Farm Updates: French Drains

Since last week’s panic attack about the drainage situation we have been going to town on our property.  We have several projects going at once.  Today let’s review our french drain project.

The day after we hand dug our trench (Missed it? Revisit I’m Drowning) we called around town looking for Trencher rentals.  After three calls we were disheartened to learn that delivery was not an option.  My very first job growing up was at the neighborhood hardware store (True Value but we switched to Ace).  I worked at this place for five years and they always delivered equipment if needed.  I was beside myself when our Ace hardware store shot us down.

For our final attempt we called up True Value, which is a bit father away.  As it happens they have BETTER trenchers, had BETTER hours, and DELIVERED. We had the 36″ trenching beast delivered within 2 hours.


The beast is a 36″ trencher and although daunting at first wasn’t terribly difficult to operate.  On the back of the tool is a plate you can stand on to operate it.  I drove to and from the driveway but when it came to digging I let Zac take the lead.


The trencher made quick work of our french drains.  We began on the trench we had hand dug in order to get it straighter and deeper.  As it turns out the hand dug was a bad idea…

We were doing swell and actually beginning to see water going nicely into the trench when Zac came to the upper section where we had gotten a little crooked.  The skid-steer slipped off the side and began to dig itself deeper into the sticky clay mud.


We soon realized that driving it out of the ditch wasn’t going to happen so we turned it off and began attempting to get wooden boards under it.

…Over it tipped.

The clay was no match for us or the tool.  Here we are with a massive tool on it’s side, I’m freaking out, and Zac is totally calm; still holding onto the idea that he could fix it.  I had taken a photo but it disappeared somehow.

Our neighbor was outside this afternoon as well and he noticed the predicament that we got ourselves into.  This kind gentleman actually drove is truck over to us and helped us get the trencher back up.  It took some heavy chains and we placed 3 wooden posts under it.  Between the three of us we were up-righted and back in business.


After our fiasco we decided to place two more trenches…fresh ones this time, not pre-dug.  This turned out to be a lot easier.  We had several large rocks come up, and we also had a lot of sticky clay once we got to higher ground.  The mud kept falling back into the trench so I followed along and raked back the piles of mud the auger left behind.  Driving the trencher back and forth over the same path helped us get to the depth we needed.



I was blown away at how much water was coming from these trenches!  For reference, my rain-boots go midway up my calf.  This section had a foot of water.

Fast forward to this week…

The ground is MUCH more dry than it was a week ago.  The trenches are already doing their job!  As of Friday we now have stone!  Our local quarry delivered us 6 tons of #2 stone.


We also got our PVC Friday!  I don’t have any photos but those will come.  We were SO thankful for my friends who were willing to help us move the PVC home using their trailer.  For one reason or another I have grown up fearful of asking for help.  I always worry about inconveniencing the people I care about so asking for help has always been very daunting.

This is still something I struggle with but I recognize that we can’t do these projects on our own.  We don’t own a truck.  Having some good friends I can rely on means the world to me.

Our next step will be connecting the PVC (they are each 10′) and getting the grade right to allow for good drainage.  The tubes will be covered with a permeable sock to prevent the small particles from clogging the flow. A small layer of stone will be placed first, PVC will be set (holes facing down), and the rest of the stone will cover the PVC.  Finally the dirt will be placed back into the trench.

Stay tuned as we complete this project!


  1. Nice boots .I have the same ones .. I can relate having land is always lots of work …we dug a trench 5 ‘ deep 150 yard s for water in our barn it took a week with a tractor ..we grew rocks in Galway

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha love these boots! That sounds like quite a project. Something we should do but I’m ok hauling it out for now. It would be a pain with the propane line and the stream in the way.


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