It starts itching – craving for contacts

You probably noted a big hiatus between this and the previous post. Say what? You didn’t even miss my writings? I find that hard to believe.

It’s been over four weeks since my last QSO. It’s not that I didn’t want to make contacts or play radio. Quite the contrary. But I decided to tackle a few big garden projects and get it over with. The plan is to do all the obligatory dirty and heavy chores before summer and have fun while doing light pleasant work (mostly ham related!) during the holidays. And be in the shack a lot. ‘A lot’ being: when social life permits.

After expanding the garden with a few hundred square meters last year, I still had to deal with a difference in height of seventy centimetres between the old and new garden. The biggest part got levelled last September with two truckloads of clean soil. But where the difference was too big to level it, I decided to build a retaining wall.

I had to make a concrete foundation to support a wooden structure that in turn holds panels of tropical hardwood. I chose this solution because it was half the price of any other alternative. Like concrete stacking blocks or pour myself a concrete wall in a mould. The cheapest solution was putting down prefabricated concrete L shapes. But these weigh 250 kilograms each. I can lift some weight but not this. The gabion that seems to be popular these days, was even almost three times the price and that’s without the foundation needed for the iron frame to stay in place.

Working all alone and not exactly being an experienced mason or woodworker, this took quite some time. I spent most of the Easter holidays working ten hours a day. Believe me the urge of being in the shack after that was completely absent. That said, I would do it completely different if I had to start over. Live and learn I guess.

After the wall was mostly finished, I had to haul another truckload of soil from the front of the house to the back of the garden and distribute it to split the remaining difference in height and fill all the gaps. I really wanted to get this job done and seed grass so that all the dirt will be turned into a nice green lawn. Not only does it look better, but no matter how many acres of grass you have, that square foot of dirt is way more appealing to the kids. Even more appealing than the climbing tower with slide I also put up last month. It feels strange to bury wooden poles in concrete knowing they won’t be supporting any part of an antenna.

So the sooner all naked soil is turned into lawn, the sooner I won’t have to chase the kids out of the dirt anymore. You can see read I’ve done a lot of work. Luckily the weather was very cooperative. Warm to hot, mostly sunny to very bright sunshine. I even got a light sunburn on the nose. And of course when you roll out the anti root foil, the wind pops up for your enjoyment. It hasn’t rained a lot lately and I had to sprinkle the new lawn quite a bit but I did three big patches so far and each patch was green after two weeks with the seeds germinating in under a week. Thanks to warm weather, sunshine and keeping it moist.

I still need to remake and put up the low band antenna. I won’t be needing it before IARU in July since I can’t do WPX due to a work related activity on Sunday. Bummer so I think it’ll be a SB40 effort. I also need to reinstall the WARC vertical. I haven’t bothered because there have been T-storm warnings off and on and we’ve even had a few real thunder and lightning shows already so I keep the coaxes unattached.

To round up: time for some radio activity, or at least do some station related work outside!

2 replies on “It starts itching – craving for contacts”

Thanks for teaching me a new word – “gabion”. Guess I should have been a civil engineer instead of a electrical engineer.

Hi Steve
It’s not that I knew this word before. I used the Dutch word and Google Translate to find it. The Dutch word is ‘schanskorf’ and I think that Dutch speaking people who know this word, probably have a schanskorf themself. Others refer to it as ‘those metal baskets filled with boulders’ ;o)


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