In the Trenches
In the Trenches
Before we can raise the walls, we must dig the trenches for the power and water that will feed the house. That was the focus last week. Keith picked up a trencher from Home Depot’s rental center in the late afternoon on Thursday, July 10th and unloaded it from its little trailer. I followed him across the property as he drove the machine to the power pole where the digging began. Lee came over to see the action and promptly seared his hand on the scalding hot exhaust pipe.
Keith worked until dark, and the next morning Lee doused himself in bug spray, put on some protective gloves, and picked up where Keith left off, digging his way through the woods along the line Keith had painted. Keith had trimmed and fogged the path earlier to cut the number of pesky ticks and other bugs which are a constant problem here.
When Lee emerged from the other side of the forest, I took over and began the slow journey across the big clearing in the middle of our property.
The sun crept upward, and its rays combined with the puffs of heat from the trencher’s exhaust pipes, causing the sweat to break forth on my face, back and arms, occasionally falling in droplets from the tip of my nose to the grass at my feet. Lee came back to the trencher after a while, and I moved on to help with wire pulling and gluing pipes together and other things.
Eventually Lee discovered that he could tie a cord around the handle of the slow-moving trencher to keep it running and just monitor it from a chair in the shade of nearby trees. He soaked his shirt in ice water and draped it over his head and shoulders to cope with the increasing heat. As the trencher found vast deposits of clay on its journey across the land, it slowed down even more, making Keith realize we would need a week with this machine, rather than the two days as originally planned.
On Saturday , Denise & Jeff (sister-in-law + hubby) came out to help. The temperature would soar even higher for the next couple of days, so between the extra help and the extra heat I decided to spend the weekend in town getting some work done online on my business.
Tuesday morning I returned to the work site to find an altered landscape. It seemed the whole property was ripped up with trenches, and they were still at it.
I continued to help with trenching, pipes, and filling in the trenches that had been completed. Once the water and electric lines were in the trench, we filled the trench back in most of the way, pausing a few inches from the top to lay a ribbon of red warning tape to notify future diggers of the power lines below.
That afternoon I was helping clear the area near the garden where we were trenching for a drain pipe, and lifted up a garden decoration to discover a wasp’s nest underneath. A swarm of furious black mud daubers rose up and honed in on me. I bolted, but not before one stung my left forearm, sending a sharp pain searing up and down the full length of my arm. Must’ve hit a nerve!
I ran directly to the first aid kit stashed in our outhouse and applied a sting relief ointment, which helped it feel better temporarily. A few minutes later I made a poultice with activated charcoal and wrapped my arm up, then took some Benadryl, which helped.
About an hour later a wave of drowsiness overtook me. My eyelids suddenly felt sandbag heavy. I stumbled over to the trailer behind our little four-wheeler and draped my worthless body over it, wishing for instant sleep. Somehow I managed to get myself undressed and into bed (I totally skipped the shower, and I can’t remember if I brushed my teeth or not…) before losing consciousness altogether. Thank you, Benadryl. Overnight, the sting caused most of my forearm to swell, itching enough to drive me mad and reminding me of the nasty sting I received in Zamora, Ecuador.
Fortunately I had already planned to spend Wednesday with Ann (my mother-in-law) visiting her sisters, so my arm got a bit of a break from work. I would have been quite worthless on the job anyway. My arm continued to swell, stretching my hot, red skin drum tight and consuming my entire forearm and spreading into my hand and elbow. One of Ann’s sisters, a nurse, seemed concerned about it and thought I should go to Urgent Care. We put ice on it, which made it feel a bajillion times better, and for the next two days I was loath to part with my beloved ice. Two days after the sting my arm finally began shrinking to its normal size and felt good except for an occasional maddening itching spell. Mercifully, these have been lessening in frequency and now I feel pretty normal again with only a little scab left.
On Thursday morning the 17th, while I took it easy nursing my fat, itchy arm, the hard-working family members put the final touches on the trench digging, and that afternoon Keith took the big red machine back to Home Depot.
We’ve trenched a good 1,200+ feet on the property, and Keith will explain it all to you here in this video, which is also a pretty nice tour of our property:
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