We’ve been at this hoophouse-building project now for several weeks, and my good husband Bryan is starting to look a bit raggedy. He could use a haircut, and now and then I discern a limp. He’s pretty much tuckered at at the end of every day, and he’s had a bit of a maniacal gleam in his eyes.
I’m gonna owe him (and Timothy) big-time after this project is finished, I can tell you that much. (Please don’t tell him that I realize this, Gentle Reader, or he undoubtedly will use it to his advantage!) He’s ready to finish this hoophouse so I can plant it full of gorgeous flowers and veggies, and so he can go on to other projects that are waiting for him.
Building a hoophouse is certainly not a job for sissies, as my first post about this project was aptly named. Also, though it’s true that we’ve encountered our share of challenges (documented in this blog post) they’re not over yet, baby.
But. Onward and upward, as the saying goes. The next couple of weekends of work on the structure was all about fortifications. Living on the Great Plains, in a relatively flat and treeless area of Nebraska, we are poignantly aware of what damage the wind can do out here.
Some examples of what the wind can do out here:
Example A: I think I’ve mentioned that the first hoophouse that we put up out here on the prairie (a structure made out of hoops of PVC and plastic sheeting from the hardware store) blew away the very first day. It’s true.
Example B: One night, years ago (the wind blew like crazy then, too) when our two older boys were camping out in the back yard with some friends, a thunderstorm blew in, and we hustled the boys indoors to spend the rest of the night under our roof. The next morning, the tent that they had been sleeping in was gone. Though it had been firmly staked down, it blew away. After some searching and head-scratching, we found it a half-mile north of us, totally ruined and tangled in a neighbor’s fence. I still miss that tent.
Example C: Oh yes, and now that I mentioned the roof . . . Yes, in another storm the roof of our sunporch blew clean off. “Whomp!” was the enigmatical (and frighteningly loud) sound that that portion of the roof made when the “straight-line winds” (in that case) picked it up and moved it dramatically to another part of the house. Where it wasn’t needed, actually, because there was already a roof there.
That’s probably enough examples to convince anybody that we respect the power of the wind out here. I do have more, if you’re interested. Send me a message and get–in your in-box–a dozen wind-disaster-related stories–for free!
I have nearly as many wind stories as I have stories about dreaded varmints, and that’s saying something. Anyway. So we respect the wind, we set our jaws to embrace the wind, but we certainly never turn our back on the wind. We keep our eye on it, to be sure. And we stake everything down securely. Our tents. Our pool. Our everything. Heck, I probably should stake the chickens down–perhaps they wouldn’t disappear so often on windy days.
With that in mind, you’ll understand why nearly everything we did during Phase 3 of our building project had to do with ensuring that our new addition does not ever blow away.
First, we (by “we” I am referring to Bryan and Timothy) installed the other two purlins, parallel to the first one, which runs along the very top of the structure. It was a tricky thing to install these long pipes, as they are heavy, and did I mention that my husband and son–though well over 6′ tall, both of them–are not fifteen feet tall, nay, not even close.
Unfortunately, we own only one very tall ladder. We don’t own stilts. We don’t have any scaffolding, either, more’s the pity. We sure could have used it. But my husband is good at “making do” and improvising when necessary.
Timothy attached the pipes to the hoops, and Bryan kept the ends of the pipes where they needed to be. I took pictures and tried to stay out of the way, and did my usual excellent fetching chores.
Bryan made a hardware store run and brought home a load of 2x4s, which will be used to build hipboards, and also will be used to build the ends of the hoophouse.
Bryan and Timothy installed these pipes diagonally at all four “corners” (for lack of a better term). They try to get the angles to look good together, knowing how sensitive my artistic sensibilities are. I assure them that I’m not going to be crushed if they aren’t all at exactly the same angle. Honestly. Where do I get this reputation for being so choosy?
Then the unbelievable happens: the ground shakes and the sun dims for a moment, and I hear a chorus of song coming from somewhere above. Bryan asks me for a bit of help, and it does not involve fetching. “Your dad suggested that it might be a good idea to cover the joints of the pipes with tape,” he allows, “and I think perhaps you could handle that . . ” he says, haltingly.
Even after he says it, I wonder if he has regretted it. “I can do it! Sure, I can handle it!” I say, sounding like an enthusiastic Opie from The Andy Griffith Show. “Sure, Paw, and then can we go fishing??”
I am happy to do something besides fetch things that aren’t needed and carry ice tea, so I have my hand in the project, even if it is just applying gorilla tape. It’s an important job. Just think how disappointing it would be if the plastic sheeting tore on those jaggedy pipe ends? Bad news, baby. My job is important! I (by association) am important! I set to my task.
When I’m finished, I take a few more pictures.
It’s exciting to start building the ends at last. It makes the building look like a bonafide structure.
There will be large barn-door style sliding doors on both ends of the hoophouse, and you can see the sliding part in the photo above. Please avert your eyes from the weeds growing below. Thank you.
Well, there it is. The supporting purlins are installed, the diagonal supports are in place, and one end is framed in. Oh! And the (ahem) joints are carefully taped.
Still to come: all the tracks (polytracks) for the wiggle wire (which will hold the plastic down, at the hipboards) will need to be installed, not to mention the the larger double tracks along each curving endpiece. Now we’ll cross our fingers that the trenchers can come and install a water line this week, and with any luck we’ll be able to build in the other end this weekend.
I’ll keep you posted–I may be able to plant this baby before long!
- Wait–don’t throw those radish leaves away! Make soup, instead!
- Loaded-up Pretzel Cookies plus!