Day 10326

Spring is here for good; the snow and the ice have melted, and the grass is turning green. As the Woolly Mammoths migrate into Canada, and the glaciers recede, spring meltwaters have started flowing down mountains into the watershed. One of these seasonal streams is flowing over one of my friend's driveways. As a new home-owner, he was less than excited to see that this is what spring brings. We talked through our options, and decided the best, easiest, most cost effective fix would be to remove the damaged drainage culvert, and leave it open.

Nakahla and I loaded up my dad's backhoe, and we departed early for the mountains. Mark lives on quite a slope, so I parked my poor half-ton truck at the bottom, unloaded the Kubota, and drove it up the rest of the way. Mark's neighbors were glad to have an alarm clock chugging up the hill at 8am on a Saturday, I'm sure. Nakahla went in to help Jess with their kids, and Mark and I surveyed the damages, made note of what was working and what wasn't, and made a rough plan for what we'd be doing. When we wrapped the chain around the first piece of 18" culvert with the tractor, I thought I was going to be coming up here for the next month to finish the project. "What have I gotten myself into?" I asked... aloud. "I'm going to be doing a lot of work on your barn!" Mark replied.

Mark's yard had one culvert flowing from the upper driveway, under 30' of yard, and under a lower driveway. We found that the upper driveway's drain was still flowing, just clogged at the inlet, which we cleared. The middle drain had separated and water wasn't flowing through it anymore, which is fine because the lower driveway's drain was collapsed anyway! We dug up the middle and bottom sections, replaced the broken bottom with the intact middle, and crafted a streambed in the middle section of driveway. To keep the lower pipe from clogging we made a small pond full of larger rocks to discourage things from flowing through.

In hindsight, we should have diverted the flow as best we could at the top, and worked from the bottom of the property up. Instead, we were working in the water most of the time. On the flip side, the water flowed where it wanted to go, and softened up the earth around it, making it easier to work. We were able to make small diversions while we worked, anyway. Amazingly, we got the project done in one weekend. Jess and Nakahla kept us fed, Mark's kids kept us entertained, the weather cooperated, and now I have an indentured servant for my next project.

At home, I reattached the backhoe to the Case tractor. It has been sitting plumbed for a few weeks, just waiting for free time and warm weather to coincide. I started the machine up, and back it up to within 6" of the backhoe. I dug the bucket into the ground, and used the dump pistons to push the tractor forward and back, while adjusting the backhoe swivel pedals left and right, to line up on the backhoe boom. I was off the machine for this, so I had large split logs under the main wheels to keep it from rolling. This went really slow, and required a bit of patience, to get two several-ton pieces of steel to line up within 1/2". Once they were close enough, I used the Hi-lift jack to lift the backhoe boom. With luck, and my dad offering a second set of hands, the pin went in without much effort. I then reinstalled my zip-tie color-coordinated hydraulic lines, and pinned the boom cylinder to the swivel tower. I reversed the pressure/relief lines on both the stick and the bucket cylinders so that pulling the levers toward you brings everything in, and pushing them away runs it all out.

A handsome dog.

If you don't have a backhoe, that whole paragraph probably sounded like Chinese. If you do have a backhoe, it probably sounded like Chinese, too. End result? I have a backhoe again. And it doesn't leak from the valve spools. I finished up the project by putting snap-rings on pins, changing the hydraulic filter, and pressure washing the greasy spots. Also, the pressure washer started after a dozen pulls, on old gasoline, after sitting for six months; when does that ever happen?

Over Easter, I toured another property up North. It had come up in my search online, and I had discarded it, but Nakahla had sent it to me again for a second look. More than ten acres, fields and woods, a stream, convenient to the highway and close to family, for a price I could afford. I thought it was under a set of transmission lines, but on second look I realized the pictures weren't matching up with the pin on Google maps.

Happy dog.

View to the North.

A bunch of nice Birch trees.

I walked it with my Dad, who approved. I came back later with my Mum and Grandfather, who both approved. Zeke liked it. I liked it! The bus will fit! I emailed my realtor and put in an offer. We'll see how this plays out.

These epic posts, with weeks of work condensed into one write-up, sure make it seem like I accomplished quite a bit in a short amount of time. I can tell you that it feels like I'm dragging my feet, and not able to work on anything when I want to!

Next up is the mounts for the solar panels on the bus roof, some small welds on my dad's tractor and mine, and an oil change on the welder. Once I have everything else in order, I'll start the big project of the dump bed install on the F350.

If the land purchase goes through, I will start getting equipment up North.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.