we pour the footings

A beautiful day for a pour! I woke up feeling excited and a little nervous. Would our flimsy plywood forms hold the massive weight and pressure of the concrete? Did we order enough or would we have too much concrete? Did we get the steel in the right place? Did we get the layout of this complicated 28-sided building right? Gordon arrived early and started in right away pounding the ‘extra’ 80 stakes into the hardpan ( there’s a reason it’s called ‘hardpan’ – the ground beneath all the organic matter that we walk upon is damned hard) with our trusty ‘smaul’ ( a small maul /sledge hammer). I’m still not sure how I whiled away the 3 hours before the scheduled arrival of the boom truck. Because of the terrain, the concentric ring shape of the footings, and because we’re all older now – we decided to use a boom pump to deliver the concrete, rather than the typical line-pump. I know that I’m not up to dragging a 4” hose full of concrete even 4’, much less the 268 lineal feet of footings we were intent on filling – and I’m not interested in having my friends drag one around either. It’s still hard exhausting work to wrassle that hose dangling from the end of the boom and keep it’s open end aimed into the footings, rather than having the mud sploodge out all over the place. Troy did an amazing job of concrete control and containment. I ran around behind him with the vibrator ( not the bedroom kind, this is an industrial model – tho probably adequate for the Jolly Green Giant’s missus). Evan alternately worked with me holding the motor while I dipped the business end of the vibrator ( aka ‘stinger’ ,‘donkey dick’, etc you get the picture) into the just plopped mud and fell back with David and Therese and Gordon screeding, trowelling and generally getting the concrete smooth and flat after it had filled the forms. Gordon got to do a little fire-pole work – some of the forms did bulge and buckle a bit – and this is where Gordon got to shine. He grabbed stakes, the real sledge as well as ‘smaul’ and ran around pounding stakes against sagging straining plywood forms – and generally managed to hold off that ‘disaster’ that creates so much excitement in any concrete pour: a blowout. When the formwork loses it’s integrity and allows the mud to move in an undesirable direction – you have two options. Keep on pouring and plan on renting a jack hammer the next day. Or stop the pump, all hands on deck as you shovel sticky heavy globs of mud away from the gaping wound and figure out some way to staunch the flow and repair the breach. In any event, you have an ugly job. Gordon saved the day several times! David and Therese filled in admirably – screeding and trowelling and generally managing to stay ahead of the concrete setting up and becoming so stiff that no amount of muscle is able to get it to relax into a nice smooth surface. Thank goodness for friends showing up at just the right time! And that’s been the story of this project from the beginning. Everything has unfolded at just the right time! We’ll keep you posted… although this kind of excitement doesn’t happen everyday – at least not around here.

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