August 3 , 2002
Tales from a Flatlander
Living most of my life in Illinois has left me "hill challenged" and I proved that point just this week. Here's my tale:
The weather was mighty hot until Thursday afternoon when the cold front arrived right on schedule. I knew exactly when the front was to pass, because I had just mixed my last batch of mortar to finish the front door wall. (If you want to know what the weather will be in the La Crosse, WI area all you have to do is consult my work schedule. Whenever I am building walls, the weather is usually ugly in some form or another. Usually about the time I finish my weekly building projects the weather turns nice.)
The skies turned sunny and the humidity was dropping so I figured that this evening would be a good time to do my two hours of weekly mowing. A few years back we invested in a garden tractor to do this chore and usually it's a relaxing experience.
I started mowing between my little cabin and pole shed just as I normally do. This also includes the area in back of the cabin. There's a lot of shade back there and a nice view of Day Creek. (The area around the house, cabin and pole shed is a good 75 to 100 feet above the creek.) I was merrily mowing along when the front right tire started to slide a bit towards a ravine that heads down towards the creek. Thinking I could correct the front wheel, I turned the tires to the left, but they didn't cooperate and before I could do anything to get my self out of it, the back tire dropped down and that's all she wrote! All of a sudden I could feel the tractor tipping and I went flying off down the ravine. I tumbled a good 30 feet and the next thing I knew the tractor was coming down behind me. I still don't know what exactly happened, but the tractor tumbled down the ravine, rolled on top of me and kept going.
I kind of quickly checked myself over and knew I could walk, so I hiked up the hill as fast as I could. I didn't care about the tractor at this point, all I knew is that I rolled through a patch of poison ivy on the way downlots of poison ivy. (Poison ivy and me have a history including an episode of not-so-fun steroid treatments.) I hobbled to the cabin, grabbed some fresh clothes and heading to the pole shed for a shower. ( In the book Nature's Revenge by Susan Carol Hauser, she suggests wiping the skin with alcohol and then washing with lots of water. That's exactly what I did.)
Well, I took my shower and checked myself out for any major wounds and found none other than a few scrapes, a few bruises and a slightly sprained ankle.
I could have broken bones, I could have been burned, I could have been severely cut or worse yet I could have been mortally wounded, but I was so very fortunate to have somehow avoided all of this. Besides having the tractor roll on top of me, the ravine that I fell into was full of old junk left by the previous farmer who owned the property. There was barbed wire, rusty sections of culvert and other nasty things right next to where I ended up. How I avoided all of this, I will never know. If people have nine lives like they say cats do, I used one of mine up Thursday evening.
I was planning on Friday to start work on the next wall, but instead got the tractor out of the ravine with (2) 25' tow ropes and the truck. I did a number on the fender of the tractor as I was dragging it up, but within four hours of working on it, I got it back up and running. The 25 HP engine smoked a bit at first, but hums right along like nothing ever happened. I will have to buy a few parts thoughmostly cosmetic.
I finished mowing and learned a lesson that I will never forget. I have heard the many horror stories about larger tractor rollovers and I always watch my step when using the Massey tractor but didn't pay as much attention to the garden tractor. I will from now on steer clear of the drop-offs and once the house is done, maybe I'll let some goats do the work for me.
By the way, it's been two days since my "episode" and so far no poison ivy rash. I know for certain that I came in contact with some and pulled a bunch of it up when I brought up the tractor. So it appears that washing does work. I still a bit apprehensive about all of this working, but so far, so good.
Wall Completed on Lower Level
The last wall on the lower floor was completed this week. I had intentionally waited as long as I could to do this wall so that any building supplies could easily be moved into the house. It was a rather nice doorway for the Bobcat, but now it's framed and ready for a front door.
One item of importance: don't forget any special features as you build your walls. I had put a booklet together showing the image of each wall as it was being built so I wouldn't forget where the windows were suppose to go along with any plumbing and/or electric fixtures. But even with that, I almost forgot to put in the electrical boxes for lighting for the front door. Maybe a string tied around the finger might be a better idea. Of course, I might forget to put the string on my finger.
So with the completion of the front door frame, this means there are only two walls left to do to complete the exterior of the house. The next wall on the agenda is the wall directly above the doorway and work will begin on this wall on Monday. It's a full wall, so my work will be cut out for me if I expect to complete it by the end of the week. Stay tuned...
A hawk soars overhead.
If you have a high-speed Internet connection or don't mind waiting for a 1.4Mb file to download, click on the above image to see a time lapse of this storm.