnel from a company in Missouri called Hummert.  Two weeks later a large truck arrived carrying a 16-foot, 4000 lb crate.


Then it became a matter of putting together a large jigsaw puzzle.  Robert began by hauling the bow pieces over to the barn to put them together on the only flat surface we have around here.


Then the thirty foot wide bows needed to be hauled back to the tunnel site.


Once the bows were completed, it was time to put the posts in the ground that were going to hold these bows in the air.  We had been told by several farmers that this was going to be the most difficult part of the process.  After much deliberation, we decided the best way for us to put these in the ground was going to be to augur out holes part of the depth and then pound the posts in the rest of the way.  Because we only pounded them in part of the way, we also decided to reinforce each of them with a little concrete.  We were fortunate when doing this that Robert's job requires him to use survey equipment and that he has access to all of that equipment.  He was able to use GPS and aerial photography to lay out the tunnel on the computer ahead of time and then stick pin flags in the exact spot we needed to put each post.  Then after auguring out part of the holes we were able to stick the survey rod down into each of the hollow posts and know we were putting each post exactly where it needed to be.  Twenty-six posts later we were ready to figure out how to put the bows up.


The tunnel we chose from Hummert measured 30x72 and is almost thirteen feet tall at the peak.  Part of the reason we went with this tunnel rather than the one they offer that is two feet taller was that we weren't sure how we were going to lift the bows thirteen feet let alone up to fifteen feet.  Like most farm projects, this one just took a little bit of scrap lumber and some engineering.


And it actually worked.



The first night we managed to get up four of the bows before running out of daylight and the other nine went up rather quickly the next day.


Progress continues in the next post...

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