Grit Blogs > Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Building a Fort and Extreme Yard Cleanup

A photo of Nebraska DaveHas everyone been having a great summer? My goodness here it is another month since I have brought you an update from the Urban Ranch. The Missouri River water is still at flood level and hasn't really receded much at all. Interstate 29 is still shut down both north and south from my city. The only open route to Iowa from my city is on I-80. We have been praying that the water recedes before it freezes or that will bring on a whole new set of parameters.

Was July hot for you? It was extremely hot here in Nebraska. Not only did the temperatures soar above 100 but the humidity was in the 90s every day which pushed the heat index to 115 or above many of those July days. It was right during the time I needed to be outside working on Bradley's fort. If you remember the last post, I was beginning to work on a fort/tree house for my grandson, Bradley, while he visited his Dad for the month of July.

 Dave working on fort walls 1 

The hot and sweaty days did not deter the determination of getting the fort finished before Bradley's return.  My motto became work a little, rest a lot, and drink water. So the routine became work 20 to 30 minutes, rest 45 minutes, and drink water. Weekends were off and usually filled with other stuff. You know, hauling, moving, BBQs, and normal summer weekend stuff. You know what they say about all work and no play. After about a week the walls were complete. The whole structure was assembled and tacked together with a couple screws on each corner during assembly.  You can see the yard is getting a little shaggy but the focus is on completing the fort.

 Fort walls were completed 

All I need now is a little help from my friend Vince to hoist the walls up on the double layer floor that has been painted with two coats of oil primer and two coats of brick red porch paint.  Careful planning and brute strength makes the task easy.

 Fort is on platform 

Isn't it amazing what two guys and a ladder can do?  Yeah, OK, enough of the male ego stuff.  Let's move on.  You can see the second layer of floor on the saw horses ready to be lifted high in the sky and screwed to the existing floor.  Notice the yard is getting really ratty now.  In just a few more days this project will be completed.

 Fort completed 

The look on Bradley's face at first sight of seeing the fort was priceless.  It made all the work worth it.  Was it a hit?  You be the judge.

 Neighborhood gang in fort 

Some time later after the kids of the neighborhood went home for the day, parents started coming over to see this fort that had sprung up in July that their kids were talking about.  The newness has subsided, and now we are down to play as usual, but now the fort and newly added swingset are part of the normal daily playing plan.  We had our first heavy wind storm blow through a couple days ago without any structure damage at all.  Whew, so far so good on the fort project testing.  It's been a great project but this old grandpa is glad it's completed.

Uummm, yeah about the yard.  This is what a long hot dry July will do to a backyard.  Mutant Ninja weeds will spring up and take over the yard.  I considered getting out Big Bertha my chainsaw but I suppose that would have been a little over kill.  So I settled on tree pruners and good old fashion weed pulling.

 Nebraska Daves Neglected Yard 

After two days of blood, sweat, and tears a new look for the much neglected yard.  Seven yard bags of waste sits by the curb ready to taken to the city composting site.  Next I'll need to attack the fence line again and the nasty alien weed from outer space it rearing it's ugly head again.  Sheesh, how would I ever keep up if I had acres to manage.

 Daves Extreme Yard Make Over 

Once again the sun sets on the Urban Ranch.  Order has almost been established once again.  The cool refreshment is made and the Poor man's patio is calling my name.  I can hear the crickets and the June bugs singing their duet.  Ah, the joys of Urban Ranch living.  I wouldn't give it up for anything.

Until next time.  Stay in the shade and keep those fluids flowing.  Don't forget to leave me a comment and tell me about what's been going on in your corner of the world.  It makes my day.

cindy murphy
8/24/2011 1:00:06 PM

Hi, Dave. I've been meaning to get back to your questions, but haven't really had a chance; just don't want you to think I've been ignoring them! Yep, it was a pain in the you-know-what working in the heat, and though we slow down physically, working 30 minutes and resting 45 minutes is a not a practice that would be embraced wholeheartedly by the bosses, I'm thinking. I honestly couldn't figure out why we had so many customers during the extreme heat - delirium, I'm thinking. Who would want to be out in that stuff if they didn't have to?! But many of our mid-summer sales come from tourists, so it's not like they can wait for cooler temperatures. Shrubs, lots perennials, lots and lots of hydrangeas, and a ton of daylilies flew out of there during the heat-wave...anything blooming. Fall is mainly trees and shrubs, but you're right - mums will be in soon, and bulbs too. Bulbs! I can't believe it's nearly bulb season! Hope you have more time than to just "think" about a fall garden, and actually get a chance to get one in. I planted spinach and kale last week (I think I might have waited too long on the kale), and since we harvested the rest of the potatoes this past weekend, I'll be getting in mustard greens by this coming weekend. Hopefully, lettuce in a cold frame a bit later. Enjoy your day.


nebraska dave
8/12/2011 7:43:06 PM

Cindy, Yeah, the fort was a big hit. I'm hoping it will last long enough for me to see Bradley's kids playing fort in it. I tried my best to make it out of long lasting materials and seal up the ones that weren't to with stand the elements. I bet it was tough to work when it was so hot outside. When your getting paid, the boss would kind of frown, on my rules of hot weather work engagement. Work 30 minutes, rest 45 minutes in the cool, and drink water probably just wouldn't cut it, huh. Do people actually come out and buy nursery plants in the extreme hot weather? I suspect the sales are mostly bushes and trees now. Although fall planting will be starting soon. The Mums will show up soon. I've been thinking about trying to grow a fall garden. I'm not sure just what to put in it yet. Hey, thanks by the way for turning me on to Begonias for shade plants a couple seasons ago. They are gorgeous on my living trellis that stands on the poor man's patio. I'm sure the shot of Miracle Gro every three weeks and the automatic watering every morning probably helped too. Nothing to this stuff when you have a little help from master gardener friends. Between the Begonias and the Impatiens, the trellis put on quite a display this summer. It turned out so good this year, I'm going to find it difficult to try something different next year. Have a great cool Michigan day.


cindy murphy
8/12/2011 3:11:23 PM

Hey, I wanna play, Dave! Lucky Bradley! Oh, wow - I loved forts when I was a kid, and it looks like the one you built would've been one we would have spent hours in. I'm sure you'll not have a shortage of neighborhood kids in your backyard any time soon! Thank goodness for the cooler temperatures, eh? (Regarding your response to Mountain Woman's post). Oh sheesh - it was near 100 degrees here for weeks it seemed, with humidity near 100 percent, and severe thunderstorms almost every night. I'm not ashamed to admit it pretty near wiped me out - the most miserable type of summer weather to have a job working outside; I came home from the nursery each day, showered, ate, and basically crashed for the night. Saying I was a melted heap of mush is not an exaggeration. My gardens suffered as a result. Thank goodness Hubs kept up with the yard work, or it would be a real mess out there! And the weather out there now - perfect! Sunny, breezy, and much, much cooler! Enjoy your weekend!


nebraska dave
8/12/2011 10:21:10 AM

Hey Dave, I built the fort because my grandson is a climber. Maybe for your grandkids an on the ground playhouse would fit the bill better. I thought that the fort would be a better thing to satisfy his climbing need than the neighborhood trees. I've already had to climb up a tree and get him down twice. So you see it's a way to give old grandpop some peace of mind. However, Mom (Bradley's Mom) is not to thrilled about either activity. Hopefully it will give Bradley many years of childhood memories. I have many memories from childhood from playing in old sheds and barns on my Uncle's farm. When I was in high school my Dad bought an acreage (114 acres) just outside of the town where I spent most of my growing up years. It had several old sheds full of old tools and machinery. I didn't have much interest in that stuff back then but it would be an exciting thing to explore for me today. It's amazing how long seeds can lay dormant and still start growing when a little water is added. That big weed patch you saw in my last post, was a spot that was three feet under a tree that grew there for 45 years. The weed seeds were decades old but still sprouted when the moisture and sunlight came. So those pesky tumble weeds came from Russia? It seems like all those desert weeds have roots that go deep and can hang on with the strength of Hercules. My oldest daughter lives in Las Vegas had some kind of vine weed in her backyard that was awful to get pulled out of the rocky ground. I guess no matter where a person lives, there is some kind of weed to deal with. Have a great enjoyable day.


nebraska dave
8/12/2011 9:52:27 AM

MW, thanks for the kind words of encouragement. We are experiencing cooler weather now. It's been upper 70s during the day and 60s in the evening. It's been nice to have the airconditioning off and the windows open. Today we have refreshing rain falling and most likely will continue to fall all day. It been a joy to me to hear the rain and smell the fresh rain storm air once again. There's just something about a good summer rain that freshens up the air. I don't mind staying inside today because it gives me a chance to spend time on much needed inside cleaning. During the summer months, it's always a struggle to keep up with the inside work when there's so much to do outside. Oh, well, I guess that's what rainy days and winter is for, huh. Have a great Vermont pre fall day.


nebraska dave
8/12/2011 9:45:59 AM

Mary, I could have used your big bertha during my backyard cleanup. My old faithful Sears lawnmower named "Chomper" struggle through the task but as usual he accomplished what I needed done. I spent yesterday pulling weeds in the garden and really need to get more cleanup done so I can begin planting the fall garden. I've never done fall gardening before so that should be a new experience. Have a great day in the garden.


dave larson
8/12/2011 8:50:08 AM

Hi Nebraska Dave, What a great fort! You've given me some great ideas for my two young grandkids. A bit too young yet for forts, but I think there has to be some version of your great project in the future of the Bear Cave. I empathize with the weeds. Even here in the desert, the monsoons bring on weeds you wouldn't believe, especially the noxious Russian Thistle aka tumbleweed. The sight of a newly emerging plant can send Barbara "over the top" and into a fit of digging and pulling the tenacious tumbleweed. Enjoy your day at the Urban Ranch!


dave larson
8/12/2011 8:50:04 AM

Hi Nebraska Dave, What a great fort! You've given me some great ideas for my two young grandkids. A bit too young yet for forts, but I think there has to be some version of your great project in the future of the Bear Cave. I empathize with the weeds. Even here in the desert, the monsoons bring on weeds you wouldn't believe, especially the noxious Russian Thistle aka tumbleweed. The sight of a newly emerging plant can send Barbara "over the top" and into a fit of digging and pulling the tenacious tumbleweed. Enjoy your day at the Urban Ranch!


mountain woman
8/11/2011 6:55:07 AM

Hi Dave, I LOVE the fort. What a wonderful present and it should provide many years of adventures. As to the yard, I can't even imagine being able to get out and do yard work in 100 plus degree heat. Looks great now and I do know what you mean about mutant ninja weeds. We had four days of over 90 here. That's plenty thank you. Now it's beautiful pre-fall weather and we are on a count down to our first frost :( Summer is fleeting here. Love hearing what you're doing around the urban ranch.


mary carton
8/10/2011 9:35:27 PM

Big Bertha is the name of my walk behind weedeater. She'll cut just about anything except barb wire. Weather here in NW Ala is the same as yours. Nice Grandpa to build the fort for your grandson.