JENS MALMGREN I create, that is my hobby.

Created our mini dyke

Here is a two-week blog post. I did that so that I could cover the entire story about how we created our mini dyke. These two weeks, we also moved the scaffold from the east wall to the south wall.

Monday 1 March

On Monday, I reserved a TB145 for the weekend. It is a Takeuchi mini excavator. The company renting out the machine was unsure if it would be free this weekend. I will hear about that on Thursday. If it is not accessible, then I will have it next weekend.

We did not go to the new house on Monday evening. We did other things. First, I uploaded the last weeks’ blog post. While doing that, I noticed that internal links did not work correctly. That became an issue for later.

I searched the Internet for the operator’s manual of the TB 145, which is hard to find. There are not even YouTube movies on how to operate it. I found a manual of TB 125, and it also contained the instructions for TB 145. It was just that it was named TB125, and then I did not even open the downloaded file until much later. I lost an entire evening searching for a manual that I had already found and downloaded for free. That is stupid.

What is even worse, I tried two phishing sites to get hold of the manual. It works so that you get to create a free account. Just add your email address. Then in the next window, you have to add your credit card. That is when you stop, but then they already got your email address. The thing is, I created temporary email addresses. When I concluded they had not been honest that the service was free, I stopped the process and deregistered the email address. My failed attempts to get the manual took the entire Monday evening, the whole time I had the manual already. That is stupid.

I made a drawing of how it looks like in the TB145, scribbled it on an envelope. According to the ISO pattern, the use of various knobs, pedals, levers, and handles. There is a knob behind a lid in the door to change between ISO pattern and the JCB pattern, but for now, let us assume the machine is set to the ISO pattern mode:

  1. Instrument panel. There you can read how many hours the machine has been running, water temperature, and here is the fuel gauge.
  2. Starter key. One should not turn the key from on to off back and forth quickly since that will break the engine. Correct usage is preheating and then start and when done working, let the machine run idle for five minutes and then turn the key off.
  3. Light switch. For the lamps outside.
  4. Horn. With this knob, you can honk on your neighbors.
  5. Travel speed switch found on the right travel level. Press this to set to high speed and press again to set to low speed. If the load is too high, the speed will be automatically lowered.
  6. Wiper switch for the cab. Handy if it starts raining, then the window wiper can be turned on. The knob is turned from zero to one to turn on the wiper. Push the knob for fluid.
  7. Safety lock lever. Before leaving the operator seat, raise the safety lock lever and stop the engine. The dozer blade and boom swing are not under the safety lock’s effect, so the safety lock is not entirely safe. Don’t touch other stuff when raising the safety lock.
  8. Here is the safety lock lever for the canopy. The machine I eventually got did not have this.
  9. Throttle lever. Pull it back towards you to increase the throttle. Can you imagine? I forgot this lever the first three days while using the excavator I had rented. Although that is not good if you need to get the job done on time, you can learn when the movements are slower.
  10. The left operating lever. Left to right operates the upper structure slew left or right. Back and forth is arm in or out. The arm holds the bucket, and the arm is connected to the boom. The boom is connected to the excavator.
  11. The right operating lever. Forward lowers the boom, and backward raises the boom. Left loads the bucket, and right unloads the bucket.
  12. Pedal lock. It is a lid over the boom swing pedal to avoid accidentally stepping on it.
  13. Boom swing pedal. Use this to operate the boom swing. The left side swings left, and the right side swings right. Since the boom can swing and the upper structure can turn, I believe it is easier to leave the lid on for a beginner and turn with the upper structure. It is useful when digging side ditches along a wall.
  14. Travel lever for the left and right crawler. Before operating, make sure the dozer blade is in front of you. When behind you, these levers operate in the opposite, but that is not handy for beginners. On the image, you can see two pedals as well. They operate the left and right crawler lever as well. That way, you can use your feet to operate the crawler of the excavator. If you need to move the excavator while using the boom and arm’s help, you need to operate the crawler with the feet.
  15. There can be extra hydraulic equipment mounted on the boom—a turning hoe, for example. The auxiliary hydraulic switches operate these lines. The left button is for the left hydraulic line, and the right button is for the right hydraulic line.
  16. Dozer blade lever. When you push the lever from you means blade down and towards you is blade up.
  17. The decelerator switch is used to lower the engine speed, reducing fuel consumption.

The night from Monday to Thursday, I was dreaming about the excavator. Is this with driving an excavator, something I have wanted for a long time? Yes, it is. I did not think I would dream about it, though.

It can be helpful to wear ear protection in the machine. It will not help anything because after many hours in the machine, you will get a humming feeling hours after leaving the machine, but ear protection is a good thing. The book says that you should use the seatbelt, and there are other safety precautions you should read about as well, so if you are doing something like this, get that book and read it. Please.

Tuesday 2 March

On Tuesday evening we did not go to the new house either. In the evening, I worked on restoring the internal links of the blog. I fixed the links in the seven last blog posts until 13 December 2020. Then I checked blogs until 14 September and noticed there were issues there as well. It will be tedious to go and repair this. At least the seven most present blog posts are working as I intend them to do, and then I will have to look into this issue.

Wednesday 3 March

Today I worked for my employer in the morning, and in the afternoon we went to the new house. Our daughter came with us today to help us.

My wife and I worked on finishing little details on the east wall. I revisited the corners at the window sills. There will be water splashing up in the corners, and in our original design, there was a little gap in the corners. That is not good. On the east wall, we got one layer of beams, and on the other walls, we got two layers of beams. My wife doesn’t like the idea of having the blue foil directly behind the sills on the east wall, but that is due to the choices we made in the summer. It is what it is. We will paint this foil here to tighten it from moisture. In the corner, we filled the gap with wood. Later we talked about using plastic foam, which will be quicker to apply.

Our daughter measured the horizontal planks above the windows on the west wall. Then she cut them and sanded them. Then she painted them.

My wife applied kit on seems between planks on the east wall. Then she painted the seems.

We are slowly getting to the point that we can take down the scaffold. I mounted the light on top of the door. It is connected to the electric wire as it should, but there is no electricity on that wire hanging on the other side of the wall ready to be connected by our electrician, who has put us on the sideline. We will see how that goes. At some point, we will have a talk with him about priorities. For now, we are into finishing the outside.

Thursday 4 March

Today the news reached us that one of our neighbors had been visited by thieves. Scaffold parts that had been stolen. I checked the footage from our cameras, but I could not see the thieves there. I have been thinking about improving camera surveillance, but there are many other things to do.

For this reason, I went to the new house in the evening after work to check up on things, and it looked like it should do. When I was there, I painted a second layer on the planks that our daughter worked on yesterday. With that, they are ready to be mounted above the windows on the west wall.

I also got a message this afternoon from the company renting out excavators. The machine I reserved will be ready on Saturday. I am excited! It is the perfect moment for digging this weekend. The soil is dry, so I will not get stuck. I have no idea how long time it will take to move that mountain of clay.

Friday 6 March

It was a beautiful morning at our old house, and I contemplated the activities this weekend. Was it possible to get a truckload of debris granulate? I texted the company renting the excavator, and they had problems delivering granulate during the weekend. Their trucks load 20 cubic meters, and the price was reasonable. We will look into this another time. With this began my regular working day.

In the afternoon, still at work, I was meeting when I was called by the company renting out the excavator. It sounded like a pocket call. I heard the voices of people, but no one talked to me. I hang up on that phone call. I found a message from the company that they asked if it was okay to deliver the excavator already this afternoon. Well, I was in a meeting, so I texted I would call them back in ten minutes. Eventually, I did. I called them, and they told me the excavator was already delivered!

When the meeting was finished, I went to the new house to check out the excavator. Outside, at the new house, It was a beautiful Friday afternoon.

Indeed the excavator was parked next to the driveway. It was not at TB 145 but a TB 250. I suppose that it the successor of TB 145. At least it was a real Takeuchi. It was delivered with a full tank and two buckets. Luckily the big bucket was mounted on the excavator, so I don’t need to find out how to exchange it the first thing I am doing.

I found the key and stepped into the cabin. Suppose you practiced flying only by using a flight simulator and suddenly had to fly an airplane. That was my feeling at the moment of stepping into the cabin. The only thing I had prepared were the things I read in the operator’s manual. Here I was sitting with the levers in front of me. I noticed the lid over the pedal on the floor. It was open, so I closed the lid.

Next, I sat down on the seat. I did not turn on the seatbelt as the instruction told me to do. The excavator at the driveway, all flat ground, and I planned on doing a tiny try-out of the machine anyway. Tomorrow I will put on the seatbelt, I promise. Then I sat down and lowered the left console. The right console was already in the correct place. The left console came into place.

Then I entered the key into the slot and turned it a bit until the preheating step were engaged. Lamps started blinking, and there was an alarm. I let the motor preheat for a while, and then I started it! The alarm stopped. The first lever I moved where the dozer lever. I raised the doser blade from the ground so that the machine was free to move. That was number 16 on my image. I did not have my paper with me, so I had to do it from memory. I wanted to do a couple of movements with the boom, the arm, bucket, upper structure, and both crawlers. The little bucket was hanging on the wide bucket’s edge, and I thought it was an excellent exercise to let the narrow bucket on the ground. For that, I had to get the boom and the arm raised a bit, and I had to swivel the bucket. The boom goes with the right lever’s back and forth, and the arm is back and forth of the left lever. Then I swiveled the bucket, and that is done with right/left on the right lever. With that, the little bucket was standing by itself on the ground.

I could now turn the upper structure with the left lever by moving it to the left and right. When my little exercise was finished successfully, I decided to try the crawlers with the two levers in front of me. That was also working as expected. In that way, I finished the next exercise. Now I thought it would be nice to move the machine to the place where I will start working tomorrow morning. The only issue with that was that I had parked the car there. So, I had to carry out the turning off procedure. Let the engine rest a little. No problem, it was barely warm. Then turn off the key. Unlock the left console.

When I stood outside the excavator, I instantly got a message. It was a neighbor; his message was short “You dare. Respect.” Funny. I moved the car out of the way.

Now I stepped into the excavator another time. I carried out the startup procedure with the preheating step as well. Then I reversed out the machine to the driveway. Drove the excavator to the end of the driveway. When I arrived at the circle, I put down the narrow bucket to not be in the way of the work I will do tomorrow. Then I tried to scoop up the soil in the bucket and move it to the side of the driveway. It worked out perfectly. With that, I decided I had passed the excavator exam. I did the turn-off sequence and stepped out, and locked the cabin. I was very pleased with myself. I met the neighbor and his wife on the way to the car. “How did you learn how to drive an excavator?” Well, I read about it in the operator’s manual yesterday. He laughed! He thought that was very funny.

Then I went back to our old home and worked for a while. Then it was Friday evening. Weekend!

In the evening, I was thinking about the digging goal for this all. The idea is to move the soil from the pool and create a shallow “dyke” around the plot’s northwest part. My wife and I discussed the shape of that thing. We decided on a half meter high and one and a half meter wide thing. Since we already planted some trees along these sides of the plot, it will be interesting to avoid damaging these trees and put out the dyke in between. At first, we were thinking of a height of 30 centimeters, but then the dyke would be 200 meters long, which is a little too long. With that, we decided on 50 centimeters, and then the dyke will become 120 meters long. That is better. It will end halfway to the border with Mrs. PMT.

I will try to set up a timelapse with the digging activities. That would be cool.

I also ordered the plastic foam that we talked about on Wednesday. Perhaps my wife will have time to pick it up, and I don’t know.

Saturday 6 March

We were surprisingly slow this morning. Eventually, we arrived at the new house, and the work with the excavator could start for real. At first, I was overly careful. That was slowly changed into the satisfactory operation of the machine.

The entire operation’s goal is to put the soil from the water reservoir along the border to the neighbors, 50 cm high and between one and a half and two meters wide.

At first, it was awkward to operate the machine. Soon I discovered a dilemma with working with the excavator. On the one hand, it picks up the soil in the bucket and moves it to another place, given that you know how to do it. On the other hand, it is not ideal for pushing a heavy load in front of the machine. A real dozer has a larger blade and more traction. The thing is that I want to do minimal damage to the soil. The original plan was to work at the area outside heaps I am moving around. The challenge then is that there is no extra room to maneuver unless I am driving around on the neighbors’ ground, and I am not sure they would be happy about that.

It was not until it almost got dark that I drove around the moved heaps of soil so that the excavator came inside the heaps with more room because it is our ground. Somehow I can be so stubborn in doing something in a certain way and not thinking about why I am doing things and how it can be better. I was busy with learning how to operate the excavator as well and that went better and better.

When I stopped working, I was frustrated about the pace. I’m not too fond of unfinished projects. This excavator project was heading for becoming an unfinished project where I to continue work as I did.

A software developer’s metaphor for working with the excavator could explain slow programming languages that produce slow programs, such as the Python programming language. However slow the language is, for a reasonable size task, any automation will be quicker. That the same here. One bucket of the excavator can perhaps take 200-kilo soil; try to move that with a wheelbarrow in one go.

In the evening, I tried to enter the images into the blog posts by hand. That was tedious work, not funny at all. I did 40 images by hand. I was not feeling well, perhaps the effect of sitting a full day in a machine that is vibrating a lot. There was another possibility; perhaps I had inhaled diesel fumes. I had not noticed that I did during the day.

Sunday 7 March

I woke up in the middle of the night at 3 AM, and I could not sleep. Putting the excavator outside the heaps towards the neighbors’ borders was not suitable for efficient operation. That had to change. Then I pondered if it was impossible to put the excavator at the end of the shape I am creating. I call the shape “the sausage.” If the excavator is at the end, then I can drag soil with the bucket. It will not be needed to fill the bucket. Turn around with the top part, empty the bucket. When I figured out this new plan, I could sleep.

In the morning, I discussed the plan I created in the middle of the night. My wife added that if I am placing the excavator in the middle of the sausage, then the boom and arm will reach further.

We went to the new house, and on the way, I picked up oil for the two-stroke engine of our ground drill.

My wife and son started unpacking the ground drill, filled it up with petrol, and started using it. It was my wife operating the drill, and my son went on doing other things. It was not easy for her to start the engine. I got large hands, and perhaps I am a little stronger. It turned out that our son could help more with starting the drill, and then my wife would use it. Hed was not interested in operating the drill. Today it was our son’s birthday. We did not celebrate anything special but decided we come back to that when we don’t have the stress with getting the excavator job done.

After the holes were drilled, they filled with compost and planted trees and bushes. They did 50 trees and bushes. Not bad at all. My wife got bruised on hand and legs, so she was feeling sore in the evening. The day after, she had muscle ache.

Halfway through the day, I decided I am not going to make it. I asked the renter if I could rent the excavator for another two days. That was possible. Then I arranged I could have two days off from my office work.

I noticed I did not work strategically with the excavator, letting heaps occur a little here and there. Although I noticed this, I did not change the way of working. I tried to climb up on the sausage with the excavator to speed up the process, but that was not comfortable. It is as if the excavator is not good at compacting the soil. I could drive around on top of the pile, but it gave me another situation that I was locked in my movements and not good enough. I climbed off the heap and decided that I would not develop a climbing strategy anymore. It is better to stay on the original ground with the freedom to move around the excavator to get better angles.

In the evening, I downloaded Pinnacle Studio version 21. I had a license for that, but I had not bothered installing it when I got my new laptop. I tried making a stop motion of the images I had taken, and that worked brilliantly. With that, I deleted the images I had inserted yesterday. Now when the work with the excavator continues on Monday and Tuesday, I decided to make a two-week blog this time to cover the excavator’s entire process.

Today I tried to be more attentive to how I handled fumes from the engine. It turned out so that the engine has the exhaust pipe at the back of the machine. The thing is that when working with the wind in the back, the exhaust passes the cabin, and if one got the front window open, exhaust could come into the cabin. I was not sure it is the exhaust or if it was working with all the vibrations.

Monday 8 March

Today I went to the new house in a good mood. I was going to do the best I can to finish this task. I started by cleaning up the work I had done yesterday. Then I started moving heaps again. This time I decided I will not get sloppy with the heaps. I make one heap, and that stays a heap. It is tempting to put soil beyond the heap when you get closer like I did yesterday, but then, in the end, there is no heap. There is no advantage next time around moving from one heap to another when there is no heap. Before I had built an actual heap, I had to travel around and collect it from yesterday’s situation.

With the heap system, I think the work progressed better. There is a slight requirement when working with a heap of size. There needs to be room for it. It was not until the end of the day I was running out of space for the heap administration.

I also revisited the sausage another time. This time I went with the excavator between the border and the sausage, and space were indeed minimal. The good point with that was that I could clean up on the other side of the sausage. Since most of the work was already done, it did not matter that the space was limited. I damaged one tree, though. That was not good.

Then I went to the company of this machine to borrow a jerry can for diesel. The owner asked me how it went. I said it went well but slow. Then you are not using the throttle was his answer. I was kind of flabbergasted; I had not been thinking about that. The renter is not a man of many words, but his smile was saying everything. I was a noob. You cannot drive this machine for three days without refilling unless you are only driving on stationary. He was correct. I was glad I had been using as little fuel as possible – good for the planet, but I need to get the job done, so now I have to increase the throttle a little. He asked, why did you now call me? I had no answer; besides, I had called him when I requested more time, but I was not in the mood of arguing.

I got back to the excavator and increased the throttle. It was much quicker and more potent. It occurred to me that it had been easier to learn the moves while the machine had been on stationary. Now when the movements were internalized into my spines, it worked well.

Now I had my heap management working. The machine was humming better than ever, but I reached an area where we planted more trees. Here I damaged the following tree. We will need to replace those. It was two fast-growing red willow trees that I damaged today. No economic value, but we have nursed them last summer and carried jerrycans with water to them. I tried not to run over these, but it happened anyway. I was sorry about it.

When giving more gas, the vibrations of the machine decreased. That was better. I was more attentive to the wind direction regarding exhaust. I felt a little better than yesterday, but I do work long hours continuously, playing a role in my well-being.

It rained in the evening, and I got worried that the clay would become unbearably sticky to work with tomorrow.

Tuesday 9 March

I knew I was going to finish the job with the excavator today. It had to be possible. I wanted to walk along the shape to figure out if I were happy with all parts and revisit those places where the sausage was not good enough. The clay was indeed sticky today; the boots got clogged.

The first thing I did was filling up the excavator from the jerry can that I had got. Then I started the machine. First, I filled the gap in the shape I had left yesterday and evened out the soil. There are higher parts, and there are lower parts, but they progress gradually, so it looks nice.

A neighbor had his wastewater system installed. He also had an excavator driving on his plot. We talked about driving an excavator, and he was enthusiastic about my project. He suggested I turn on the orange turning light at the top of the cabin. I did that for a while, and he was pleased. I forgot about it and drove around with it for over an hour or so.

Then it was time to revisit earlier parts and correct unnecessary bulges. I did that by driving on the outer side of the shape. When I was done with that, I was halfway back where I started. I figured that this was the right moment to find out how to get the extra bucket with me.

I did not want to drive on the driveway for pick up. The plan was to return the machine along the dirt road to not use our driveway for that. But indeed, I had to get the bucket. It was not possible to move the bucket with a wheelbarrow. It was too heavy. I had to drive back with the excavator and get it. So I did. I had to climb over the shape I created and back to the driveway. The shape is not that high initially, so it is easier to climb over it with the excavator. I left damage from the crawlers. When I could reach the bucket, I picked it up and took it with me. Drove back to the shape. I climbed over again. I repaired the damage I caused with the excavator, and then I drove back to the end of the shape. There I put down the bucket and finished the shape.

Then I was finished with digging, but I was not finished with the machine. I arranged the garden hose to have water at the machine, and then I started cleaning it. It was not fun. The water was cold, and the pressure in the hose was, what should I say, meager. I cleaned it to a level approximately as it was when it was delivered to me. I have no idea if this is standard practice. I had smeared it with a lot of clay, so it was not pretty anymore. I got it a little more clean, enough for my consciousness of mind.

The excavator was not picked up. I took a break and blogged about the day. Then I started restoring barrier tape that I had damaged while driving with the excavator. Just before it got dark, the excavator was picked up. When lowering the truck bed, one of the new poles I made was run over by the bed. Oh well, what should I say? I did not say anything. The owner noticed that I had cleaned the excavator. He truly appreciated that, but as I said, he was not a man of many words, so I got a discount on the transport costs.

He loaded the excavator in reverse, and I wondered why because it seemed counter-intuitive. When the truckbed was put back on the truck, I understood why. The angle of the bed was considerable. With the excavator in reverse, the machine’s weight was not put behind but in the front. The dozer blade and the arm worked as stabilizers. Had he done it the other way around, the machine would perhaps rollover.

Learning to operate the excavator was a hefty experience. I will look back on these days, and I think I will remember it with a good feeling. I treasured the desire to run an excavator for many years, and now I have done it. Tomorrow I will show my wife the result. I think she will like it.

Wednesday 10 March

Today I woke up to a lovely sunrise. I worked half a day as I usually do on Wednesdays, and then we went to the house, my wife, our son, and I. We picked up a polyurethane foam bottle and silicone kit tube on the way to the new house. The idea was to tighten corners at the windows with the foam. Shops have essentially been closed due to Corona since December, but you were allowed to place orders and pick up the items, which we did. Only food shops are allowed open but no restaurants, so you have to order the stuff online for building equipment. Recently there have been some restrictions lifted. It is possible to get a haircut.

When we arrived at the new house, my wife and son inspected the result with the shape. Overall it was good, but there were critics here and there. It had become slightly too high at places. The width was no issue. I could have continued for another four hours, that is true. I could have measured the height with a measuring tape, but I did not do that. It had been nicer with an overwhelming appreciation of the shape, but this had to do. I was done with the excavator. I am happy not to spend another day inside the machine.

After the inspection, we decided on applying the polyurethane foam. We have never done that before. I had heard that you must use the entire bottle if you started using it because any leftover foam will clog the nozzle once it has been used. It is possible to clean the nozzle with acetone, and we had that so we could try using that after using the foam. I applied the foam at as many places as I could, places ready for the foam, and cleaned the nozzle. I do hope it will be possible to reuse the bottle. That would be fantastic.

It was primarily the corners at the windows on the first floor on the east side that I wanted to apply the foam because that would be the last action on that wall. When we are done with the wall, we can start taking down the scaffold and put it up on the south wall. There was another issue today, the storm Evert. It would show up in the late afternoon. With the approaching storm, there was no time to lose on hesitations. I climbed the ladder and applied the foam. Then we started taking down the scaffold. It had been nice to cut the excess foam, but if that could not be done today, then it does not matter. I can reach those corners with a ladder.

We started on the scaffold, and it did not go so quick as you might think. The first part to take down was the overhang that the friendly scaffold expert had put up for me on 12 September. I especially hate the corner poles on the roof level. They are 7 meters above ground, with nothing around you. The pole is there to build the reeling, and in this case, it had to be removed. I had a freak-out reaction. I had to climb down and stand on the ground and rethink things. On the way down, I noticed the foam had become hard enough to cut off excess foam. I cut the foam, and when that was finished, I had calmed down. I went back and sat down seven meters above ground and lifted the corner pole. Then handed it to my wife, a level below me. When doing the first pole, you still got one pole behind you. Now I had to remove that as well. I did it! Now I was sitting seven meters above ground on three planks with no reeling around me. I backed slowly on the planks until I had the remaining reeling around me. Now I could calm down.

The next step was to take down the overhang part. We discussed our options. The idea was to tie a rope to that part and loosen the upper part of the construction and fold it down slowly. We did that, and it worked beautifully. Then we took down the three planks, and when doing that, Evert started to show up. The first strong wind gusts were noticed. Just imagine sitting with a pole in your hands at that moment. No, let’s not think about that. Evert did not just come unnoticed. It was a slow build-up. We were prepared, and with that, we stopped the work on the scaffold for today. There is a beginning, that is great!

Next up, we started planting more trees with the help of the ground drill. That worked very well. I drilled holes with the twenty centimeters drill, and we planted sweet chestnut trees along the dirt road five steps between each tree. There have to be ten steps between these trees, but this way, it is possible to take out a tree if it is not doing well.

We planted two rowan trees on the northeast corner of the plot, along with some bushes. I would never put down these things without noting what went were because I cannot see the difference between the various sorts, not yet. That might come one day, but right now, I am an amateur on trees and bushes.

The sweet chestnut tree is looking just like a stick, and it is not impressive at all. We planted it right on our plot’s border inside the berm one and a half meter from the road. When that was done, the activities for today were done.

In the evening, the storm Evert arrived in the Netherlands. It was a boisterous wind that tried to scrimmage with the roof tiles of our old house.

Thursday 11 March

In the morning, the wind was still picking up strength. The storm was roaring outside our windows. We worked from home the whole day. I got messages from two new neighbors that the barrier tape was broken at the new house.

In the evening, I went to the new house to collect the broken barrier tape. I picked it out of the bushes of our neighbor. It was not nice that it was so fragile. The first tape we got was less fragile, and this breaks easily. The use of barrier tape is a temporary solution. We have not figured out what we want to do and how to mark out the borders in a sustainable way. Over time it has been clear that we do need to mark out the border to protect it. There are a lot of people having an urge to trespass borders and abuse the ground. The barrier tape has been the easiest way to avoid that.

The PVC downpipe installed on 10 January on the southeast corner of the house was broken due to the storm Evert. We just took away the southeast corner of the scaffold yesterday, and now it had been nice if it was still there. I have to think about that. Perhaps it is not necessary to build up the corner again. I will need to create something holding the middle of the pipe, though.

The shorter planks had been shuffled on the southwest corner of the scaffold. The planks had folded themselves to a neat heap of three planks. I suppose that way; the wind lost the grip when they got stacked on each other.

Our neighbor Mrs. PMT, had a package delivered to them in early January. The filling of that package has been flying around her property and into our garden as well. I noticed that the new shape that I created collected a lot of these green snippets. On Sunday, I will go another round and collect those as well.

The storm Evert is calming down a bit now, and it will come back with a second peak on Saturday. We will see.

Saturday 13 March

It is already Saturday. Yesterday we did not go to the new house. We got reports from neighbors that the water municipality had been to our house to inspect our wastewater system. The man had a canoe on the roof of his car, a neighbor told us. That way, he could paddle around in our water reservoir.

I worked yesterday evening on the stop motion film of the excavator work.

Today was the second peak of the storm called Evert expected to arrive in the Netherlands. It was supposed to be windy the whole day but not so much rain until the afternoon. In these conditions, we did not want to climb any scaffold. It was fine weather for planting, though.

In the morning, we planted a birch tree forest on the northeast part of the plot in front of the water reservoir. We placed the trees relatively near each other. I took a photo of the group of trees, but they are hard to see. The stems are reddish against brown soil, so they are barely visible. If you click the image, you can see a bigger version of the image, and then it is possible to see the trees a little better. I tried to take a photo of the birch trees with the sky as background, and then the trees are more visible but then due to the angle, it is impossible to see where the trees were planted, which was also not good.

Then we continued planting a group of bushes and trees near the road on the compost heap’s left side. In that group, we also had some roses and bushes with berries.

The last planting project of the day was planting a hedge on the edge of the new shape I created with the excavator. The idea is that this hedge will avoid some of the wind in our garden. We made the hedge of mostly Spanish barge trees. When they are growing branches, then we will bend them such that they form a living fence.

In between drilling holes and planting trees and bushes, we picked packaging peanuts blowing around in the wind. We think that a package had been delivered to our neighbors, Mrs. PMT, around 17 February. Somehow, the package’s filler material got spread to the garden of Mrs. PMT, and since then, the wind brings us new packaging peanuts in a steady flow. There arrive more at the same pace as we remove them, and we have them spread over a large area. Today we asked our neighbor also to start picking packaging noodles and foam popcorn. I think it could be a task for our son to collect these as well. It is good to collect as much of this stuff before it starts growing because then it will be more challenging to find them.

I drilled the holes with the hole drilling machine. I had to move it across the garden at some point while it was stationary, and I ignored how I held the machine, and the machine’s exhaust came against my red jacket. It burned a hole through the jacked, and this mortified me.

Right now, you are allowed to go to the hairdresser, but I have refrained from doing that. I cannot say I am still in a panic over Covid-19, but I do not need to do some things. It is now a full-year anniversary of this pandemic, and we are still healthy. I want to keep it like that. My wife cut my hair a couple of times now, and I think she is good. Besides, It is lovely when she cut my hair. I have not been allowed to cut her hair, so the hair-cutting affection is not mutual, but that is fine. It was raining outside, and the second peek of the storm called Evert arrived over our house. In the wood stove, we had a fire burning, and my wife cut my hair. That is much better. I started to get the hair over my eyes, and I am not used to that. Now my hair is cut, and it feels much better so.

Sunday 14 March

Today we went to the new house. The storm was over, and it was going to be dry and with less wind. I did not have any big ambition of today. We started with an “easy task,” such as installing the zink downpipe at the house’s northeast corner, and this a surprisingly difficult task because of the pipes’ angles. The goal was to keep the downpipe distance from the house up to the bow. There the pipe had to meet the pipe from the gutter. We needed a small pipe of 20.5 centimeters between the gutter and the downpipe for this to work. The builder brought us these pipes, and we got just barely enough to fit downpipes around the house, so there is no room for mistakes here. If we make a mistake, we tried to convince ourselves that finding these pipes hardware stores in the city is possible. It worked out perfectly. We made no mistake this time.

The PVC pipe we had on the northeast corner was had survived the storm, and then I moved it to the southeast corner where the broken PVC downpipe was. I could fit it and install it without access to the highest point, and that was beautiful because we already put down that corner of the scaffold. I installed extra support for the downpipe so that the next storm will not have a chance to break it.

My wife painted the last things around the window, where I sprayed polyurethane foam applied before the storm. With that, we decided that the east wall was finished. There is more to do, but we can do that with ladders or build up the scaffold another time.

While we worked on these things, our son picked packaging peanuts. To do that, he built a picking stick, a regular broomstick with three long nails mounted to one end. With that, he could pick the packaging peanuts without getting a sore back. I suggested he would also get over on Mrs. PMTs garden and pick more of the peanuts there because there are still plenty of it lying in her garden.

We started to take down the scaffold of the east side. It was liberating to start on a new chapter. I did not get any height freak-out reactions of taking down the pipes at the corners this time. This time the corners were chill. We had the scaffold here so long that it had almost become a part of the house. Now it was suddenly gone, and we were left with a bare house facade.

We also had got something else, a pile of scaffold pipes and things. The last time we had them lying, we got the feet stolen. For that reason, we decided to start building the scaffold on the south side of the house. For this occasion, it was convenient that our son came with us to help us with building up the scaffold. My wife and I got used to cooperating on practical things like these, and our son is not really up to every detail of building a scaffold, but his help was vital. He is listening to a book while working and enjoying the time. Here he is loading short scaffold ledgers on the fantastic carriage. This load was too heavy for the carriage, but it did not break. It is simply a fantastic carriage.


The reinstated PVC downpipe with the extra reinforcement against storms looks outright professional from a distance.

We were able to put up the scaffold on the south wall over half of the wall. It is interesting how much extra scaffold material was needed to gain height compared to how much is necessary for the regular walls. It isn’t easy to understand. I think that now when we got about a third left of the south wall, it is not a far-fetched idea to finish one-third of the north wall so that we can work on the entire south wall in one go. We will see how that develops. As it stands, this is a new chapter of the red planks project. That is very nice.

Today we decided that the shape we created should be called “mini dyke” in Dutch. They got a simple diminutive that you can connect to any word to make it small. English also has that, but you usually only put them on people’s names as far as I know. In Swedish, it is simply “vallen.” The difference here is that such a shape is not that common in Sweden. It is not tiny from a Swedish perspective. In the Netherlands, there are so many great dykes that if you call it dyke then people will not understand.

We achieved so much these two weeks:

  • The dyke has been created with the leftover of the water reservoir. I fulfilled a childhood dream of operating an excavator. Hold on to your dreams. They will come true one day!
  • We planted half of the trees and bushes that we bought. We got some time still to get the rest into the ground.
  • The zink downpipe has been installed at the northeast corner.
  • We planted grass.
  • The scaffold at the east wall is removed.
  • The beginning of the scaffold at the south wall is built.

We had two fantastic weeks, but we are exhausted now.

I was born 1967 in Stockholm, Sweden. I grew up in the small village Vågdalen in north Sweden. 1989 I moved to Umeå to study Computer Science at University of Umeå. 1995 I moved to the Netherlands where I live in Almere not far from Amsterdam.

Here on this site I let you see my creations.

I create, that is my hobby.