Alfie goes for a stroll – At last!

Well, it has been exactly 13 months since Alfie was banished from the back yard due to the excavation activities last September 2014.  Today, Alfie was once again able to stroll into  the back yard (ok – it was more of a steep climb).  I finally completed enough of the south wall back-fill so that the my tractor could once again move to the back yard.  I know this is a pathetic milestone.  Who takes 13 months to get to backfill, but all the same, it is a major relief to finally have gotten here.

This week started off great.  I had Shane from Embers here on Monday and we got a LOT done considering he had to go at 2:30. He was a hard worker, strong, and knew how to operate and control a compactor. But then on Tuesday he was a no show.  He was at Embers office at 6:30 AM and left with bus tickets in hand, but never made it to my place. Even Embers was unable to track him down.  He had had past jail time and was regularly checking in with his PO, so something may have happened along that line.  Unfortunately, Embers did not have any other labourers available, so I was once again reduced to 1 and the need to hall gravel and run the compactor by myself (against the promise I made to my med team that I would hire those tasks out).

It was unfortunate as we were going to work late Tuesday to get as much done as possible before the rains. Low and behold, Wednesday the rains came and I was unable to proceed.  Compacting this soil when wet just creates a slushy like mixture.  Embers sent a new fellow out in the morning but within 5 minutes I could tell  we were not going to be able to continue.  So he went off to a different job site and I went into the office and did a day of finances (yuck!)

Thursday, the soil was still too wet to compact, so I switched gears and finished the torch on membrane on the west wall (back wall) and most of the Roxul insulation.  This wall was a bit more complicated as I have two – 8″ exhaust and air intake ducts for the shop and four conduits to feed various items in the back yard.  Each of these had to be waterproofed and R Guard Joint & Seam came to the rescue once more. Again, this is a permeable material not designed for below grade, but I am only concerned about the hairline crack that could develop between the PVC pipe and the Torch’N Stick Membrane.  This will do an awesome job of bridging that gap to prevent liquid water from entering and the amount of vapour that could go through a hairline joint it will probably be unmeasurable.

Hardly my finest work.  I was using an old tube of caulk and had to cut off the nozzle to get the cured plug out. I had to just eject onto a piece of plastic and 'mould' by hand.  But it will get the job done.

Hardly my finest work. I was using an old tube of caulk and had to cut off the nozzle to get the cured plug out. I had to just eject onto a piece of plastic and ‘mould’ by plastic covered hand. But it will get the job done.

Torch-On complete, waterproofing complete, Roxul insulation almost complete.

Torch-On complete, waterproofing complete, Roxul insulation almost complete.

As I knew the weather was going to continue to be wet, I ordered a load of sand for today that I could use for back fill to finish enough of the south wall so that Alfie could get past the tree fencing and into the back yard.  This worked well and I was able to add the last 18-24″ of backfill needed down the south wall.  I put down a healthy layer of sand and then switched back to the native soil, but instead of using the compactor, I ran over each lift with the tractor and used the bucket to compact between the tracks.  This prevented the water from separating from the soil and creating soup.

Heavy layer of sand dried everything up.

Heavy layer of sand dried everything up.

I also created a gravel sump to receive the water coming off the tarp, that I covered with fabric and then more sand.

I also created a gravel sump to receive the water coming off the tarp, that I covered with fabric and then more sand.  This prevents the water from flowing along the surface and then eroding away the edge of my backfill where it drops back down to 12′.  I needed every inch to squeeze Alfie by!

And then more sand.

And then more sand.

Alfie is so close to freedom, he can almost taste it.  Just got to get rid of all these darned cables.

Alfie is so close to freedom, he can almost taste it. Just got to get rid of all these darned cables.

With the south side back filled enough to free Alfie, I proceeded to prep the back yard for Alfie’s triumphant return.

First task is to take down the old apple tree (apples were inedible) and heavily prune the grape that will eventually be transplanted to a new location in the yard.

First task was to take down an old apple tree (apples were inedible) and heavily prune the grape that will eventually be transplanted to a new location in the yard.

That's better!

That’s better!

Next task was to hang the ShedCam network cable and a heavy (very) 60A tech cable feeding the back shed, between the camera pole and a tree so that out of way of Alfie

Next task was to hang the ShedCam network cable and a heavy (very) 60A tech cable feeding the back shed, between the camera pole and a tree so that they were out of the way of Alfie

Complete - not ideal height as I will still have to pay attention to Alfie's boom, but it will work.

Complete – not ideal height as I will still have to pay attention to Alfie’s boom, but it will work.

With all of the prep work complete, I went for it.  The next stage was the most critical and dangerous.  Sorry I do not have photos, I will post some ‘after the fact’ next entry.  There was JUST enough room between the end of the tree fencing and the still remaining 12′ deep excavation at the end of the south wall.  I had less than a foot to spare.  The problem was that I had a massive boulder I had excavated out of the pit and plan to use for landscaping.  It is probably 4′ in diameter.  Unfortunately it was left too close to the excavation edge to allow Alfie to pass between it and the excavation.  So while precariously perched just on the edge of the ledge, I had to try and push the rock away with Alfie.  This was reminiscent to moving the red storage container last summer, Alfie could barley budge it. During the process the treads were digging away and any extra room, and then some, I had between the end of the fence and the hole quickly disappeared.  I had to move the rock as there was no going back now.  Obviously from the next photo, it is clear we were successful.  WhaHoo!

Finally - Freedom!

Finally – Freedom!

Now I will prep the rear back fill pile (covered in blue plastic) to allow for a safe track parallel along the top of the west bank in preparation to the backfill activities of this back wall.  I hope to finish the back west wall next week during the promised nice weather. Once complete, I will do a little bit more around the garage out front and then will be done until I finish the garage suspended slab and the basement walk-up stair foundation.

I am feeling very relieved, not just because I have finally reached the back yard, but because with better access to the foundation walls and no more instrument wires to work around.  The backfill is proceeding much more quickly.  Even on Tuesday when I was working by myself, I still was able to place a large volume of soil and was able to add about three feet of depth over a 16-18 ft long section over a 9 hour session.  That took about 20 hours when at the front of the house.  So my productivity per hour is way up.  Lets hope it continues.

Thanks for visiting.

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