Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rise Up

Someone recently contacted me for my opinion on our Twister run-in shelter. She had stumbled across FFF while searching for information and was looking for some first-hand thoughts on the product. The question forced me to recall the whole shelter saga. We ordered it last May and it didn't ship until September due to a problem at the manufacturing plant and the gross incompetency of the broker. Then FedEx Freight refused to deliver it to Farcical Farm because we didn't have front-end loader, so it sat in their yard for almost a month while we negotiated its release. When we finally got the crate and unpacked its contents we found two important pieces missing, thus delaying construction even further. One afternoon when David and I were working on the construction an 8-foot post slipped out of position and caught me on the spine, leaving my right leg feeling heavy and numb for several weeks to follow. After we finished construction Raven and Tonka spent weeks being terrified of their new paddock-mate. And then, following a winter of relative tranquility, the run-in shelter tried to run off.

Two weekends ago David and I made Georange earn his keep by helping us to restore the shelter to its original position. When it got caught by the wind its skids pulled up out of the crusher dust, causing little rock avalanches to fill the trenches where the skids had been. With some serious manual labor we excavated the rock away from the sides of the skids, and then we used the loader to lift the shelter so that we could dig back down to bare dirt under the skids. Once the shelter was on its original foundation we re-graded the gravel with the loader and used the backhoe to dig two huge holes on either side of the structure*. Then we dropped a loop of steel cable into each hole, followed by a very large rock (unearthed last fall when Tom extended the crusher dust footing). With loops of cable around the upper beam of the shelter we created two guy wires anchoring the top of the stucture firmly to the ground. Phew.

All in all it was a successful operation. The kind of experience that leaves us city slickers feeling more confident in our ability to live this rural life without always making utter asses of ourselves. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera out for photodocumenation of this little victory, so you will have to satisfy yourselves with stock footage.

*Although it sounds easy, digging two large holes with a backhoe is pretty challenging unless you know how to use one. David and I agree that it would have been faster and prettier if we had done them by hand.


Anonymous said...

OT to your post...

I replied to your comment that you left me. In case you don't see it, I thought I'd reply here as well. I'd be happy to make you extra long tail bags! I have a ton of lycra that I'm not doing a darn thing with. Are you particular about color? Style? As in the braided sort or the straight bag? Let me know!

Carole said...

"Little victory" - ha. That sounds like a significant amount of backbreaking labour.

We rented a skidsteer backhoe to trench our waterline from the house to the paddock a while back, and quickly learned that while a skilled backhoe operator makes it look so easy - graceful, even - it's actually more like watching hockey on TV, and then going out and strapping on a pair of Bauers yourself. Just not quite as easy as they make it look.

EvenSong said...

So was your recomendation "Yeah" or "Nay"? Glad your saga (now almost a year old) is finished (at least I hope so!).

Working with my loader took awhile to get the knack, but the more you use it, the more natural it gets. But you're right, backhoe holes are never very pretty. What happened to your post hole digger?

For Carole: if you're going to rent equipment, and your ground isn't too rocky, a ride-on ditcher (commonly known as a "DitchWitch") is SOOO much easier--at least for narrow trenches for just a water or electric line! It's like a giant dirt chainsaw on wheels! I dug almost a mile of irrigation pipe ditches (for a sprinkler system on our 13 acres) a few years ago. I even used it (while I had it rented anyway) in place to create [admittedly long and narrow] post holes!

mideme = what dp says to David and herself when they get 'er done!

Sarah Henderson, BCCDC said...

OS: Awesome! No particularities about colour and I just need a straight bag style. The ones I have are 19" long, and I would like something more like 40" long. Just a simple bag with two ties at the end would be great -- I can pay you by PayPal if that works.

Carole: Yes, watching Tom with his excavator is like watching a well-practiced ballet. Watching me with the backhoe is like watching an infinite number of monkeys randomly making their way towards Nut Cracker.

ES: For the shelter itself the recommendation was "yea!". We really like it, we just didn't like the process of getting it. As for the post hole digger it might get it inauguration (a terrible pun) this weekend. The posts did not sustain so much damage that they cannot contain the critters, so they are not a high priority.

Black Jack's Carol said...

For city slickers, the two of you WAY impress me! As Carole says, not a "little" victory at all. Did all that practice put you a step up to the "so easy-graceful, even" category?