Thursday, August 14, 2008

A woman on a mission

I have been working outside all day today. Except for the hour when I came in at lunch, famished, and when I excused myself from shoveling dirt to make dinner for hungry workers, I have spent the entire day outside working on the wall. At this moment I am dirty and smelly and salty and very, very tired. I may not be able to move tomorrow. But the wall is nearing completion.

Of course, I had a lot of help for which I am very thankful. This wall would not be going anywhere without my incredible helpers. As I watched my sons shoveling the mountain of dirt down the hill this afternoon, I remembered the note Thomas wrote to me when they gave me a copy of Taylor's Master Guide to Landscaping last Christmas. Here's what he wrote:

"One copy of Taylor's Master Guide to Landscaping is at this very moment flying through time and space, making an epic journey to your front door. It is on its way because it has heard that you are a woman on a mission. You are a woman who will stop at nothing until you have successfully changed a sinkhole in the backyard into a beautiful fire pit. You are a woman who isn't satisfied with cutting down a twenty foot tall tree, no you want your children to dig out the stump, too. When most people would stop at having an ok yard, you go the extra step and imagine it perfect. You imagine a terraced backyard with gardens that produce enough food to feed a family of eight. You are the ultimate Mother and deserve a copy of Taylor's Guide to Landscaping."
Well, the boys, with help from Gary and John, did dig out that stump and they are in the process of changing that sinkhole, not into a fire pit, those plans changed, but into a terraced garden behind a strong, beautiful retaining wall. I do not think I am the ultimate mother. After this wall building adventure, these boys may be thinking I am the ultimate slave-driver and questioning the wisdom of fueling my passion for gardening projects by giving me a book like Taylor's Guide, but I have to say that they are the greatest! And I do think they'll be pleased with their work when it's all said and done.

So, here's what we did today...

First job was to finish moving the gravel down off the hill and into the hole. I got up early and got most of that job done with shovel and hoe before the boys got up.


Next we had to remove blocks and do some leveling. We made some mistakes the other day that needed correcting. We'd also had to buy a few extra blocks. The extra blocks were stacked in front of the wall ready to be placed. Moving them to the wall was a little tricky because of the rain yesterday. The sloping clay soil in front of the wall made for some slippery footing. We worked slowly, methodically, course by course, leveling as we went, the joints staggered and gaps closed.

new blocks ready to go into place

We worked in shifts. Gary and Andrew joined me for the first shift; Matthew and Kennan for the second. Thomas and Joel did the grocery shopping so I could stay home and lent their "umph" a little later....you'll see.

Around 3:30 the dump truck with 12 yards of "rocky, compactible fill" arrived. Hooray for Craig's List. This was free fill. I just had to pay the delivery charge. The poor driver wasn't too happy about navigating my driveway and dumping the load down the hill. He managed to break two sizable Bradford Pear limbs on the way down the driveway but I assured him it was OK. Those trees are coming out this fall long so no great loss.


LOTS of rocky, compactible fill - just what we needed

The rest of the afternoon was spent moving dirt down the hill. Here's where Thomas and Joel jumped in. Boys were lined up the hill on the pile of dirt, shoveling, raking, and spreading. Matthew's job was compacting. He did a little entertaining at the same time!


Here' s a little video clip of the process. Unfortunately, I had the camera turned vertically and I can't figure out how to rotate it, to you'll just have to turn your head or tip your laptop. Sorry!



What's left to do? Finish shoveling fill, top off with 5 yards of topsoil, affix the caps to the top of the wall, clean up, decide what to plant, and figure out a way to adequately say thank you to all the young men who have helped me. I think that last one may be impossible.

1 comment:

tonia said...

you are going to be so glad you did all this! what a wonderful project. i have some terraced gardens in mind too...and a fire pit. but after watching all this hard work, i think my plans can wait a bit. :)