It’s winter in the Western Cape at the moment. With our Mediterranean climate, we are enjoying lots of rain. Lots of rain means lots of mud and this year the mud situation is quite crazy on our plot. If we are working outside on the container house project, we have to beware of slippery, squidgy, squishy mud. If we’re making our way indoors, we have to take care not to transport too much dirt inside. So, how do we go about dealing with mud?
Dealing with Mud Last Year
I don’t think we noticed the mud situation last year as much as this year. We were too busy worrying about flooding, which was actually more of a problem. When we realized the problems caused by being in a bit of a dip in the land, Kevin and Louis made some temporary ditches and channels so that the water had somewhere to run.
This year, we haven’t had a problem with flooding. However, we have a lot of sticky, clay mud to contend with.
Why So Much Mud?
Our mud situation is definitively worse this year. The ground is looser and not as tightly compacted as it was last year. If you recall, we dug huge holes in which to cast the concrete footings. Obviously, the excess dirt that was displaced is now lying loose on the ground. It will eventually compact itself, but for this year, it’s making a very spongy, muddy mess. We have to walk around the worst areas of mud in order to work on the container house project. Our washline is now also in its final place at the back of the container house. We have to walk through the muddy areas in order to hang up laundry to dry.
Another problem is the clay in our soil. The clay holds the water. This slows the mud from drying out in the sun when there is a break from the rain.
Dealing with Mud Outdoors
Last year, we got a bit of practice in for dealing with the mud. Therefore this year, we at least know what to do. Last year, we bought a pair of gumboots for each of us. In a normal situation, I would never buy gumboots for myself. Conveniently though, they were a fashion statement a year or two ago, so, I did at least have the opportunity to obtain a nice pair to wear around the yard during winter. They have proved invaluable because when it is wet, no other footwear will suffice.
Of course, when our boots are caked with mud, the last thing we want to do is bring the mud back into the areas where we are currently living. This means, when you go outside, you have to put your gum boots on, and when you go back indoors, you have to take the gum boots off. I am getting exceptionally good at standing on one leg while I change my shoes. It can be a bit annoying if you’re spending the day doing several loads of laundry. But better that than dealing with mud everywhere!
Obviously, muddy gumboots are not welcome indoors. Gwen came up with an ingenious solution that allows our gumboots to stay outdoors safely. We had a set of burglar bars that were made for a previous project but were never installed. Gwen cleverly re-purposed the burglar bars as a gumboot stand. It’s not the prettiest solution, but once the container house project is finished, we can consider making a more aesthetically pleasing version.
The muddy boots can be placed over the bars and stay outside. If it rains, we don’t have to worry because the insides of the boots remain dry, while the soles get a rinse. Brilliant!
Dealing with Mud Indoors
Sometimes though, you can’t walk around outside in your gumboots. On the way to or back from work, for example, we need to wear more appropriate forms of footwear. We know how to navigate our plot to stay away from the worst of the mud to get to the car, but obviously, some dirt still sticks to our shoes.
And what about our pets? We haven’t trained our dogs or cats to wipe their feet before coming indoors.
An old towel does the trick for this. We have a couple of very old towels that we are using as a floor mat by the door. By the end of the week, it is dirty, but it is keeping most of the dirt from migrating further into our living area.
Our long term solution for the mud is mostly paving and landscaping (and the investment in several Dirt Trapper doormats). Our plan is to have walkways around the house so that we can safely walk from the cars to the front door without getting our shoes too dirty. We will level the ground for grassy areas and flower beds which will allow the rain water to soak into the ground more evenly. We will also have hidden channels to direct excess rain water away from the yard. But that’s a whole new post (or several) for another time.
Of course, our gumboots will still be useful for those times we wish to do any yard work!