Turning a backyard into a park
I am fortunate — I have two backyards. Both you can see from the kitchen sink window. The closest one has a long, three-strand clothesline full of clothespins with tall lilac bushes in two corners. A hand-cut block-rock cellar used for food storage generations ago borders the yard’s eastern edge. Attached at the north end of this stone cellar is a rough stone barbecue with a chimney. The barbecue is in the second backyard, separated from the first by a four-white-board fence. I want this far second yard converted to a park-like setting, so I had to drag it to break up cow pies.
My drag is a contour harrow with a leading edge of metal pipe more than 13 feet wide. Hotdog-thick metal prongs cover about eight feet, with six used tires attached at the end to give added weight for better grip in ripping up cow pie-covered grass.
My tractor is a 1964 diesel International imported from England because that is where they came from then. There is a trick to getting it started and two or three things to push and pull to get it to stop. I have the directions for each of these functions handy on my cell phone.
The backyard I want to confiscate from the cows is about 50 paces wide and more than 150 paces north to south. It used to be called the owl place, and is fenced off from the surrounding fields. And I don’t know why.
Besides the beautiful stone barbecue, built during the Depression, there are about 15 mature trees, five newly planted fruit trees, and two well-established blackberry bushes in this yard field. A swing set made from metal pipes for my own two sons over 25 years ago painted bright yellow, 21 feet long, 9 feet wide and real tall takes up space in it. And another smaller swing made from an old two-seater ski lift chair about 6 feet wide and 10 feet tall resides in the yard.
There is an artesian irrigation ditch running along the yard’s western edge just to the left as you enter the field with the drag. This ditch runs along the white board fences to the northern edge’s wire fence where it takes a turn east running all along the northern edge passing under the wire fence to the fields beyond.
My tractor was running smoothly, so I used it to help me upright an old apricot tree which had blown over in one of this winter’s high wind storms. The tree was lying on its side next to the ditch blooming beautiful white blossoms. I roped it to the base of the white board fence.
I am fortunate because I only managed to take out half of one of the blackberry bushes, knocked over the smaller of the two swing-sets, which my husband helped me lift off the drag and disturbed a little edge of one of the newly planted fruit tree’s water well. Backed over the drag bar only once.
It will be a pretty park, even if my husband wants it designated a historical park, leaving it how it has been for over 50 years.
Marie Johnson is a Carson Valley rancher.