In November, 2003, Melanie found a lot for sale that was perfectly suited for our dream farm. The following is the the step-by-step preparation of the land for building the new farm.
The Melanie found was in western Loudoun County, seen here from the road. It was overgrown with weeds – 4 feet tall.
The same lot seen from the interior, looking toward the road. The weeds were up to our armpits. Walking across the field to get a better look, we emerged on the other side covered in cockleburs.
By February, the land had been purchased, and arrangements were being made with various contractors to build a farm. The weeds had been knocked down with a bush hog.
After it had been bush-hogged, the lot looked much better. Placement of the house and outbuildings had to be staked. The lone tree stands just in front of where the house would sit.
Placing the stakes was a cold business. The temperature and wind made work difficult. The contractors all agreed it was better if the ground was frozen, so there would be less mud. No worries…it was like the frozen tundra.
The truck was the only shelter, and much needed after a couple hours working in the cold.
The first thing that needed to be done was to get the well drilled. Drilling a well can be a crap shoot, and a source of apprehension. How deep…how expensive…would there be enough water?
On calling the well company, they said: We got you a nice well. I’m sure you could have heard them grinning over the phone. The crew set up at the first location, drilled, and found water at 300 feet…50 gallons per minute.
The next thing was the excavation work, starting with the driveway. Geological surveys revealed that this land had a lot of different kinds of dirt…everything from loam to swamp oodle. Shown here is some of the better stuff. Funny the things you learn.
The driveway was the first part of the excavation task. Here, the excavation contractor, Donald, fills a low spot where there’s a natural spring.
What kind of precision can you expect with a 23 ton bulldozer. As it turns out: Plenty. Donald, is a master of his trade.
The land seemed to have more low spots than high spots. So where does the extra dirt come from to fill the low areas?
All the excavated areas had to have topsoil removed. To get the good dirt for fill, Donald dug a couple of giant holes, and back filled those with top soil.
The county inspector stopped over to admire Donald’s handiwork, and reminded everyone that silt fence was required on the down hill of all disturbed earth. Of course. Umm…what’s silt fence?.
We found a phone cable 20 inches underneath the driveway entrance, which needed to be excavated.
Although Verizon never replied to any messages for assistance, with Donald driving, the entrance and culvert went in leaving the phone cable undisturbed.
After the driveway, the spot where the house goes has to be leveled.
The area where the barns go had to be leveled also (horses live in barn 1, the car goes in barn 2).
The main barn area had to be built up several feet so it would be level, requiring a pile of dirt as big as a house.
Ah, gotcha! It’s a baseball diamond. Yeah, right. Around here a riding arena is de rigueur.
The unfenced area right there in the middle. Up to now, little appears to have changed. Just wait until you see what comes next.