Post holes are done! Geothermal tubes have been delivered! Tomorrow the *shudder* 8-ft-deep trench digging will begin. I will breathe easy when they are covered up again! (Saturday?)
Here is our How-To Guide to digging post holes in our hard-packed earth. We tried various methods, and by the end we had a system down:
1. Use a hand post-hole digger to mark the hole.
2. Drill several holes with the 18" hammer drill bit.
3. Use the auger to open up the hole.
4. Repair the auger when it shorts out.
5. (this is the hardest part) Get the auger to start again.
6. Pull out loose dirt with the hand post-hole digger, or digging by hand.
7. Repeat steps 2-7 five or six times for each hole (we had several holes going at once and just kept making circuits following each other).
We had some help for the last 6-10 holes (out of 49) for the last 3-4 hours (out of 3-4 days) from Buddy. That gave us the last "umpf" we needed when we were pretty umpfed-out! (Buddy reminds us of Alan!)
Here is our How-To Guide for getting drainage tubes to our build site:
1. Research to find out that tubes are more than twice as expensive in New Mexico than at Menards.
2. Plan to drive to the closest Menard's in Garden City, Kansas to pick up tubes.
3. Learn from other builders (thankfully before going) that you'll fit fewer than half the needed tubes in your trailer.
4. Find a Menard's (Cheyenne!) willing to ship tubes to your remote New Mexico build site. (We saved several hundred dollars over ordering locally, and had them delivered to our driveway instead of having to pick them up at a store.)
5. Have a semi-driver willing to drive all the way to your site driveway, including the last 2 miles on small dirt roads. (We wish our trailer had his groovy dividing walls!)
6. Roll each tube off the trailer and up the driveway to its resting point.
Chad, our driver, schooled us -- here is Chad's How-To Guide for getting a semi turned around in our little drive. He was sure game! He came a mile farther than our tipi pole driver, saving us maybe 4 round trips with the trailer and all the extra loading and unloading (which would have included unloading our retaining wall lumber which is now stored in the trailer)!
Chad had a double-axel tractor to haul two trailers. He left one trailer off the county road at our main gate, and only brought our trailer in. The double-axel means he needs more room to be able to swing the cab around, so we had to scout around for a wide-enough space. On the other hand, given enough space, the double-axel also has a bigger gap between the cab and the trailer, so he doesn't have to worry about jackknifing -- the truck can just about fold in half!
He pulled into our drive and we scouted the various possibilities. Plan A was to see if he had enough room to just make the loop back onto the road.
Unfortunately, the tree on his left and culvert on the right didn't leave the needed room to maneuver.
We regrouped and took another look at Plan B: backing into an open area with unobstructed access to the road, but a tight turnaround.
Successfully back on the road!