The landscaper brought over the bid. We were going to rip up some of the asphalt near our front porch and replace it with stone walkways and perennials. Naturally, the price he wanted for the full job gave me a jolt that was more than a triple espresso. So I asked what I could do myself. This is the time when we all think that we can save both time and money if we just did that home improvement job ourselves. I mean, who wants to pay the outrageous prices that competent vendors want?
The two of us looked at the job specifications and the landscaper, knowing we had some equipment on our farm, suggested that we, instead of he, remove the asphalt and the rock underneath it. It should be a simple job, we both agreed. And look at the money I would save. We went on to some other stuff, but this was the big one.
I called a friend who knows how to use our Bobcat. I called a reputable trailer rental company and reserved a 6x12 dump trailer. All was set for the adventure on the coming Monday.
On Sunday, I must admit a good friend gave me a warning. She told me to call her when our little task was finished, and she asked with a gleam in her eye. I asked her if she thought that it would not be as simple as I had laid it out. Her response was enigmatic.
Up before dawn the next day, I fed the animals and headed out over fog-shrouded, rush-hour filled roadways for the hour’s round trip to get the trailer. When I picked it up, the man hitched it to my truck and showed me the control that engaged the hydraulic motor that lifted the bed to dump whatever was inside. Easy. No big deal. All battery powered. And off I went.
The first three loads were relatively easy. I qualify this since one of the trailer tires kept going flat on us. Each time (four times in all during the day), I used our handy dandy air compressor to fill the tire, and thought how good it was to have the right tools on hand. (This is, of course, vanity since things never fully work out anyway.) We did get bogged down in soft earth once or twice when we were dumping, but all in all, the morning went okay. We cannot say the same for the afternoon.
On the fourth load, the lift on the trailer did not want to go up. At first we thought we had overloaded the trailer, but it became apparent to us that the battery on the trailer that ran the motor was dead. The trailer was connected to my truck for lights, brakes, and, supposedly, for a hot wire that charged the battery. When I called the rental company, I was told that a “brand new” battery was put on the trailer this morning before I picked it up, since the old one was dead. (Hmmm, wonder why that was?) And he had no suggestions on what we should do to help the matter. Since the agency was a long way away, it did not seem an option for me to take it all the way back there.
This condition, and the flat tire, got worse as the day went on. On the last load of the day (we were running out of time on the rental), the tire went totally flat and threatened to come off the rim. And the dump just would not work. We had to wire the trailer’s battery to the one on our tractor to get the bed to lift one last time.
The job is about 90-percent done. It took from 8:00 until 5:30. That is about twice the time it should have taken. The people at the rental agency were sympathetic, but the charge was the charge for the day. I guess that’s the way things always work out when you do it yourself with the naïve notion that you will save time and money and aggravation that way.