While he went and rented the tiller I got to work ripping out the raspberry bushes. I considered trying to save some to re-plant, but it's really just too hard to keep contained so we'll just keep the blackberry bush instead. I had it all ripped out just in time for him to get back with the tiller. He went to work doing a few passes to loosen all the soil. Pretty soon an 8 inch section of snake was writhing in the freshly tilled soil. Needless to say I was freaked out and made him move it because it wouldn't stop moving. I tried not to think about where the head was.
We started shoveling the dirt into the wheelbarrow and I soon realized that his estimation of having to move around 100 wheelbarrows full of dirt was probably not an exaggeration. Ugh. We kept shoveling and moving dirt for a while and then out popped the other section of snake. Another 10 inches or so, still slithering. J scooped it up on the shovel and walked across the street to sling it in the empty house's bushes. Five minutes later and more shoveling we came upon a baby snake. J scooped that one up on the shovel and slung it in the bushes, too. Ten minutes later we found a medium sized snake. This time we gave up and put it in a bucket figuring we'd just collect them all and take one trip across the street to get rid of them (that was the last one we found, though).
After 6 straight hours of tilling, shoveling, and raking we succeeded in moving what used to be this:
The blackberry bush is barely visible on the left edge - we need to move it still.
We'll dig out all the mulch that's left around that huge palm tree and remove the metal edging that used to separate the flower bed from the yard.
We still need to dig up and move that big Camelia bush (once we decide where it's going to go) and we need at least one more layer of the landscaping timbers for the garden box. J hit one of the sprinkler lines with the tiller so that needs to be replaced and he wants to run another line and put a sprinkler head along the back as well.
I really look forward to getting it all done with fresh sod and new flower beds. It would be nice if we could just pay someone to do it, but it looks like we'll have another weekend full of work to get it all done. It'll be so worth it in the end.