Last fall, it became apparent that FD and I would have to deal with a dead walnut tree between the old barn and our metal storage building. Not only could strong winds and ice bring limbs down on either building, they could also fall and injure any critter that might have to occupy “Daisy’s pen” during its rehabilitation. And, the chickens are housed in the old barn, so a major storm would have the capability to bring the tree down and crush a good portion of the barn, including the hen’s roosting area. After contacting four different tree removal services, I had bids ranging from $650 to $1250 just to take the 30′ tree down, with FD and I doing the work of cutting and hauling off the wood. In light of these quotes, we decided to remove the dead tree ourselves, “Southern Style”, if you will, using our own chainsaw, a long, thick rope, and Big Green, our old Ford one-ton pickup truck.
As we began this undertaking, I was nervous. Who wouldn’t be? One wrong move and either the metal building, the barn, or Mom’s one-room guest cabin would suffer extensive damage. Using an extension ladder, FD anchored the rope around the tree at about eighteen feet above the ground and then made a notch in the trunk with his chainsaw. It was my job to pull the rope with the truck once FD gave the signal as he cut through the back side of the tree, towards the notch. Soon I heard the sound of the chainsaw buzzing, and all I could think about (worrywart that I am) was the expense we would incur if everything went wrong. Well, the tree fell perfectly, which washed away my fears and left me filled with pride of a job well-done. Mostly, I was happy that we had saved $650 by doing it ourselves!
The following weekend, we cut down a live mimosa tree that had also become a structural hazard. Not only were the limbs getting huge and capable of doing damage in a storm, but the roots were at the ground surface and we feared they would cause buckling of the cement floor in our metal building before long. Running the chainsaw at odd angles and lifting heavy wood is tough work and the wood from the mimosa had to be moved by hand because the area was fenced and provided no access for the tractor. Fortunately, FD and I were used to doing everything by hand when we first moved on this ten acres – before we could afford a tractor. Back then, working as “human tractors”, we moved a lot of cut wood and a lot of dirt using only wheelbarrows to assist!
Doing our daily chores around this place helps to keep us in shape too. We are accustomed to lifting forty or fifty pound bags of feed year-round. In fall and winter, we work in the woods clearing and cleaning up fallen trees, keeping a burn pit stoked almost every week to keep the process moving. In the spring and summer, there is gardening, which includes squatting, pulling, hacking away at soil with a hoe, and pulling 100 to 200 foot water hoses around to keep plants hydrated and alive. We take turns push mowing in spots – especially the slope out back of the house. It is a killer challenge. It takes me an hour to push mow it by myself, while only cursing it every now and then. When I finish, I’m proud. Well, at the very least, I’m thankful that for one more week I did not suffer a heart attack or stroke mowing that beast of a hill!
Here on the ten-acre ranch, most weekends include projects that require physical strength. Building, repairing, moving, lifting, digging, raking, cleaning, planting – keeping this place up is all about exerting the body physically. FD and I have both pulled the indoor gym stint in the past, and can attest that nature’s gym challenges us a whole lot more than any workout on machines or fancy apparatus in a climate-controlled gym.
Early in the week, I decided it was time to deal with the growth of weeds in Daisy’s old deer pen. FD and I planted a wildlife food plot in one half of the pen – chicory, peas, oats, turnips, and various types of clover – but the other side had a lot of weeds popping up in the Bermuda grass. I almost pulled the mower out to cut the weeds down, and then thought more about the green goodness growing in there. So instead of getting out the push mower, I grabbed the wheelbarrow and a pair of gloves. After three trips to the chicken pen with the wheelbarrow chock full of weeds, I had cleared the pen of the pesky weed problem. My legs and derriere were quite sore, and my hands were a bit achy, but it felt good to know the weeds had been uprooted and were gone for good. A mower would not have eradicated them and, with Daisy and Spirit hanging around, chemical was not an option for me. The chickens were content to scratch through the piles of green goodness, and clucked in delight – well, sometimes there was a fight but, in the end, they all enjoyed the spoils from the deer pen!
When I was young, I just looked for the easy way to do a job, and generally did not even take pride in doing it well. I was always in a hurry to finish, so whatever was the fastest and most convenient was the way I chose. I understand now why my parents and grandparents did so much themselves, and why they took the time to do a job right. I understand why doing a job myself is often more beneficial than hiring it done, and am always very proud to complete a project that I performed myself, realizing a lot of sweat, muscle and blood was borne from that cause.
Mostly, I am thankful for the work that keeps me healthy, both physically and of mind and spirit. Working in nature is where I flourish… and where I belong.
© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…