The May project

conex box onlineMay is my high-holy month for projects. If I can complete each project I have planned in the month of May, I can spend the summer completing less-pressing, more-enjoyable tasks. This requires a dedication that borders on religious fervor. I really don’t want to discuss the tunnel vision I apply to May tasks, however I want to explain the making of a May task.


Sometimes, a project is built upon the failure of a separate, earlier project. When we installed underground water to the cattle pasture, we began with a compromise. One of the underground pipes which supplied the water was under a little shed and had never been buried deep enough to avoid frost. I covered this pipe with a sheet of foam insulation and kept it heated all winter long. This practice is not sustainable. I don’t do UN-sustainable. In order to replace the pipe, I need to remove the building and concrete pad. The building contains one set of cattle fence energizers which I must move somewhere new. This is wherein the project begins.


I need electricity to power fence energizers. I did have one spot near the fence with a weatherproof electric service. The whole set-up was pretty old though and needed a little updating. I always try to build anything in the same way I’ve seen municipalities build similar projects, only cheaper. I have seen many green electrical boxes in town and they are usually mounted on top of a large poured concrete foundation. In my case, I started by building a box of treated wood around the weatherproof electric box which I had mounted on a new treated post. I then filled the box with some class five gravel that was already on-site. I filled the box within four inches of the top edge then filled the last four inches with concrete.


Last winter I drove to Loretto, Minnesota. I picked up some auction items, one of which was a green, electrical box which the city of Delano had removed from service. That large, green electrical box now sits on top of the concrete pad which occupies the top four inches of my gravel-filled box. I had placed earth anchors into the gravel before I covered it with concrete. It was these anchors I used to tie the electrical box to the concrete pad.


I believe that anything that travels underground should travel within black water pipe. Before I filled that treated wood box with gravel or concrete, I placed black water pipe under the box and up into the middle space of the box. After I filled the box with gravel and concrete, I still had the pipe to form an underground passage from the interior of the electrical box. I used this underground tunnel to pass the insulated wire I use to connect the fence energizer to the fence line. I used to always say you don’t own a post hole or a trench unless you dig it by hand however I now rent a trencher for most projects.


My electrical box/fence energizer project cost me less than $200 dollars, not including at whatever level my labor is valued. It allows me to replace a shed that was impeding progress on a separate project and which only served a summer home to a family of wasps. As I sigh relief at completion of this project, I can only think of what project is next. I mean, it is May.

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