A Day with a Dingo

doug and a dingoYesterday Marie and I spent, once again, in the company of a Dingo. In case you don’t remember our last encounter, this Dingo is a walk-behind front loader – well, OK, it can be fitted with other attachments to do other things too, but we were using it as an earth mover. And that’s how we spent the day; moving piles of earth from one place to another.

We chose to go with the Dingo rather than the Bobcat this time because the Dingo does less damage to the ground you’re working than the Bobcat. It also costs less, but it carries 1/6 as much as a Bobcat – so that’s a wash. It was the “tearing things up as fast as I smooth them out” thing that was the determining factor.

The first pile didn’t have to move far, just from where it was, next to our septic tank, to the hole above the septic tank – and the ditches running from the new house to the tank, and the ditch from the trailer to the tank. (The only way I could think of to find the tank was to dig up the existing septic line) And that pile was actually several piles or ridges scattered about the site. Quite a mess really, but it looks better now. It’s still just dirt but now it’s mostly level dirt that can be traversed, not piles and ridges that form barriers to travel. And, before I started digging it all out, I laid down a thick layer of dead leaves over the grass under the big pile to make it easier to know when to stop digging while putting it back and to protect the grass a bit. I had not counted on it sitting there for so many months, but there are still some shoots of grass harboring in a layer of decomposed leaves. They ought to come back fairly well now that sunshine can get to them again.

The second pile, or again: piles, were above and behind the house where the Bobcat and I carried the “fall-out” from our cave-in while building the Great Wall of Edwina. This needed to go back into the caverns behind the wall. That area looks much better now and will look even nicer once we get some flowers (or at least weeds) growing again. This area is the view out our kitchen window, so that’s a priority. I’d bore you with pictures, but our brand new camera quit on us and had to be mailed to Connecticut for repair. Hopefully we’ll get it back soon. The picture above? Oh, that’s a shot from our files of the last time the Dingo entertained us.

The third project was to flatten out the driveway and parking area. The parking area is bare clay and has been pretty badly rutted up by heavy trucks, and equipment used in installing our home. It is now, as Marie put it, “like the infield at Wrigley Field.”

On Friday we decided we could afford some gravel to put on the parking area, but at that late date we were unable to get anyone to deliver it on Saturday. So…

I tried to level out the humps-n-bumps in the driveway, but that was mostly beyond the Dingo’s capability. Here the gravel we spread the last time the dingo visited got churned into the clay below it by the bulldozer and Jadde (as well as by trucks full of cement blocks, a small track hoe, and the truck & trailer of our trim-out guy) forming a very hard, stable base for our driveway. It’s pretty ugly now, but once we get another layer of crusher run on it, it will be a good driveway, even for as steep as it is. Even now, it does not get mucky in the rain like the parking area. I succeeded in scraping off some of the bigger humps and moving that material into the deeper depressions, so it is better, but it is far from smooth.

And finally we moved most of a large pile of black dirt, which I bought from a road crew who were cleaning out the ditches along the Edwina-Bridgeport road last year, from behind the trailer around to the flower beds in front of the new house. There is a high amount of small gravel in this dirt, but it is also very rich, black dirt, not the red or yellow clay you see most everywhere. Around here, even if you buy “top soil” from a garden center, what you will get is red clay that has been screened for rocks and large clumps. This black dirt should be a good start for Marie’s flowers (better than we could buy) and we can cover the stones with mulch once the plants get started. I’ve got a compost pile started using wood chips from the shop. That’s been steeping since last fall so it ought to be ready this summer.

We accomplished in a day what we had hoped to accomplish in… well; in a day, but were afraid we’d need two. A Dingo, in the hands of an experienced operator, is supposed to be able to do some very nice finish work. I am far from ‘experienced’, so it proved very useful for moving around large quantities of earth and some of the spreading but all smoothing and making “pretty” was done with a garden rake and muscle. And those muscles were very sore on both of us last night. Hot showers and liniment all around – make mine a double!