Working Harder Not Smarter

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One of my "bucket list" aka "to do items" created since my retirement in 2012 was to replace a front gutter drain line system that was clogged by small roots and not feasible to attempt repairs, but a full replacement was needed after digging it up in places to ascertain the root damage.  It is hard to believe tree roots can find and work their way between the connections and fittings of the flexible line but it took about ten years for the roots to overtake and disable the drain lines.  Our neighbor Johnny Hildreth now deceased, installed the gutter drain line system way back when and it didn't take but a few hours to do so with the aid of his trenching machine.  I will usually try to do something for myself if it is within my capability in order to save a few dollars, but I learned a good lesson from this one.  I though much about our friend and neighbor Johnny Hildreth while completing this project and do miss him!

A temporary quick fix solution which was unsightly, was to disconnect the center gutter drain down spout and feed into an above ground 20 feet section of the flexible four (4) inch diameter drain line which probably was five (5) years ago......some serious procrastation!  At least, it kept the water away from the foundation of our home.  My bride called this temporary jury rig a black snake, more akin to an Anaconda or Burmese Python size wise though!

Since I am rambling again on the keyboard; the title of this short story so fair is unclear and let me try and explain.  One of my friends Randy Steele offered to bring his tractor with plow to make easy work out of digging a trench for the drain lines which consisted of two lines across the front yard terminating into one single line running across our gravel lower drive way.  However, I later decided to run a parallel drain line in front of the house and thought that the tractor would be too close to the shrubbery, especially at the lower end where the proposed new drain line would terminate.

My "guesstimation" for completing this project was two days and I was way off base on this one.  I thought that it wouldn't be too hard work to use a shovel and mattock to dig a 12 plus/minus inch deep trench about 8 inches in width and now the working harder not smarter theme is coming into focus.  One of my pet work slogans while working for the North Carolina Department of Correction aka Department of Public Safety, Division of Prisons was, "Work Smarter Not Harder" which I definitely employed whenever possible.  After about ten minutes of digging in the hard packed red clay, silica rock and gravel, I would take a ten or fifteen minute break to keep from "falling out."  Perspiration was flowing profusely from the pores of my skin like a small creek cascading down the side of a mountain and the outside air temperature was in the mid eighties with a humongous amount of humidity in the air which expedited the dehydration process.  My tee shirt was soaking wet and had prominent white salt rings formed after a couple hours of some serious manual labor which is not in my normal daily routine other than an hour or two at the local Buff Monkey Fitness Company which would be like a vacation compared to this digging stuff.

I can personally vouch that a State Government Employee job without very little physical work stretched out over several decades will take its toll on you by the lack of any real physical activity.  Sitting behind a desk or standing and/or sitting at a security post doesn't keep one physically fit.  Since retirement, I have worked out at the local gym, but that doesn't compare to what ten minutes on the business end of a shovel or mattock will do to your heart rate, whereby quickly depleting your physical energy level requiring copious and constant intake of water to keep the body hydrated.  Anyone that has to be outside doing manual labor in the elements, you are much tougher than this ole boy and my hat is off to you.  I don't consider operating a machine such as a tractor, dozer, lawn tractor, etc. as manual labor since the machine is doing the work.  It takes very little energy to operate a hydraulic lever which doesn't compute in the definition of manual labor and/or work in my humble thinking process, however the elements will take its toll on you nonetheless.  I am using four inch diameter PVC sewer line for this project which should allow any debris from the gutters to easily flow throughout the pipe and hopefully the glued connections will at least deter the entrance of small roots which are always looking for a water source.  My bubble level got a good workout also making sure there was a constant downhill slope in the drain line to prevent any buildup of standing water in the line.  I normally don't wear a hat or cap unless hunting but on the advice of my Dermatologist after burning/freezing off many sun spots, molds, etc, all the things that can lead up to Melanoma, the wide brim hat and sunscreen are now a must!

I can fully understand why many public utility and State workers are seen at their job sites along our highways and roads leaning on a shovel while watching a worker or two actually shoveling dirt from a broken sewer or water main!  They are working in shifts; resting while others are working and then take their turn....or at least, I will give them the benefit of doubt since this ditch digging is very hard work. 

Click on below thumbnail pixs for a larger screen view:

I believe I dug a total of sixteen feet with the shovel and mattock and decided I needed something to help break the ground up since it was slow going trying to get the shovel into the rock hard red clay soil.  I called Sergeant Danny Wright who had done some yard work for me over 20 years ago with his Troy Built garden tiller and he said he would come up after he finished cutting his grass and he had to replace a worn drive belt on his machine.

Danny Wright brought his Troy Built tiller and worked about sixty feet of the hard packed red clay soil,  but the drive belt was slipping badly due to not an exact replacement width wise due to Troy Built being purchased by another company.  Below pixs of Danny:

The tiller did very well for about eight inches in depth and definitely saved myself a ton of manual labor but the final 4 inches or so was slow going due to the packed red clay mixed with small silica gravel.  Danny also tilled up and leveled one of the high spots in the yard that I had originally dug up the drain line to ascertain the extend of the root clog damage.  Pix below:

Danny would not take any money for his work even though I tried.  His comment was, "That is what friends are for" of which I didn't expect him to work for nothing and certainly did appreciate his help!

It took me three more days to finish up this project consuming the better part of four days total.

A few more thumbnail pixs of the progress:


The inside diameter of the PVC sewer pipe is four inches with a 1/8 inch wall thickness and my four inch diameter hole saw got me in the ball park to cut a hole through the wooden landscape treated timbers used as a retaining wall.  I had to use my Sawsall, hammer and chisel to persuade the sewer pipe to get through the wooden retaining wall.  Naturally, a piece of 1/2 inch diameter rebar through the four layers of landscape timbers was directly in line with the drain line and had to be pulled free.

I will add stone buffers to help disperse the exit water, install a wire rodent screen and might add  additional sections of PVC sewer pipe if there is too much erosion. 

Additional shrubbery will be added to balance out the Azalea shrubs that have died over the years.  The hard packed red clay soil is perfect for growing pine trees and especially elm trees of which we don't need.

We purchased a truck load of topsoil from Jim Hill Sand and Gravel decades ago to use in our landscape flower beds and the stuff was mostly sand and of such poor quality that it wouldn't even grow weeds for about five or more years.  My bride hasn't forgotten that topsoil purchase either!  I guess a little free advertising is not welcome in this case.

Below pix of the finished project:


In CONCLUSION, I didn't factor in the date on my birth certificate for this project and these type of physically demanding bucket list items should be reserved for the younger folks or someone utilizing resources with a mechanical advantage (brain over brawn) to Work Smarter Not Harder......grin if you must! 

Web published by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 05-30-14.


If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please take this moment to accept him by Faith into your Life, whereby Salvation will be attained.   

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Open this link of Bible Verses About Salvation, King James Version Bible (KJV).

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”


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