Fill 'er Up
Yesterday Randy was back at the greenhouse site with Bill's Bobcat to help us fill in the considerable gaps between the trench walls and the retaining walls. He couldn't drive the cat too close to the edge without threatening the walls, so he piled up dirt along the edge, which we pushed into the gaps.
The ground was still pretty wet from the recent snow and rain, so it was heavy going, and we were concerned about the pressure on the walls. The metal panels did flex a bit. We went around a couple of times to fill it bit by bit, and Chip braced the walls with 2x4s to help support them. We didn't pound the dirt down into the gaps, but just let it drop in. Once things are drier it will likely settle and we will likely need to put more dirt down.
I remember when Andrew was first out here cutting the greenhouse trench (seems so long ago), we were wondering what we would do with all that dirt. We had him leave two piles for our eventual filling and berming. That was gone in no time.
Randy also evaluated the site and found places where we needed a swale to move any runoff away from the greenhouse. He cut those in, and used that dirt to bring us piles.
It took a couple hours of moving dirt. Yards of dirt. I have no idea how many tons of dirt we moved, but it took at least twice as long as the concrete, even though we didn't have to haul any loads. I can't imagine how long it would have taken if we didn't have Randy out -- weeks!
When we had the retaining wall backfilled, we moved the frame pieces back by the posts and out of Randy's way. He continued contouring the land, and brought us the next supply of fill dirt -- the piles there now will be used to berm the north and south sides of the greenhouse when we're done building.
We did a tad bit of digging in the floor, and were pleased to see that after the rain and snow, it was considerably softer than when we were digging post holes. We could pretty easily get down to 12" or 18" but will likely need more than that for the trees.
At every stage of this project, we have this push-pull decision... Do we do everything ourselves by hand? Do we hire someone to do everything? Do we use machinery? We had originally planned to do all the backfilling ourselves with wheelbarrows. Although I cringe at the heavy machinery on the landscape, I didn't feel lazy about having Randy move all that dirt!
When our part was done, I went back to camp to start pre-drilling the steel frame pieces. Like much of our equipment, the frame pieces have been braving the weather. We had a tarp over them, but it turns out that createe a lovely pack-rat habitat, and it also turns out Ike goes crazy over pack rats to the point of ripping up tarps. We've had a 5-month battle to keep them covered and keep Ike and the rat out of there. Ike and the rat won. I pulled the tarp back to reveal piles of little-football-poop. I drilled the frame pieces and tried to remember not to lick my work gloves, knowing that our county is a Hanta virus hotbed (and also, well, just because). Ike came over and talked me into taking a break and petting him. Chip came over and helped me finish up. Right when he got there I picked up the next frame piece, and the pack rat jumped up and ran away. I screamed.
[I just now looked it up and learned that pack rats don't carry Hanta virus, so that's nice.]
Chip and I went back over and saw that our site was all staged for us to build and berm!
The ground was very squishy, so we decided to wait until morning to move the frame on site over frozen ground.
This morning, Chip discovered and buried the pack-rat. Without the tarped greenhouse protection, apparently Ike finally triumphed! We delivered the frame pieces to the site, and decided to mock up the first end to check that the dimensions work, and to visualize the head space in the different sections. Our next decision will be whether to use a cultivator on the upper south bed before assembling the frame, since there isn't enough headroom to do that with the frame up. The alternative is to till the bed by hand.