Pumphouse - Outer Walls May 2013
  First of May holiday (Wednesday) and we were out building. Leno and James were having business issues and only Leno wanted to work. He brought along his kids and Toni as helpers and made a good start on two of the pumphouse outer walls laying down over 1000 bricks for the day.

Leno marking gauges on profile
Leno laying down the first bricks for the pumphouse

Brickwork on it's way up for front and side walls

  Pumphouse - More Walls

Back from Jada with lintels and cement
Brickwork going well

  We weren't able to work on the Sunday but did work Saturday. First was a trip to Jada to fetch the lintels for the pumphouse and some cement. The poor bakkie has never worked so hard.

Leno and James seemed to have sorted out their business differences and James was back at work. The team worked hard and layed just over 2000 bricks. At the end of the day all the outer walls were up to window sill height.

Martie and Dakota peeking out of the corner feature window

  Finance Watch
  It had to happen and was predictable with all the emergencies and transportation problems the builders were having. They had drawn all the money for the brickwork part of the project and still needed money to pay their helpers and fix their bakkie. And of course, the brickwork part of the project was not yet completed!

We discussed the situation and they agreed to slow down on their drawings for the next project which was the plastering/roofing/screed work. While we were about it we agreed on the pricing for the foundations to floor level for the house. I would just have to pull back on the payout reigns and watch motivation levels now that they were digging into their drawings for the house foundations project while still working on the pumphouse.

  Official Start on the House
  The second weekend in May and Leno had some business to do on the Saturday so it was James, Toni and two new (and very green) helpers out on site.

We had also run out of building sand so seeing as I would be paying them for the weekend out of the house foundations project, we dug out the first house foundation so that we could use the sand. And with that we had officially made a start on the house project.

Then it was back to the pumphouse where scaffolding was set up and James got going on the brickwork for the back wall.

A cold front was predicted. We had 5mm of rain the previous night and everything was damp but it was very windy. During the early afternoon thunderstorm clouds were building and at around 16h00 the wind swung 180 degrees and turned cold. We left just as it started raining and had to drive fast to outrun the storm northwards to get the builders home "dry".

Setting up the scaffolding for the pumphouse back wall

Unpleasant late afternoon working conditions - very cold wind and thunderstorm brewing

  Misty Morning, Perfect Day


Sunday morning was quiet, windless and misty. Fresh but surprisingly not too cold.

Leno had his bakkie going and took it out for a test drive to the farm. We drove behind him and got there without any problems.

After loading sand we realised that we had run out of face bricks on the pumphouse site and had to fetch some from the garage project. Then it was full steam ahead laying bricks.

Once the mist had cleared mid-morning we enjoyed a perfect autumn day. With the 3mm rain the previous evening, we even had flying ants out in the late afternoon.

Unfortunately the day didn't end well for Leno. We had just got out the farm gate and his wheel bearing on the front left wheel of his bakkie gave in. He waited there with Toni while I took James and the helpers home to fetch spares and a mechanic so he could get his bakkie back home again.

  Noticing Something Missing
  We haven't seen the cows around for a while. There's almost no grass worth grazing left on our side of Che's farm and as the other side of her farm isn't fenced off, she has had to assign one of her staff as a herder and has moved the cows over to the new pastures. Her bulls had also been fighting with Kallie's bull through the game fence and had broken the fence open on at least one occasion that we know of. Even though they are a real pain, it is very quiet without them. We miss them, kind of.

Eland Herd in Trouble

  During the afternoon four eland passed leisurely by. But news is that the main herd is in big trouble. During the last week they wiped out one of the farmers' fruit orchards! A few weeks ago they also decimated all of Johan and Marcel's little sunflower crop and their newly planted shade trees.

It is really great to see them passing by regularly but they are very destructive to the plantlife in the area (and we have first hand experience of that). And the main herd is now over 40 strong. Looks like they may get sold off in the near future. It would be nice to keep a small herd in the reserve but unfortunately that's not for us to decide. In one way it would be a great pity not seeing them pass by any more but without them around we may have a better chance of growing some of the indigenous and fruit trees we plan to plant.

  Pumphouse - Inside Walls
  Third weekend in May Leno was off on Saturday so it was just James and four helpers. The plan was to make a start on the pumphouse inside walls and the spare helpers would continue digging on the house foundation trenches.

Starting the first inside wall
View from another angle
Up to scaffold level

Wall to roof height
Cupboard wall going up
Laying lintels over door frame

  The first inside wall on the pumphouse was to box off a little corner for the toilet and incorporated a doorway.

The walls had to be double brick as they would support the small concrete slab on which we would mount our water tanks. On the doorway wall we were indenting the wall to door height for an open cupboard. It was finicky work and took James almost the entire day.

Digging on the house foundation was slow (mainly to lack of supervisor "push") and ongoing through the day.

Once James had finished the toilet walls he started on the pump/equipment room separator wall which also had a doorway. It was late, we weren't thinking and the door was placed in the centre of the wall instead of off to the side. I realise the mistake when we were five courses up, so we had to knock most of it down.

Another storm was brewing so we called it a day. We quickly packed up and made another dash northwards to attempt to outrun the storm. Unfortunately this time we weren't that lucky.


  Pumphouse - Inside Walls and Workshop Roof Beams
  Sunday morning was misty and quiet again. Leno was back with us, otherwise the same team as Saturday. We started off on the pumphouse inside wall which we partly knocked down the evening before. We moved the doorway and James built on that wall while Leno got going on the unfinished outer walls.

Later in the morning James left the pumphouse brickwork to Leno and headed down to the workshop to start on our first roof section.

We were going to do the double storey workshop roof first in order to get to grips with roofing. James claims they have done it all before but I suspect only after it had been all designed and planned for them. Here we're designing as we go! (nah, not really, it's just that the design's in my head).

He placed the beams and tied them onto the roof ties we built into the wall under my close supervision. Well, as close as I could get. Although I'm ok with heights, I certainly wasn't going to get up there and crawl around on the beams with them.

He then nailed on the purlins and made sure everything was straight and sqaure. Oops - a miscalculation had us two purlins short so we put the project on hold until the next weekend.

At the end of the day our "watchtower" looked a lot more "finished off" and Leno had completed the pumphouse inside wall and was making good progress on the outside front wall.



  A new addition to the household: Charlie.

One of our clients was moving to a smaller home and didn't know what to do with their collie. The time was right for another dog so we took her on.

She's a collie bitch (in every way) out of the same mould as Dakota. It's amazing how similar their mannerisms are but she has a few bad habits that we are working on.

Like here she's making herself at home on the couch on her first night with us.

  Midweek Building Supply Run
  The planned projects for the fourth weekend in May were the roof for the workshop and the concrete slabs on the pumphouse/ablution block which will support our water tanks.

I did a lot of phoning around early in the week and got my orders in for all the materials we would need. Everything was from suppliers I hadn't dealt with before and the plan was to shoot out, collect all the materials, drop them off at the farm on Thursday morning and then get back to the office to catch up my work. Didn't work out that way, unfortunately. I first went out to the concrete farbricators and after spending more time than neccessary convincing the sales team that I didn't need engineers drawings and approval for my little pumphouse tank supports, collected the prestressed concrete ribs for the roof slabs. I then popped across the road in Klipriver to BSI Steel to collect the IBR sheeting. They were by far the cheapest for the "Kalahari Red" Chromadek we had chosen for the roof and here is where the wheels came off.

Little Bantam Bakkie checking out with roofing sheets loaded on the BSI Steel 20 meter weighbridge

It took nearly an hour to get in through the compulsory weighbridge, my little bakkie in the queue boxed in between the massive articulated vehicles. We managed to get the sheets loaded (no help from the staff there tying it down, I might add. That's solely the responsibility of the client) and then it was back into the queue for another hour for the outgoing weighbridge. And that was Thursday nearly gone, so I dashed out to Meyerton to the cement block manufactureres and loaded up as many concrete blocks for the pumphouse slabs as the bakkie could handle. Very heavily loaded I headed out to the farm to offload and got back home in the dark.

5 x 1.5 meter prestressed concrete ribs
3 x 1.8 meter prestressed contrete ribs
50 x S120 blocks

Friday morning after catching up as much business as I could, it was back out to the concrete fabricators as I realised I messed up on the concrete rib calculations and loaded up some more slightly longer ones.
6 x 4.7 meter Chromadek IBR
4 x 1.1 meter Chromadek IBR
2 x 3 meter Polycarbonate IBR

  Then it was off to Meyerton to get the Polycarbonate IBR diffuser sheets that we were going to use to let light into the workshop, then back to the cement block suppliers to get the rest of the blocks I couldn't get onto the bakkie the previous day. I got to the farm early afternoon and Kallie Snr and Kallie Jr were busy trying to get their square baler working. They had bundled a few bales but something was jamming continually. While I was offloading I noticed them dash off to their car and zoom out the gate. I assumed they went back to their farm to get parts but later heard Kallie Snr had got his finger tip cut off in the baler mechanism and they had zoomed off to the hospital!

Kallie's tractor and the square baler that cut off his fingertip

  Pumphouse - Last Wall and Workshop Roof Sheeting
  So on the last Saturday in May we had all the materials for the workshop roof and concrete roof slabs for the pumphouse. But the pumphouse brickwork wasn't finished yet.

While waiting for Jada to deliver the last two purlins for the roof and river sand, stone and cement for the concrete, Leno and James got stuck into the last pumphouse wall brickwork.

James made up the complex little corner window support while Leno laid bricks. We were going to have a corner window, still undecided as to whether to put in a small steel square pole support in the corner and butt the window frames from both windows up against it or try and join the glass with silicone in the corner.

Then it was crunch time to see if the levels of the two walls matched. They were very close so the gauges for two courses were adjusted slightly on the one wall until everything was level on top of the windows.

Then they laid the roller courses and three more courses of brick.

By that time Jada had delivered our materials and James headed down to the workshop and nailed down the last two purlins while Leno finished off the surrounding bricks for the concrete water tank support roof on each side of the pumphouse.

In the picture above we have our first IBR sheet on the purlins. I did some fancy working out of timber and IBR sheet lengths so that we didn't have to cut any sheets and have minimal waste on the timber. Everything worked out well. On the right, all sheets layed on but not yet screwed down.

All hands on deck getting the IBR sheets in place
Heads down - putting in the roof screws

  James and his helper had most of the roof screws in by the end of the day. We used an electric drill (with generator for power) to drill the holes and a battery drill for driving in the screws.

We also had a small electric saw to clean up the ends of the beams. On the right is the finished result. The two polycarbonate diffuser sheets are visible through the windows. They give diffused light into the rooms and will be used throughout the other workshops and garages and the house.

  Getting Along

First day out on the farm for Charlie and she loved it. I don't think she had ever seen so much space and obviously still needed to get "farm fit". Dakota was still a bit weary of the new attention seeker but they were getting along better every day.

  Pumphouse - Roof Slabs
What's this?? Martie up on the scaffolding checking the slab preparation

  Sunday morning we tackled the concrete slabs on the pumphouse very early. Those prestressed rib lintels were really heavy and it took some effort to get them up on the scaffolding and then a while to get them placed correctly with all the blocks slotted neatly in place between them.

The reinforced concrete roof is a really simple system. The first picture on the right is the view from the top. Unfortunately the ribs were about 10mm too long so Leno knocked down the one side wall and rebuilt it once the ribs were in place. All the gaps between the blocks and between the blocks and the walls simply get filled with concrete and that just locks everything solidly together.

The second picture on the right is the view from the bottom. I was hoping it would be neater so we could just paint it but Leno says we should plaster it when we plaster the walls.

Third picture down is Leno pouring the concrete after laying down some more rebar over the lintels and steel grid over the whole area. The concrete was mixed on the ground and was pulled up onto the scaffolding bucket by bucket, poured and then "poked" well to get it deep down into all the gaps between the blocks.

Fourth picture down is the finished slab. Leno has just finished levelling it with the straight edge.

We did two slabs, one each side of the building. The reason for these strong ledges is to hold the water tanks. We're also not sure exactly what size tanks we are going to eventually use - that will be decided by the borehole performance and pumping equipment we install but I felt we needed the structure to be able to hold a 5000 liter tank comfortably. And 10000 litres doesn't go very far when you're watering crops.

Once the concrete is dry we will build the front and inside walls up a few courses (the rest of the roof will go around these "blocks"), screed the flat surfaces and then thoroughly waterproof the whole ledge structure.

  Workshop - Finishing Off  
Bricking up the front between the beams
Bricking up the side to the IBR sheeting
While Leno was working with the concrete James and his helper finished painting the exposed parts of the beams with carbolinium and bricked up the front between the beams and the one side up to the IBR sheeting.

Pumphouse structure in the foreground, workshop and garage block in the background

So, a fairly productive month of May with most of the work being done on the pumphouse but we also completed our first roof and started digging the foundations for the house. Roll on June.

  The Big Old Dead Tree
  Hey, not so fast! Still one day of May with some farm stuff in it. Early Friday afternoon the last day of May I went out to BSI Steel to fetch the IBR roofing sheets for the pumphouse. I took Charlie along. We got through the BSI weighbridge and loading saga fairly quickly and headed out to Meyerton to fetch the polycarbonate sheets. Then drove very slowly to the farm with our 5.4 meter IBR sheets well secured.

When we got there we found a very big branch had fallen down from the old dead tree. I had to stop and clear the forest road first. Old branches were now falling regularly and had broken our log fence in a few places along our entrance road. We'll just have to live with it for now because I ain't going up there to clear branches!


After offloading the sheets I took Charlie for a walk (run) up the hill. While scouting around up there and enjoying the view a herd of eland appeared moving slowly out from the northern corner of Che's farm along our log fence line. We waited on the hillside until they had passed, watching another great sunset. Lovely way to end the month. Now, roll on June.