My second week at NTP was not quite as action packed as my first because I came down with a cold early in the week and couldn’t put in a full day on Wednesday. I did, however, get involved in my first real project, which is making maps of Ben’s Raisin Roots Farm veggie plot, and of the larger Mountain Sky Ranch as a whole.
After only a couple of hours in the morning spent going over details for the map and scoping out the area I went home to rest and work on the map at my own pace, and hopefully avoid getting anyone else sick. I have some previous GIS experience from courses in university but since the program I’d been using (ArcGIS) is prohibitively expensive, I had to get creative.
My first idea was to download an open-source GIS software called GRASS, but after a few frustrating hours trying to import and manipulate data in this new program I realized it was going to be extremely difficult if not impossible for me to accomplish what I needed in any realistic time-frame. Without the use of true GIS software, I next decided to use Google Earth as my source because the data we need (elevation, hydrology, and soil type) are easily accessible, except for soil type. So I ended up going the less precise but much more efficient route of basically drawing over a Google Earth plot of the farm in Adobe Illustrator and manually adding visualizations for the data I needed, like contour lines.
It might not be as professional as using Arc but I was able to produce an intelligible basic map of the area with the pertinent information to help Ben plan out his first steps. The map is by no means completed in its final form, however, and it will, I think, be a project that I revisit throughout my time here at NTP. On Friday I was feeling better and got to the ranch ready to work, and work we did. An hour of data entry in the morning was followed by various small tasks before getting to work helping with the big project of the day – building more chicken coops, this time for the hundreds of chicks that Sarah plans to bring to the ranch. We were repurposing some old pallet sheds that housed alpaca so the basic structure was already in place. We just had to put up plywood siding on the inside and outside of the sheds and add windows and doors for light and accessibility. This ended up being my first day on the ranch that I used a lot of power tools, mostly drills but a couple of saws as well.
It wasn’t particularly hard work but it took a long time to get all the pieces measured, cut and screwed in and there was still more to do when I left at the end of the day. The highlight of my day, though, was the delicious lunch that Dawn prepared for everyone. We had pasta with alpaca meat sauce, salad and bread and everyone sat together in the break room, talking as we filled our bellies and got some well deserved rest in between spurts of working on the shed. My first couple weeks at NTP have been great, getting to know everyone and helping out wherever I can, and I look forward to spring when all the different projects will really start to take off.
– Drew 2.0