Water Tower Demolition

Posted by Nick  | 05 Jul 2014  | 0 comments

Our farm came with its very own water tower. It was puny as far as water towers go, but it was enough of one to warrant demolition. In other words, like so many structures on this farm it was an impediment to the view from the cottage whilst doing little more than standing out like a sore thumb. For us overzealous newbie land owners, we’re only too eager to create and destroy; whatever gets us closer to our (admittedly idealistic) vision. (In truth, very little gets destroyed; the materials, in this case at least, will be repurposed – perhaps even to rebuild another water tower at a later date.)

The metal tank that once sat atop had been taken down some time ago. We found it resting at the base of the tower, empty and in surprisingly sound condition. No rust or cavities. It will no doubt see use again someday, perhaps as a water supply for future gardens or the chicken coop. We rolled it into the storage shed for the time being, put to rest amidst kitchen sinks, reels of wire, and old tyres.

What the tower’s original purpose was we aren’t sure, but seeing as the farm had been in operation long before the introduction of electricity it could very well have been the main gravity-fed water supply to the cottage. It looks old enough. Or maybe it was erected in the not-so-distant past and served some other purpose. We’ll never know.

The old water tower as seen from the deck of the cottage. (The structure behind is a platform with a tank that used to be filled with diesel for the tractor, like an on-site gas station. It will probably be brought down, too, once we have some kind of machinery that can move it.)
The old water tower as seen from the deck of the cottage. (The structure behind is a platform with a tank that used to be filled with diesel for the tractor, like an on-site gas station. It will probably be brought down, too, once we have some kind of machinery that can move it.)

We figured taking apart the structure would be a fairly breezy task. We noticed that the platform had been fixed to the tall posts by thick wire rather than nails. All we had to do to decouple the platform was cut through the wire. No need to climb to the top and go digging for nail heads sunken in the aged wood.

After a bit of tomfoolery with weak wire cutters (or perhaps a weak grip), I swallowed my pride and snatched up the Dremel (a rotary power tool). After breaking a few of those flimsy cutting disk attachments – curse words echoing through the hills – I fished out the thicker grinding disk and gave that a whirl.

It worked a treat. Racing against the intermittent showers, I managed to cut six of the eight wires before the disk wore out (obviously not the optimal attachment for the job). For the final two I had to grapple with the wire cutters again. I got through the hardy bastards eventually, dangling precariously from the tower’s frame like a monkey in gumboots. (I think some heavy duty bolt cutters might be a wise investment soon.)

Now that the platform was free from its supports, next up was the task of somehow pushing it off. At first I tried by hand, but it was too awkward to hold on to the framing and push upwards at the same time, and to be honest it felt a little dangerous. If only I had something long and strong I could push it with… Then Char recalled the post hole rammer. Perfect!

Up...
Up…
...and over!
…and over!

Success! With a bit of effort (and a balancing act atop the ladder) I was able to lift one side of the platform high enough for gravity to do what it does best. It came crashing to the ground, narrowly missing the fence and doing us the service of disassembling itself upon impact. Don’t you love it when entropy works in your favour?

First objective complete.
First objective complete.

We both took to work hammering, prying, and growling at the stubborn braces nailed to the posts. Bashing them repeatedly with the post hole rammer seemed to work just as well as prying them off.

Detaching the braces was more difficult than you might think, like working with anything above head height.
Detaching the braces was more difficult than you might think, like working with anything above head height.

One thing we’ve noticed about handling old weathered wood is the amount of lichen dust you get in your eyes and nose. Every piece of wood here left to the elements invariably seems to be covered in the stuff. It’s a real bother when you’re straining and grunting as you heave this or that and you don’t have any extra hands to blow your nose or wipe your eyes – Ahh! When you do get around to blowing your nose, unspeakable horrors emerge. I think that’s how slugs are born.

Incapacitated by lichen dust.
Incapacitated by lichen dust.

What followed was some real labour. We had to dig out these four metre high posts, which we gathered probably had another third of that height in the ground. We figured if we created trenches in one direction we could push on the posts enough to lever them out.

And it worked. The soil here is just so loose that both digging holes and removing posts (even ones of this size) aren’t either much of a chore. It took all our might in tandem to lift the weight of each post but the earth surrendered them with little resistance. We filled in the deep holes and scraped the surrounding ground level before removing the nails from all the wood which had once comprised a tower. We shifted the lot into the barn to add to our growing timber supply.

Mission complete!
Mission complete!

In the end we had removed yet another eyesore and cleared our view of the farm from the cottage just that little bit more.

The Farm Gets Broadband

Posted by Nick  | 05 Jul 2014  | 0 comments

Yus! It’s confirmed: The farm, in all its isolated glory, can indeed be connected to the outside world. What an inexpressible relief.

We were dubious about what a wireless broadband connection might mean in terms of speed and reliability, but we’re overjoyed to report that we are getting the same speeds as we do in Auckland! I shit you not! In fact, it might be even more reliable because there’s much less competition for bandwidth during on-peak hours this far out in the sticks. What a win.

A monument to the age of information affixed to our humble cottage roof.
A monument to the age of information affixed to our humble cottage roof.

When we arrived at the farm late last night (Friday) we spotted the little dish mounted to the roof of the cottage, pointing to the transmitter on a distant hill whose line of sight we’d recently cleared of trees. The installation had gone ahead during the week in our absence. Once inside we eagerly booted Char’s laptop and connected to the network. No issues. Okay, launch browser… Websites downloading with no noticeable delay… Good. Do a speed test… Yes! Success! More-than-adequate speeds brought squeals of relief.

We can rest easy now, because although we did confirm that we’d be able to get wireless broadband at the farm before we dove in and bought it, speed was no guarantee. Had it turned out to be slow and unreliable it would have not only put a dampener on our efforts to update this site and research the innumerable topics relating to farm life, but also impinged considerably on Char’s work. It was the final uncertainty about moving to the boonies. We can now say with absolute confidence that we think we’ll be almost okay.

With the internet as our crutch, how could we possibly fall? Right…?