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Road Building

by Tyler

Our alarm sounds at 7AM, ringing in another day of construction here on our homestead. Eyes barely open, I fumble around for the phone, ready to get started. Half asleep, I ring our truck driver, Richard, confirming that he is still available to bring a few loads of stone for our driveway. He's up every day at 5AM. I don't know how he does it. Scratch that, I do. He doesn't stay up working until 3AM.

With the weather as crazy as it's been this season we're really shooting from the hip—it's anyone's guess what we might be able to get done before the next storm blows through. The forecast is showing precipitation every day, as it has for the last month. I don't even pay attention to it any longer. I've lost count of how many times our worksite has been transformed into a sticky mud pit by this endless rain.

Richard is game—he'll be here by 8:30AM with the first haul. Check. Now I'm on the phone with Rick, giving him the news. Rick is surprised, "push him back a bit if you can, I'll be there soon." Back on the line with Richard, I'm too late, he and his giant tri-axle dump truck are already on the way. Next, I'm on the phone with the aggregate company, confirming my credit card is still on file. It is, and we're ready to roll!

Time grab a bite to eat and get dressed. It feels like this road work is taking forever. We've been going in fits and starts, thanks to the crap weather. Between the drive itself, the turn-around we've added, the road up to our workshop, and a small parking area, we'll have a full a quarter mile of road on our land when this stage of the project is complete. There's only 400 feet between us and the finish line!

Our Driveway, In Progress

The road-building process is pretty straightforward—Rick digs a trench across the existing driveway about 6"-12" deep. I rake the little mounds of dirt that pile up on either side, then and then cover the area with a black mesh earth stabilization fabric. It will hold the stone in the trench as a monolithic unit, preventing the rocks from being driven into the ground, possibly necessitating the addition of even more in as little as a year's time.

Tyler Laying Earth Stabilization Fabric Earth Stablization Fabric for Road Tara Cutting Earth Stabilization Fabric Truck Dumping Rock Rick Spreading Rock

The biggest problem is figuring out what to do with all the dirt that comes out of the road. After the photos above were taken, we started putting it across from the workshop's driveway, building out a ledge that will become a nice parking area—much better than huge piles along the road. We've also used a ton of the dirt for grading the workshop site. It's crazy how much earth we've moved around in the last month.

I've really neglected writing about this process, but we've still been taking pictures. Here are a bunch:

Rick & Tyler Laying Out Turn-Around Truck Dumping Rock Rick Grading Workshop Road Truck Dumping Stone for Workshop Driveway Rick Grading Start of Our Driveway Richard Dumping Driveway Stone Tyler & Rick Spreading Driveway Stone Rick Spreading Driveway Stone Richard Dumping Driveway Stone Rick Spreading Driveway Stone Excavator Blade Pushing Driveway Stone

The day was a success. We installed some drain pipe near the end of the driveway where it gets really wet, and got four loads of stone delivered, covering about 200 feet. I wish we could do more, but the aggregate is 30 minutes away, so it takes Richard a little better than an hour each trip. Every time he tips the dumping bed of his truck in our ever lengthening driveway, our wallets get another ~$300 lighter. Yikes.

Laying Drain Pipe on Our Road Laying Drain Pipe on Our Road Laying Drain Pipe on Our Road

The only way we're managing (financially) to build the road at all right now, is thanks to an absolutely incredible donation from Tara's parents and grandmother. We cannot THANK YOU enough for saving us from the mud! Maybe we'll put up a plaque with your names on it: The Lisa and Mark Alan and Jeanne Marsh Driveway!

Our Road
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Nice to see you guys blogging/journaling more regularly so that we can live our lives vicariously through you! Actually, not entirely true. Your adventures spurred me on to do some cycle touring last year (only about a week) but hoping to do it again this year. Keep it up!
Posted by DD on July 9th, 2013 at 7:35 PM
Hey DD! It always makes our day to hear that we've played a part in convincing someone to hit the open road.

Cycle touring sounds fantastic right about now--tomorrow morning I will be raking 30 tons of gravel inside a concrete form. Do you have any pictures from your trip online? Maybe we can live vicariously through you :)
Posted by Tyler on July 11th, 2013 at 12:20 AM
I love reading about your progress. We did a more traditional build just over the border in NY, but fighting the mud in our driveway / walkway was just as awful. Thankfully a God sent random gravel truck pulled up to my parents house a few months ago and asked if anyone locally needed gravel because they didn't want to haul it back an hour to where they came from. I have no idea what it is but even without extra fabric it has thus far banished the mud and clay even in the midst of this crazy monsoon season.
Posted by Ben on July 14th, 2013 at 8:48 PM
That's so cool! I wish someone would send us some free stone, about 10 more truckloads would be nice :)

I tried to check out your website but it doesn't seem to be working?
Posted by Tyler on July 16th, 2013 at 12:47 PM