October 21st, 2017

wayside cross

Nobody asked me, but

I've been busy out in the holler. Every week I go out, stay overnight (usually just one night), and then bust my hump on laying block and maintenance chores. Last week, I finally got my tractor back. The bill was a staggerer, and the biggest part of it was . . . chipmunk damage. For some reason, they love to chew on belts, wires, and tubing.


Bertha's back

I didn't sit down and think up a name for my tractor; it just came to me, as if it were her name. Small as she is, she can't be named for "Big Bertha," the WW I artillery piece. Maybe she's named for "Bertha Butt. One of the Butt sisters." If you know the source of that allusion, congratulations -- you remember AM radio from the '70s. She's certainly been a butt for me. Between the ag tires I put on her early this year and the repairs I just swallowed, I have now spent more on keeping her going than I paid for her to begin with. Maybe if I didn't keep her stabled out in a holler, she'd do better. (Now accepting offers on a nicely re-conditioned Kubota tractor.)

Anyway, last week I managed to fix my road with the tractor blade. That little job has been waiting since winter, when the torrential rains eroded so much of my road from the new spur I had cut. So, yay.

Looks kinda bare up there

Looks kinda bare up there

Meanwhile, there was a gang installing the new guard rail on the road above my upper pasture yesterday and today. Without the trees that always screened the road, the hilltop is really open to the sky. I would feel like my secret hideaway was exposed to prying eyes, except if you've got your eyes on my cabin while driving on Akes Hill Road, you're going to plow into the guard rail or worse.

I went up to the top and surveyed the land from the road. Here's a view I don't often see: Akes Hollow opening up toward Laughery Creek, with one of my nearest neighbor's house in the distance.

Down the holler

Down the holler

It was right nippy in the cabin this morning. I fired up the propane space heater for the first time this year. The water in my Nalgene that I got from my outside tank was deliciously cold, though.

I finally got started about 10:00 o'clock. I mixed three batches of mortar and slapped block, completing the third course. By that time, it was only 2:00. I decided to dash into town and buy some more mortar mix and sand and grab lunch on the way back. I was back in the holler about 3:00. I mixed two more batches of mortar, with which I mostly filled cells in the wall that hold rebar. First, I tied new rebar to the rebar that the blocks were beginning to cover. Then I added mortar. Now, I'm ready to start another course of block next time I'm out there.

Starting to look like something

Starting to look like something

All in all, I laid twenty block today and tied about ten rebar. I'm slow, but I'm still going, still building my house of dreams. Then I went down to the creek to take a bath before coming home. My! that water was . . . invigorating. The weather has been gorgeous, the stars at night thrilling. I praise God for the strength to work and for days like this that make work a joy.

Next weekend, Zach Randall says he'll come over and help me hang my new cabin door. It'll be good to get that out of the way before the cold sets in. I close down construction for the winter around Thanksgiving weekend. I need to clean up the cabin so we can host some friends for a winter feast in the cabin some time after that.