Not going to lie, it has been kind of a challenging week.
When we first discussed the arena renovation, several months ago, the estimated time to completion was, and I kid you not, about six days of actual work. Of course, that depended on the weather cooperating, materials being available and so on. Turns out, the weather actually did *not* cooperate; we had an incredibly rainy spring. It really wasn’t such a big deal, as we were doing lots of other projects on the farm and it wasn’t ready for horses anyway.
But once the barn was done and the tackroom came together, and we had amassed all the other stuff that was needed – things like the cool new manure spreader! – it really started to feel like that arena needed to get FINISHED.
And that was supposed to happen this week. Sigh.
The plan was to have the sand delivered Wednesday and Thursday, and then to install the fiber Thursday afternoon. On Wednesday morning, I woke up quite early. From excitement, you think? Um, no… from the tractor headlight that got turned on shining right into my bedroom window at 5 am, actually. One thing you can’t say about the amazing Jack Pollard (of Future Track fame) is that he’s not committed. I don’t think the guy ever sleeps. The first trucks rolled in that morning and started dumping sand. What a process! Those trucks are seriously heavy, and carried 15 TONS of sand per load, so one of the things we were worried about was ensuring that they backed straight onto the arena surface, and then drove straight off – turning those suckers around on the arena could have done damage to the base.
We were also anxious to get the work done while we had good, dry weather, because we didn’t want the trucks getting bogged down or stuck (or unnecessarily tearing up the yard between the road and the ring, in the back corner of the farm.)
At first, everything seemed to be going well. By afternoon, though, I could see Jack pacing and spending a bunch of time on his cell phone. Turns out, we were supposed to get three trucks each delivery, making 2 deliveries per day. We only got 2 trucks (so four loads delivered) on Wednesday, leaving us short of the material we expected. Jack was assured that the balance would all be delivered the following day, so it wasn’t the end of the world, and I was really excited to see the arena coming together.
After each load of sand was dumped, the guys went out with the skidsteer to spread it. It’s installed just a couple of inches deep in preparation for being mixed with the fiber.
On Thursday, we were making pretty good progress but it still seemed like we were getting fewer trucks than expected. This sand is pretty special; it requires extra processing/screening to create a material that feels a lot more like flour than sand. It sets up differently than regular sand and binds to the fiber, apparently. But by the end of the day, we were still short of the material we needed, and it was about to rain.
And oh, did it rain. Not for long, but it came down really hard.
Hey, it’s Mother Nature, what can you do?
The good news, though, is that we didn’t lose any material out of the arena. It was a huge relief to me, for sure. Once all the footing is in, we will edge the ring with landscape timbers, but we aren’t at that point yet and I am always terrified that all my nice fancy footing is going to wash away into the creek.
Anyway, it meant that we were STILL waiting for more sand on Friday. Poor Jack; he was literally spending every day just sitting at my house waiting for those trucks. But finally, the truck arrived! Jack and his team had moved a bunch of gravel and base material to the end of my driveway as well as to the area at the entrance to the ring in an attempt to keep the trucks from destroying those areas, since it was still wet from the rain. We held our breath to see if it would work. And it did!
Sadly, when it dumped the sand, though… it was the WRONG sand.
You can see the difference, right? The stuff in the pile on the left looks and feels like beach sand. The proper sand on the right side of the picture is an entirely different color and texture. It feels like powder, or flour.
And because of the issue getting the truck in and out on the wet ground, the wrong sand got dumped on top of the good sand. So it couldn’t just be scooped up easily to be removed. The guys did a great job getting it out of the arena without losing too much of the good sand, but boy, were we all disappointed.
And we were still short of the sand we needed. You can see below that it was just the last corner left uncovered… so frustrating.
Did I mention the quarry is 2 1/2-3 hours away? Depending on traffic, the round trip for those trucks takes 5-6 hours. So we were stuck waiting again, hoping we could get that final load in before the skies opened up again on Friday afternoon. It didn’t happen. The rain came down in buckets for quite a while before the truck finally arrived again around 6:30 pm. We did not dare try to send it down to the ring for fear of getting the truck stuck down there. So, the last load got dumped at the top of the driveway, and will have to be moved manually.
Best laid plans and so on… here’s to practicing more patience!!