Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Revisiting Rebar

Little by little, the farm grows and matures. Little by little, things on the still-expanding "to-do" list get checked off.

Sometimes I have to shake my head in amazement at how LONG seemingly small, simple tasks can take to accomplish...not to mention how many times we can make temporary quick fixes for the same thing before we finally do it right.

Today's milestone was getting ALL the rebar stakes sorted, straightened, and stacked in such a manner that they won't sink into the dirt, weeds can't grow up through them, they are easy to get to, and they are hard to trip over.

When I bought a large number of second-hand tomato cages from a large commercial grower a number of years ago, they came with rebar stakes to secure them to the ground--two per cage. After unloading and stacking all hundred or so tomato cages, dealing with the rebar (which didn't fit into our scheme for securing tomato cages) was not a high priority. We just threw it down on the ground in a stack next to the slaughter waste composter in the garden area, next to the truck. This was out of the main lane, at least.

They staaaayed there. Several years, maybe longer. We used them now and then for different things, but mostly we just tripped over the stack.

Eventually we dismantled that composter, so the rebar had to move. By then we had the galvanized shed. So I put down a sheet of corrugated metal in front of the far corner of the shed, and pounded a piece of rebar through the hole in the metal to keep the rebar from rolling, and thought I'd solved the problem. Dug the rebar out of the dirt and weeds. Hauled it all to the shed. Stacked it all rebar there. Felt smug.

The rebar was several different sizes. Every time I needed a piece of a certain size, I had to hunt. The pile gradually became less and less neat.

Sometimes the rebar got bent. I didn't want to throw it away, but it really didn't stack, bent. So I put the end of a barrel nearby, and put the really bent pieces in there. Other stuff got thrown in there, too. At least it had a hole in the bottom so that it drained, and didn't breed mosquitos.

The pile stuck out about a foot past the wall of the shed. This was fine when there was a fence a foot and a half past the wall of the shed, but then we moved the fence and the gate needed to be at the corner of the shed.

We started moving the pile to the back of the barn, a month or two ago, without much enthusiasm. We set up something to contain the rebar, but it didn't seem to work very well. We drew a blank on what could work better.

Today we finally got over to the neighbor's to pick up a pile of scrap lumber they'd said we could have. It included several narrow pallet-like deck sections. They were perfect for storing things rebar.

We covered the ground with corrugated metal, then put down the pallet along the north of the barn wall where we have a material depot. It's out of sight, and convenient to the garden.

To keep the rebar from rolling, and to separate the different sizes, we drove pieces of rebar through the gaps in the decking, through the corrugated metal, and into the ground. The t-post pounder worked well for this and ensured they were all the same height. We capped the vertical rebar posts with plastic safety caps (due to the impalement hazard of rebar stakes, we now have a policy that EVERY rebar stake be capped. The caps are cheap enough, and it really makes them visible to prevent tripping as well as impalement.).

Friend M. and I loaded the rest of the rebar from the galvanized shed onto various conveyances. We found that the simple plastic child's snow sled we use for hauling hay bales at feeding time is also perfect for hauling rebar, with the long ends projecting forward so they are confined from excessive rolling by the tow rope. Another conveyance that worked well is an odd cart that's like a wheel-barrow without the tub. A couple clamps kept the rebar from rolling off.

Apprentice E. and I sorted and straightened the entire pile this afternoon. Straightening use to be well-nigh impossible, but is very easy now...we have a special tool. It's the light stand for an old photographer's light! Essentially, it's a 3' pipe with legs on the bottom, and a 4-way coupling at the top. To straighten rebar, you just poke the rebar through the crosspiece of the stand, position the bend at the edge of the hole, and push or pull until the rebar is straight. E. proved to be very skilled at this, with his eye for detail. I sorted and he straightened, and together we got everything done.

The finished pile is truly a thing of beauty, at least to my eyes. And it will be so easy to find the stake I need! With the bending tool stored close at hand, there need never be tangled, bent rebar on the pile much easier.

1 comment:

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