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devil duck

In which I build a ziggurat

The attentive reader will no doubt recall the sidewalk-repair saga. (The attentive reader needs to get a life.) One side effect of the sidewalk repair was a pile of leftover slate paving-stones in the back yard.

shalmestere has been suggesting for a while that we grow something in the narrow strip of dirt-and-gravel between the (concrete) back yard and the garage... but the slate was piled up there.

A few weeks ago I got an odd letter from the City Department of Environmental Protection. Seems they have a chronic problem with storm runoff overwhelming the sewer systems, and it occurred to somebody that if they could spread the rainwater over a longer period of time, they'd be fine. So they got a bunch of plastic barrels from an olive importer that didn't want to ship empty barrels back to Spain, drilled some holes in them, and dubbed them "household rain barrels", to be used to collect rainwater that can subsequently go onto lawns and gardens (presumably when it's dry and the sewers have lots of unused capacity). So they're giving away these rain barrels and kits to attach them to your gutter downspout, for free. Of course, if you want to run a garden hose from the barrel, it really ought to be elevated...

So I decided to move the slate paving stones from one side of the yard to the other, so I could put the rain barrel on top of them, near the downspout, and also liberate some gardening space.

One little problem: there were four full-sized paving stones, weighing (if I'm doing the arithmetic right) an average of 300 pounds. In addition, I wanted the biggest one on the bottom, and they were actually in the order 1, 4, 2, 3, so it was going to take some shuffling.

Like a dummy, I didn't think to take pictures until I had moved the biggest stone into place. Here it is, with another "shuffled" stone leaning on the side of the house waiting for its place in the stack.

So how did this stone get into place? Well, remember from elementary school how the ancient Egyptians moved hundred-ton stones into place to build Pyramids? Conveniently, I had some two-foot lengths of plumbing pipe left over from building tent poles...

By the way, as any weightlifter will attest, it's often harder to put something down than to pick it up: once a stone is in place, how do you get the rollers out from under it?

Anyway, at this point there are two stones in place, and two more in the "shuffle", waiting to be moved into place.

The question is how to get the third on top of the first two. This required using not only several rollers, but two smaller pieces of paving stone as shims. Here's the third stone, more or less in place.

At least twice the rollers I had put onto the second stone to move the third into place decided to roll away on their own, invariably landing in an inaccessible place underneath something very heavy. So I chocked them with small pieces of gravel and scraps of aluminum.

Each successive stone is roughly twice as difficult to put in place as the previous one, but eventually the fourth one was in place.

And here's the rain barrel installed.

Take that, Cheops!


I have been wanting just such a rain barrel, how do i go about requesting one free for nothing?

I don't think you do.

Probably watering the lawn and the quince trees; we don't do a lot of dyeing that calls for rainwater.

In its first test after installation, the barrel filled up to the brim in one rainstorm. Fortunately, I think it's not supposed to rain for the next two weeks, so we may have an opportunity to use that up on the lawn.