Using an A-Frame to trace contours

We worked steadily, starting at a point on the souther fence 130 feet down-hill. The contour line wended its way north across the slope. After a run of about 50′, the line turned west towards the hill, forming a sort of C-shape. We pegged this and began another line slightly more down-hill. This one ran the whole width across the slope in a near straight line of about 300′.aFrameUse.jpg
There were some bloopers. The limbs of the A were unequal and though Mano had pointed that out when we made it, I had shushed him. The repair cost us time and a run-back for Babu to his house to fetch a saw. We also needed a sturdier hammer to drive the rod making holes for pegs.
The A-Frame span at 4′ was too small for the large run. It required far too many repeats to cover the length and also could not distinguish minor local variations in height. A span of about ten feet would seem better suited for the 400′ we were marking.
We were done by 3 pm. Babu waited somewhat anxiously as the ladies of his household had prepared a lunch for us which was getting cold. And what a lunch it was! We sat on the cool floor of the tiled house and ate off banana leaves. Everything except a few carrots and beans had been produced by the three brothers in their fields. The curd and the ghee came from their cows. And that made all the difference. We can’t thank them enough.
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It was close to 6 pm when we got to the edge of Chennai and joined the bumper-to-bumper crawl. And it was close to 9 pm by the time I dropped Sangeetha and Kasey across the town.
My thanks to both of them. It was a very long day for Sangeetha and Kasey who was nursing an ear infection. I will keep in mind the three points he made:
1- Don’t rush into developing the whole area in one go. Go maybe an acre at a time. You will inevitably make mistakes and this way the mistakes will be small and correctible.
2- Locate the ponds you dig as high as you can on the property. That will harvest runoff soon after it starts and help distribution by gravity later.
3- Do not finalise species selection until you have observed the local flora over at least a year’s seasons.
The first thing though is to be staring at the sky for some over-due rains so that the contour line can be ploughed and planted with vetiver.

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