The Great Wall of Milford

“Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.” Theodore Isaac Rubin

Every once in a while we are confronted with a difficult task. Some people are constantly drawn to these and overcome them each and every time, making the impossible seem easy. Others avoid difficult tasks like the plague, never taking on anything beyond their current capabilities.

We bought a house in Milford that had a stone retaining wall that was falling apart. We used every last bit of money we had for the down payment and as a result, had nothing left to pay anyone for work which the house needed.

I had never built a retaining wall, or even seen one being built. Yet, I felt fully confident that I could replace the failing wall myself. In my mind I examined what needed to be done and seeing nothing that was beyond the abilities of a normal person, decided to take on the task.

My first step was to research the process of building a retaining wall. Within a week, using the internet, I was able to put together each of the steps that needed to be done, and a list of the materials required.

The materials were ordered, a backhoe was rented, and the old stone wall was taken down. I gave the old stone to a local contractor in town, my son’s friend’s dad, who came and picked them up as I took them down.

It took me three months, working weekends and evenings after work, to complete the retaining wall. For the following month after the wall was done, one of my neighbors brought everyone who came to visit her over to look at the wall. At Home Depot, the worker in the garden section would point me out, saying “that’s the guy that built that wall”, every time we came.

The wall is eighty feet long, with a 90 degree curve in the middle, six feet high on one side, going down to 1 ½ feet high on the other side. 1,200 70 pound retaining wall blocks were used to build the wall. About 10 tons of dirt were taken out, and dumped a block away, and replaced with 20 tons of crushed rocks and gravel. The dirt was actually hard clay and had to be dug out using a rented backhoe. The rest was moved by shovel and 5 gallon plastic containers. 99% of the work was done by me. On weekends I would begin working on the wall at 7:00 in the morning and wouldn’t stop until nightfall.

The wall demanded not only hard work, but careful planning as well. Drain lines needed to be placed in the right position, the right amount of gravel had to be placed beneath and behind the blocks for water to flow properly.

Breaking it down into steps, simple achievable goals, made it into a realistic endeavor. Rather than looking at the total amount of work required, I looked at the first step – create a list of required materials. Next step, take down existing wall and so on.

Breaking the job down into basic steps made it seem a lot less difficult than it actually was.

Rather than looking at an impossible task and walking away, break it down into steps. Each step will appear difficult, but not impossible. Each difficult step will require hard work and dedication, but when you’re done, you would have accomplished the impossible.

After finishing the great wall of Milford, my afterglow lasted for many years. Do the impossible and you too will experience the same afterglow.

2 thoughts on “The Great Wall of Milford

  1. thank you! I enjoy doing things like this I love rehabbing and improving or updating older houses. Feels wonderful to create something that makes a house wanted again!

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