Putting the silt to work

Rained hard last night. So this morning’s first chore was to dig out the front ditch again. Average spoil is five wheelbarrow-loads.

Normally I just pile it up out of the way, but this morning I found places where the ash had really flowed. Ash makes the worst mud I’ve ever encountered. Before I moved here I thought caliche was the worst mud. I was such a simple, naive child of nature…


This stuff just flows like a viscous fluid – unless it encounters bootsoles, in which case it immediately becomes thick and heavy like concrete.

In this case it was actually a blessing, because getting my big silt piles far enough away from the cabin to be out of the way was really becoming a burden. This morning I was able to spread it out closer, where it could do some good.


It’s sand and clay, which is not as good for traction as pur(er) sand but better than nothing for covering ash.

After the chore, Tobie and I went out for our long morning walkie.


And what to my wondering eye should appear but the road to Landlady’s place washed out. Again. For the third time in two weeks.


As soon as we got to where my phone would work I texted that cheery information to S&L, who were planning to go to the city this morning. On that road, no doubt.

We’re having a bit of an issue locally: Road maintenance is the responsibility of a POA*, which owns an old road grader. For years the POA board membership was fairly stable and that grader was run by a heavy equipment operator who worked for the county, moonlighted for the POA, and knew what he was doing. Lately there’s been some politics going on with the POA board, all the regulars quit, the equipment operator got old and retired … and simultaneous with that we’ve got a wet monsoon which is the only time road management is really an urgent concern. A single flash flood can cause the roads to become impassible even for 4-wheel-drives in multiple locations, literally in minutes. So the fellow who politicked so hard to become POA prez may be wishing he’d been more careful what he wished for – sick of all the angry phone calls he’s been out on the grader his own self twice recently – and has been demonstrating that that’s not a job for the unskilled. Probably hasn’t cut down on the frequency or volume of the phone calls as much as he hoped. 🙂

Now I’m waiting for the grader to break down. Again. That’s when it’s really going to hit the fan.

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*I’m not a property owner, so for fifteen years I’ve been a happy spectator with no temptation to get involved. Also I’m frequently happy to have access to this jacked-up Jeep.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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5 Responses to Putting the silt to work

  1. Judy says:

    Ah, petty local politics…ain’t it grand! How to ruin a good thing, in the wink of an eye.

  2. Terrapod says:

    Aha! So the stuff that looks like melted grey grease is the ash and you spread the grittier stuff over it. Good to know.

    I live on top of a caliche hill, drainage is almost nil and if the 2 inch sod layer ever gets stripped away it is like walking on butter. Have literally had my car stuck in the yard a couple of times just trying to get it from the barn to the road. Need to order a couple of truckloads of ground up concrete or blacktop some day.

  3. Robert says:

    “impassible even for 4-wheel-drives “…”waiting for the grader to break down. Again”
    Which won’t be a huge problem for Joel as he has wisely stocked up on essentials, yes?

    Joel, not to sound ungrateful, but… I’m looking forward to a progress report on your solar water heater. And (yes, I’m being a nag) I still suspect a solar oven could be useful for reducing your cooking propane consumption.

  4. Tennessee Budd says:

    I’m guessing a POA is the same as an HOA. Never had dealings with either, as both sound like a PITA. I never knew such things existed outside suburban subdivisions. Here in rural TN, the only associations are the “freedom of…” types. City folks can have that shit.
    Joel, you are an inspiration. Man becomes a desert hermit, encounters not only floods but ‘Karens’! I didn’t know it was possible. At least, as a non-property-owner, you can stand outside it.

  5. Joel says:

    The only essential I don’t have a good year’s supply of is drinking water that won’t cause kidney stones, so a season of totally impassable roads wouldn’t harm me physically.

    The solar water heater is breaking down, as the heat and UV are proving that garden hose doesn’t last long under the extreme conditions in that fiberglass box. I’ve moved the glass aside to try and slow the process, but there’s a leak in there I haven’t yet found but it’s not going to get better.

    In the local context, a POA isn’t the same as a typical suburban HOA in that the POA actually serves a limited useful purpose. The POA doesn’t care what color you paint your house, and nobody will give you a hard time about how you landscape your yard. Or whether you do. Can’t say neighborhood Karens won’t ever try to get involved with your shooting range, but that’s a less unambiguous situation: Shooting makes a lot of noise, and some people object to that. Doesn’t have anything directly to do with the POA. In the past the POA refused to get involved with that, and so far it remains the case.

To the stake with the heretic!