March 28, 2010

Built to Work

Jeremy and I were "built for work". By that I mean that no one would accuse either of us of being petite. Jeremy is muscular even though he doesn't have time to officially work out, other than basketball on Sundays. I come from German and Scottish stock and my figure falls into the "good birthing hips" category. But until we moved to the farm we had little opportunity to utilize our builds.

Jeremy and I both have desk-jobs. We spend our days on the computer, on the phone and in meetings. My job is mentally challenging and sometimes rewarding - all the figuring-out and strategizing. Most of what I do is considered group-think, it can be exhausting. I believe Jeremy feels the same way about his job, but he also manages people, which comes with a whole different kind of stress than my job. So when the weekend comes, we can't wait to get out in the yard and work, really work.

I'm sure you can imagine a lot of the kind of work we do. Fixing fences, stacking hay, tilling the garden, pruning trees, burning, etc. But here is an example of the "hard work" - mucking out the pole barn. (The picture is the pole barn with Jeremy and my dad starting the frame of the chicken coop.)

Since late last summer, we have continued to spread a fresh layer of straw in the pole barn every time the mud and sheep poop gets icky. The fresh layer is loose but quickly gets matted down by sheep tromping around and sleeping on the warm straw. 8 months later, the straw-mud-poo-straw-mud-poo-straw-mud-poo-straw-etc. bedding is about 10 inches thick. Along with straw and, did I mention, poo, the bedding is heavy with water that the sheep's wool brings in when they come back from the rainy pasture and urine. On a warm spring Saturday, Jeremy and I will grab the pitch fork, rake and wheelbarrow and muck it out.

The edges of the pole barn and under the oat and hay troughs are easiest - not much poo, urine and mud. I like to start on the edges. Jeremy gets right into the middle. It smells musty, grassy, sour with stale urine, and moldy. Each pitchfork full is probably 25 lbs and releases a fresh waft of smell. As we pile the straw into the wheelbarrow, we have to be careful to get a good mix of edge straw and middle straw or the wheelbarrow will be too heavy to push up the driveway to the compost bin.

It takes a couple-three hours to get it all mucked out. There is usually some good bugs and worms on the bottom. Then we let the exposed dirt dry our for a while. Finally, Jordan helps us spread the new straw - grabbing squares and shaking it loose all around - good fun. Last, we let the sheep back in. They inspect the whole area and are visibly pleased with our work.

The next day, Jeremy and I are both proud of our blisters, sore muscles and bruises. Of course, if we were real farmers instead of hobby farmers, our hands would be calloused enough to never get blisters. Be-that-as-it-may, it feels good to use my body for some good ol' fashioned work.

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