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, 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?). For my part, I went and mulched the blueberry patch. Wow. Sinking posts. Not. Good.
Still not finished. 🙁
Pesky Puzzlement #3: 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: 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.
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:
Here 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. But after a few minutes of all that . . .
One down. How many are left?
The 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.
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.
Here’s what the hoophouse site looks like so far, from the house. 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. My husband assures me that the posts aren’t going to sink to China anytime soon. *Phew*
The guys decide to work on one of the hoops with the bent ends. Dad brings his anvil, which is very heavy but has an awesome logo on the side: a flexed arm with a bulging bicep. 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. Timothy whacks away at it for a bit, with a sledge hammer.
Then Bryan takes his turn at it. . . . my, this steel is tough stuff . . .
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 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. I decide to weed the strawberries and stay out of their way.
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. 🙂
We take a quick break to eat the glorious supper that the ladies made for us, as the sun sets a bit.
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.
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.
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. And we learned a thing or two in the bargain. And–take a gander:
Phase 2 is complete: the hoops and first length of purlins (there will be two more installed) are in place.
On to Phase 3!
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!
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