One Day a Digger Came

While we were eagerly awaiting end-of-frost planting, an offer came from a friend who was renting a big digging machine to do some work near by. If you can prepare the way, he said, he could bring the tool.

It was going to disrupt planting, but it was an offer we didn't want to let slip by. Chas had, five years earlier, turned the low land, from which we had cut the lumber for building the woodworking shop, into a dry-land garden and pond.

So most of a week was spent clearing the way for a road to the new well site, a route to where the swimming pond is planned and a place to build a root cellar.

Enter 17 tons of iron!

It was a tight fit getting the ten foot, five and three-quarters inch wide machine through to the building site.

The first task was working the narrow ATV trail into a road good enough for a well drilling truck to enter and eventually, to be the driveway to the building site.

Brush that was piled aside, when we made the four wheeler trail, was moved to one side, opening up a fine view into the forest. The brush pile was then crushed down to where it will stay moist and decompose as a carbon sink.

After completing the path to the well site, it was off to the location for the swimming pond. As had been the case with our present garden, the area is too wet to cultivate. By digging out a pond and raising the level of the area around it, that problem will be solved and a pond big enough for swimming will result.

At 1.2 cubic meters per scoop, plus heaping above the bucket, the test hole was quickly dug.

First the top-soil was set aside for future gardens. The clay was built up into a ramp that will enable easy access to the area for moving additional clay out to make cob partitions in the residence building, berm up around a green house and insulate a root cellar for the new building.

What's that in the grass?, Chas asks from the drivers seat well above the ground. A small critter it turned out.

Such observation and the resulting rescue effort, along with an earlier incident where Chas asked me to pull a branch aside as the machine passed, so that we wouldn't disturb a small birds nest is why we are pleased to have him do our heavy equipment work.

Before long a test hole was dug down to the rock at 8.5 feet. Within a few days it had filled up with 5 feet of water. After an inch of rain, the water rose another 7 inches.

Notice to the right of the water, in the grass, a stake with red tape wrapped around near its top. That is where the diviner said we would be able to dig 8 feet deep - the depth we want for the swimming pond.

The picture above was taken just after I introduced a small bucket of tad-poles to eat the mosquito larve which would surely come.

Notice in this picture from the established pond, above the tad-poles, the eggs of another species of frog.

The last task (not counting the removal of three big rocks that made our existing driveway hard to plough in the winter) was the root-cellar hole.

Those who know this place know that if one digs a hole where there is soil it will fill with water. On the hilly areas, one can dig only a foot or so before finding rock. In my 20s, I built a root cellar that flooded and know that that won't work, so the plan was for Chas to clear the dirt from the edge of the hill behind the house so that we could build a root cellar and then pile ground up around it.

As it turned out, with it's seventeen thousand pounds of digging strength, this mighty machine was able to pull the rock apart.

Instead of clearing soil a couple of feet down, we got this:

Ryan is six foot two. His buddy Charlie couldn't be convinced to enter the excavtion which is almost three feet deep on the down-hill side.

The rocks pulled out of the bottom were chilly to the touch. It will make a grand place to store roots & other vegitables that we are working with, now that the dust has settled from the digger's visit.

Here my wife Claire is trying out the controls before the cleaned up machine chugged down the driveway and off for its next job.