Excavation Education

August 5, 2013 — Leave a comment

The family sitting on a CAT dozer.The excavation work started today. The whole project includes 700ft. of road, clear-cutting about an acre for our garden and clearing another acre or so for our home site.

Just to be clear, clear-cutting involves removing all of the trees, scrub, bushes… basically everything from the property. Clearing involves using a dozer to knock down all of the scrub, bushes and small trees, but the big trees remain in-tact. Cleared forest leaves a good bit of dappled shade, and clear-cutting opens everything into full sun.

When we started, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea how long it took to clear land, and in my mind we were in for weeks of hard labor.

So today I was headed into the office when I got a call from the dozer operator. “You may want to come out here and take a look before we start knocking stuff down and make sure we get this right.” Immediately I began the 45 minute drive. You see, it has rained every single day for a very long time. I believe it may be the wettest July on record. We’ve been waiting weeks for the opportunity to finally start, and this call was very good news.

The dozer ready to go.

When I rolled up there was a big trailer, several trucks and some guys standing on the side of the road waiting on me. I was very glad I decided to take a look at things! There sat the dozer half covered in brush… in the wrong place! I think the operator started in and got the feeling something wasn’t right. Thank goodness he’s such a good guy, or I’d have ended up with two driveways.

The dozer plunges inWe went over the plan again, and within seconds the dozer was in position. I gave them the green light. I must have looked like a real goofball standing in the middle of the street as the machine plunged into forest. We’ve waited so long for this moment, and the truth is that I was feeling like a kid who just walked up to the gates of Disney World for the first time.

Eight minutes later I was stunned. Up to this point I was fostering the romantic notion of my family diligently working on the weekends to clear land. Leigh would bring me a big glass of lemonade, and I would gulp it down in the heat of the afternoon, silhouetted on a beautiful sunset over the western mountain. It was a beautiful, if not provincial, vision in my mind.

The beginnings of a road

Reality shattered that notion instantly. These machines are incredible. In a matter of a few minutes these guys cleared more square footage than my whole family could have in a year of weekends. The dozer disappeared into the scrub. I could hear the engine revving, but all I could see were trees shaking around like a scene from Jurassic Park. When the dozer re-emerged it opened a curtain in the trees, and I could see that they had cleared about 100 yards of road bed. My heart was racing like a first date.

Then it dawned on me… This was my first real look at The Ant Farm. Up to this point all we could see was the potential. The property was so densely forested that my only real understanding of what we were dealing with related to aerial imagery and contour maps. Once they peeled the forest off of the land, there was nothing left to hide. While I probably still am a goofball, there was a legitimate reason to be excited. The land was beautiful.

With all of this excitement, I found it impossible to leave. For about six hours I stood ankle deep in fresh earth watching the beauty of my land unveiled. As the day drew to a close, I rushed home, picked up the family and drug them back to see what was unfolding on our little patch of dirt. The adventure had officially begun!

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Ken

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