Archive for April, 2010

The first course of urbanite is complete, and so begins the start of the foundation stem wall.  On Friday I picked up a yard of sand, and after tamping the rubble and then laying old grain bags on top, I put a layer of sand over the grain bags, to create a more stable surface on which to lay the concrete pieces.  Then it was time to start laying the urbanite.

Gray and I spent hours hauling urbanite over to the site and fitting them together like puzzle pieces.  We had a lot of fun, mostly working in silence, except for the sounds of hammer, chisel, and breaking concrete.  It went a lot faster than I expected, and we had the first course done before dinner…

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So much of my time over the last month or so has been spent digging deeper and deeper into the earth, I had forgotten that there would one day be an end to it.  I’ve really come to enjoy and appreciate digging, and have found the mattock to be one of my favorite tools.  But I won’t get to spend as much time with it for a while.  After lots of lonely digging and shoveling, I had a bunch of friends show up and do in one day what would have taken me a week.  I turned around and when I looked back over my shoulder the rest of the trench had been dug and graded.  I blinked and drain pipe was laid and cradled with urbanite rubble.  The trench is filled and almost ready for the stem wall.  I’ve just got to cover the rubble with some old grain bags we’ve got in the shed, and then put some sand on top of that before I can start dry stacking the urbanite.

I love how this picture makes the site look so teeny:

All the time we’ve spent scavenging concrete rubble has paid off, and we were able to avoid spending hundreds of dollars on gravel.  I fell asleep last night feeling so satisfied.  Satisfied not only with the completion of one phase of the project, but satisfied with a life full of hard work, good food, beautiful weather, and great friends.

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Sunday night was rainy.  As I was lying in bed listening to the thunder and watching the lightning through closed eyes, I just kept thinking of my poor trench, filling up inch by inch.  The next morning I walked over to the site, and, as I expected, it was totally full of water.

Lucky for me, my friend Greg showed up that morning, and he digs trenches as a form of recreation.  So after some buckwheat pancakes and raw beet salad we got to work lengthening the “tail” of the drainage trench.  To be dramatic, we left a small dam in place, so that at the end of the day we could remove the section of soil and, ideally, the standing water would flow into the tail trench, away from the house site.

We dug for hours and hours, creating an excessively long tail trench that opens up at the end into a sort of light bulb shape.  It’ll be a great spot for some tree plantings.

At 6:00 we broke our earthen dam, and watched as the water started to flow.

In the end at least half the water left the trench, which was extremely satisfying.  The next day I continued working on the trench until most of the water had drained out.  Once all the grading is done, this will be a serious drainage trench.  The house is going to last forever.

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