mouse roof and front yard, gone
Wednesday, September 29 2004
Now that I'm in the end phase of the trench project, today I found myself tasked with rebuilding the retaining wall on the west side of the house, around to which I'd had to extend my south foundation wall trench. This retaining wall, remember, is a low wall made of concrete blocks set only about four inches from the foundation wall, and this allows the surface of the lawn to rise above the house's lower clapboards. When looking at what needed to be done to rebuild this wall today, I found myself feeling dubious about the vector of surface runoff upslope from the house. Runoff fifty feet away seemed to be adequately diverted by either manmade or natural landforms, but closer in it seemed that surface runoff was falling on an ambiguous slope that might or might not impact the foundation. So I decided to dig a shallow trench for the entire length of the retaining wall and install a drain system to catch any surface flow that managed to make it that far.
Within the course of about an hour, I managed to dig a much more substantial trench than I had initially planned. It reached a depth of sixteen inches (two concrete blocks) on the high end and over 24 inches (three concrete blocks) on the low end. This exposed the entire uphill side of the wall, with all its flaws and accumulated damage. Since the base of this wall doesn't sit below the frost line, it is subject to yearly frost heave, a phenomenon that has been aggravated by the high levels of soil moisture caused by the absence of roof gutters. This heave has broken up most of the mortar, leaving the wall with the one-dimensional flexibility of a bicycle chain. Uphill compression from the wet clay soil has also served to shove the wall towards the house along the top, bowing it in the middle and pushing it visibly out of plumb. With the wall exposed, perhaps I could take some measures to fix its many defects. But by now it was already dark.
After dark, I went back outside with a flashlight to look (mostly to marvel) at the exposed wall and I saw a forlorn Deer Mouse scurrying back and forth along the tops of the concrete blocks, which are normally covered with flat stones. He was probably wondering where his roof and front yard had gone. The thing about these outdoor projects is that they always disturb a lot of plants and animals, and I feel bad for every one of them. I try to make my impact as small as possible, but it's hard to limit the effects of a 20 foot long trench, especially when it is dug in about an hour, and especially when it meets up with another much deeper trench that was just as long.
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next