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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

"Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho 
and the walls came tumbling down..."

(ahhhhh--- fond memories of Mr. Wilson teaching us that song back in fourth grade music class at Stambaugh Elementary School in West Iron County in the U.P. of Michigan.)

Well---- one wall DID come tumbling down. The rest needed a little "help".

Let me begin at the beginning. The best place to start. The exterior entrance to our basement has this kind of cheesy slapped together enclosure over the recessed cement stairs.  The wood siding doesn't match, and it is kinda ugly sticking out from where it is located.  The door itself and the cement stairs underneath are just fine.

Not only does it look tacky, but the bottom edges are kind of rotting away and it should be taken down.  We are planning on replacing all of the siding on the back side of the house this summer, so this is a good time to get it removed.

The other problem with that enclosure is that it was shading the area that I wanted for planting my tomatoes!!!!

Steve decided that if we tear it down, he will build a bulkhead door system. You know, those old-fashioned slanted door parts to enter into a basement or a storm cellar?

We looked at new steel bulkheads, and they were $700 on up!

Next, he put together a little diagram and cut list figuring if he would build one out of treated wood. Sounds good. But that was going to run us about 200 plus dollars.  Ouch!

Then, Mister Magical Marketplace Mogul found a set of heavy steel bulkhead doors that someone was selling, after they tore down a house. $150 later and they were loaded onto our trailer and headed back to our house. They were already red.  I will give them a fresh coat of matching Rust-Oleum paint and they will be good to go.

Yesterday afternoon, I was going to get ready to plant. I asked Steve how long do you think it would take for us, working together, to pull down that enclosure?

Well, he grabbed the tools and I put on my gloves and we set ourselves to work.

The nice steel exterior entryway door was still good, so Steve took care of removing that.  We will later install that down below at the actual basement entrance. In the meantime, I started peeling off all of the smaller boards with a crowbar, and making sure no nails went down into the lawn.

The bottom edge on the right side was so rotted it was coming loose as we were pounding loose the boards.

We decided to wrap a heavy tow strap around it, and Steve and I together on the other end at a safe distance, we did a firm tug tug tug...

Yes! That wall came right off in one whole piece and ripped away from the house and the roofline, and plopped onto the ground!

Rut Roh, that left a problem. The rest of the structure, (roof and other wall) was extremely unsafe. It would not come down when we pulled with the tow strap with our hands.

Time to enable the use of our little Tracker. With all of the recent rain, we didn't want to rut up the lawn at all. This little Tracker is so lightweight it really didn't pose a problem. It's like a nimble little billy goat and doesn't weigh much more than a side by side ATV.

We carefully hooked up the strap again to the remaining structure and put the other end over to the Tracker's hitch.

I got out the video camera 
while Steve got behind the wheel:

First it pulled off the other wall. The roof structure was still hanging there, so Steve again carefully attached the strap, ready to jump out of the way if it fell on it's own.   Naw... too many nails holding it up.  YANK YANK again and the roof was soon biting the dust----- errrr mud.

Yayyyyyy it's down!

That was kind of fun.

Underneath, we can see the original wooden siding, as well as the marks of a better overhang with a peak from long ago.  This part of the house had been originally built in another part of town, and moved here and added to the rest in the early 1950's or 60's by the Heise family.

The siding on the back portion and around the little kitchen nook windows will all be replaced soon with new fibered LP Smart Siding.  Another project for another day.

We started cleaning up the mess. Our neighbor to the south of us came over and asked us what were we going to do with that tongue and groove white wood on the wall sections just laying on the ground?

Well, we were just going to chop it all up with the sawzall or chainsaw and burn it up a few pieces at a time.

He asked if he could have it all! It was kind of like shiplap and he wanted it for two different projects. Steve said have at it!

He and his daughter came over and started knocking it all apart, board by board, stacking it up, then carting it off to their workshop. What a nice way to get rid of our excess waste. It was great to know it would be repurposed and recycled into something creative.

We finished hauling away the little scraps and Steve pulled all of the shingles off the roof section. The 2x4's from in the roof section rafters are in really good shape.  Steve is going to reuse them to build the angle support for the bulkhead doors that will go over the basement entrance stairs.

Once that was all done, I got out my garden rake and finished raking out the rectangular bed where my tomato plants were going to go.

I brought out my tomato cages, and I had to borrow two more from our daughter's house. I regularly plant 18 tomato plants a year. This year I happened to buy 20 plants when we were social distancing at the greenhouse. I didn't have time to pick one or two or three little plants at a time.  I just grabbed the four pack vegetables so I ended up with five packs of four plants each. 20 tomatoes.

8 Early Girls, 
8 Better Boys and 
4 Juliet grape tomatoes.

I spent the evening putting in all of my tomato cages. I zip tie or wire tie thin boards along the top edges of the cages to add stability. Sometimes one plant will get very heavily laden with tomatoes and it will pull one cage over out of line. But connecting them all together it gives it better support and allows each cage to support the ones next to it.

I made little walkway areas of mulch chips to reach the back rows of plants.  I need to get two more bags to go around the outer edges.  Then once we get dried grass lawn clippings, I gently place those around the plants to prevent weed growth, and add nitrogen to the soil.

By evening, all of my plants were in place. I gave them a gentle watering with water from the rain barrel which happens to be located right next to the tomatoes. It will be really easy to water them this summer.

I have cute little white picket garden fences to put along the edge of the tomato bed to finish it off and look adorable.  I can almost taste them 'maters already!!!

We are due for about 3 summer-like days of temperatures in the 70s. We are looking forward to it. This morning I am sipping coffee, looking out over the beautiful backyard, while writing up this blog.

Steve is out there zoom zoom zooming around the yard. He is pumping the water out of the big puddles. Then he is getting ready to build the frameworks for the bulkhead. I guess that means I better go and help him.


  1. That was interesting. I love watching all your DIYs. You are both creative.


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