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DayCreek Journal

April 10 , 2004

Holey Hill

Nothing I do ever is easy and Murphy's Law always gets in the way making a simple task quite arduous. This entire week is a case in point.

I spent Monday and Tuesday site planning for the solar panel racks. At first glance, it seemed simple enough: point the panels to be perpendicular to the sun's rays. Right. And don't forget that seasons change and so do the shadows, so don't put the panels too close to the solar hot water collectors since photovoltaic panels are not forgiving when it comes to any shading whatsoever. Right. And make sure they will look pleasing to the eye. Right. And don't forget that the greater the distance the panels are from the house, the thicker the wire must be. Right. And don't forget that there are a few rocks under that hill. Right. But where?

By Tuesday afternoon, 22 holes were staked out and precisely marked. I decided to call our local Bobcat dealer and inquired as to how much it would cost to rent a 12 inch auger for one day. It was $50 and the auger would be available on Thursday.

After further deliberation between me, myself and I, I spent Wednesday morning restaking the 22 holes four feet further down the hill. This would absolutely guarantee that no shadows from the hot water collectors could ever interfere with the panels. (I worry a lot.)

Later that day, I decided to remove the top layer of sod from all 22 holes so that the auger would have a "pilot hole" to start the drilling process. Everything went fine until I removed the sod from good old' hole #12. As soon as my shovel sank into the soil, I knew I was in for a challenge. The shovel was hitting rock about 3/4 of the way around the 12" diameter hole. Ugh.

Under the sod revealed a rock about the size of a Buick. After mumbling a few words of endearment, I grabbed the pick axe, pry bar and sledge hammer. This particular Buick sized rock just would not crack. Finally after 45 minutes of whacking, chiseling and cussing, the rock finally cracked.

"Buick" Rock

I wedged the pry bar in the crack and tried to use a bit of leverage to remove the rock. All of a sudden the pry bar sprang back and whacked me in the head. I didn't think much of it until I noticed that my hat was turning red. Yup. I cut my head and decided that I should take a break and see if I needed stitches. Well...after I got myself cleaned up, the cut didn't look too bad (just a minor flesh wound) so I decided I better finish getting those other 10 holes ready for Thursday. (At this point, I should have realized that this was going to be a challenging week.)

Thursday morning I rented the auger from the Bobcat dealer. It just fit in the pickup truck and I was soon home with the auger ready for action. It was 8:30 in the morning and all was well. I fired up the rusty, trusty Bobcat and drove it over to where I had the truck. The bucket on the Bobcat easily releases by simply pulling two levers. I tried this, but something didn't seem right. The levers should go a lot further than they were going. It appeared that the release mechanism was rusted.

I cleaned out the mud and gunk that was lodged in the mechanism and sprayed it with copious amounts of WD-40. The levers still wouldn't budge. I called the Bobcat dealer to see if they had any suggestions, and they said I should put a pipe on the end of the levers to get better leverage— this should release them. Well, I tried that and all I managed to do was to bend the levers.

The idea here is to pull the levers which releases two large metal wedges that are underneath the bucket. I raised up the bucket to where I could get a good whack at the metal wedges using a sledge hammer. Finally they started to move. By 10:30 in the morning, all was well and it was time to hook up the auger.

The auger attached to the Bobcat with the bent locking levers working just fine. After that it was time to connect the hydraulic lines to the Bobcat. The first connector went on without a hitch, but the second connector was being stubborn. I got the WD-40 and sprayed the connector on the Bobcat, making sure that there was no debris preventing the connection of the hydraulic hose. No matter what I did, I couldn't muscle up enough force to get the connector to snap in place.

I called my neighbor Bill who claims that his butt is conformed to a Bobcat seat. He works with Bobcats all the time. Surely he would have a few suggestions. (Just don't call him Shirley.) And he did, but none of them worked. He said that he could stop by on his lunch break, but I told him not to bother, I would call the Bobcat dealer again.

The Bobcat dealer had me try a few other things, but nothing worked. He said that the female hydraulic connector on the Bobcat should be replaced. I then drove back to the Bobcat dealer and picked up a new female hydraulic connector.

After returning, I got my wrench and went to work removing the old connector. I couldn't get it to budge. I used the pipe again to gain some leverage and promptly bent my wrench. (I didn't think it was possible.) I then used a propane torch to heat up the fittings to see if it would loosen the fitting. Nope—that didn't work either.

By this time, I was not a very happy camper. I then decided to go back to plan A. I whacked the @#$! out of the connector with a rubber mallet. FINALLY, the connector went into place. HURRAY! ...not so fast. The connector wouldn't lock like it was suppose to do. It was in all the way, but it wouldn't lock. I then took the connector off and noticed that part of the rubber O-ring had been sheared off by my forceful ways. I pulled out the piece of mangled rubber and reinserted the connector. This time it locked in place.

Now the question was: Will it leak? I fired up the Bobcat and to my didn't leak. I was now ready to drill holes. It was 2:00 in the afternoon and all was (finally) well? And for the most part, the auger worked like a charm. It was much better than using the tractor since drilling holes on a hill is not a lot of fun when you have to keep looking over your shoulder to see if you are lined up or not.

Everything was fine until hole #12. That was the hole with the Buick imbedded in the side of the hole. As it ended up, the Buick went deeper than I thought. So it was back to the pry bar again. (This time I made sure it didn't try to hit me in the head.)

A few hours later, all of the 22 holes were drilled. After inspecting the holes, I realized that although the auger started out going in the hole nice and plumb, some of the holes ended up going in on an angle. This would require a bit of work to reshape the holes, but at least I made some progress.

Friday I returned the auger and spent the rest of the day cleaning out and reshaping the holes with a post hole digger. I got 15 holes cleaned out and ready to go, with another 7 to go.

Was this a lesson in futility? I don't know, I'm too tired to think.


Things definitely were squirrely this week.