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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Crossing the Great Divide

C.S. Lewis“But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder.” - C.S. Lewis, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" 

It's time to share what happened with the old bridge out at Stone Table Farm.  Well just like the Bible tells us God is renewing all things - so it is with old bridges.  It has been renewed and transformed from something scary and broken to something useful and beautiful.

This is what the bridge looked like when we first bought the land.  It was 10 utility poles from the old power lines that run across the back of the property.  They are big poles (about 14" in diameter).  The two outside ones were in tough shape so they had to go.  Then we were down to 8 that were in good shape.

At first we tried putting a deck on the poles as they lay.  We thought we could level it by placing shims and different size boards underneath the decking boards.  Boy - were we wrong.  It turned out to be a big headache and the effort was quickly abandoned. 

So in came the excavator.  The plan; to lift the log ends and level them to create a workable surface for the deck boards.

Then we had to fill in between each pole with rocks that we found around and in the road.  All of these were picked and hauled by hand.  We placed larger ones right down in the water and then smaller ones cascading upwards towards the road surface.  This was to help with erosion control.

The final product turned out remarkably well.  All the poles were level.  All the spaces were filled.  We could drive across it carefully with tires balanced on individual poles.

Of course we had to eat while we were out there.

The next step was laying the decking for the bridge.  This decking was literally decking.  It was our friend Terry's old deck that he had pulled up.  We put that recycled pressure treated lumber to good use.  It took a little thinking through but we got a system worked out.

At one point everyone was lending a hand and we were cruising right along.  At one point all 5 of us had hammers in our hands and the woods echoed with our banging.  Talk about family bonding.

I forgot to mention that we started all of this around 5pm after Nate got off of work.  Darkness was coming quick and the gravel for the road was being delivered the next day.

Next we laid decking boards perpendicular to the ones we had placed across the poles.  These were the "tire tread" boards that would be driven on as well as give all the boards more support and strength together as a unit

 It was starting to get dark.  We had to work by the headlights on the van.

But by 8:30pm the bridge was finished!  Denise and the kids were the first to cross it.  A job well done.

click on any pic for a larger view...

Now for the gravel.....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Road Goes Ever On

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known. 
- J. R. R. Tolkien
The blog is back.  We've been very hard at work putting in a road.  It has turned out to be a daunting task, taking much longer than we anticipated.  From the main road to where we want to build our home is over 950 feet.  That's a long way to make passable, especially through swamp and over some rough terrain.
As you can see our road into the farm was in rough shape.  For the past 3 or 4 decades tractors have been driving in and out to hay the field.  They've thrown some stone in the road from time to time but when a tractor tire makes a rut (especially in wet weather) that rut can quickly turn into a pond when it rains.  This summer has been very dry.  Any water that had collected in the road (upwards of 10" deep in some spots) has dried up.  Now we can start building the new road.

 This is the "bridge" that goes over the creek.  It is 8 utility poles - none of which are level.  We'll walk you through what we did here in another post.
Up past the swamp and into a nice wooded area with Tamrack and Scotch Pine.

Around a corner and into an especailly rutted part.

Then into a straight away and into the field.  You may be wondering what all the gray rectangles are.  Well we decided that in order to give our road a good base we would put as much rock and concrete in the bottom of it as we could.  All of this concrete was in our woods.  They are concrete slabs that go on silos to protect the silo from the metal bands that hold the silo together.  There were about 10 pallets of them that needed to be brought from the woods to the road.  Nate did that with the skid steer.

Of course all of the pallets in the woods were rotten so each piece of concrete (about 2" thick by 2' long by 1' wide) had to be loaded onto new pallets by hand and then thrown into the road by hand.

We also collected concrete pieces from about 10 miles away in New Bremen.  Our friends Kim and Scott had an old minigolf course on their property that had been shut down.  Using the skid steer and 2 dump trucks (the first one blew a tire because we over loaded it) we hauled all of the concrete out to the farm and put it in the road. 


Next Ken Landis from LandisExcavating came and dug trenches on both sides of the road.  This took dirt form the sides of the roads and put it on top - giving us a good road bed and creating ditches for water run off at the same time.

 Believe it or not this is the beginning of a road.

One of our many "picnic meals" out on the farm while we did road construction.  I think this one was baked ziti.

After the dirt had been brought up on the road, all the tree roots had to be picked out.

A finished section of road before it will be bulldozed level.

More road building posts to come soon!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


It was time to bring some order to our big pile of wood.  We had a couple of different piles scattered around.  It was time to get it up higher off of the ground and get it covered.  We figure it's about 27 cord.  
The pile is about 4' tall by 27' long by 146" deep.
Soon it will be cut to the proper length.


The rising moon was awesome tonight.

Some pretty clouds to mulch apple trees under.

(Remember you can click on any picture to get a larger view.)