Best Laid Plans
Before I get 100% dedicated to the first big house rehab project, I wanted to take a few days to get the back yard looking decent. Not good, just decent. Baby steps.
I took a couple days off work and wanted to:
I was doing pretty good.
I designed the firewood rack:
I built the firewood rack (its roof was donated from the demo'd metal shed):
I got this pile of wood moved and (mostly) stacked in the rack:
The other pile is pretty seasoned, so I figured I'd just leave it where it is and burn through it as quickly as I can:
I got the area along my neighbor's foundation - it's where the big white pine branches landed when they came down in the ice storm 1/1/2021 - cleaned up and flowers planted:
Some of that green stuff was transplanted from other areas of the yard; I have that shit EVERYWHERE. I even dug some of it up and just threw it away. What you can't see are the 9,000,000 seeds I threw in the ground, 1 or 2 at a time. What did I plant, you're probably asking yourself?
Geographically appropriate. Should do OK in the conditions in which they'll live. Oh, and the dirt I added, it's a combination of soil that came out of the pool (gotta use it somewhere) mixed w compost I added to it.
I got the shed demo'd:
You've met Freckles, right? She'd live outside if I let her; I spent the better part of the past 4 days outside, and she was out there with me for every minute of it. She's a good helper...provided I stop working every so often to throw her ball or rope bone or sticks or pretty much anything she can go get and bring back to me to do it all over again.
Anyhow, this is where the project started to derail.
The shed had been erected a few feet off either fence, and somebody had laid bricks in the space between the shed and the fence. The bricks were par for the course with this yard; I was NOT expecting to find the stone that was under the brick. That stuff all has to come out, or grass will never grow because in the summer the stones and masonry heat up, even if they're buried, and cook whatever's above them.
Then there was the shed's plywood floor. It was rotten to the point of being, basically, mulch. I picked up what I could, but a lot of it just fell apart. Same with the 2 layers of plastic that was under the plywood; it was disintegrating and painstakingly slow to remove on account of it coming out in teeny, tiny pieces.
Once I got the big stuff removed, I'd kind of shuffle dirt piles from 1 spot to another, uncovering more chunks of plywood and plastic that I'd grab and pull out of the dirt. I finally reached a point where I felt like I'd removed anything worth removing and started grading things out. The end was in sight.
And then the rake got caught up in some metal. I could have sworn I'd removed all the debris from this location, and aside from the shed, hadn't come across any buried metal. This was weird.
I got down on my hands and knees and realized the metal was a grate of some sort. I looked closer and the grate was covering a pipe, a big 3" clay pipe running straight into the ground.
This merited a scrapping of the plans and beginning an excavation to see what the shed had been placed on top of.
This is what I ultimately found:
I still don't know what it was. The structure you see in the pic, it's some sort of plaster-early-concrete hybrid, sort of like the same stuff the pool is made out of. The drain pipe runs straight into the ground and then turns horizontal and runs through the retaining wall at the rear of the property and dumps into the alley.
My neighbor, who's an archaeologist, suggested it may have been some sort of privy but we both have doubts about that. The location is right, the footprint is right, but the lack of an underground cavity is off. Similarly, that wall is built w the same brick as the garage, and the garage only goes back to about the 1920s. A privy would have been obsolete by the 1920s, so why build that retaining wall AND leave that pipe if a privy was no longer in use? And who puts a grate on TOP of a privy drain?
Of course I dug and I dug and I dug, kinda halfheartedly because I have 4,000 other projects to get to and the bees...holy shit...the bees. I don't know what was in the ground back there, but dozens of bees - I didn't get stung - swarmed that area the minute I got a few inches below grade. And they stayed there. And swarmed.
I found a lot of trash like broken glass, broken clay flower pots, a handful of bricks, stuff like that, but no discernible structure and no real artifact type stuff. If something had existed there below grade, it was demo'd and mostly gone. Of course, if one were to demo an underground structure, why leave that plaster-concrete cap on top and not demo it as well? Lots of puzzle pieces, but nothing fit together.
Long story short, this one will remain a mystery. I demo'd the plaster-concrete cap, filled in the giant hole I dug, and will plant grass seed once the rain stops. I wish I knew what had been there, whether it was privy or some sort of water feature or old drain/washout area...but I doubt I ever will.
Oh, and I didn't get the grass seed planted. That's the moral of the story.
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