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The Berm
Hoodrat Civil Engineering in the Shadow of Satan: Cascadia, 2/8/22
© 2022 James LaFond
When you walk up on the shoulder of this mountain, you can see one of the most evil cities in Satanic America, Seattle, like a thumbnail graphic from a Dark Knight comic. The Christian man I am staying with drives for an hour to get home from that bustling Babel and I hoped to fix his driveway so that he didn’t spill coffee going to or beer coming fro, wanted to do it with hand tools like some ancient slave…
The condition of a 60 foot stretch of The Captain’s private driveway, was like so.
Excellent foundation on old railroad bed.
Uphill to the east is the creak that feeds into the pond that is 70 feet long, the creek flowing back out of the pound under the culvert and concrete bridge connecting the driveway to the main drive.
Downhill to the west is the creak which has switched back to flow north fifty feet lower than the railroad bed, describing a steep hollow.
The road slid off to the right leaving the drive way, with two cars having slid off to the west towards the creek hollow.
During heavy rains there was a 12 foot log wash 20 feet from the culvert to the main drive. Drainage was all downhill tot eh west.
Uphill, to the east, between the drive and the pod, is a timber fence that is starting to give in places, five feet from the drive. 20 year old railroad tie style square timbers are starting to rot at ground level. On this high side, the vegetation has encroached to the wheel ruts making the high side of the drive a moist rut.
The berm needs to be built with the dirt from between the first six fence posts that are 10 feet apart.
The berm will be a bank on the low west side, which will become the high side of a canted drive way, with water running off 60 feet in to a gutter cut in front of the berm, and into the pound, from a culvert cut down between the 2nd and 3rd fence posts.
The pond side. 30 wheel barrows of dirt and vegetation were cut out with the cola shovel and mattocks, the hardest part being cutting surface roots from the mature cedars and alder growing on the pond edge.
A deep gutter is cut between the first fence post and the culvert to the main drive, which is five feet higher than the low point.
This makes for three gutters to drain the area.
The far side of the fence is overgrown with black berry brambles. I have to access the far side by digging a deep enough under the fence to crawl through. I then move a ton of dirt and rock to north and south to make an 18-inch wide open culvert.
I use cinder blocks topped with flat boulders and sheet metal roof scraps braced by treated two-by-fours, to brace the sides of the open culvert.
It rains and drains.
I then lined the open culvert with patio pavers over landscaping fabric and cut the head of the culvert into the road base and fill with 1 inch gravel for drainage.
It rains and drains.
The berm on the lower south side is built in three parts.
First feet between the 4th and 6th fence posts from the road, closest to the house.
Cinder blocks placed narrow end towards the road.
2 10 foot beams of treated wood backed by cinder blocks.
10 40 pound boulders placed on the road side of the beams.
Four tons of dirt dug from the low west side and heaped up on this crude frame.
The gutter that drains the road in front of this berm, circles behind it downhill to the west and gives me a path for the wheel barrow. This slop is now a berm to the east and a flat area behind the berm to the west above the creek hollow.
The second stretch of berm is only 12-14 feet and is built below and raised higher than the road base of boulders I described in ditching.
Two 10 foot beams of treated wood, with bend spikes, are staked to the ground against the road bed with rebar.
Behind and beneath this, 10 cinder blocks are layed.
5 cinder clacks are stacked on these.
Rebar, wooden stakes and two steel fence posts are pounded in to secure this.
On top of the cinder blocks are laid beams of square treated lumber.
Mud and large stones of softball size are heaped up here, making a berm that rises two feet above the raised portion of what used to be the low point of the drive. This berm si only two feet wide.
The result is a dip before and after this heavier road surface, which has to be filled in to make an even rise to the main culvert. But, this can’t all be done lose. I Need the platform, which is a problem for the three weeks it takes me to finish the work, as the captain speeds out of the driveway while drinking coffee and hits these two dips.
The final portion of the berm is 30 feet and is opposite the last two fence posts and extends to the concrete structure that goes over the main culvert and the creak.
Last winter during a storm, a cedar fell and The captain cut it into rounds, each weighing between 60 and 100 pounds. The side of the hill over the creek hollow on the west, rises more steeply and is a hardened railroad bed as it nears the main culvert.
I placed a dozen of these rounds along the outer high crest, heaped a wheel barrow worth of dirt in front of each two, and a wheel barrow behind it on the slope.
Then, I found older rotting rounds and smaller rounds, some fallen tree limbs, six old fence posts that were old rotting mossy logs, and used this mess to frame a bank below and up against the cedar rounds.
I then filled in this frame with 8 wheel barrows of dirt and stone that remained around the culvert I cut to the pond.
Finally, all dozen fence posts on the pond side are heaped with a dozen boulders and large rocks a piece, so that from a distance it all most looks like a stone wall.
The drive way is now three feet wider than it was and is high on the downhill side for that 60 feet, with the surface canting slightly to the pond side to facilitate drainage into my hoodrat culvert.
All of the materials, other than three ATV wagon loads of small boulders that the Captain’s Wide and I got off of the mountain shoulder one morning, were used and discarded materials found within the four acre property.
The captain thinks I’m retarded for doing all this by hand. But it works and his wife thinks it looks good. I was scheduled to get done in two more days. But yesterday, The Captain came home early while I was still working and broke out the ATV and wagon and said, “Nige, how ‘bout, for once, you use the best tools available! Shakin’ the bush boss, shakin’ the bush!”
I lost an inch on my waist, went from only being able to dig 2 hours a day to doing 6 hours while increasing my hourly work-rate, and went from 177 to 167 pounds over the five week project. My right flexor tendon is close to failure. Now I see that The captain’s wife has left a bottle of Captain Morgan on the desk in the guest room, so it looks like I will have the ebst tool available for killing the pain…
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