Monday, October 31, 2011
Each day this week has gotten progressively colder than the next, causing me no end of fear that I might not get these posts in the ground for the high tunnel soon enough before the ground froze solid. So on Thursday of last week, Andrew, who came to Homer as a Wwoofer and seems now like he is staying, came up and helped me put the first four cornerposts in the ground. The posts go in only two feet, so we got metal fenceposts that are 8 feet long and drove those into the ground about four or five feet with a post pounder. Then the hightunnel post - a very heavy hollow pipe about 2 inches in diameter, goes next to the fencepost. Those posts are driven into the ground by climbing on a stepladder with a sledgehammer or a maul and whamming them on top while someone below attaches a post leveler (another amazing tool that I am forever in love with) and watches for level in two directions.
The four corner posts went in pretty easily - it took us about an hour. On Saturday, Mike and I were going to set up the whizbang laser level and get the whole thing leveled out, but Mike managed to catapult himself into a trailer hitch, doing some pretty nasty damage to his back, so I spent the day keeping him company and advocating for ice and Advil and watching football (gack.) Sunday, my friend Eric had suggested I hold a bit of a pole-pounding gathering, so I called on my foolhardy friends (Marylou, Eric, Mike, Andrew and myself) and got to pounding. The whole process went fairly well - took about 4 hours, despite a couple stubborn posts, the difficulty of finding something to fit over the posts to protect them from being bashed in (we used a small metal weight with a bolt running through it as well as one of those brackets you put in the top of a concrete piling to catch the beam). It was amazing how unfrozen the ground still was despite appearances. A half-inch of crusty, frozen ground covered soft earth.
But, that's not to say it was easy, by any stretch. I found the whole thing very difficult, actually. There are 17 posts on each side - 34 in total. At one point, my hand locked up and I couldn't unfurl my fingers, which freaked me out, for sure. Andrew and Eric zoomed through those posts at about three for every one that Marylou and I did - sigh. At the end of the day, Mike was inspired to set up the first complete truss, though we did not put it up. One down, 17 to go.
At the end of the day, I went on my deck to take a look at the project. It struck me that this structure is going to dominate my land now. It is so huge, and every phase of this process makes it so much more real.
This morning, I woke to an inch of snow on the ground. Not surprising - it's actually quite late for the first snowfall, but I'm so incredibly glad that this phase of the project is done. It can freeze all it wants to now because the posts are in. I had my doubts this week that it was going to happen, but somehow I just seem to keep staying one step ahead of disaster, with a lot of help. I'm filled with gratitude, once again. Not a bad feeling at all.