Martin House Planted




May 10, 2005 at 8:58 pm

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As is typical of most of my home projects, the whole

experience of mounting the 15-foot telescoping pole for our new

has been an experience.

I’ve had a hole 18 inches deep and about 16 inches wide (about 4 inches too wide, in point of fact) for several weeks now.

The delay in mounting the pole has been rigging suitable guylines to temporarily stabilize the pole and house while I mixed and poured concrete into the hole and allowed it to set.

Realistically, this is a two person job. And for once, I was being reasonable and waiting until Justin and I could complete the project together.

Reality went haywire today when I plodded to our back fenceline and inspected the 80lb. bag of concrete mix that’s been in my Dad’s (borrowed) wheelbarrow, covered with trashbags and a big blue tarp, for weeks.

Unfortunately, the severe thunderstorms we had on Mother’s Day managed to set half of my concrete bag into a nice bag-shaped block of concrete.

The rest of the mix was salvageable, and since it looked like it might rain again, here’s where reality went bye-bye…

I rigged a passable system of guylines using three bungee cords near the base of the pole, staking them out with the nearest approximations of landscape stakes I could find {Aside: I can never find my thick yellow polycarbonate tent stakes when I need them for home projects like this!}

This meant that one stake was the pole from a defunct solar-powered landscape light; another was a

hammered into the ground handle-first; and still another was a weed puller. As one can safely assume, this wasn’t nearly enough to keep the 8-foot-tall pole (minimum; its maximum height when extended is 15 feet!) stable.

Using the only “rope” I could locate in our house — kite string — I created a web between the upper segment of the pole and our backyard fence that even Charlotte the spider would be proud of… if she judged on artistic beauty rather than tensile strength, anyway!

Somehow, this rigging held up while I made numerous trips to pick up equipment and supplies I needed to resume the job.

Due to the rain-soaked initial batch of concrete, it had to be broken up as it was not nearly the right consistency — lots of large chunks of concrete, held together by a pitiful layer of actual concrete that was attempting to set.

I was going to call it a day and wait for “reinforcements” (Justin), but reality wasn’t ready to return yet. I went to Lowe’s and wrestled two 80lb. bags of concrete mix on to one of their flat trolleys. I’d made the mistake last time of dropping a bag into one of their standard shopping carts — good luck getting that out without causing yourself a hernia, though I managed to find a way to scoot it into my trunk.

Anyway, this time went more smoothly, although I don’t want to see another concrete bag for a long time.

Eighty pounds is just not fun to lift, and it’s particularly hellish when it has to be lifted from below waist height into a car’s trunk, only to repeat the process in reverse when you get home!

Since there’s no room in our garage for our vehicles, a wheelbarrow and two 80lb. bags on concrete, that meant the project was underway the moment I got home.

Thankfully, everything from this point on went quite smoothly.

Sure, I got the requisite number of new bruises on my knees and shins, a few new cuts on my hands (until I located my waterproof, rubberized work gloves), and I did have to lift one of the 80lb. bags again after the wheelbarrow tipped over while I was taking a breather inside… What home project in this household can occur without such drama, indeed?

Unless a freak wind storm stirs up this evening, I think it’s safe to say the purple martin house will be open for business in two to three days.

Considering a

landed on the house and investigated one of the empty nest holes as I hoisted the house into its proper vertical orientation, I don’t think we’ll have any trouble attracting tenants! Afterall, it is the purple martin’s !

Soon, it’ll just be a matter of keeping the


out of the house, since neither species is native and both are predatory species that will kill purple martin nestlings.

Hmm… and I wonder where my time goes when I should have spent the day reconciling lines and lines of changed PHP code so I can launch a new website.

Uhm hum…

P.S. Kudos to my loving husband for the Cloud Appreciation Society’s selection of his

as their .

Good thing I sent Justin the link to the, and he had the good sense (unlike me) to contact them.




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