Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Concrete..... Solid Stuff!!

Concrete trucks..WOW! They are BIG and LOUD and HEAVY!! Laden with 10 cubic yards of concrete, each will weight between 35 and 40 tons. You don't want one of these on your driveway or sinking into your lawn, either! A construction wheelbarrow full of concrete can weigh nearly four hundred pounds. Trying to push that up a slight grade is grueling work. Our job required 3 delivery trucks, each holding a full 10 cubic yard load. After the initial grading, leveling, ditching and installation of drains and shale, our contractors poured the main patios on one day, and poured our new sidewalks and porch steps on day two. The cement that binds concrete is made primarily of limestone, the most abundant mineral on earth. We are fortunate to have a limestone quarry just a few miles from our farm, so our concrete is considered a 'local green' product, requiring minimal fossil fuel expenditure to both mine and deliver it. I especially like the fact that, unlike asphalt, it produces no toxic runoff. In the month since the concrete was poured, we've had two significant rain events, each one delivering over 2" of precipitation in a 24-hour period. We are gratified to see that all the underlying drains are working as they should, removing many gallons of runoff that would normally have ended up in our basement! 

This project was two years in the making. With the downturn in the economy, there are fewer concrete contractors in our area, and those who are still in business are overwhelmed with the available jobs. So, although our excavating contractor had us scheduled, we had to wait until the concrete guys could give us a week of their time. Fortunately it all came together before the snow flew, but just barely. Just as the dry summer weather ended, the autumn became wet and soggy causing annoying rain delays and muddy, saturated ground. It was a fight to the finish, but Matt McMullen Concrete, LLC came through for us! The grass seed went in just before the weather turned foul in earnest, but the seed never had a chance to sprout as the nights have been too cold to support germination. This means we will have mud until the grass begins to grow next spring. So be it.... But, a huge thanks to the Matt McMullen Concrete Clan from Gallitzin PA!! Here's a link to their website.

 Patios and drains just hope the grass seed germinates before 
winter sets in..........NOT!!

 VoilĂ !! Complete with new gates for the dog pen.


November has been a busy month for us. Early in the month we attended a 100th Birthday Celebration for Art's Uncle Oscar Hoffman in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Uncle Oscar's children, Barbara and Howard and their families, hosted a wonderful luncheon in his honor. He won't turn 100 until January 1, 2011, but due to the unreliability of winter travel, we celebrated two months early. Oscar was alive for both World Wars and he served overseas in WWII. What is it like to be 100 years old? Always a man of few words, Oscar is quite underwhelmed by the significance of being alive for a century. He is the oldest and last surviving only brother of Art's mother's 3 siblings. We wish him continuing good health and recognition on the "Today Show" Smucker's Jelly Jar on his birthday!

Geese feeding in the cornfields before continuing on their fall migration.

Mimi, Art and Mo....

 Sheeder's sheep in the distance enjoying the 
last blades of fresh grass.

A glorious pre-sunset sky and silhouette of our farm buildings 
at the end of our walk.

We are thankful the bad weather held off as long as it did for us, as other parts of the country have already had their fill of winter. The snow began, as predicted, on Thanksgiving Day this year, not an unusual occurrence for our neck of the woods. Brother Hank and his wild Pitt Bull/Lab Maximus arrived on Friday after Thanksgiving. Mimi The Poodle has been staying with us while her people have been in Florida for the holiday, but Moses was in his element shepherding his favorite cousin and girlfriend during their 2-night sleepover. We had our Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday this year. This too has become a tradition with my brothers over the years since our mom passed away in 2001. Of course, the weather always plays her role. This year the snow made an appearance and the ground looks to stay covered for the foreseeable future.

Harold and Janet, my brother and sister-in-law.

Reunion for brother Hank and high school friend, Jim McNaul. They hadn't seen each other for 30 years!

As the snow continues to pile up, the dogs are dressed in their Anti-Hunter regalia, as their daily 'Walk-ies' (pronounced with GREAT enthusiasm) are as regular as the postman here at Jolico Farm.