Thursday, July 28, 2016

P. R. O. G. R. E. S. S.

I'm so excited. The building crew showed up Wednesday and re-started. Whoop!  One by one they began to dig the holes for the posts. The engineer told them to move ahead as planned and flag any spots where they were concerned and we'd address those spots specifically. After some research the engineer uncovered that there was a erregation ditch 50 years ago that ran on the farm property, so that is probably why some holes are fine and others we see a bit of wet. Now we know and now we have the fix.
The front wall of posts are in. This is the
view from my barn. A ride only 60' away. 

It continues to be a roller coaster ride for each hole. Is it good? Yep dry. Pack and post it. Again and again. Like a nail biter of a movie. But at least I'm home on vacation to watch. :). In the morning they were able to get the entire front side posted. All just fine. After lunch they got the south end in. At this point I can see where the big sliding doors will be and can visualize the peak on the end. Exciting!  Late in the afternoon they hit the first hole that showed a bit of wet. Not bad, but we flagged it. Better safe than sorry. They then moved around on that length of wall and made a few more holes. We all determined we'd hold on that wall.  Finally on to the north wall. Will it be fine?  Yep...and that peak is set and up. The engineer will come back to make the final directive. We'll probably need to dig deeper and either put in footings or stone. But at least it is only one wall.

By the end of Wednesday they had all the posts up for three of the walls and on Thursday they were back and begin to tie all the walls together.  I'm glad as I kept having nightmares all night that those posts would fall over into my paddock. I'll sleep better knowing those posts are connected and reinforced now.
My view from the porch over coffee. 

It's fun to watch the building materialize right in front of you. I'm drinking my morning coffee, the clouds are fluffy and the temperature broke so it's really comfortable. I think I just may sit here on the front porch and watch my dream appear.  Little by little. Board by board. The crew consists of three guys. Two of them definitely are seasoned. The third guy is still learning. I can tell the two are doing the work of the three. Lol. And those two aren't too pleased about it. They have the music going. Must be classic rock. The Stones, The Family Sledge, lots from the 80s. They have set the grade boards and are now setting the wall boards every four feet in preparation of where the siding will be attached.

The horses could care less. They hardly pay attention, despite the ongoing sounds of hole diggers grinding, skidsters moving piles of wood, hammers hammering, and circular saws sawing. They eat their morning hay and glance up to munch and watch. Or just go on about their loafing business as usual. The dogs are much more alert and attentive. Both sitting monitoring every move. A little muffled bark now and then just to remind everyone that they are on the case. The kittens are inside right now. They mewed yesterday to be let in as soon as the digger started up. Not fans of the noise.  A little finch has made a nest in a hanging bird house in the crabapple tree between me and the arena. She comes and goes. Maybe her baby has hatched and she's feeding it. Ahhhh....this is perfect. I can't believe it.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A few HOLES in our plan

Friday is finally here. Both Scott and I wake exhausted. Not a very restful night's sleep last night. Tossing and turning, not knowing what today will bring. And it thunder stormed all evening and over night which we're confident won't help matters. It's been dry as a bone for two weeks and the day before the big dig it rains like cats and dogs. Really?  Grandma is that you up there who thinks this is funny?  Lol.

I toss off the covers and swing my feet onto the floor and pitter patter downstairs to get the espresso machine going.....trailed by two scampering kittens. Mmmmm, that tastes good. And I sigh. I make an iced coffee for Scott and bring it to him on the porch. He's up and watering the hanging flower containers and I can see the circles under his eyes as I hand him his coffee. No words needed.   A few minutes later we glance up to the sound of a vehicle coming down the driveway. It's Larry with his backhoe. Scott puts down the watering can and walks down to greet him. The engineer and builder aren't far behind.
Let the digging begin. Scott hands on hips. 

I sit on the porch drinking my coffee and watch as the day's events are about to unfold. Larry is getting the back hoe into position. Scott is loaded for bear and I can tell he's already having words with the builder. I'm thinking maybe I should get down there and break the tension.  Let's just get the hole dug and see what we see before we all jump to the worst conclusion.

The digging begins. Scoop, scoop, chug, scoop. Slowly but surely a hole appears. The soil is, well, soil. Sandy, surprisingly dry. We keep going. Measure...only 6', keep going waves the engineer. Seven feet, eight feet. We hit a hard clay. Bingo. That's good. Lots of looking, more digging, more measuring, more feeling soil as it comes up. Some head scratching. All dry. Even with all that rain. It's dry. Can I breath yet?  Nope. Let's make another huge hole. Over here this time, near where that wet hole was last time. Argghhhh.  So we all move over to watch it all happen again. My heart is thumping. Will this one be bad? Scoop, scoop, scoop. Dry. Dry. Sand. Clay. As we get down it gets a little wet, but hard. It seems we have good news. Some dialogue transpires that I can hardly hear through the thumping of my heart - but I decipher in the conversation that maybe we had hit an old farmer's drain tile last week.  But, things look good in these two gapping holes today.
Thank you Larry for your help!

Can I breath yet?

Pictures are taken, the engineer and builder recheck the weight loads, plotting and planning happens and in the end everyone sighs a bit of relief. We may have to be prepared for special handling should we hit wet holes in a few cases here, but we can move ahead.  I think it's the first color I've seen in Scott's face in weeks. And could it be?  Yes, I believe, even a glimmer of a smile.

So when can we start again?  Monday?  Ummm....well the crew is on another job now. He'll check and let us know next week when they can come back. Arghhh. And double arghhh. I was supposed to be in Tennessee at the International this upcoming week but cancelled my plans due to our project delays. I had hoped I'd at least be able to spend my vacation watching my new arena being built. But, that doesn't look promising. Darn. Well, at least our project seems to be back on track. So, I'm going to take that positive news and be thankful.

I'm Waaaaaaittting!

It's five o'clock somewhere. 
Hmm, wonder when this arena thing is going to get
started?  I'm ready for the show. 
Well, not much to report yet on the arena. Not anything progress-wise.  However, much frustration-wise.  Okay I'll take that back, we have a dumpster now.

Just days after the materials were delivered the crew arrived with the post digger. I had to go to work so I passed them on my way down the driveway  I was so excited. Finally this little party was going to get started. My excitement was hard to contain - I imagined what would happen today and how far they would get as I drove west to Madison. When I got to work Scott began to send me photos. Post number one. Photo. Post number two. Photo. Post three and four. Photo. The corner posts were in. I went into a team meeting. Buzz. Photo. Another post in. And at lunch I texted, "more photos please!"  But no reply. Maybe the guys had taken a break for lunch. A little while later Scott called. The building inspector was there, looking in one of the holes. Scott watched from his office window as the contractor folded his arms and the building inspector continued to look in the hole. Even from the second story window, that was a few hundred feet away,  he could tell it was bad body language. Something's wrong.

And ten days later here we sit. The question is regarding the sandy soil that got wet at a deeper point when they dug the hole. The concern - will the soils shift or fail to bear the load of the facility appropriately?  This could potentially cause settling that could lead to rippling in the siding or sliding doors to be uneven or stick, etc.  Urghhhh. After all the changes of where to site the building ....and the soil at this location that the county selected is the issue!?  The good news - there are solutions. The bad news - let's bring in an engineer to tell us what the right solution should be. Cha-Ching. Footings bigger?  Posts deeper?  Reading between the's only time and money. Urghhhhh.

And ten days later here we sit. Now they want to dig more holes to decide what to do. What?  We did that last week. Yeah, but we want to go deeper this time. Maybe three feet deeper than last time  and see, assess, calculate.  Cha-Ching.  But Scott has a lot of connections. He was able to get a back hoe lined up to do the required. The guy who plants our fields hooked us up.

So now we wait for Friday. A new hole. And the engineer's recommendation. And the building inspectors agreement. Stressed-out is an understatement for how we feel right now. While we want it done right and not have issues in the future, we also are very ready to get on with it. It was supposed to be a straightforward project. Four sides, a roof, some doors, some windows and sand. It's turned into much much more. Six months of planning, moving sites, waiting for permits....and now this.

So now we wait for Friday. And I once again think ....I won't believe I'm getting this arena until I'm sitting on a horse riding in it for the first time. And I pray my dream of getting this Christmas present can still come true. Scott just keeps saying I'm gonna get this...he's going to make it happen. At this point I just love this man who is working so so so hard to make my dream come true. No matter what Friday brings, I know he'll move mountains (or in this case, make holes) to get this done!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Never dreamed it would happen

2016 began a new chapter and a new plateau for my horse craziness. Scott surprised me with a special  gift for Christmas. It wasn't a 'wrapped in a bow under the tree' kind of present - it was a card with a note (actually a poem) that stated a new indoor riding arena would be forthcoming and built this spring for me. I couldn't believe it. Whatever I wanted. Omg! A dream come true!  My mind swirled with the possibilities. My arms squeezed around this man. The thought that I would have my own place to ride, no matter the weather or time of day or night made me dance for joy. I literally welled with tears of excitement and more love for my hubby (if that's possible) who knows my heart so well and does all he can do to make my dreams come true.  I'm a very very lucky girl. Period.

So the planning began. First a tour through the who's who of riding arena builders in the area, then the thinking and assessing, or more specifically, obsessing over the design. A window here, no here...a big door here, yeah with a big window on top. Dimensions and wall height. What? How much?  Okay maybe not. But can we do this? Or that? Porch, overhangs, cupolas, inside kick walls, roof pitches, lighting, venting...the list of things to consider are endless. I separated the items into lists of the must haves and nice to haves. I spent hours on websites playing with 3D design apps, which were pretty cool to help visualize, even colorize, the design. I surfed the web for door options and just the right weather vane (a TN Walking Horse, of course - and found one!) I read blogs of others who had built arenas and offered tips and hints. I called friends about sand, read two great university white papers on sand technology and dreamed about sand and sand supplements for weeks. I visited a few arenas and tried my best to think which features were most important to me and what I needed to accomplish with walking horses. And I sweated the details on how it would look on the property - I wanted to ensure it blended and complimented the existing house and barn. It had to. It all had to be perfect. And Scott - he just shook his head and tried to keep everything moving forward and within some resemblance of a budget.

We picked the builder, designed the plan, signed the paperwork and we're ready to go by early March. Then it happened. "The permit incident."  And, for the next four months we moved the site twice, and redesigned the building again and again to fit the new site location. Our property has water setbacks and environmental conservancy we had some alterations to make to satisfy and comply with the county for land use.  In April I was hopeful, in May I started to doubt, as June began I just knew the dream was coming to an end. As we considered the last option we got a call from the builder that they gave the nod and we'd be getting the permits!  Whew. (Insert little dance here!). Through the whole emotional roller coaster ride, I decided that I wouldn't believe I'd actually get an arena until I was sitting on a horse and riding in it for the first time.  In the end, I truly believe God works in mysterious ways. I also think someone had his hand in this from above to ensure this was actually placed in the right spot on our property. Scott and I agree that this final spot is actually the best of all the others sites we had considered.
Christmas in July!  The materials are delivered. 

Today, I am sitting on my porch staring at the building pad and the piles of building materials on the site where my new arena will soon be built. The builder is set to begin right after the July 4th holiday weekend and I'm told it will be standing within a few weeks. My hubby said I'd better get back on that little sand project and make my final decision on that now too. So sand dreams are sure to be back with me again for the next few weeks. I still cannot believe this is happening and I keep pinching myself. But I confess I keep playing the rides again and again in my mind.