Play Set Re-construction and Homemade Wood Chips

I remember the day we bought this play set from Costco, I remember every one of the 16 hours it took to put it together. I also remember the day the wife told me we'd move to the tree without the play set "over my (her) dead body." Or something along those lines.

I can tell you with complete honesty that the process of deconstructing this behemoth into 7 pieces (2 slides, 2 roof pieces, the swing assembly and the main structure) and single-handedly moving it to the curb – I rolled the rear of the main structure on a dolly – was one of the most savage things I've ever done. Many people would probably dump a structure like that in the yard, let it rot for a year and end up paying someone to take it away. Well, that's just not how I operate. I knew 2 months ago, that it was going to replace the chicken-wire-surrounded garden area between the Western Red Cedar and the Pear tree. I also couldn't wait to use the chipper that the seller was so kind to include in the sale of the house. He had left a large pile of limbs that I was ready to get rid of and I had added a few more when I trimmed the firs along the road I was attempting to make it to when I got the Home Depot truck stuck.

Below: Emmitt, my trusty sidekick, man that kid loves to work and I love him for it.

When the weekend came to put that thing back together, I didn't "hope to get it done," or dread the reconstruction, I crushed it. The first thing I did was get up under that main structure – the way the World's Strongest Man competitors carry the refrigerators – and move it right in the middle of that old garden area, the wife didn't think I could do it. Once that was in place I was feeling my oats a bit, or in this case, the farm fresh egg sandy I had for breakfast, and I was off and building.

The biggest part of this project was the prep, the garden boxes were big and the dirt inside of them was both compact and rife with roots (made me wish I had a front-loader). I had to use my pick-ax to loosen the boxes up and then shovel the stubborn dirt into the trailer and go dump it in low spots in the pasture. I joked with a friend after the first night I spent out there working that my neighbors probably thought I was digging a darn grave! All in all, the garden boxes were about 8 loads in the mower trailer. I was proud of the way the kids helped out and once the boxes were gone I raked everything flat to get ready for the structure. BIG JOB!

Below: A picture of the garden area last summer from the real estate listing.

The re-assembly went pretty smoothly, I'm not gonna sit here and tell you that every screw went in the exact same spot as the first time I built it but the set is solid and level and I added some structure to make sure it doesn't go anywhere.

Below: The play set and designated area ready for Douglas Fir bark chips.

Now it was time to use the John Deere to pull both the chipper and the old trailer that came with the farm that I had loaded with the limbs up from the barn up to the play set area. Nothing runs like a deere I tell ya! That thing had no problems with a full size trailer!

Below: My crew with the trailer in the background ready to spread some wood chips!

Boy that chipper did a whale of a job. The former home owner took meticulous care of his tool and that was evident when I pulled the choke, turned the key and up she fired (video below)! Over the course of the next 4 hours I hauled, chipped and spread the best smelling wood chips I've ever held in my hands.

As they were playing I moved the big logs back into position as a border, moved a park bench over next to the structure under the pear tree that is just beginning to bud. I sat back, enjoyed some ice water and watched and listened to my kids and the youngsters from next door frolicking out there on the play set. For the next few days I kept looking out there and thinking back to the extreme challenge of deconstruction, the uncertainty of both our family's and the play set's relocations, the weeks it spent sitting in the rain, the stubborn determination I had to get it back on it's feet as soon as I got the chance. That type of mental and physical journey is what I enjoy about life. The toil, the preparation, the work and the reward. It's all about checking things off the list and following through on what you say you'll get done and teaching the youngsters about how rewarding it is that the play set "used to be over there killing the grass and now because of our hard work, it's in a great new spot and ready to go!" Feels good!

Below: Little Mary climbing up on the finished product.

It was truly an amazing day. We had beautiful weather, worked our rumps off and at the end of it all the kids were able to enjoy the fruits of their labor running around and swinging on their re-built play set with the smell of freshly cut fir under their feet.