Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.

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LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE was about my experience in Colorado while taking down a half acre of greenhouses. Me and Max and three other guys had taken all the pieces apart and labeled and color coded all the pieces. We piled all the like pieces together. We had been there for eight days dismantling the giant erector set and I think every one was ready to get home. One of the guys needed to get back so to Starkville to resume his college classes. Two of the guys had wives and children back home. Max needed to get back to his ranch in Oklahoma and I was beyond missing Mimi.


What was keeping me up at night during this process was that deep down inside feeling. I really didn’t think there was any way all this metal was going to fit on one 18 wheeler trailer. If it did fit we could all start our journeys back to our families and jobs. If it didn’t fit me and Max would have to stay back and wait for the truck driver to drop the first load in Mississippi then come back for whatever was left over. That would mean at least four more nights then a load up with just Max and me and the truck driver. By the way it is pretty unusual for a truck driver to help in any way getting a truck loaded. This driver is a friend of ours who’s wife works at Garden Works. Luckily for us our friend is quite an adventurist and loves to get involved in just about anything he can. Because of his willingness to get himself involved in whatever crosses his plate he has wound up in some very interesting predicaments in his life.


While we were loading he told us about some of his adventures that were incredible and downright inspiring. He had been to almost all the continents doing different work related things and some non-work stuff. He had been to South Africa, the Congo, Thailand, the Middle East, Cambodia and so many other places that I can’t even remember. He wound up in these places because of his willingness to help anyone anywhere he could just for the adventure of it. Now he was in the planes of Colorado helping us organize the greenhouses and giving ideas about the best way to pack this truck so we may have a chance to get it all home in one trip. He had one philosophy about loading trucks I was familiar with and that was to start packing as tight as we could from the get-go. We needed to use every cubic inch of that trailer from the floor to the ceiling to make this work.


There was plenty excitement in the air. We were proud of ourselves for getting the greenhouses down and stacked and labeled so neatly and the excitement was also about the possibility of getting to go home the next day if we could make it all fit. The driver had a good feeling it would all go on there but also that it was going to be very close. Every truckload would cost me $4,700 so it really mattered. That gave us all a great incentive to work carefully to stack and pack everything as tight as possible.


After a full day of packing the truck with all the metal pieces and the 185 hoops which were 30 feet wide the last things to go on would be the 10 giant exhaust fans used to keep air moving throughout the greenhouse. It was really looking like we were going to make it by the time we got to the fans. We did some fancy puzzle-like arranging and had to get two of the fans stacked on top of the others to give ourselves a fighting chance.


WHEN WE PULLED the back door of the trailer down after getting the last piece on we had less than an inch left over to get the door all the way down. In fact someone had to stick their hand in there to push the last fan in while we came down with the door. We had done it. The thing that had been the biggest mystery to me about this job and had kept me up countless nights had been defeated. I got the greenhouse for a very good price but all that can be undone really quickly when the costs to break them down, getting them shipped with the costs of put- ting them back together get out of hand. Putting them back up here in Mississippi can get very expensive because we will have to run all new electrical wiring and conduit and the ground preparation has to be perfect so many new mysteries are coming our way. These weren’t the first used greenhouses for me to buy and reuse but these were by far the most at one time.


We were all so excited to see that back door come down we knew there would be some extra celebrating going on our last night in this desolate and vast area that we had all grown to love.


By this time there wasn’t much daylight left. Everyone but me and Max went back to the cantina to start packing the tools and their personal belongings for the long journey home. Max and I went the 20 miles down dirt roads to the owner’s house to let her know the job was complete and we were ready to talk to her about installing irrigation in her two greenhouses at her house and in her yard so she wouldn’t have to spend so much time hand watering her plants. She needs her plants to get water while she comes down to work for us at Garden Works this October just for the experience of it.


The other reason we wanted to help her with her irrigation was that she said she would trade us the irrigation system for the five rooms for eight nights plus the extra room for two nights that the truck driver needed. At $75 a night that was a pretty significant cost we could do without.


Max and I have to go back up there any way to get the posts out of the ground, pound the concrete off the posts and load them up on a trailer that we will drive back up there for this coming Monday for. We can pick up all the irrigation supplies here in Jackson and go straight up to her house to get that done, then begin the process of pulling all 350 posts out of the ground.


I flew home, the guys took the van with all the tools and the truck driver began his journey home. I couldn’t get back to Mimi fast enough and I needed a day at Garden Works to check in. The boys went to Tulsa on the first night to see the ranch where Max is working. In fact one of the guys got a job on the ranch while he was there so he will be packing his bags next week to begin his adventure there. They made it back to our house two days later road weary and the big truck made it in late the same night so we planned to meet the next morning to get the truck unloaded.


WE WERE ALL PRETTY weary and beat up and bruised and scraped but we were ready to get this over with so we muscled up and got it done in nine hours. Everything was in good shape and it looked great neatly stacked in the order it will all go back up. It is so rare to find such a diverse group of people who can work so hard together under such adverse conditions and get along like we did. If there had been one slacker in the group none of this would have come together like it did. We were all pretty proud of what we had accomplished and we have made friendships that will be long lasting. That’s my favorite part about the whole thing.


We are making plans for our trip back up there for the posts which will take a whole different set of tools. It’s Mimi’s birthday weekend so we are thinking she and I will fly to Denver over the weekend so we can go to a show at Red Rocks amphitheater if everything isn’t canceled due to Covid. I think I saw they were requiring proof of vaccination to get in. That sounds good to me. I wouldn’t mind being at a music festival with no one there but people with enough sense to get vaccinated.


Max would show up with the truck and trailer and irrigation supplies. Mimi would come home and Max and I would head back out to finish the job. I’m hoping all that can work out. I’ll know in a couple days if all the stars will line up for the plan. In the meantime we have a huge load of houseplants and a few truckloads of pottery to be unloaded between now when we leave for Colorado so we have plenty to keep us busy at the nursery to get ready for my favorite season at the garden center.



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