It ain’t pretty, but it works. Or did after some revision.
This homemade harrow — created by The Wandering Monk out of items lying around the property — broke up the nasty, vile, gluey clay behind the house for easier shoveling and removing. It worked better after he added 5/8″ rebar to the small springy tines on the back of the pallet. A final refinement will be fixed bolts. And that should do the job. Particularly since the Monk also came up with a plan that eliminates the majority of the shoveling we thought we were in for.
The Monk has his own beater house with its own problematic yard. So everything he’s figuring out at my place translates to a useful tool for him. I devoutly hope it also means he’ll be hauling away and keeping a lot more construction detritus from my place.
I appreciate you knowledgeable construction guys who recommend heavy equipment and all. I occasionally envy you who have bucketloads of money, equipment-rental businesses at your doorstep, and dozens of contractors eager and able to do your bidding. Goes without saying: I am not you.
The Monk and I have made colossal progress this summer, much of it funded by donations and a generous low-interest/deferred payment loan. It has been gloriously gratifying. But every dollar of friends’ money and mine is committed to particular tasks and will be carefully stretched to fit.
There was one man of the several in town who have small earth-moving equipment who quoted an affordable price for this last bit of earth moving. When it came time to do the work, he flaked out. As he has done before over the years. So I wasn’t surprised.
Others who came out and looked had a glorified notion of their value (one wanted $100 per hour portal to portal — that is, from the moment he started loading equipment till the moment he wiped the last bit of dust from it back at his shop). Or perhaps they didn’t really like the look of the job, which is in a tight space. In any case, we’re doing the work as we need to do it. And as Ellendra said in a comment at the above link, if we have to do it one shovelful at a time, that’s what we’ll do.
Fortunately, we now have a plan that involves a lot less shoveling. It’s TL;DR, but basically we changed our concept of what constitutes grade. Now it’s more a matter of loosening the dirt and pushing it around than of digging it up and hauling it away.
For that job, another homemade contraption awaits in the backyard — this one made from a panel of chainlink dog fencing, concrete blocks, and a tow strap. I might grab a picture of that later.
But after a fairly grim day’s work yesterday, which left me so beat I could barely move even though the Monk did most of the hard labor, we’re on our way to something clever and easier.
This kind of creativity and “make do with what you’ve got” attitude is a huge part of what makes the Monk so good. Combine his creativity, competence, cost-consciousness, and reliability with the fact that he charges a lower rate than anybody else in town, and it’s a small miracle.