While Mr. Bluejeans and I are waiting for the surveyors to show up we thought it would be a great idea to scoop up soil samples from the 3 pasture areas where we plan to plant. During our walks on the property we have discovered a variety of soil types. Clay, compacted but somewhat nice topsoil and what I lovingly call the “ Hard as Concrete Rock Filled Mess”. My spider senses tell me this last area is where the cattle roamed. And perhaps even the deer and antelope play. Elephants too.
*Soil amendments are materials you add to soil to improve its physical or chemical properties. Unlike fertilizers, the exact ingredients and chemical composition of soil amendments vary among different sources. You can use soil amendments to improve the permeability and water retention characteristics of your soil.
*Thank you to sfgate.com for a very concise definition for a very broad subject.
Staring at our various pasture areas is enjoyable but brings no understanding to what is really happening below. Through sheer brilliance I have determined that the really reddish areas are clay heavy. I know, it just comes naturally. However, the other pasture lands are hiding secrets below all the grasses, weeds and other such leafy things growing and those are secrets Mr. Bluejeans and I should know about. Work Smarter not Harder is a good rule to live by so I decided to utilize the local extension office to help with discovering what our next move needs to be to amend our soil.
One of the best things we can do to turn dirt into rich soil is composting. We WILL be composting. You will discover that I love composting. It may seem weird but the knowledge that most things we use can be composted or reused in other ways just puts a smile on my face. My practice with small scale composting began in Wisconsin. I even had my compost heap working for me in the winter. A Wisconsin winter. Not an easy feat with temperatures reaching -30° with windchill. Pats on the back for sure. Being in a warmer climate has me seeing much gorgeous composting soil in our future. I could go on…and on but for your sake I’ll save that for a future blog post or two about composting.
With Bijoux in tow, the plan was to gather two samples from each pasture and take them to the extension office for their soil wizardry. I called to confirm that our local office does handle soil samples and was elated to find yes indeed they do work with soil. I thought by using glass we could be sure the samples were pristine. None of that evil plastic (which after I thought about it is the same evil plastic I put leftover ham sandwiches in… hmmm). We gathered our Mason jars full of our precious terra firma (a 3 hour job mind you) proudly marched back to the car with Backpack Bijoux in tow and away we drove to drop off our precious specimens. Going as planned. Until…
Until we discovered we didn’t do it right. Work Harder not Smarter? Seems I had it backwards…
See, if I had asked more questions I would’ve found out that we needed at least 10 samples from each area that would all go into a cute little paper box. That’s 30 samples for those of you following the bouncing ball. We had a total of 6 samples in three beautiful Mason jars. Did I mention that it had rained hard the day before? Consider it mentioned.
You see, the THIRTY samples of dirt have to be DRY. After seeing my face, it was explained to me that the dirt can “simply” be placed in the oven on low overnight to make it bone dry. Huh. Simply. Perhaps if I had a real oven but my Easy Bake Barbie Camper oven (a.k.a. camper propane oven) can’t dry thirty samples of dirt let alone a pair of socks overnight.
So this project was a total fail. Good news is: I gave an amazing scrub to my Mason jars, they are gleaming and back in the cupboard. The weather has been rather dry recently and Bijoux is up for another backpacking adventure so in the next few weeks Mr. Bluejeans and I will begin Dirt Collection Part Deux. And Mr. Bluejeans determined he liked his newest machete purchas. You can check it out here.
Another upside is, the project manager for our survey did stop by and surveying is set to commence! We may be building our home on the range soon! Can’t wait to see those deer and antelope play. And of course, the elephants.
Here’s our little video which is full of optimism. In other words, before we headed to the extension office!
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Have you ever taken soil samples to your extension office?