We have accumulated an enormous amount of oyster supplies and tools in the start up of our aquaculture farm at Anderson’s Neck. I needed a place to keep all this stuff. I was tired of hauling what I needed at the farm out of the crawl space of our house. Every trip we had to load up my truck, haul it to The Neck, and then unload to work the oyster cages. So I decided we needed a large shed to make things simple. Well, nothing is that simple…
I could have gone the easy route and bought one of those pre-made sheds you see at your local hardware store. But none of those stock items were big enough. I needed the biggest shed I could find, without it becoming a permanent structure. I found an online shed kit store which could deliver the lumber, hardware, and plans, with the pitch of “Build your shed in two days with our easy to follow instructions.” They had a 12 foot X 24 foot shed with a loft. It was exactly what I wanted. The part about two days for installation and “only basic carpentry skills required” sounded great. So I bought the kit and scheduled it for delivery to The Neck. That’s when the ”fun” began.
The shed came in two deliveries. First, the components such as the cut to size boards, windows, doors, hardware, studs, gables, trusses, etc. came in one gigantic pallet assembly that a deliveryman would bring via a truck. However, when he arrived in an eighteen wheeler at our narrow, unpaved country road and proceeded to stop directly in front of our farm gate, we both knew we had a problem. The first thing the deliveryman did was jump out of the semi and start cussing about the dispatcher who sent him out with a truck too big for the task at hand. I suddenly internalized what this meant. He could not drive the truck through our gate and down our interior road, because our turnaround at the end probably wasn’t big enough for him to navigate. I certainly didn’t argue that point as I had no interest in adding a rusted out 18 wheeler as part of the permanent landscape to our farm. No thank you. So this meant the driver dropped off this enormous pallet in front of our access gate and I had to figure out how to take it from there. He also had to find a way to turn around in our driveway. While I watched this comedy unfold, I was instantly reminded of the Austin Powers 3 point turnaround scene (see video below).
Unbelievably, the driver figured it out after more than 30 minutes of back and forth maneuvering in our driveway. Finally success! He jumped out of the truck and shared a few more expletive riddled comments with me directed towards his friendly dispatcher. He proceeded to dump the pallet on my front access way after which he jumped back in the cab of the truck and sped off. He blew his horn on the way out as if saying “good luck, see you later sucker” as a parting goodbye. I responded to that nice little mocking gesture with a few choice words of my own.
So I spent the remainder of the day removing all the screws, nails, and wire cabling holding this pallet together and loading the parts onto my truck. I proceeded to make multiple trips hauling the supplies down to where the shed was to be built, each time unloading the cargo. This took almost a dozen trips and it was late summer. Have you ever been to the hot, swampy areas of the Chesapeake Bay when the bugs are in full force in the dead of summer? Well if not, here is a little advice, you don’t want to be there, stay indoors. Biting greenhead flies swarm at your eyes, ears, and nose, harassing you relentlessly. Hummingbird size mosquitoes attack causing misery for anything warm-blooded regardless of whether you are bearing skin or not. Clothing is no deterrent for these monsters. Then the nearly invisible noseeums move in to round things out for good measure. I must have been a sight to see as I carried enormous stacks of particle boards on my back to and from the truck while simultaneously swatting at a countless number of insects. They were literally devouring me alive. So it went for delivery number one.
For the second delivery, the local hardware store, Home Depot in this case, brought out the lumber for the sub-flooring and the paneling. The driver brought out a smaller truck, just shy of an 18 wheeler, with a portable forklift for moving the material off the truck. This poor soul didn’t know he had to drive 2.5 miles at an extremely slow speed for a total of two round trips. Of course, this is while being pelted by the cornucopia of biting insects the entire way in a soft drizzle of rain. Laura, Jacob, and I had just finished an oyster seed split out on the water and led him in with our truck. I could see in my rear-view mirror the big fork lift with swamp buggy-like tires and the driver atop it swatting furiously at the sticky wet air around his head. We knew he was miserable, but we couldn’t help but laugh hysterically as we watched him swatting and cursing the whole way. The animated twitching and frantic swatting I saw in my rear-view mirror was gradually increasing in intensity as we puttered along. The poor guy was absolutely whipped into a near frenzy by the time we finally reached the end of the road. I circled around in the truck and he immediately shouted “holy crap I can’t believe the size of these mosquitoes, these things are enormous!” I motioned for him to drop off his cargo and follow me for the second trip. The second trip was a repeat of the first, except with more uncontrollable laughter inside the truck. I was surprised no one wet themselves. Needless to say, the Home Depot deliveryman was happy to get out of there as soon as he was done. Laura, Jacob and I headed back home to Richmond dreaming of a warm shower. It had been a long day of working oyster cages that started well before dawn. I am sorry to say that the delivery man’s misfortune provided some badly needed comic relief to a long, hard day.
Later that evening, I got a call from the delivery man. He informed me in disbelief that after he left The Neck and arrived at his next stop for the day, he discovered that the Corian counter top he was to deliver wasn’t on his truck. Apparently the counter top was still shrink-wrapped to the top of my shed lumber delivery out at The Neck. I think I almost heard him sniffle a little when he informed me he would have to come back out the following weekend to retrieve the counter top and run the gauntlet of bugs once more. We made plans to meet up again the following weekend and he dejectedly apologized for the mistake.
When the delivery man met me the following weekend, he came prepared this time. He brought an industrial size can of Deep Woods Off and goggles to protect his eyes for what he jokingly referred to as “Virginia Vietnam.” He barked out, “Man, I came prepared this time, those buggers tore me apart last weekend.” I laughed a little, and saw that he actually managed to crack a small half-sincere smile. We started the drive in and I watched him swat and twitch despite the bug spray. I started laughing again uncontrollably as this joke just didn’t seem to get old. At the end of the road, counter top in tow, I told him I would let him see himself off back to the gate. I had some work to do. I watched him motor off furiously swatting and twitching while I doubled over in laughter. I don’t think he had any idea how much semi-sick enjoyment his troubles provided for us.
Now that I had all the supplies, it was time to build my shed, right? Uh well, not exactly. Bush hogging, permitting, and prepping the site with mesh and stone were required. Did I mention I have a day job? This was going to take forever given it was going to be a weekend project. Oh boy, oyster cages and now a shed. Thank goodness I was imbued with sticktuititiveness by my parents. More to come on the next blog post.