The next day, I heard that the sandpit boss had left the village and moved to his younger brother’s house in Yinchuan. I honestly didn’t expect such a development. The opponents I had encountered in the past basically wouldn’t retreat, but it turned out that ordinary people would run away.
I didn’t really have a sense of victory, but I did feel lucky. When the young girl’s father’s timber arrived in the morning, Li Dahu stopped by to thank me. He knew that I was going to build a house and gave me two big trees.
The trees came from a courtyard in their hometown. In fact, the purchase price was really hard to estimate, but the cost to transplant them was still between forty and fifty thousand yuan. Moreover, I’d need experts in the forestry division to help me do it. I wanted to refuse and tell him to give us cash instead, but Fatty liked trees, so he accepted them and promised to handle the transplanting when the time came.
He said that he had friends in the forestry division, so he could find some students to help move the trees for me. When the time came, the students could even make a nutrient solution for us, so it would be a bargain after all.
It sounded like these two trees were very big, so I figured Poker-Face would basically be living on them once they were transplanted. He likes trees too much, I said to myself. Maybe we can just build him a tree house.
People in my generation all dreamed of a having tree house because we saw them in foreign movies while lacking a private space of our own. As a result, we especially envied having our own space at a young age. This dream later extended to secret bases. I had seen too many special Japanese films where groups of children felt that they had special powers to uphold justice, so they had to establish a secret base first. They usually went to school, but when danger popped up, they went to their secret base for a meeting.
I just didn’t expect that when I grew up, I’d get mixed up in the underworld and my identity would become complicated. But I finally became a man with a story.
I checked and saw that I had ordered sand, wood, and lime. They would be delivered today, but I hadn’t ordered the clay yet.
We knew all too well which part of the mountain the high-quality clay was at, but it was illegal to mine it privately. Plus, it was very risky to do so. Fortunately, the village head had some left over from when he built his own home. It was apparently left over from when they built the landfill plant. Once we got it, we closed the farmhouse for a day and started digging holes to mix the water and materials to make sanhetu. While that was going on, we also started to level out the land.
Over the past few days, I had practically designed the whole house. The foundation had been dug down to the old soil layer, but there was still a lot of time to think about the details. After we leveled the land, we found a worker from another construction site and gave him three hundred yuan to bring some equipment over. This equipment would detect the foundation settlement underground. In the end, the land turned out to be fine and there was no need to lay foundation down, but I still picked four points and drove eight pile foundations down. Then, we dug concrete trenches along the design structure of the house and set up the steel structure base until the whole partition had taken shape. This way, we could withstand all kinds of earthquakes.
At fifteen hundred yuan a piece, those eight pile foundations meant that twelve thousand yuan was gone in the blink of an eye and all of the private money had been used up. Adding the steel structure base brought the total up to twenty-one thousand yuan.
To level the foundation, the three of us tied some ropes around a piece of slate, shook it up and down, and used the slate to beat the ground until it was flattened.
By this time, it was already evening. The manual labor made it almost impossible for me to straighten my waist, so Poker-Face had to help me back to the village. I fell asleep in about three seconds, sleeping so peacefully that I almost felt as if I had been resurrected.
I opened the farmhouse the next day to make some money, but I was in such a daze that I closed at noon and continued to sleep. I felt more refreshed that evening, so I continued to work on leveling the ground.
I slept deeply again that night, and when I got up again, I spread a layer of charcoal on the backfilled soil before flattening it again. This charcoal was actually burned bamboo, which we then covered with a polyethylene moisture-proof film that cost five yuan per square meter. After that, we piled the sanhetu onto the packed foundation and then flattened it continuously until the surface was as smooth as cement.
It probably should have been made of cement, but I was still hoping to use the ancient method as much as possible. Since we had placed eight piles down, there shouldn’t be a problem.
In this way, my double insurance design for the house’s foundation—pile foundation and a steel structure base—was finished. But we still needed to lay the water and sewer pipelines on the steel structure base.
No matter how good the building was, there had to be a toilet.
Since I wanted to connect to the main pipeline, the cost of the whole project would be three hundred thousand yuan. I would have to pay for it myself, but I was willing to do it because I preferred to be clean.
This was such a big project that it wouldn’t be a one-time payment kind of thing, but I didn’t think that there would be any problems. The farmhouse was doing good and I managed our money well so we had a lot of savings.
I felt very happy as I looked the foundation over. The happiness from building a house by myself was far more than what I would have felt from buying one directly.
My hands were practically worn out and all three of us were tanned. I suggested that we shave our heads at one point, but Poker-Face didn’t reply. Later that evening, someone in a village more than a dozen villages away from us called me and told me that there was something they wanted to sell to me.