Field Construction

Grading the Field - the BAD WAY!

Now that the rock face has been chiseled down we can resume leveling out the rest of the field.   The plan here was to drag the dirt we had dug up and piled up in the low corner and spread it out to level out the field.  We planned to use the loader to pack the dirt down as we moved it around to make sure it settled.  

We started moving all the dirt we dug up to spread it out over the low side of the field to build it up.  

This is where we REALLY REALLY BADLY screwed up.  We built the low side up just a little too high.  We made it level and didn't have any slope to it This was a tremendously costly mistake since this is all clay based soil - it does not let water through and water won't drain out of this soil which means it pools - badly - and we ended up with bad water drainage problems!  

More on how we dealt with this later on!

We moved all the dirt we had dug out of the high side and spread it out and we still needed more dirt so we ordered 25 cubic yards of top soil to finish the leveling process and to spread as top soil over the whole field when we were done.  They couldn't back the truck down the driveway so they dumped it at the street and we brought it down load by load to the field.

My daughter wanted a turn on the tractor so she got her chance too!  We've got a whole family construction crew now!  

The picture on the right is what it looked like after we got the first half of the top soil spread.  to level everything out - you can't see it well here but the darker soil at the top is not top soil - it's the clay soil we dug up on the high side - it didn't have much top soil on it. 

I realized it was going to be much easier and better if we piled all the topsoil at the other end of the field so we moved the topsoil from the high end to the low end (next to where we had already piled all the clay soil we dug up initially).    My Dad is a wizard with this loader.  He grew up on the farm and started running the loader when he was about 6 years old - it's like riding a bicycle I guess you never forget some things.

In the above videos we were using the loader to dump dirt (clay soil and top soil) and then using the bucket to back-drag the dirt out to rough level it out.  This loader didn't have a float option so we had to manually try to keep the bucket level which is....impossible!

We're making progress leveling this bugger out - but it's slow progress and we can tell it's not working all that great. 

We decided to rent a rotary level so we could keep tabs on how well we were doing.  

Using the laser level to measure the height at each stake.  This worked great to figure out the slope - but we needed to make the measurements every foot - not every 6 feet to avoid a lot of uneven surface.

Here is where we made another mistake we later fixed.  We staked out every 6 feet and used the rotary laser level to measure the height to see how much we were sloping.  6 feet intervals is WAY too far apart if you want a smooth and flat surface.  We ended up with huge variations and a few low spots that retained water which was the big mistake.

Here's the low corner  - we built it up about 3 feet.  and it runs right up to the ravine next to the property.  

I don't have a good pic of this but we ended up filling this all in with dirt to level it out all the way over the top of the rocks.  

Re-burying the internet cable - I'm amazed we didn't screw up our internet in this project - but at least we got that part right!

Leveling DONE!  Or so we thought - this turned out to be just the beginning - read on to see how we ended up doing this all completely over!