At Least It's Level

So we never got to actually work in the trenches yesterday. Borrowing a truck from the Neumanskys, hauling our butts down to Home Depot, obtaining rebar and plywood and dobies, then having a fun little rebar-cutting session in the parking lot with the bolt cutters, well, that all took up most of our afternoon. Then Noel headed off to play piano for some dancers up North, and I spent an hour shoveling mulch around (the paths are getting bare).

Truck bed with footing supplies in it

And let's be frank, after our modest performance yesterday, we didn't get as much done today as I had hoped. We got a late start, then Noel went off to Fremont to run an errand (more about that in a moment), so it was quite late in the afternoon when we got started on the retaining wall.

In the meantime, I moved wood chips, in part because it's time to use them and in part because we're going to have the truck for an indefinite period and need the driveway space.

Wood chip pile this afternoon

This is where I started today -- you can see the work I did last night on the driveway surface. The wood chips have been sitting here seasoning and are now broken down enough that I can use them around green plants -- perfect for mulching at this time of the year when a lot of new plants are emerging in the beds.

Mostly gone chip pile

I managed to work my way through much of the pile, refreshing the paths and putting chips around some of the larger shrubbery.

Chickens doing the raking work

I had some help, of course. One thing chickens LOVE doing is raking stuff around and spreading it out flat. So I made little piles around the place and they got to work spreading them out for me. They're not very neat, but they are very effective.

Mulching under the buddleias

For example, they took the piles of mulch I made around the buddleias -- up to two feet high -- and spread them out flat and even. I can sort of tell where the original piles were. And I certainly don't need to rake.

Then Noel got home and we went to work tamping the gravel in the trench down and leveling it with the laser level.

Leveled and tamped

The work went pretty quickly once we got the hang of it: Noel was in the trench with a board and the level, and I brought shovelloads of gravel to help bring up the surface.

Most of the gravel pile used up

We managed to use up most of the pile of gravel; the rest will be used around the footing formwork to hold things in place.

By the time we finished that it was getting late enough that we decided not to bring out the circular saw and start cutting formwork. So no forms or rebar today, but maybe I can get some in tomorrow afternoon. It's supposed to be sunny most of the next week, if chilly, so I'm certain we can get the footings poured soon.

Two sets of Baker scaffolding

And that errand Noel was running? He was picking up a couple of sets of Baker scaffolding (I've not been able to determine why it's called that, but I can only presume it is a surname). It's narrow scaffolding that you can set up on a staircase. We've been trying to figure out how to deal with the wall repairs in the stairwell, and this seems like the most sensible method. We bought them rather than rented because I am absolutely certain we will be doing work on things in the stairwell for many years to come.

posted by ayse on 02/27/11