Q: The difference between happiness and OH CRAP

A: Six feet.

Brooke here.  This was me yesterday:


There will be a couple of substantial blog posts this week, I think.  The months of hurry-up-and-wait seem to be over and, thanks in large part to my buddy the skid loader up there, multiple projects are coming together at once.  The fence holes are drilled, the lawn area has been de-bricked and de-ivied, and the pool guys are busy chainsawing the concrete.

So today I’ll tell a quick story.

After the mishap with the two-man auger last weekend, we were tired of screwing around with some of these projects.  We went over to Home Depot and asked them if they could rent us something which would terrify our neighbors.  They said, “Can we!?!” and strapped something mechanically eldritch to the back of our truck.

Not one, not two, but three drills. Time to teach our yard the error of its ways.

We rented this bad boy for 24 hours.  To maximize our time, we made a list of the projects we wanted to complete.  In order of priority, these were (a) drill the holes for the fence posts; (b) remove the last of the brick rubble; (c) grade the… meadowish… area-thing by flattening certain areas and adding topsoil to others.

(I should also mention we got 10 tons of topsoil on Saturday.  That’s an important part of the story.  I’d post a picture of the dirt but it’s a ridiculously small-looking pile for its weight and you’d just laugh at us.)

The brick removal and soil addition could be multi-tasked.  The bricks could be moved to a dumpsite at the edge of the property and a load of soil picked up on the way back.  This worked out perfectly in theory.

In practice, we have a This:

I spend so much of my time looking at my own house and saying WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN

This particular This is a 7-foot stretch of sidewalk where slightly over 5′ is a step and the remaining 18″ is a gradual slope.  Someone must have thought this was a brilliant idea: all the sophistication of a step combined with the sinewy grace of a slope.  Seriously, every time I walk past it I crave peanut butter over chocolate it is that good together.  And the slope is so convenient!  You know, for all of your landscaping needs where you use your 18″-wide wheelbarrows and lawn mowers and oh wait those don’t exist.

For reals, though, it nearly got me killed.

Closeup of the slope, with one of my shoes for scale.

See, there were physics involved, which is a failing of mine.  After I had dropped off my first load of bricks and had picked up my first load of soil, I headed straight for that single stair; Brown had already gone over it a couple of times in the skid with an empty bucket, and I assumed (donkey joke!) I could do the same with a full one.

I didn’t correct for the weight of the soil.

The loader’s bucket was lifted six feet above the ground, which affected its center of gravity.  I drove that thing over the stair-ramp and the entire machine pitched forward.  Later, over dinner, Brown said I looked like a cat who had been hit with a hose; my back arched, my body clenched, and I couldn’t decide which direction to run.  Which is pretty much exactly what happened.  Unlike the auger incident where things went wrong too quickly to process, time ceased as the loader tipped.

Oh boy not good okay hold on and don’t get thrown off now jump no wait don’t jump you don’t know if it’s going to roll okay wait until it stops tipping and see what happens then jump if it rolls but TO THE OPPOSITE SIDE for God’s sake do not jump at the loader do we want pizza tonight holy crap I’m hungry and oh sh*t I just banged my knee but that’s okay it’s a minor injury will probably be fine tomorrow aaaaaand good we’ve finally stopped. 

Ow my knee.

The loader came to rest with its back end sticking up at a 90-degree angle and its front end flat on its bucket.*  I scooped the offending topsoil out of the bucket and we had the loader upright within moments, but that was not fun.  We spent the rest of the day moving with loaded buckets tight against the body and keeping one tread flush with the slope… plus that one teeth-clenching brief moment when the other tread had to drop over the edge of the stair and physics weighed the pros and cons of keeping the thing upright.

My birthday present to myself this year?  I’m putting in a full slope.

*There are no pictures because, despite what the Internet says, your first instinct in a crisis should not be to reach for a camera. 

4 thoughts on “Q: The difference between happiness and OH CRAP

  1. You done good with your reactions to the skid trying to tip itself. (Holding on tight and not jumping, that is.) A significant majority of injuries with powered equipment tipping over is because the operator jumped out… right under the equipment’s rollover area. Keep that load as close to the ground as you can!

    Glad you’re okay and things are progressing!

  2. Looks so easy when the pros do it. A good machine operator has a fluid sense of balance like a ten ton ballerina.
    Remember that the “pros” often screw this up, see:

    or just google image search “crane accidents”.

    I tried to run a backhoe one quiet afternoon. The normal operator gave me the basics and let me play in a sand pit. Tricky stuff. I didn’t flip it but I did get caught by the foreman! Oops.

  3. Holy….do please be careful with yourself there…bits of toe and such is bad enough…being flattened by a loader…Who will write my favourite webcomic then? 😉 But well done on the thinking and the reflexes…at least you’re better than my friend Igor, who stabbed his foot with a garden fork…

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