Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Moving Day

The Genuine Faux Farm features two high tunnel buildings.  If you don't know what a high tunnel building is, you are soon going to find out (assuming you actually read this blog post!).  We have named the smaller of the two buildings (72' x 30') "Eden" and the larger (96' x 30') is called Valhalla.  A high tunnel is essentially a hoop building/structure that has a plastic covering.  The intent of a high tunnel is to grow crops in the ground under this structure.  Needless to say, the protection provided by the building can allow for growing crops earlier or later in the season AND it can help control the amount of moisture (most of the time) during wet seasons.

The cool thing about Eden and Valhalla?  Well, unlike most high tunnels, these two buildings MOVE!  And Valhalla recently had a moving day.

Valhalla was in its West position
But, we wanted it moved to the East position.
We admit that this move happened later than we planned, but the season has forced us to make some choices that lead us to this situation.  Tammy and I moved Valhalla on a Saturday with no other helpers.  It took longer than it has most years because there were a few roadblocks, but we figure it was time well spent.  We actually managed to take some pictures during the process this year which means we can FINALLY give everyone a moving day rundown!
Step 1, clear the tracks
 We are often able to spend some time prior to moving day getting the area around the tracks cleaned up.  That was not quite the case this year.  The weed whip came out and we spent time getting things out of the way.  If you have sharp eyes you might notice an irrigation line and a hose over the track as well.  It is usually NOT advised that you should leave such things on the track on moving day...
Step 2 - free up the apron plastic
We have all kinds of high tech methods for keeping the plastic down.  I sometimes wonder how technical we should get on our blog, so I am hesitating telling you about this part.

Oh, ok.  It's just some t-posts. 
 Now that we are no longer mystifying everyone with our clever ideas and techniques, we shall now discuss wind.  Lots of wind.  And the things wind can do to our high tunnels.

Step 3 - put the wheels BACK on the track
Both high tunnels have multiple attachments to the ground to keep it from getting away.  Even so, strong winds can move the building off of the track enough that we have to put those wheels back on the track before we move the building. We typically use a sturdy board as a lever to put these sections back on the track. 

Step 4 - Pound in the anchoring posts that secure the track

Unfortunately, the pictures I have of this just don't show what I'm talking about.  Suffice it to say that there are rebar stakes that hold the track to the ground.  These tend to pull up a bit over the course of the year, so they all need to be pounded back in with a 3 pound hammer.  If they are not put back down, the risers on the building will catch on them and you have to stop the moving process until they ARE down.

Step 6 - admire the crops currently in the building
One of the reasons for our delay in moving the building was the lack of dry ground to plant in on the farm.  We adjusted and put some of our crops into the side of the building that was going to be exposed after the move.  It's not our ideal plan, but sometimes you just do what you have to.

Tammy can be seen at the left cleaning up the track INSIDE of the building.  What?  You though we only had to clean the track outside the building?  Silly you!  Any obstructions on the track tend to cause difficulties during the move.  So, thank you, Tammy, for clearing the tracks!

Step 7 - take the doors off of each end

Step 8 - can you see the difference in this picture from the step 6 picture?

Remember, you can click on images to see a bigger picture.  So, what do you see that is different here?  Yes, the tracks are clean.  Good job, Tammy.  Maybe the crops have grown just a wee bit since the last picture?  

Step 8 - remove the T-Posts that secure the end walls

I realized AFTER I pulled the t-stakes that I hadn't really taken a good picture of them.  But, since the building moves, we have to be able to raise the end walls in some fashion to allow it to move.  When the building is in place, there has to be a way to secure those end walls to the ground.
Step 9 - take bolts out of end wall that attaches end wall flap

This is usually the step where one of us trudges back to the garage to get the socket set that we didn't bring out with us to take these bolts off.

Step 10 - take the poly-carbonate cover off the corners over the tracks

These little pieces of poly-carbonate keep the critters out in the corners over the tracks.  Unfortunately, you can't lift the tracks when they are on, so we have to take them off.
Step 11 - dig out the flaps
We throw some dirt in front of the outside (and inside) of the flaps to help hold them in place.  But, that means you have to dig that back out when you want to raise the flaps.

Step 12 - Raise the flaps and tie them up

And, step 13 - nest the roll up bars on top of these flaps so they don't create drag when you move the building.

At this point, the building is pretty much ready to move EXCEPT, we have yet to disconnect it from all of its anchor points with the exception of the end walls.  If the wind were to pick up at this point, we have the option of putting the flaps back down and closing the building up.

But, things were fine, so we decided to proceed.

Step 14 - disconnect the building from the track
There are several sets of turnbuckles connecting the building to the track.  These must be disconnected, which means loosening the turnbuckle and then opening the c-connector to free them.

Step 15 - loop turnbuckes onto hip 'board' to avoid making these an obstacle when moving the building.
 Laugh all you want that I give this its own separate step.  You won't laugh if you forget this step - we'll just leave it at that.

Step 16 - take off the turnbuckles that connect the building to ground anchors
 We save this one for last usually because these anchors could probably hold the building in place if a freak poof should come along at this point.  The idea is to have the building unsecured for the briefest amount of time possible without getting sloppy.  You might notice the orange tie to keep the turnbuckle up and out of the way of the wheels on the track.  We usually use duct tape for that task, but the roll we had with us was old and not meeting expectations.

Step 17 - inspect everything one more time
 THEN, HEY PRESTO!  Your building is moved.
 I suspect many of you are now suspicious that I was tired of typing all of this out and I took a short-cut there.  No, that's not true.  At this point moving the building is pure magic.  We say the magic words.

"Please, Valhalla, will you move to the Eastern position that we have meticulously prepared for you?"

And then you....

Hook the building up to your tractor (Rosie) with a rope
Oh.  I forgot that part.

In any event, this process is slow and deliberate and usually includes several stops when wheels pop off the track or we identify a potential issue as we move the building.  
Oh look!  Valhalla DID move.  Yay!
The temptation at this point is to celebrate and go eat lunch, or some such thing.  But, the building is still not secured.  So, we need to reattach the turnbuckles to ground stakes and the track (there are ground stakes set for each position the tunnel resides in) and it is a good idea to at least put the flaps down before you have a sandwich.

After lunch, which was a bit late on this particular day, you get to put the building back together again.

The final steps?  Prep the soil and plant your crops.   

QED (?)

1 comment:

  1. I learned about this when we were visiting, but now the pictures make it make sense!


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