Personal

Laboring over Labor Day weekend

I spent my Labor Day weekend tackling some yard projects.

When I bought my house two years ago, it had been a rental, and the extent of the renters’ yard care was to mow the grass. Bushes were badly overgrown, big piles of limbs that presumably fell from trees during storms were stacked up around the storage shed, and a big pile of rotting firewood was stacked up in a corner of the back yard. Also, some of my trees have dead limbs in them, and they have long needed to be cut out. I’ve been working on the bushes bit by bit for a long time – I spent untold hours last fall cutting a long row of nine foot tall firebushes down to size, for example. I cut back a bunch more bushes over the weekend. I also bought a little electric chainsaw and cut up and bagged the downed limbs and most of the old firewood.

Also, when I had the house inspected before I bought it, the inspector said he thought the well pump was failing. To make a long story short, the well itself was failing and the seller ended up digging a new well. I can only imagine how thrilled she was to eat up so much of her equity in the house that way. Anyway, digging the well left a mound of dirt around where the well casing pokes out of the ground. I was told to leave the mound for a year or two, as the ground would sink around the well and I’d need to use that dirt to fill it in. The sinkage never occurred. When I realized the ground around about half of my house was sloping toward the house, allowing rainwater to run into my crawl space, I knew I needed to regrade. I decided to use the mound to help with that. My dad moved some of the dirt when he visited for a few days earlier this summer, and cut the mound down by about a third. I distributed the rest of the mound, eight wheelbarrows full, along the front of the house over the weekend.

Finally, I removed an ugly feature of my front yard. I don’t know why, and my neighbors don’t either, but the house’s original owner flanked the end of the driveway with patches of paving bricks. No foundation was laid for the pavers, which were placed directly onto soil, and so they settled unevenly. Moreover, the pavers weren’t particularly attractive, and they weren’t even all of the same type. It looked terrible. So I got out my flat-edged shovel and started prying them up. Here’s what it looked like after I’d removed about a quarter of them.

Brick driveway end

I’m going to have some dirt trucked in to finish the regrading, and I’ll use some of it to fill in the holes left from removing the bricks. I’ll have to plant and tend a lot of grass seed when I get done spreading all that dirt!

One of the bricks around my driveway was imprinted “Brazil Clay Co. Brazil.” The Brazil Clay Company was founded in 1905 in Brazil, Indiana, but it’s hard telling when they made this brick. Clay is plentiful around Brazil, Indiana, and a hundred years ago several companies formed there to mine the clay and make bricks, pipes, and even pottery from it. Brazil is in Clay County. You’d think it was named for its chief industry, but it was actually named for Henry Clay.

Brazil Clay Co. Brick

I still haven’t finished sharing my trip along the National Road in western Indiana. I’ll get back to it with my next post, in which we visit Brazil!

ReadMore I’ve written about my little house a couple other times, including when I moved in and when a storm damaged it.

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11 thoughts on “Laboring over Labor Day weekend

  1. Lone Primate says:

    Wow, and I give myself a big pat on the back when the sink’s no longer full of dishes and the laundry’s all done. :D

    Nice work — the bit about prying up the bricks made me want to come over and pitch in. Something about watching someone straightening things out just seems to inspire other people to want to be a part of it. That’s probably why we’ve got probes on Mars and the raccoons don’t. (Yet…)

    I think the best part is the True Stories routine about the name of Clay County. If I didn’t know better I’d swear you were cribbing from Green Acres or something. :)

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    • I’ve been working pretty hard around the house lately. Gonna order six cubic yards of dirt today and have it delivered so I can regrade around the part of the house that has a crawl space under it! Anyway, the bricks are all up as of yesterday, with help from my sons.

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      • Lone Primate says:

        You know you’re dedicated when you’re ordering six cubic yards of something most people spend their lives trying to get rid of. :)

        Any plans for the bricks? It’s surprising, but I gather “vintage” brickwork can be valuable.

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  2. Jen Tullis says:

    How interesting! My grandfather worked for the Brazil Clay Co. when he was newly married. After a shift there, he would go home and help his father farm. He said it was a “hot” job.

    Jen

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  3. I bet they put the bricks there because they (or somebody) kept cutting the turn too tight and driving over part of the lawn. They didn’t want to have to deal with continuous reseeding, so they chose the bricks. Of course, would more careful driving have ben a reasonable choice?

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    • I’m sure that’s why the bricks were there. As my sons and I were finishing the job on Sunday, a neighborhood teenager came by to lament our efforts. “I spent forever putting those bricks in,” he said. Apparently, his grandmother had owned the house, and ordered the bricks laid.

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