Hoophouse Building, Phase 2: we face a few challenges *sweating*

In the second weekend of our hoop house building project, I realized anew how valuable it is to have family living close by who don’t mind (much?) pitching in with a project now and then. Of course I know this–I know I’m blessed, living close to my parents, and my sisters and brothers and their families,ย  but I appreciated this fact all over again during Phase Two of our building project.

We really needed a few more heads to ponder some challenges that we encountered, to wit:

Unexpected Challenge #1: The ends of some of the hoop pipes were slightly damaged in the shipping. I know I could have called our congenial hoop house supply representative, Chad, and he would have taken care of shipping out replacement hoops, but that would have stalled our progress for a week or two, and I do (after all) have a garden to get into that structure. So of course we just had to fix them . . . but how? They are made, after all, of solid steel and aren’t exactly malleable. Heartily wishing them to be perfectly shaped wouldn’t do, either.

But that wasn’t all.

Perplexing Pickle #2: We discovered (the guys were nonplussed. I, naturally, was horrified at this discovery) that the posts that weren’t sunk in concrete (about half of them) were actually sinking in the dirt. The guys were quiet at this development, as they pondered a solution, if, indeed, there was one (which there was–surely–right?).ย  For my part, I went and mulched the blueberry patch. Wow. Sinking posts. Not. Good.

Still not finished. ๐Ÿ™

Pesky Puzzlement #3:ย  The guys who were going to install a hydrant in the corner of my hoop house (no rain in there, remember) broke their trencher, and called to tell me that it would be two or three weeks before they’d have it fixed. . .

. . . and (sigh) Dastardly Dilemma #4:ย  After sleuthing among the boxes of hoop house-building materials that were shipped to us, we discovered that we were missing a box! We had twelve, and there should have been thirteen, apparently. We must have stared at the assortment of boxes for a full half-hour, painfully willing that last box to appear. But no. The boxful of fasteners and bolts and screws and so forth was missing. A phone call to the congenial rep, Chad, offered sympathy and weary apologies, but no hopes of getting the missing box until next week. Bryan took off to look for replacements, and it only took stops at three hardware stores in two towns, alas, to find the proper screws and bolts, but at least he found them so we could devote the rest of the weekend to building.ย 

So. We’re problem-solvers (I remind myself of this all the time–we’re good at solving problems, we’re good at solving problems, we are, we are!) and no project ever goes as smoothly as you’d like, and plus, we had the aforementioned dear family with whom we could brainstorm solutions. So we (by “we” I meant “they,” the fellows) got to work, and I offered sympathy, errand-running, and food when needed. Oh, and large glasses of ice water, with lemon.

Here’s how the weekend went:

Hoophouse Phase 2Here Bryan and Timothy work on the first hoop. (You see that my hubby is still smiling at this point. Actually, I think that is a *wince.*) It is not bent on the ends, but it still takes a bit of manoeuvring (just once, permit me the UK spelling, I really prefer it) and pushing and twisting and grunting and flexing in order to get it to fit together.ย  But after a few minutes of all that . . .

Hoophouse Phase 2 Ta-daaa! The first hoop fits into the posts–with a bit of muscle–and is up! I do a happy dance.ย  The guys grin.

One down. How many are left?

Hoophouse Phase 2Hooray! Time to take a break and celebrate?ย  Um, no. . . only ten more hoops to go . . .

hoop house phase 2Bryan and the boys load up the rest of the building materials into the trailer and haul it out to the building site. These babies are heavy, you know!

hoophouse phase 2The day always brightens when my dad shows up. I think he looks especially cute in this color of blue–“overalls blue” is what they should call it. I note, briefly, that he reminds me a bit of Ernest Hemingway, with that trim little white beard.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Of course my dad is cuter than Ernest Hemingway. And smarter. And not as sad. And he knows a thing or two about nearly everything, including the shaping of the ends of large pipes to the correct shape that they should be, which comes in handy on this particular day. No offense to Ernest Hemingway.

Hoophouse Phase 2

Dad and Timothy wrestle with the second hoop.

Mom had bread dough rising at home when Dad was ready to come out to our place, so she just brought it along--happily for us!

Mom had bread dough rising at home when Dad was ready to come out to our place, so she just brought it along–happily for us!

 

Hoop house Phase 2Here’s what the hoophouse site looks like so far, from the house.ย  I’m beginning to be able to picture what it’s going to look like, in shape and in scope, and I’m excited! The guys figure out a way to deal with the sinking posts, that is, to bolt them to the framing boards at the bottom.ย  My husband assures me that the posts aren’t going to sink to China anytime soon. *Phew*

I catch sight of little Mack up on the chicken coop roof: "Just doing some chicken-gazing, Mom."

I catch sight of little Mack up on the chicken coop roof: “Just doing some chicken-gazing, Mom.”

Here's the anvil--it weighs over 100 pounds and has this nifty logo on it, of an arm with a bulging bicep. You need bulging biceps to lift it.

Here’s my good husband, toting the anvil out to the garden.ย  He urges me to hurry and take the picture, already, before he drops it on his toe.

The guys decide to work on one of the hoops with the bent ends.ย  Dad brings his anvil, which is very heavy but has an awesome logo on the side:ย  a flexed arm with a bulging bicep.ย  We decide that the logo is apt, since it takes somebody with bulging biceps to lift it: it weighs over 100 pounds.

It seems that it’s not such a simple thing to re-shape the pipe end just exactly as it needs to be shaped.ย ย  Timothy whacks away at it for a bit, with a sledge hammer.

Timothy tries his hand at shaping the end of the pipe on the anvil.

Then Bryan takes his turn at it. . . . my, this steel is tough stuff . . .

hoophouse Phase 2

Eventually the old farm boy shows the young lads how it’s done. Dad has just the right touch and persuades the tough pipe to bend into just the right shape.

“You have to finesse it.”

The dogs are underfoot the entire time, of course.

The dogs are underfoot the entire time, of course. It’s warm out, and eventually they seek some shade.

The guys need some fetching done, so I run to the house for WD-40 (which then they decide they don’t need, after all) and then some bricks (which they change their mind about, also) and something else I don’t remember, but also which (you guessed it) they decide they didn’t need–after all. I begin, after the third trip, to sense that they are trying to get rid of me.

I pout for a moment.

I fetch Amalia’s bike from the shed and start using it for my fruitless fetching chores, so at least I can have a little fun in the deal. I ask if there’s anything else they won’t need that they’d like me to fetch. They don’t respond.ย  Iย  decide to weed the strawberries and stay out of their way.

Sometimes it pays off to pull weeds from the strawberry patch in between running errands and taking pictures.

Sometimes it pays off to pull weeds from the strawberry patch in between running errands and taking pictures.

I get the message, as it were.

Bryan admits that food and drink would not be unwelcome. Amalia quickly volunteers to make supper, and Mom goes along to the kitchen to put her bread in the oven. I continue to work in the strawberry patch. My kitchen, after all, is painfully small, and my strawberry patch is embarrassingly weedy.

And large. And spacious. There is plenty of space, as it were, for romantic contemplation there. ๐Ÿ™‚

I love this picture.

I love this picture.ย  I bent the rules and shot it towards the setting sun, but I like it this way, with the sunlight streaming over this dear little parade.ย  See how the dogs cling to my Mom’s side?ย  Amalia has already yelled at them to keep their distance, but they are hoping that Grandma will drop one of those lovely warm sammages, just the same.

The dogs never left my mom's side.

The dogs never left my mom’s side.

Amalia and Grandma know how to make grilled cheese sammages: with homemade bread, and big slices of Vidalia onions. And of course you don't skimp on the butter.

Amalia and Grandma know how to make grilled cheese sammages: with homemade bread, and big slices of Vidalia onion. And of course you don’t skimp on the butter.

We take a quick break to eat the glorious supper that the ladies made for us, as the sun sets a bit.

hoophouse building, Phase 2

Ollie: “I just know that Grandpa is going to drop a bite, sooner or later.”

I'm glad Timothy doesn't mind being very high up--his siblings keep the ladder steady for him.

I’m glad Timothy doesn’t mind being very high up–his siblings keep the ladder steady for him, mostly for Mom’s peace of mind, not his.

It’s time to install the purlins--the purlins are the pipes that run lengthwise of the structure, connecting all the hoops together—so Timothy climbs up the ladder to do the job.

Bryan and Dave grab boards to prop up the purlin so Timothy can install it.

Of course it would be too easy (and therefore, not to be expected, not this weekend, anyway) if the pieces all slid right into place, with little effort. It takes a bit of manoeuvring (there, I got to use it twice) to get the pipes to fit just right, but Timothy gets the job done.

Because the purlins are so long and awkward to handle, Bryan and Dave grab boards to help prop them up as Timothy puts them into place.

It takes a village, apparently, to install a purlin.

It takes a village, apparently, to install a purlin.

Timothy goes barefoot most of the time and the calluses on the bottom of his feet are as thick and tough as a monkey's. He's proud of this fact.

Timothy goes barefoot most of the time and the calluses on the bottom of his feet are as thick and tough as a monkey’s. He’s proud of this fact.ย  We do buy him shoes, for the record.

Malachi offers his suggestions and observations.

Malachi offers his suggestions and glib observations. I’m surprised that the guys don’t send him to fetch something that they don’t need.

I discover some dewberry blossoms in the brome grass. I planted these brambles years ago and forgot about them and am surprised to find that they are covered with blossoms!

I discover some dewberry blossoms in the brome grass. I planted these brambles years ago and forgot about them and am surprised to find that they are covered with blossoms, totally surrounded by the tough native grasses as they are.ย  Maybe they are tough and native, too?

The sun is getting lower and lower in the sky, and once all the purlins are installed, we call it a day and load all the tools and other stuff into the trailer to move into the shed. The dogs clean up the leftover bits and crumbs, and I put Amalia’s bike away. It has been a productive weekend.

We had our challenges, and they slowed us down a bit, but they didn’t stop us.ย  And we learned a thing or two in the bargain. And–take a gander:

Here's the structure in the early morning sun, the next day.

Here’s the structure in the early morning sun, the next day. Doesn’t it look pretty?

Phase 2 is complete: the hoops and first length of purlins (there will be two more installed) are in place.

On to Phase 3!

Want to see what happens next?ย  Here’s where you go. If you need to play catch-up, here’s how all this started.

Remember, dear ones, that if you don’t have the time or muscle or space to put up a big ole’ hoop house like mine, you can still do a lot of season-stretching with smaller hoops in your existing garden space! There are lots of products available to make this possible!

23 thoughts on “Hoophouse Building, Phase 2: we face a few challenges *sweating*

  1. Francene Stanley

    How great to see the family problem sloving together. Okay–tempers are short, but everyone gets past this and actually erects the structure. As you say, something always goes wrong. Your quip about fetching something else nobody needed set me chuckling.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Francene,
      I’m too grateful for these guys putting in the time to build this for me to be short tempered, but I did start to wonder if they were trying to get rid of me . . . ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Carrie

    Isn’t that the way? Glad to hear you have a creative lot, ready to make things work for you! I had to laugh at sending you for things they didn’t need… Where’s a picture of you on the bike? Just wondering…

    Also, what’s growing infront of the hoophouse, with the black plastic around it? Curious. :O)

    Good luck and Hugs!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Carrie,
      I haven’t figured out yet how to take a picture of myself while riding the bike? And the plants growing on the slope in front of the hoophouse are blueberry bushes. They are not easy to grow here in NE, and they’re probably the most pampered plants on our place, with landscape cloth around them, their own drip watering system, monthly fertilizing, and woodchip mulch. But that’s another blog post altogether!

  3. Cher

    Aww Amy that’s fab, I envy you, only me creative here and no willing hands to help so no hoop house for me ๐Ÿ™ I loved reading this and i needed cheering up today so thanks for the wonderful humour! (English of course) xxx

  4. Carolina HeartStrings

    The supper alone makes the effort look worthwhile! What a great project and yeah for help and problem solvers. Y’all are never deterred! Not even from bread making! I have, btw, noticed how barefooted some of the boys go. I am a HUGE advocate of closed toe shoes for any project and preferably steel toed at work. Have you ever lost any toes? ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Alessa (or Tammie?) I agree on closed-soul shoes for many jobs, but I let the boys go barefoot for this, since mostly they were climbing and standing about. Thanks for the reminder, though, that’s a good thing to remember. No, no lost toes!

  5. Anita-Clare Field

    Fabulous fabulous fabulous, I love reading about this project, when it’s finished it’s going to be a monument to everyone’s hard ‘graft’ as we say here is dear old Blighty and hold such wonderful memories. For the record I loathe shoes. I’m with Timothy here I love to walk barefoot when I can. Another beautiful blog Amy ! X

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thank you, Anita-Clare! I’m a barefoot devotee, too, going back to when I was a little girl and never squeezed my feet into shoes from the last day of school in May until the first day of school in August–except for church! My feet were tough and usually had spots of tar on the bottoms, from when I’d walk across the street, where the tar bubbled up when it got hot. I think your feet are given the ability to be stronger, the more you’re able to go barefoot.

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