Filling my Pit of Doom with Dirt… Just call me PACK MULE

Oct 22 2018
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Have I mentioned that I’m starting to feel like a Pack Mule? Maybe thirty or forty times already? Ok, that’s what I thought because apparently I AM A PACK MULE and my new middle name is MANUAL LABOR. So its not like I didn’t see this job coming before winter… its more like I just pretended it wasn’t on the way because… Giant pile of dirt is my nightmare.

Ok, brief recap for those just joining us. Last winter was a rough one and one of the real tragedies that befell me was my outdoor yard hydrant exploded out in my barn.

It kept freezing because it wasn’t buried like it was supposed to be because it was just hanging out in a 3 foot around 16 foot deep, empty dried up sand point well shaft.

(I call it my Pit of Doom.)

Ok, that's what I thought because apparently I AM A PACK MULE and my new middle name is MANUAL LABOR. Filling a well shaft with lots of dirt before winterOk, that's what I thought because apparently I AM A PACK MULE and my new middle name is MANUAL LABOR. Filling a well shaft with lots of dirt before winterOk, that's what I thought because apparently I AM A PACK MULE and my new middle name is MANUAL LABOR. Filling a well shaft with lots of dirt before winterOk, that's what I thought because apparently I AM A PACK MULE and my new middle name is MANUAL LABOR. Filling a well shaft with lots of dirt before winterOk, that's what I thought because apparently I AM A PACK MULE and my new middle name is MANUAL LABOR. Filling a well shaft with lots of dirt before winter

Enormously creepy and dangerous!

How on earth did this come about? The well dried up decades ago and my grandpa used the empty shaft to run the pipe down into the ground. (This meant he didn’t have to dig a second giant hole in the barn so he could still have water INSIDE.)

Then they dug outside the barn, all the way down to connect to the pipe and dug a ditch to run the pipe all the way underground to the basement in the house.

It worked fine because the barn was full of warm cows and it never froze.

Fast forward at least thirty years and I moved in and the only way to thaw said frozen pipe was to dump hot water down the shaft until it thawed out so I could fill my horses’ water tank in the winter.

Its been leaking way down inside the pit for years and I had actually planned to move said water, this summer, to the new shed I made for my horses.) I had literally been BEGGING it to just last ONE MORE WINTER.

Well the pipe literally exploded where it had been leaking way down deep in the shaft. And it was like all of minus thirty degrees outside and that was after I had hauled no less than thirty 5 gallon buckets of hot water to the barn so it was impossible for me to then fill my horses’ water tank.

So I hired a local company to fix/replace it and they left a little electric heater down in the shaft to keep it thawed out for the rest of the winter.

It cost me a fortune in electricity to run.

But it worked.

After paying to have it fixed I certainly was not going to be moving it anywhere!

So, I had major DANGEROUS and major COST that I could take care of with just one ten yard load of dirt.

This damn well is so close to a window and so close to the door its almost worse than if it had been farther away because it feels totally mocking. I had him back right up to the front barn door and attempt to dump as much dirt as possible inside the barn as he could.

Only two weeks prior to this I had had my right hip and two ribs popped back into place. (Seriously, who dislocates their ribs off of their spine!? I do! And often! I keep promising my chiropractor that I won’t have anymore serious heavy lifting to do…)

Ok, that's what I thought because apparently I AM A PACK MULE and my new middle name is MANUAL LABOR. Filling a well shaft with lots of dirt before winter

That’s a really big pile of dirt.

I have awesome family and friends and basically ALL of them are injured in some way right now where I wouldn’t allow them to help me even if they wanted to.

(Let’s not forget I’m still apparently incapable of asking for help. A normal person would have offered a case of beer out to anyone who wanted to help on their Facebook friends list but, oh no, not me!)

The moment I considered asking for help it just seemed lazy! I am capable of moving dirt dammit. (Turns out my attitude is also becoming more mulish by the day.)


My best friend Rachie volunteered cause she’s amazing and then she was diagnosed with bronchitis and pneumonia. Not to mention she had hernia surgery last year!!

Fortunately the dirt was delivered last Monday (the 15th of October) and that Thursday our temperature skyrocketed into the high 60s. (There was rejoicing in the streets – our first snow was in September!)

So, after work on Thursday, I changed my clothes, grabbed a couple of cans of beer, my little radio and headed to the barn to assess the situation.

First I uncovered the pit and then I tied my hydrant back from the front wall of the pit as far as it would go. I wanted as much dirt AROUND the pipe as possible.

With that done I grabbed the snow shovel I keep out in the barn and just started moving dirt. With so much of it actually in the barn I kinda figured I might end up getting the wheel barrow eventually but, for now, I just scooped and tossed.

Every fifty shovel fulls I gave myself a break.

This has always been how I get through any hard, endless job. I break it down in my head so its easier to bite off one piece at time.

Fifty shovel fulls, yay a victory, and a break etc.

I did not let myself look at my progress until after an hour of straight shoveling. I turned my flash light on and braced myself for seeing NO progress whatsoever and, lo and behold, there was progress!

In my head I had set myself up for having to move the entire ten yards of dirt and was even afraid I may have to get more.

It ended up only taking about half the load.

Ok, that's what I thought because apparently I AM A PACK MULE and my new middle name is MANUAL LABOR. Filling a well shaft with lots of dirt before winterOk, that's what I thought because apparently I AM A PACK MULE and my new middle name is MANUAL LABOR. Filling a well shaft with lots of dirt before winterOk, that's what I thought because apparently I AM A PACK MULE and my new middle name is MANUAL LABOR. Filling a well shaft with lots of dirt before winterOk, that's what I thought because apparently I AM A PACK MULE and my new middle name is MANUAL LABOR. Filling a well shaft with lots of dirt before winter

I lost count of exactly how many shovel fulls it took me to move 5 yards of dirt. And this stuff wasn’t regular dirt at all, it definitely had clay in it so it was WAY heavier than I had expected.

But, I got it done.

Goodbye scary Pit of Doom!

Now, let’s all cross our fingers that after packing dirt around it my hydrant is insulated enough that it will never freeze again!!!!

With the type of dirt it is I now have plenty to resurface my driveway as well which is kinda a perk I certainly didn’t see coming.

But, for now, I am totally unwilling to worry, talk about or even look at said pile of dirt.

In fact I plan on ignoring that pile of dirt until next summer!

Yet again, for the millionth time, I think to myself I have nearly finished with all my big major manual labor jobs…. and I can hear my farm laughing at me.

Now this extremely sore chicka is gonna go lay down for a few days.

Ok, that's what I thought because apparently I AM A PACK MULE and my new middle name is MANUAL LABOR. Filling a well shaft with lots of dirt before winter


  1. October 22, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    OK Very BRAVE and HARDWORKING person Tarah. You absolutely rock. You just made your winter BETTER. Rest, hope ribs and hip is still in place.

    • October 23, 2018 at 9:32 am

      Thank you Joy this is one winter I’m almost looking forward too lol

  2. Terrie
    October 23, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Let me start off saying, that is one fricking big pile of dirt. (I promised my mom I would try not to swear so much. Fricking is my compromise) It’s terrible isn’t it, that feeling of not wanting to ask, I can do it myself, it isn’t that big of deal, I got this. Until the next day and you can barely walk and people ask “Why didn’t you call me?” But then you finish one of these “is it never going to end” projects and look at what you accomplished and say “Hell, yes, I did that!” I am 66 years old and have been doing things on my own since my husband died 18 years ago and my body is starting to rebel big time. Please ask for help. Your body will definitely appreciate it in the long run. I now have a helper, the son of a friend and what a difference it has made. I still grind my teeth over the delay in waiting for help but my neck, back and feet are much happier.

    • October 23, 2018 at 10:57 am

      Terrie, I hear ya! There is nothing more awesome than accomplishing something that seemed insurmountable by yourself but, on the other hand, my poor back omg! And my feet too for sure. My family has a running joke now that I’m gonna die someday because I refused to ask for help lol HOPEFULLY this is the worst of the worst and I won’t be seeing anything this serious again. This summer I learned the lesson of how amazing it really is to have help (even if its just company) jobs go so much quicker and easier with someone else along. Thanks so much for coming by!!

  3. Lucinda
    October 23, 2018 at 11:34 am


    I enjoy your blog! It is very real. I can also relate to having to do a lot of repair before truly being able to remove forward from an ex.

    You keep rocking girl! Everyday is another step forward. Look back and celebrate your accomplishments. Look forward and reach for your future.

    • October 23, 2018 at 12:40 pm

      Thank you Lucinda! Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle but I am FINALLY getting to a place now where I’m no longer just “fixing” but actually starting to get to improvements!

  4. Jeanne
    October 24, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    I moved 10 bags of mulch to my back yard and spread it around my patio. I though I was SuperWoman, but now I know I’m only Tinker Bell compared to you!! Bravo on your hard work and I hope your body heals up nicely and you can get some much needed rest. Do you have to put tarps over your dirt pile so it doen’t turn to mud over the winter?

    • October 25, 2018 at 9:01 am

      Hi Jeanne, fortunately (or unfortunately lol) we have cold enough winters that the remainder of dirt is almost frozen solid even right now so I won’t have to worry about it too much until spring! And I am totally ready not to look at it or move another shovel full of dirt for MANY months omg. SO glad that job is over!

  5. Lace Faerie
    October 25, 2018 at 2:43 am

    Way to go! You definitely earned those beers! And a good long soak in your beautiful bath!!

  6. October 25, 2018 at 7:20 am

    THAT is something out of a horror film. I’m so glad you got it filled. EEK.

    • October 25, 2018 at 9:11 am

      Thanks Kari, have a great weekend!

  7. October 25, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Oh mannnn, Tarah, I’m so ready to play the age card now. But I must admit, even when I was your age I couldn’t do what you do! But don’t wreck yourself. I did one huge job in the backyard years ago that I “paid for” for at least two years with shoulder, back, leg and foot issues. And that job is probably behind the chronic shoulder problem I’m having now. ~ Jean

    • October 25, 2018 at 9:15 am

      Hey Jean, I totally hear you! I swear when we’re kids we just bounce! I absolutely do NOT bounce anymore, I really, truly, believed that this was my last truly hard labor job I had to do on my farm. And it was just such a crappy job I hated asking anyone I loved to help me lol. Fortunately, it only took about half the dirt I thought it would thank goodness! I sure hope I’m right that this is it for awhile so I really can rest and heal.

  8. Nancy
    October 25, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Please do not refer to yourself as a pack mule. I did that so often in the past when i laid cement, tuck pointed my porch, painted my two car garage, cleaned gutters and did all the maintenance on my 1937 home. I also worked full or part-time and earned three college degrees. My husband worked ten and twelve hour days- six and seven days a week. I maintained the house because I knew how. I learned all of those skills from MY MOTHER. She maintained her home because my stepfather was just plain lazy. The point of the story is we do what we do not because of or in spite of a man. I now realize after so many long years that I am a self-reliant and skillful woman. I am also persistent and somewhat of a perfectionist. For most of my life, a college degree was my goal and I managed those three degrees debt free. Both of my sons graduated from college debt free. When i received my last degree in 2007, i received a standing ovation from my peers and the faculty. I was the only one in my graduating class who had never taken out a student loan or owed anyone a dime. You are a remarkable woman. Be proud of your accomplishments and your priorities. I admire you very much and look forward to your inspiring posts.

    • October 26, 2018 at 9:33 am

      Thanks Nancy for coming by, have a great weekend!

  9. October 26, 2018 at 4:07 am

    Congratulations! Job well done! Take the winter off and tackle the rest of that dirt in the spring. Visiting from All Things Beautiful blog hop.

    • October 26, 2018 at 9:32 am

      Thanks Jolena, I am really looking forward to smaller inside jobs this winter lol thanks for coming by!!

  10. October 26, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    That was a LOT of work Tarah! Take care of your back and thank you for sharing at Party In Your PJs!

    • October 26, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks Ann, have a great weekend!

  11. October 27, 2018 at 6:42 am

    Don’t hate the dirt, make the dirt hate you. And I believe you did. Moving a pile of dirt like that is tough! I feel your dread but you have to admit, when you accomplish something like that it feels pretty darn good!! When I have to do something that I dread and then accomplish it, the next thing that pops up that I dread, I’m like, “I’m good. I faced that big ass pile of dirt and killed it. This here ain’t nothing.”

    • October 29, 2018 at 10:19 am

      Very true!! When I finished I danced on top of that pile of dirt! lol it wasn’t that bad. And that’s the truth of the dreaded jobs I think we make them so much worse in our heads and then when we get there they’re not that bad! Thanks for sharing with us as always, have a great week.

    October 28, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Did you insulate the exposed pipe? Hopefully everything will stay warm this winter. Having just spent 3 days working on our road repairs from the flooding we had, I can empathize with you! Unfortunately we still have many more days of work ahead of us. 😢 Enjoy your well earned rest GF 😊

    • October 29, 2018 at 10:20 am

      Hi Linda! I’m thinking I’m going to wrap the faucet and the exposed pipe in heat tape so that way, if I need it, I can plug that in too! Good luck on your repair, ugh fixing roads that have flooded out can be such a tough job!

  13. Cindy
    October 28, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Dang, Girl! You are amazing! See what a little determination and some beer can do for you? However, it probably would have been sooooo much easier to get a barnful of cows to keep it warms, like your grandpa did. Good job!!

    • October 29, 2018 at 10:29 am

      Cindy I SO wish I had been alive when this barn was full of cows. My mom and aunt talk about how warm and wonderful it was in there in the winter. Thanks for coming by, have great week!

  14. Mikayla
    October 29, 2018 at 8:44 am

    What an accomplishment Tarah! My husband and I just bought his grandmother’s place and we are in the same boat of fixing and tilting our heads at why some things were done that way! Your winter will be much nicer since you’ve filled the Pit of Doom! Haha! 🙂

    • October 29, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Thanks and you are so right it is just funny when people will ask me why I did something the way I did and I’ll start the explanation with: “So, fifty years ago this apparently happened and then that happened and than this happened and then then years ago something else happened and then I bought the place and then that happened!” So much of how things end up were never my idea lol! But certainly, usually that adds to the charm of everything and then somethings it makes SO much work!

  15. Nancy Robinson
    October 30, 2018 at 7:45 am

    What a delightful woman you are! Nothing pretentious about you. I just read your story and am anxious to read your blog from beginning to end. You are so down to earth, not posting a tablescape each week for your blog readers. I wanted to read from beginning to end without stopping! I look forward to finishing reading about your adventures restoring the house and barn. You are a year younger than my daughter and I cannot wait to read about your next adventure!
    Happy fall and best wishes!

    • October 30, 2018 at 10:00 am

      Thank you so much Nancy! Its been a wonderful run here so far at Grandma’s House, I have so many plans I’m excited for this winter and next summer and, of course, future plans too!

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