Prepping the Road

The access road to our house will be on a 29 foot wide easement owned by my parents.  The easement sits between two lots just east of our 2-acre lot.  Until today, the easement has been used by the neighbors as a bonus extension of their yards and has a healthy spread of grass.  Well, today we removed a 200×16 foot chunk of that grass to make way for the access road.

My dad rented a sod cutter the night before and cut the area into strips.  After work, he and I rolled up some of it, loaded it onto a trailer, and hauled it over to my parents’ place where they have three RV hookup spots.  We laid the sod between the spots so that vacationers can enjoy it.  We returned the sod cutter, and I planned to return in the morning with more help.

Around 9am the next morning, I brought my four oldest kids, and the five of us started rolling up the sod, stacking it on a flatbed trailer and in the bed of my truck, and then hauling it over to my parents’ RV spots.  We worked until about noon and were about ⅓ of the way done.  It was hard work, and some of my kids were in tears when I reminded them that we had to get it done today or the grass would die.  These tears are why we moved back to Idaho, since these hard experiences will build character, right?

After tacos for lunch (provided by Grandma), we said goodbye to Parley, who went with Suzanne to Idaho Falls to buy a suit for the homecoming dance tonight.  The rest of us continued to work, and by this time, we had worked out some of our earlier inefficiencies.  For example, I thought I was being clever by rolling the sod using the following steps:

  1. I knelt down on the grass, leaning forward to grab the edge of the sod strip I was about to roll up.
  2. I placed my knife on the ground, behind and to the side of my knee.
  3. I started rolling the sod, walking backward on my knees, passing my knife as I went.  When the knife was at the edge of the comfortable distance to grab with my hand, I grabbed it and cut loose the rolled up sod, leaving a nice rolled bundle that I stood on its end.  Then I proceeded down the line repeating the pattern.

While this was an elegant algorithm (or so I thought), it actually wasn’t all that efficient.  Here’s what we (my kids mostly) figured out pretty quickly:

  • Walking backwards on my knees kills my back.
  • While I love using my knife, it wasn’t the fastest way to cut the sod strips.
  • Traveling backward along a long line puts the rolls farther and farther away from the trailer, causing us to have to walk a long way to load the rolls.
  • My talents were better employed elsewhere (e.g. grunt labor)

By the early afternoon, we had modified our approach like so:

  1. Charlotte worked her way across the 16 foot wide road, using a flat-nosed shovel to cut the sod into 5 foot strips.
  2. Ksenia and Hyrum rolled up the strips.
  3. My dad and I, being the strongest, picked up the rolls and loaded them onto the trailer and also into the back of my truck. 

With this pattern based on job specialization, we were able to load up 16×16 foot swaths, transport them to the RV spots, place them, and drive back to the beginning in less than 40 minutes.  We didn’t track it exactly, but we did 10-12 loads in about 7 hours.  Regardless of our improved efficiency, we were exhausted by the end.  

I must mention that Suzanne was running around all day helping Parley get ready for date and dance prep. She mentioned that it was actually very nice to have the townhome quiet for a few hours while she cleaned (as opposed to yelling at kids to do their chores, which they got out of today so that they could do the sod).

Kitten wouldn’t leave Charlotte’s knife alone
Stelli and Ruby helping Grandma and Grandpa lay the sod near the RV pads