Grit Blogs > Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Flooding and Playground Equipment: What's Been Happening at the Urban Ranch

A photo of Nebraska DaveThere's just not enough time to get every thing done.  My blogging has been suffering, but I just had to take a little time to let everyone know what's been going on at the Urban Ranch.  It's been a busy place this summer, and it's a great life if I just don't weaken.  I've been making it through the night after a long day working outside with a little help from my two friends.  They're called Aleve and Ibuprofen.  The heat index has been really up there this year.  Today the temperature was about 95, but the heat index which takes the humidity into account was about 110.

This is a picture of Interstate 29 heading North from my city. The area you see here is supposed to be all farm ground with no water at all in this area. The Missouri river is about a half mile to left of this Interstate highway. Due to extreme snow fall in the Rocky Mountains and extreme spring rain fall in Montana, the four dams along the Missouri are filled to capacity and have to use extreme water release measures to keep the dams from failing. These waters will be like this through September maybe longer depending on the amount of rain received. The Corps of Engineers is releasing a record amount of water from the Gavin's Point Dam just over 100 miles north of my city. They are releasing 160,000 cubic feet of water a second. This equates to well over a million gallons of water a second.Missouri River Flood  

I have never seen the dam in this condition in all my years of life. Usually the down river side of the dam has a 30 to 40 foot drop to river level. This is an incredible picture for sure. Fourteen flood gates are open and dumping water as much as possible. It's just been a crazy year for river water control.
Gavins Point Dam 

Many years ago I built a PCV structure to help me paint the house up high. It has been silently sitting in the side yard doing nothing for all but a couple of those 8 years. I decided to help with the cleaning out of the side yard to use that structure to build a fort for Bradley while he is away visiting his Dad. This picture is the structure upside down. The plywood which was on the top of the structure needs to be replaced so I'm removing the old rotten plywood from the structure assembly. Bradley doesn't know that I'm building a fort while he's away, so it will be a surprise when he returns in August. 

Support Structure for Fort 

So far things are progressing. The foundation always needs to be the strongest it can be. Here you see the holes being dug into the ground. They go approximately 3 1/2 to 4 feet into the ground. Form tubes will go part way into the hole and 4 foot long rebar will connect the ground pillars with the actual PCV structure. You can see the bottom of the support structure and one of the foundation pillar tubes that will slide into the holes. The hole is actually deeper than the tube by a foot or two. Some may recognize that the bottom of the PCV structure has toilet phalanges attached to them. The beauty of used toilet phalanges is they will fit perfect into the tubes and they have built in bolt holes to hold the structure to the concrete. Nice. I hardly ever use something for what it's intended to be used.
Dave Digging Hole

You can see the tubes are filled with concrete and the bottom of the support structure is in place. The top of the carriage bolts you see in this picture are 5 1/2 inches long and have been pressed into the wet concrete to solidly hold the structure in place when the concrete dries. Also another thing done for strength of the structure was four foot rebar pushed down from the top of this bottom section into the hollow legs. Two foot was pushed into the wet concrete in the ground and two foot stuck up above the concrete base pillars inside the hollow legs.
Bolts holding the structure to the base 

Well, here it is the support structure is up. The four vertical legs will be filled with concrete from the base to the top. The top  will then be set in place for the floor of the fort to be strapped onto. When completed there will be 16 eighty pound bags of concrete in the pillars in the ground and to fill the vertical legs for a total concrete weight of 1280 pounds. With the 32 gallons of water it took to mix the concrete it brings the total weight of the structure for concrete to 1500 pounds. Three fourths of a ton. Yeah, I do have a tendency to over kill some times. I didn't want a strong wind to blow it over or a 65 pound boy to knock it down. I don't think it's going any where. What do you think?
Support Structure  

Ok, lets move on. The neighbor next door had an old swingset that his kids had out grown and he mentioned to Bradley, my grandson, that he could have it if it was Ok with grandpa. Since it only needed a "little" repair and since grandpa was such a handy kind of guy he could fix it up for him. Well, how do you say no to a six year old grandson with deal like that? You don't. So we pulled up the swingset and carried it over to grandpa's house. You can see that the cross bar just didn't stand up to the boys in the neighborhood. Well, I have a plan. Yes that is concrete on the ends of the swingset poles, but after digging holes to set those chunks in the ground I mixed up and put another 160 pounds of concrete on top of the concrete that's already there. If you look close on the other side of the dangling blue chains of the broken swings the first of the new bars has been installed. The new bars were fabricated from the top rail of a chain link fence. Bradley tested it out by climbing up on the bar and jumping up and down to see what it would do. Well, I already knew it would be fine as I tested it with my rotund body so Bradley was like tick on the back of Clydesdale horse but it was just fun to watch him try to bend it.

Broken Swingset  

I hope you enjoyed the peek into the life around the Urban Ranch. Now it's time to kick back, grab a cup of coffee and spend some quality relaxing time out on the poor man's patio. See ya next time and have a great day in the garden.

Poor Mans Patio 

The patio's looking pretty spiffy now that I have the right kind of plants growing in the containers. This picture really doesn't do it justice as the trellis is quite colorful this year. The plants across the top are Impatiens and the ones up the sides are Begonias. The big leafy things by my feet are zucchini plants but all but a couple succumbed to the dreaded vine bore. I'm not sure how to thwart the greedy little munching worms, but I'm determined to find a way.

See ya next time, and don't forget to leave a comment and tell me how the summer gardening is in your neck of the woods.

nebraska dave
7/20/2011 8:03:07 PM

MBD, this is the worst flooding I've seen in all of my over 60 years of living near the Missouri river. Many are blaming the Corps of Engineers for not letting enough water out of the four dams along the river but for all the years of the dams in existance their water management methods worked. This year there was record snow in the mountains and record rains in the spring. The two combine caused an unexpected rush of water that couldn't be dealt with any other way than to open the 14 flood gates in the dam and hope for the best. It's been a huge loss for the folks that live near the river. Farm land that's been flooded for that long will have mountains of sand on what used to be rich bottom ground. It will take years to recover the land from such a deposit. It hasn't really affected me personally but coming from a farming background my heart goes out to the farming community. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.


muck boot diva
7/20/2011 10:13:12 AM

WOW! We have just the opposite problem in CNY -- no water! Right now, you have to pick between your house water, and your gardening water. It's one, or the other. My well went dry for a while in the house when we were trying to water our plants outside this weekend. Praying for the rain to come to CNY and the farmers -- but not like in your blog! MBD


nebraska dave
7/18/2011 10:55:22 PM

MW, The water, so the local weather man tells me, is slowly receding. The dam up river is still releasing record amounts of water and will continue to release the high level of water until September. I've been working on Bradley's fort today. The heat index was well over 100 today. Right now at 10:30pm the temperature is 88 with heat index 100. I think I'm going to need a little help from my friends Alieve and Ibuprofen tonight. One more day and the basic construction should be completed. Then I'll have to start working on the floor. I have to seal it up good as the flooring is not weather proof and well kids will be scuffing around on it. Have a great day in the garden.


mountain woman
7/18/2011 9:51:34 AM

Hi Nebraska Dave, Wow, the flooding pictures are terrible! I know at our place in Missouri, Bull Shoals is at record levels with flooding all around. Just terrible destruction. Your projects are amazing but I'm particularly fond of the swing set. I have many great memories from time spent with my son on swings. May the remainder of your summer be filled with more wonderful adventures and the enjoyment of your lovely patio and garden.


nebraska dave
7/13/2011 3:38:25 PM

Mary, thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I have enjoyed the patio this year. It's relaxing to me just to sit on the bench and watch the neighborhood families come and go. Most of the farmers have many tracts of land to farm today. No farmer will have total loss but they will be taking a major hit this year from the flooding. Any time water floods farm ground it brings in lots of sand which definitely doesn't make the soil better. The rich bottom ground is covered with mountains of sand so it takes more than just having the water go down to get the soil back to previous production. It looks like the weather is going to give us a break and stay in the 80s for a couple days. Yea!! Have a great day in the garden.


nebraska dave
7/12/2011 10:22:03 PM

Cindy, I'm not sure what girls did back 50 years ago but give a boy a stick, a cardboard box, and a few rocks and the imagination could travel any where in the world and they could be anything they wanted. I happened to have a network of creeks right behind the house and most were dry in the summer which provided a whole other world of exploration. When we got a little older bikes were the thing. We would ride them miles and miles and miles just to go swimming in the pool for a couple hours. Yeah, those were the days of care free living. Well, ya know, today are the days too. We can blog, send e-mail around the world, watch 270 channels of satellite TV with nothing worth watching, play Wii on flat screen TVs, have some voice come out through the car radio to tell us where to go (yeah, like I didn't have people telling me where to go already), talk on our Star Trek communicator, lounge in our air conditioned houses and cars .... Sheeesh, how did we ever survive growing up? :0)


mary carton
7/12/2011 9:39:03 PM

Like there it's been miserable here. I just feel so sorry for the farmers. They are the ones who usually take it on the chin when water is released. Patio looking good. Mary


cindy murphy
7/12/2011 5:29:52 PM

You are right, Dave - it seems there is NEVER enough time to get everything done! Right again you are about the poor man's patio looking spiffy; it's quite beautiful, in fact. The shots of the flooding are beautiful too, I think, but in a very different way. I'm always amazed Mother Nature can deal out such beauty and devastation at the same time. I'm sure Bradley will have such fun on the swing set and fort; I can just imagine the adventures in store for him this summer. A kid can be anything, or go anywhere in a fort! Those were the days, eh, back when we were kids....though we were always busy on one adventure or another, time seemed limitless.