Thursday was D-Day: Driveway Day. Here is Damon in the skidsteer at the edge of the highway at 7:00 AM, waiting for the first gravel truck to appear. Like his father Allen, Damon arrives early; he had warmed up the skidsteer at 6:45. He told me it was raining in town. We crossed our fingers and prayed the storm would miss us.
I limped down to the barn to do chores and when I got back Damon was smoothing the first load of gravel on the upper part of the driveway.
I went off to move the sheep. When I returned again, the third truckload of coarse road mix (called “crusher run”) was being delivered. The driver, George, would tailgate the load of twenty tons, dropping it in a long pile.
Damon would follow immediately behind him, spreading.
He had to work quickly to flatten the mix while the truck was turning around by the barn, so it would be able get out of the driveway again.
In the meantime, however, the second truck arrived. This less than desirable situation would have made me frantic — how foolish of the gravel yard to send both trucks at once rather than stagger them all day long — but the men were unfazed. There was nowhere on the narrow upper driveway for the second truck to pull over, so this driver, Albert (my neighbor), pulled it into the trees.
George squeezed his truck out to return to the quarry for another load…
… and Albert backed out of the trees and started down the driveway in his turn.
This process was repeated all day long.
After the driveway was coated with coarse stones, Damon switched the order to fine. While trucks and equipment roared and beeped over many hours, the storm blew away and the sun came out.
Due to the timing of the deliveries, Damon would have periods of intense labor followed by a long lag while the trucks drove the hour round-trip to the quarry. In that time he worked on the driveway, smoothing and scraping.
I bought him a big lunch and he ate it. He got out of the skidsteer to sit in the sun. He watched me weed the apartment garden and offered helpful comments. (Glaring at the flowers: “I’d rip all that shit out.”)
The next load of crusher was dropped near the house.
Damon created parking for three cars.
The eleventh and final load made a small “overflow parking lot,” by the upper gate to the south pasture.
One of the many great things about Damon is that after so many years, he, like his father, knows the tasks on the farm and automatically problem-solves for me. It is hard to express how much it has meant and still means, to have another brain thinking and planning on my behalf.
Damon knew I needed to move my winter manure pile away from the barn. “We should do it while you got the machine.” During the years when he could not work, Damon had sold his dump truck, but he called a friend with a dump trailer, and together he and Corey moved the pile.
They were almost finished when Corey’s trailer battery, like Larry’s years ago, went dead. Remembering the job of mucking out Larry’s trailer by hand, I groaned internally. However, Damon lifted the dump box with the skidsteer and the load slid out. Thank you, God!
Damon pushed the new manure pile together, and on his way out of the pasture, flipped last year’s pile (which had weeds growing on it). After a year of rotting, it has shrunk to half its previous size. This pile is on my list to spread in the next couple of months.
By now it was almost 6 PM. Damon was so tired he was bleary. My bad leg was throbbing. I washed the skidsteer bucket and tracks in a fog. He drove it up the clean new gravel and parked it at the top of the property for pick up. At last we were done. The driveway was finished.
“It’d be good if we had a roller, smooth it out,” Damon said as he sat in his truck, ready to leave. “But it’ll pack down.”
The driveway will require maintenance every spring but the biggest work and expense are done. I am relieved and happy.
* * *
Meanwhile I leave town next Wednesday to go to Connecticut for my granddaughter’s operation. I just heard in an email from my builder that he plans to return at that time. While it will be good to have work completed, the timing adds a lot of chores and pressure. (Among other things, he put a lot of 16-foot lumber and materials in storage when he left and expects me to have it all out and ready for him to work.) I have written the list of everything I have to have finished before I leave and am trying to plot the next four days hour by hour.