Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ballroom dancing, Bobcats, and 77 cubic yards of fill dirt

Our backyard hasn't always been the veritable garden of Eden that is it now.
When we were shopping for houses our realtor said she had one with a pool in the backyard.

" A pool?" We thought. "Sweet." We thought. Not so much. The "pool" turned out to be a concrete hole in the backyard with no plumbing for water, no pump ,and no filter. We loved the house so much that we got it anyway and just planned to fill it in.

We were kind of perplexed at the amount of concrete around the pool but had bigger fish to fry with the mirrored walls and red shag carpeting to tear up.

Our house had been sold at auction and still had a lot of junk in it, including the home movies of the family who lived here before us. We were able to find a projector and one of the movies was of them Ballroom dancing in the backyard.

Mystery solved.

Flash forward to 2 years ago. With most of the work done on the house( any homeowner knows you are never REALLY done) we turned our attention to the backyard. We rented a bobcat with a hydraulic jackhammer on it.

The jackhammer attachment was necessary because I had rented a electric jackhammer and had spent 4 hours unable to break up ANY concrete. Turns out when you are planning on ballroom dancing on a concrete pad it helps if it is 2 FEET thick around the edges. I was able to break up the majority of the concrete and luckily I had a hole to put it in. Unfortunately the jackhammer rental ate up the budget for the dirt , so we spent the next year with half a hole in the backyard.

This spring we were able to finally finish the backyard with the money we saved through out the year. I called a couple of material supply houses for quotes and they figured between 35-40 cubic yards of fill material. They also figured I was rich considering how much they wanted me to pay them to come and fill in the pit of death,as it was now commonly referred to. So on a whim I called a landscaping supply company I worked with at my last job, and their price was a little more reasonable. The catch? it would be dumped in my FRONT yard. One call and a bobcat was once again mine for a day. If you have never had the pleasure of operating one of these I recommend it. It is like the unholy union between a bulldozer and a zero turn lawnmower. It also makes short work of moving dirt. Going off the estimates of the Professional landscapers I ordered 40 cubic yards. Imagine a cube made of yardsticks. Now imagine 40 of them. The landscape supply company said no problem and that would be three of their big dump trucks full. We will be there at 9. Promptly at 9:15 the next morning he arrived with 13 yards. He dumped it and I started hauling. By the time he got back I was slightly concerned at the amount of hole I still had to fill in. No big deal I still had 26 yard to go. Right? Buy the time I had the second load in and he was back with the rest I new I would need more. "Can I get another load?" I inquired. 'Uh, I have another job to do and the soonest I could get you some is Tuesday." (it is Saturday) hmmm I pondered. I only had the bobcat until Sunday. The thought of moving 13 more yards of fill dirt with my wheelbarrow hasn't that appealing. " Let me call my boss." he piped up seeing my dilemma. Score! the other job was delayed and I soon had 20 more yards of fill piled in the front yard with the other 13. Surely this massive pile of dirt will get the job done. Sadly no. By the time I had it spread it was getting late and I still needed more. A frantic call to the landscape house, some begging and the offer of a extra delivery fee ( he declined ) and I was promised a packed full truck. When the driver showed back up his truck was a little bulgy. "He packed in a extra 4 yards in the truck for you."

Perfect, another 17 yards would do the trick for sure. He backed up his truck, unlocked the bed release and went to dump the load of dirt.

It was stuck. In his overzealous loading he had loaded so much dirt in the back that it was wedged in there. After some head scratching from the driver and tongue biting from me, He finally settled on driving up the street with the bed tilted all the way up, putting it in reverse , gunning it ,and slamming on the brakes when he got to our yard. I worked and only left 30% of it in the middle of the street. After writing a check,and using the bobcat to get the rest of it out of the street I called it a night.
The next day I finished spreading the dirt, raked it out and spread grass seed. All in all about Par for the course when it comes to home improvement here at the farm.

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