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Letters home to mom

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Lotta work–Day 3 (conclusion)

Posted by joeabbott on January 31, 2015

I awoke and felt like I’d been beaten by some very angry gulag prison guards but I wasn’t about to wallow in pity and waste the day. I’d committed to putting in a “half day”, working from 7AM until 10AM and then checking in again later that day. To that I held true and, at 10AM, was heading to complete the job I’d started.

imageFinishing the wall

When I’d stopped the day prior I was short a few spikes, so the first order of the day was to head back to Home Depot and pick up a three more. Those in hand, I had pre-drilled the holes in the boards to use for the final tier so it was just a matter of placing them and driving home the spikes! And, because the end of the dogleg seemed to terminate so abruptly, Suzy and I agreed to add a minor “decorative” post on the very end. While not fancy in any way, it did seem to finish off an otherwise rough-looking feature.

Laying cinder blocks

While cinder blocks have all the delicacy of a NFL linebacker, they would prove to be just the right thing to lay in and establish the boundary to this new area. Our neighbor is moving and for one reason or another had found himself in possession of 10 or so of these blocks. Having no use for them, he asked if I wanted them and I accepted. I wasn’t sure where or how I’d use them, but with the coop extension coming up, I thought they may be put to service establishing a rodent barrier. But, Suzy suggested using them here and they proved just the thing.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         I cut a few boards at 39” and used those as spacers: cutting a trough in the soil, placing the cinder block in, and using the 39” boards to keep them lined up as I stomped the ground down around them. Suzy was cutting the trough as I was creating the 39” spacers and, upon meeting up with her she announced, “we ran into your old nemesis”. Yup, that tree stump was right in the trough we were cutting for the blocks.

While the other parts of the stump were limbs that, with a bit of whacking, seemed to loosen up and move a bit, this section was a very root of the earth. I whacked at it, I dug around it, and I sawed on it … all to seemingly no avail. Finally I asked Suzy to stand back and I laid in on it even past the point of fatigue. And, in the end, piece by piece, I chopped it out of the way. At one point Suzy said something like, “I think it’s clear now.” I rejoined that it had my goat and I needed the outlet of beating it into complete submission. I’m not at the peak of my physical self but I was sufficient. Part of the stump still remains, deep in the earth, but I’ve moved the parts in our way and then some.

I’m sure I drained a Gatorade or two and lay supine, awaiting the return of strength and a semblance of sanity and, when it did return, I went back to placing cinder blocks, tamping the ground around them, and smoothing out the area around this barrier.

Because the cinder blocks were holding back the gravel, which we wanted several inches deep, they stood above the surface of the ground several inches. To avoid this being a significant tripping hazard away from the compost bin, we slowly sloped the blocks down to a point that they’re just barely above the surface of the ground.


Adding crushed stone

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         With the cinder block wall in place, we started the laborious process of dragging wheel barrows and 5 gallon pails of stone up the hill to our new area. While we moved the entire half yard of stone in maybe six trips, it was tiring work and we were happy for the completion.

With that step done, we wrangled the compost bin into place and marveled at two things: first, we had a lot more room for the storage shed for chicken supplies than we’d thought; and second, for all that labor, it didn’t really look all that much improved. Yes, there were differences, but it wasn’t a night and day “wow! that looks great!” sorta moment. It was a “hey … looks tidier”.

And for that the aches and pains of the day seemed all the worse.

P1080466 Stitch


I promised myself a shower before I cleaned up my tools but didn’t follow through. Once you haul all the tools and gear from the work area to the shop, you wipe off this, and put that back into place. Then you think you should just pick up a few other things and, before you know it, you’re breaking down the dado blade setup, you’re putting your chisels back, the saws and levels and hammers are all finding their places of rest. You charge batteries that are spent and place a few extra materials in an out-of-the-way corner for “next time”.

And, with a bit of sweeping and turning out the lights, you’re done. And that shower feels phenomenal.

It was a good project and a good few days of work but, now that the “bones” are in, I’m looking forward to getting that storage shed and coop extension. Hope you drop back to read up on those projects when they’re complete. Thanks for coming by this time!


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