Things not to do, part 47:

I’ve been up at the section, building retaining walls. This one is a biggie, 1.5 metres, as high as you’re allowed to build before getting the engineers in. That means the hole needs to be 750 mm or deeper, depending upon which set of regs/advice you choose to read. Now, digging a hole like that is a sod, try lifting a post hole borer from your feet to over your head to get the mud out. Then get down on your knees and reach into hole to get more soil out, by hand. Then lie on your side, reaching down, arm stretched, coz it’s not deep enough until you can’t reach any further. Then leave it for a few months, letting the hole fill up with water, vegetation and soil, all decomposing with that lovely anaerobic ming of rot. Nice. Use a random plastic container to get the water out, dig down again by hand to remove the slurry at the bottom, and you’ve a hole ready for the post.

The post is two and a half metres long, weighs about as much as you, and has a centre of gravity above your own. You can lift it, barely, but putting it on only one shoulder is likely to do nasty things to your back. So, stand it on end, hug it, lift with just your legs, then carry it along the path (easy), down the mud slope (tricky), through the bush (fine so long as you don’t stand on any slippery bits), then down the slope you’re going to retain (near lethal). Then stand on all the muck that you’ve just hand-dug from the hole, which is slippery, loose-as and trying to squelch out from under your boots.

Now comes the enjoyable part, the only fun part of this process. You get to drop the post in the hole. There’s going to be a beautiful thud as eighty kilos of wood drops a metre, landing on the solid bottom of the hole, where it’s going to be concreted in and stay for the rest of eternity. Oh yes.

Except, the bottom of the hole isn’t solid. It was, the last time you were doing this, coz that was summer. You forgot the remains of the slurry at the bottom of the hole. All the muck that you couldn’t lift out, or trickled through your fingers, or just leaked back into the hole from the surrouding earth. Yeah, you just dropped the equivalent of your own weight on it. It’s like jumping into a puddle, from the bonnet of a car. And that’s all a tad messy to start with, but the muck is at the bottom of a hole which acts like a gun barrel. Because you could only move the pole by hugging it, your head is directly in line with that barrel. The muck doesn’t just spray up at you, what doesn’t hit you in the face goes past, into the air, and then falls back down upon you. Eyes, ears, nose. Everywhere.

So yes, don’t do this. Ignore the temptation of that beautiful thud, and lower the next poles into their soggy holes very slowly. Then go home and shower.

8 thoughts on “Things not to do, part 47:

      1. Well, yes, technically, but the muntry in my case is not a constant worry as it is not injury related.

        Heavy lifting has often helped me feel better when my back was whingy.

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