Well, I had another blog planned out and was almost finished with it when a more pressing and emergent situation arose. What could be more important than a “DIY backyard play land for dogs” blog to follow up the dog pen blog you ask? Well, the concrete culvert that runs through the ditch under the driveway has begun to collapse at the Rattlesnake house. Oh yes. You read that correctly.
I went out to check to see just how bad it is after not being able to reach the County Commissioner (more details below). I noticed the hole was starting a couple of weeks ago, but it was only as big around as a baseball, maybe if it tried real hard. It’s really bad now with the recent storms we’ve had. A small vehicle probably would have no problems going in and out for a while.
However, the very large dump truck bringing me 5 tons of gravel for the rest of the driveway that becomes mush with rain, the backhoe that will need to come through there to do various backhoe/Lee things, Chris’s truck and trailer, Lee’s truck and trailer, and the moving van (or Lee’s truck and trailer again, my van, and some large volunteer vehicles) will not likely fare that well now that that cement culvert has started to crumble and break off on one side.
One of those vehicles/pieces of equipment is going to be too much for that side, and the rest of that culvert is going to crumble and something very large and very expensive that most likely wouldn’t belong to me, will be sitting in a four-and-a-half-foot ditch in some uncomfortable manner and blocking the only entrance to that property without going through someone else’s property, which would make also make recovery incredibly difficult.
The driveway being unsafe and unstable definitely means all construction activities come to a screeching halt. I could not in good conscience let anyone drive their vehicle or equipment out there. I know how hard I work to keep my van, make payments and keep it insured, running, safe, etc. and so does everyone else. I love that house and joke with many people that I am in a relationship with it, but I would have to make an executive decision as Project Manager and Keeper of the Hermits to pause this project until the driveway is once more safe.
Fortunately, this is all happening at one of the shallow places of that long ditch. At few different places just probably 7 feet from the culvert on the bad side starts a pretty good drop off that I couldn’t even see the bottom of. Some places you can see that it is not as deep for about 5 feet, then drops off again, but it is so over run with Georgia Cane (which I hope that the county equipment will tear up a bit) that it was hard to even get to the culvert to take pictures much less see depth very well. I had to use the hog trails to get down there. That made me feel safe (sarcasm font engaged) and makes me want that stuff gone even more now.
I had taken Matthew’s Bowie knife because I am pretty accurate at throwing those bigger knives and was worried at first about venomous things that slither, but Jimbo may as well be a toothpick had I ended up against a sow with babies. I hope I never have to test my self defense against a feral hog, but a country girl is all I’ll ever be, and I will still be climbing in and out of these ditches until all of that cane is gone. Fearless like my Mama.
Looking for Help
I have tried to call the County Commissioner a few times since I’d first noticed the hole had started and realized what was happening a few weeks ago. Again, I called a few times this morning for our precinct. I did not get an answer. That’s not really a bad thing, though. It means that instead of them sitting around answering phones, they are out doing work to improve roads, fix driveways, and maintain everything that makes things so much better for us out in the country.
It also worried me at how busy they must be and made me wonder when they would even have time to get out there. I then left the office and drove out to Rattlesnake to take pictures of the problem areas. I had decided to take the pictures and include them in a letter that I would send to the commissioner, since I had no luck with the phones. I would just have him call me and give him as many details in the letter that I possibly could. It was when I got out there and got nose to nose with it that I really got worried about the driveway.
It looked bad from above and what little I could see, and the left side (if facing the house) is still solid and in one piece, but I have no idea how far across it is still in good shape. The hole is about three feet from where the drop off to the ditch is, and based on how the other side looked and measured, that culvert and driveway had already lost a foot. I could not see light through the good side to the bad side. Once I got to the right side where the big hole is, I could see all of the crumbled and broken concrete that has been falling off of the culvert for who knows how long.
There is no telling how old that culvert is. I’m pretty sure it was put in at least as recently as the mid 1800’s. Not a bad life span really. Even things made out of concrete have a shelf life of some kind.
An Encounter at the Precinct Office
On my way back to town, I decided to stop by the Commissioner’s office, just to check and see if maybe somebody happened to be there since it was pretty close to lunch time. To my good fortune, they were!
When I told him what was going on out there, he jumped up and seemed as though he was ready to get on it right now, like it was his personal driveway we were talking about. I certainly appreciated that. We looked over the county map, and he was able to locate the Rattlesnake quickly on a map and even said he was pretty sure that he knew which house it was. He asked if we had been working on it for a while as he thought he had passed by it a few times and saw people working on it.
I sort of giggled and said, “Yessir, a pretty good bit now.” Yes, that is my gal out there on the hill just before the curve. A lady takes her time, doesn’t she?
While we were talking about the culvert collapse about when I noticed it beginning, details, etc , I started thinking to myself, “Mandi (I call myself Mandi), this is going to probably take at least a month for them to even get the time to go out there. They’re always busy and on the go here and there, and our precinct is large, and then they have to dig it all up, get all the bad stuff out, sink and set the new culvert, cover it all back up. How long does all of this even take? I will have to put off moving yet again because everything will be stalled until end of May…. My goodness. I will have to put off fixing that driveway and getting that load of gravel for who knows how long.”
I finally got enough courage to hesitantly ask, “How long do you think it will take before y’all have time to get out there? Do you think maybe a month or so?” He looked at me very seriously and said, “Oh no ma’am! We’ll have it done tomorrow, and get you all fixed up.” I was speechless, but managed some semblance of a thanks and have a great day-ish farewell. Oh sweet music to my ears! Chris and Gary already worked out how to get there tomorrow and work even with the driveway out of commission, so Rattlesnake keeps on moving!
When I drove back out this evening to pick up some paint samples that I had left out there, there was a dead stalk of that Georgia Cane in the hole with a red flag tied to it marking it. Someone from the county crew had already been there, looked at it, probably assessed it, and marked it. I really would have been quite at ease with them using 50 or 60 stalks of that cane just to be sure nobody missed the hole.