Friday, August 19, 2011
Down In A Hole
Well, we are making progress. Still a ways to go but things are going fairly well and we've not been sucked down into a quagmire yet. To look on the bright side, the water is at least so cold that it keeps us cool while we are working. It is so cool, in fact, that a light fog is almost always present when we are in the hole; a mist formed from the heat of our bodies meeting the cold air rising off the water. I keep meaning to take a thermometer down there and check the actual water temp.
We take turns going down in the hole to dig. One goes down and the other hoists the buckets of mud up and empties them. Works pretty good. After having it firmly implanted in my brain that we were just going to widen a round hole and somehow stack block, I realized that nothing said the hole had to be round...It's funny how you get stuff stuck in your head and don't see alternatives. So, we squared the hole up, which will make setting block in a square much easier. DUH! Note how muddy the water is in this photo. We had stirred up quite a bit of silt and such by this point. Also, note the large rock behind Jack. You can't tell here but under that rock is where the inlet is.
Jack rigged up a cable with a pulley and such for the bucket, which helps greatly, but it is still pretty rough work. Last night my left shoulder was so sore I could barely move it. I either worked it out or something because today it is better.
Here you can see the water flowing in, somewhat. It has been hard for me to get many good pictures because we are usually both either in water or covered in mud. Not really when I want to have a camera in my hand. This crack between the rocks is about 8 inches at the widest point. I would guess this spring puts out about 5 gallons a minute, maybe. In the winter it flows heavier. This large rock threw a little kink in my block laying plans so I had to form a shelf over it.
As you can see here. At this point we have basically finished excavating the walls (it's about a 5 x 5 foot hole). We scooped out all the loose stuff on the bottom until we were below the elevation at which the water comes in. I crammed a 6 inch diameter piece of PVC into the inlet and ran it out to about the middle of the hole and turned it up with a 90. That's what you see with the bucket over it. This will protect the opening of the spring. We then filled the bottom with about a 6 inch layer of crushed stone. This hardened up the bottom remarkably well. Before we would sink several inches into the muck while we were working but now you can walk around just fine. I was very surprised that little bit of stone worked so well. You can even see how much that stone layer helped clear up the water. I mean, it's not clear yet but it's better than it was. So, I then threw this form up so that it was tight against the face of that rock, squared it up best I could, staked it in place and kicked it off. We used stone rubble to fill up most of the space behind the form and over the PVC inlet but used big enough chunks that the water can flow freely. I am not trying to force the water to come in through the PVC pipe only but rather to simply block out a space were it always could if the areas around the pipe become clogged. I then used smaller stones to kinda seal the top on the rubble so that the concrete would not seep down into the inlet and seal it off. As an added insurance, we mixed the concrete fairly stiff so it would not ooze much. I used a High/ Early mix so that it would set quickly. We kept the water pumped down for a while but then let the spring fill back up. Keep in mind, concrete does not dry; it sets by a chemical reaction so water being on it does not hurt it. I also threw a few pieces of rebar in the shelf to help it and had stacked 3 layers of block on the outside to get a grade by, which I marked in the inside of the form. This, hopefully, will work out so that the blocks laid on this shelf will lay in with the other walls with nothing needing to be cut down. Since I can manipulate the gravel on the floor of the spring I can adjust the blocks to meet correctly but this should make it very close as it is now.
One other note about this photo: we take the foot valve and all out of the spring every morning as we begin work so nothing is in the way. This was taken towards the end of the day, after we had replaced the foot valve and reconnected the water. Fortunately, the spring cleans itself well enough that we can use the water by the time it refills. Now, we don't use it for drinking or cooking yet but it is fine for bathing etc. and it is filtered before it comes in the house. We do keep buckets of water on the deck though, to dump over ourselves at the end of the day in order to get clean enough to come in the house in order to take a shower. Heh.
If you look close enough you can see the little peepers that were staring at me most of the day. He is not happy that we have invaded his spring. I tossed him out twice and he is right back in there as soon as I turn my back. I was hoping that he would hop down to the creek, which is not 20 feet away, but he likes this hole.
In the afternoon the chickens come down to inspect things. Big 'Un, on the right, gave us his approval. Chigger thinks it's all great fun because it gives her an excuse to go play in the creek and mud while we are working. She won't go down there unless we are nearby.
This was taken at the end of the first day. Today was not much better. I suspect my clothes are ruined so we have been wearing the same ones over and over! Yeck! What a mess! Hopefully, I will start stacking block tomorrow and will be finished by the end of the weekend.