My next project demands that I safeguard these two residents of the house; our friendly garter snakes (introduced a few blogs prior). I’m gonna wreck their little haven to save the house.
The snake is slithering along the concrete footer added sometime mid 20th century. He just emerged from under the thick plank that runs the entire length of the house, forming his residence of a large gap between the concrete footer and the house. I think the concrete was put in as an idea of support for the old field stone foundation from the push of ground water rolling down the valley. Let’s say it is a good idea, and it just needs some upgrade.
Upgrade number one: remove the long run of board. It only traps moisture into the seam, and gathers any and all rain that runs down the face of the house, and any spillage from the (now repaired) gutter and drain (and repaired soffits that were acting as drains as well).
I sawzall this section to protect the high speed internet cable brought underground to the house. As incongruous as Google Fiber equivalent sounds up here, that really is true. I don’t think we’ll ever connect, but there it is.
Fat barn nails hold the rail in place, and I have to take care not to shatter the thin cladding of the house.
E helps me spot the nails that won’t relent, and so keeps me from maiming the house.
Looking down the gap we see a metal flange that has pulled away from the house, making two troubling gaps.
Our housemates note that the front door of their house is missing.
He checks to see if went up here…
He falls back into the safe gap to contemplate this questionable remodel.
He pops out where Walt and I cut out a trial section, at the worst of the gutter runoff damage, backfilled with foam and impassible for snakes.
He didn’t like the noise and disturbance at all, and tells me he will be touch with our HOA about all of these changes that he certainly didn’t vote for.
He heads off to his favorite corner restaurant to gather his nerves.
I use the industrial shop-vac blower to clear the debris out of the gap while he is at dinner. I wind up tossing a few of his discarded skins out on the street. Here he returns from his evening on the town, and wonders whether he’ll be able to recover any of his belongings; he complains that he wasn’t given any notice prior to his eviction.
He’s never felt so low.
Using roofing screws, I seal the metal seam against the house while E keeps an eye on the snake.
With the tenants out and the gap cleaned and tightened up, I lay in many cans of expanding foam. This white foam is a special high density foam- I wish I’d gotten more of that type.
Earlier in the day I’d repaired ‘ol Shotgun, who needed a new section of roof and a new entrance-hole faceplate. As the foam cures in the gap, E and I drive the birdhouse back to the top of Kibbey Ridge while the sun sets into a blood red wall of wildfire smoke (CA plus a Missoula blaze). I set him on a new sturdy pole on the other side of the road, as his ancient pole had finally snapped.
If a snake even touched this gunk while it was wet it would probably kill him. It had skinned over, but was gooey on the inside, when the snake emerged from under the porch to try to return to his lair. No harm, well, no physical harm. The emotional turmoil was obvious.
The next evening I use my vibration tool to slice the foam, forming a clean cap.
I use the caulk gun to squeeze 4 tubes of roofing tar and E spreads it like stinky black frosting to capture and seal the entire gap, capping the foam.
I run through all the tar, and end with exterior silicon caulk, in black and that runs out, so in white as well. Ranch fix, cuz Home Depot is an 80 mile round trip.
I let the tar cure for 24 hours, then head in with my paint grinding wheel to zip-clean the weather-beaten old siding that had languished behind the do-worse-than-nothing plank.
I grind out many other problem areas, then head in for a first of two coats of linseed oil white paint.
Can you hear the house soaking in the paint?
“Take care of Grandmother’s roses” says Ghost Dad, the roses persist here because the runoff of two pitches of roof overshoots the gutter and gives them just enough water.
The roses, and the shattered concrete from the gutter overshoot, and down in the cellar- well, lets not look at that again until after a year with these fixes in place.
2,000 pounds of dirt from the cellar rebuilt this drooping corner of the yard where the stream bends. E and I put the last three viable RR ties in the truck, displacing two big garter snakes from one tie (that I thought we’d scared away, but had scared into their hidey space in the tie, and they both wound up in the back of the truck and quickly slithered out in a panic), and disrupting a big ant colony in another tie. I had three rebar stakes and four giant fencing screws to set the ties in place and to each other, then a remnant of ground cover from SLC made an interior skirt along the ties and pegged to the ground, with enough remaining to cover the dirty pile of cellar dirt.
Lyle rock oversees the new retaining wall down at the far end.
Here is June’s retaining wall, with the grass seed filling over the dirt nicely, Lyle rock in the midground, and the new retaining wall down at the bottom.
Just down from Lyle Rock I added in this little section of waterfall, made from the thin layers of shattered fieldstone that had once been the corner support at the porch fix. It may get swept away by spring runoff…
Nora just got a drink at the expanded falls here at the old footbridge as well.
It was a bobcat job years ago to create one level of falls here, and with a few freeze-shocked sections of the porch-fix field stone, the falls becomes three tiers. Now the voice of the stream is multifaceted as it rolls through the tree canopied back yard, and the open windows of the bedroom gather in it’s reverberations from the box-canyon wall of the house, altering it’s course just enough to flow to the inside of dreams.