I want to apologize to my readers for not getting a post up sooner – got the spring fever bug from all this perfect planting weather we have right now. Got my potatoes and onions in and covered (just incase a hard freeze sneaks in before May) so I’m ready to write again! This first picture shows the finished cement walls with the steel footer posts installed. We had to wire the posts to the rebar to hold them in place. They were wired at the top and middle areas – gotta tell you, reaching down into the space to wire up the middle caused a bit of blood to flow. Funny how many things you don’t think of as sharp until they cut you! Oh well, what’s a good project without a little bloodshed?
Check out the far wall-inside…it looks like shadows in the picture but it’s actually a ½ section of the roof framing. Keith is working out how the 2 pieces are to go together for lifting and placing. First we tried just laying them out on the ground to match the centerpiece to the 2 sides – didn’t work and too much dirt got into the piping.
Then we tried setting a barrel in the center of the area with a ½ piece on either side. The ends were on the ground, which was not a wide enough space for the whole thing put together. We finally decided that placing the ends on the top of the wall, putting a barrel under the middle of each of the sidepieces, then a barrel at the center where the connector piece was worked. It took about an hour at first to get everything level enough so the ½ sides would fit into the center connector. After about the 6th one we got the time down to about 30-40 minutes for connecting – not bad for amateurs!!
This next picture with a beautiful shot of me in all my glory (remember – its over 100 degrees out – we found that soaking a white cotton cloth and wrapping it around our heads, like in the picture, actually kept us cooler. At least until the cloth dried and had to be re-soaked, unfortunately that only took about 2 hours on those really hot days!) show how the skeleton frames went up. Keith is so smart and talented (couldn’t ask for a better friend!) that he actually constructed a special attachment to his bobcat (see the long arm extending up from the bobcat to the top of the sections) that we could lower and raise to put each section in place. I know that big construction companies actually have special equipment to do this sort of thing, but since we are neither big nor a construction company – I thought it was pretty ingenious of him!
We had to put together the 2 halves with the connector, and then attach the special arm from the bobcat with chains to the full frame. Once all strapped together (not too tight because we had to be able to get the chain off the frame once it was secured in place – that fun trick was done by Keith shaking the bobcat causing the chains to unhook – freaky huh?!?) he would life the monster up into the air and, with my guidance, we would slowly move forward and backward until I could slip one side into the footer post and secure a bolt through it. Now this is where the “hot metal” part comes in.
In order for me to get the frame to fit into the post I would have to push and pull the monster around. At first it was not so bad – it was early morning and not hot yet. Then, by around 11a.m., things started heating up. Keep in mind we have all the parts laying out there for us to just grab and set up the next one. Well, by 11a.m. I was not thinking about that fact, and just grabbed the next piece (that had been sitting in the sun all morning) to work on and proceeded to get 1st degree burns on my hands – IDIOT! Gloves are a really great thing – when used (stupid is as stupid does)!!! I tried a long sleeve shirt to protect my arms – but couldn’t stand the extra heat – so my arms got a bit of damage before we were done.
The picture below is a great view of some of the angles we had to go through with the ribs to try to get them into place. The metal footers we were trying to hook into were only about 2 feet tall and 4”x 4” in diameter. The ribs stand at least 20 feet from the top of the walls at center. We are also down in the ground about 2 more feet inside the greenhouse. So that gave us quite a lot of metal to play with in quite a bit of space. The ribs alone took 3-4 days to get them all connected, up, placed, and secured. That included some time with some really nice winds deciding to show up and “help” us! That kind of help we could have done without. Breezes were very welcome, but these were sand blasters!
In the end we installed 16 monster ribs on our beast! Once they were in place the support pieces had to be attached to keep our ribs from separating and snapping off in our winds. That took additional strength, in more ways than one. There were no pre-drilled holes for these parts, so a lot of measuring and drilling needed to be done, and drilling up over your head or at a shoulder angle is the worst! Take some aspirin before bed but expect to still wake up with little to no arm movement the next morning.
Now I’m great on the ground, ok about 2 or 3 feet up – but scaffolding on the back of a pickup truck, putting me up about 20 feet – EEEKKK!! Neither Keith or myself are “spring chickens” anymore, but I don’t consider myself (or him) to be at deaths door either. I found out that I cannot climb the side of scaffolding now like I climbed up into our tree fort as a child, but with the help of a couple of ladders I could get up on top! It’s a good thing it had side rails or I would have gone right over the edge a couple of times (one child like thing that I still do – not pay attention to where my feet are going!?). I was too busy trying to get the darn things where they should be that I was not paying attention to where my brain was directing my feet to go – dumb think to do when you are 20’ off the ground! Most of the time Keith did the installation (yea!!) since he is stronger – however his bodily functions are not much better than mine, so by the end of the day we were both beat. I have to admit that a few times during our construction process, we did have to take a day off to recoup.
When all was said and done – it looked pretty awesome!! We were very proud of ourselves and the fact that just the 2 of us put all these up – no major professional equipment – no professional contractors. In retrospect, it was a pretty outstanding thing that we did, and I’m very glad we did it! I’m a thinker by nature; I need to know how things work and why to understand them clearly. By building this thing from scratch ourselves, I feel more connected to it. One of my main goals is to know every inch of it, how it works and why it works incase something, in the future, needs to be fixed or replaced – I can say “I know how to do that!”
The next phase is to clean up, seal and install end walls (God save my poor tiny knuckles!).