The first two months of 2017 was a busy time for family celebrations, with a wedding and a birthday dinner in Auckland coming hot on the heels of a 21st party in Wellington. Catching up with all the rellies was a blast, but the whirlwind of social occasions left me a bit short on time and brain space for blogging. Once we got back home I had quite an urge to have a nice long lie down. Instead we started building a bridge.
As with so many things at the farmlet, the bridge leading into the Seven Acre Wood was on its last legs. It had probably never been particularly sturdy, and by the time we inherited the property it was downright precarious. Constructed using thin decking timber and minimal supports, it featured several broken planks, and in wet weather was as slick as an ice rink. I barely trusted it to support anyone larger than the resident midget (That’s me. A good 6 inches shorter than anyone else here). Certainly the sight of the Forbearing Husband traversing in full chainsaw regalia gave me cause for concern. I’m sure I need not even mention that the two fat ponies were banned from ever making bridge crossings.
A new bridge had been on our To-Do-List since we arrived. Bridge building materials don’t come cheap though, so that was where progress had stopped. But wait… A stroke of luck! On his way to work one day our resident sparky noticed a work-party digging out bollards at an Auckland factory site. He screeched his van to a sliding stop, and vaulted out through the driver’s window (some artistic license may have been used in this description). On learning that the massive chunks of timber were destined for the tip our hero secured 70 of them and took them for a long drive.
Stephen didn’t stop there either. Putting on his design hat he masterminded a cunning combination of wood, galvanised plates and something called Unistrut. After some debating back and forth about what would be needed to support a quad bike (desired future farmlet purchase, weight approx 400kg) and a 500kg pony or two I remembered we have an engineer in the family. I asked Darling Daughter whether she might chip in on the bridge design. She looked at me with narrowed eyes and proclaimed herself ‘Not. Civil.’ I interrogated her about the orientation (vocational) of her various engineer friends, but apparently none of them are civil either.
Not to worry, how hard can it be to build a bridge? A few design tweaks later, and we got started. Construction involved all the farmlet residents — a team that now includes Deborah and Stephen, who moved into their little house over Waitangi weekend (yay!). In a companionable flurry of chiseling, drilling, and bolt tightening, the bridge moved from imagination into reality.
What do you think? Isn’t it just a little bit Game of Thrones? The final flourish will be a post at each corner which will surely make it a drawbridge worthy of The Dreadfort.
Kitty Pop obviously needed to conduct her usual inspection, but you’ll be pleased to know our new bridge has also been tested for heavier items. Specifically, little fat ponies. Little fat ponies, the larger of which probably weighs around 500kg, and carries her weight on four hooves, each about the size of a human hand. Think about that weight concentration as something akin to a largish human wearing stiletto heels*.
Originally we had the idea of slowly backing the Vitara onto the bridge to see how it held up. We decided against it. That car weighs 2 tonnes so it seemed a bit extreme and, well, maybe we are not quite that confident about our bridge design. Deborah came up with a great alternative though. All five of us: Forbearing Husband, Favorite Stepson, Deborah, Stephen, and I, (at a combined weight of approximately 450kg) stood on the bridge. To produce the stiletto effect of our pony on four legs we each balanced on one of our legs and then we all jumped in the air at the same time. We landed. The bridge survived. Design tested and approved.
Take that, you Un-Civil Engineers! (Love you little quail x)
* Nurse Jenny if you’re reading this, yes I am thinking of the SLT Christmas Party and the two Davids.