Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What work looks like

"Oh Lord, thank you for making me sturdy and not skinny."

The gravel pile and the tools of the day

I would have never made it thru today if I was one of them skinny gals, for sure.  I used to have someone in my life who was one of those girls. I always thought she needed a sandwich and she always thought I should put mine down. She had the thinnest arms I'd ever seen - I don't rightly know how she could even lift a fork. But she could throw back a martini or two...or five. She could have never done the work we did today and that's why my thanksgiving tonite is for my sturdy, but short, body. I can do a hard days work.

Truth be told, I might actually be shorter right now - such was my toil. We got a lot done but I'm gonna pay for it as this night wears on. At this writing (Sunday nite) I'm basically snorting Advil and have a straw in a bottle of Two Buck Chuck. If I live my only reward will be going out there and doing more shoveling tomorrow.

We got about half the trenching done on Saturday. With my innate ability - some may call it a superpower - to break anything mechanical I was prohibited from touching the rented trencher. So I was on gravel duty while The Big Man finished the trenching. We're doing all the gravel by hand. Me a shovel and the good ol' wheelbarrow.

The Big Man running the trencher across the front of the house and turkey house

Our goal is to fix the drainage problems with the property - to keep the water out of the basement and from flooding the yard. To do this we need to dig deep trenches, lay some of that black bendy pipe stuff (called tile), and fill in the trenches with gravel. One wheelbarrow load at a time. And then we gotta move all the dirt that we dug up.

This is what I did all stinkin' day - filled the trenches with gravel
I breezed thru the first ton of 57 limestone like it was a cake walk. The second ton was like hitting your stride in a marathon. The third tons was starting to burn...By the fourth ton the chickens were throwing water on me and yelling "Go! Go! Go!"  I was actually seeing stars and wondering why we didn't have a tractor with a bucket on it when I hit the fifth ton. By 5.5 tons I was wondering why we didn't have a freakin' tractor. At 5.75 tons I decided that the best course of action was for The Big Man to sell a kidney so we buy a freakin' tractor. About that point I passed out and the dogs drug me to safety.

See those lines in the side of the trench? Thats from the trencher - can you believe it?

I always suspected we had bad soil and it was confirmed thru my gardening experience and when I took in my soil sample to the county extension office. But this was unprecedented. It was like sawing thru concrete. All I'm sayin' is - this had better work.

Happy Monday everyone! Anyone else diggin' ditches?


Sue said...

I have been through this so many times I could cry just looking at that pile of gravel. And like you, I'm grateful I'm built like a trucker....though secretly, I wouldn't complain if I could wear a size 6--just once!
Hope Santa brings you a tractor!

Tami said...

My pain-killer of choice is also, Two Buck Chuck. (Here's a toast to us!) I haven't tried the straw technique yet though. DH is a big beliver in Advil. Me? I head straight for the bottle. I figure if it's gonna kill my liver, I might as well get a buzz off it.

No wonder you have drainage issues (looking at the trench pic). Makes me wonder if you had sparks flying cutting into that.

david said...

I always found that if you dump the material in the most inconvienient location you move it faster. Good luck on the water diversion!

Robin said...

Sometimes it's good to be strong and have "the ant gene" as my son calls it. But, you probably wished you had those skinny arms yesterday. Then you wouldn't have had to shovel all that gravel!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks Sue, I'd love a tractor stuffed in my stocking for sure. Please, Santa, please!!

You know it Tami, it was just ridiculous. At one point we needed dynamite but that idea was vetoed and we'll just have to work around the weird spots. Or get a jack hammer.

Thanks David, we're also motivated because of the pup. The trenches act like a moat and the dirt piles are like barricades.

Ha! Robin, I could just stand around and fan myself with a palm frond and make The Big Man do all the work. Ha! If I actually did that, five generations of my family would rise from the grave
and berate me. I come from a long line of hard workers.

Mr. H. said...

Here's a song to cheer you up.:)


Some people say a man (or woman:) is made outta mud
A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said "Well, a-bless my soul"

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain
Fightin' and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol' mama lion
Cain't no-a high-toned woman (or man) make me walk the line

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

If you see me comin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't a-get you
Then the left one will

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

I wanna know what is "two buck chuck?" I'm missing something here.. Better to have a little meat on your bones to keep you grounded :o) So when you sweat a little the wind won't blow you away :o). A hard day's work is good for the soul :o).or the drainage pipes :o)

darius said...

Big job, and similar to one I'm tackling soon myself!

What are you doing to prevent the 4" drain tile from silting up in a couple of years?

Sonja said...

Ah yes, the joys of having clay soil. We have it here too. The reasons those ancient adobe Indian villages are still around are not much of a mystery to me. That stuff could survive a nuclear blast.

Let a hot shower beat on your shoulders for awhile tonight. That will help your Advil and two-buck chuck work better. Just sayin....

small farm girl said...

I would refuse to do the work until I got a tractor. That's how I got mine. heheheheeh

Tina - Our Rustic Roots said...

I think we are going to have to do something similar at our house. I just have to figure out what you do when you get to the end of the trench?

We don't have a tractor, either, so there's a lot of shoveling in my future, too.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Mr. H, you have no idea how funny that is. The day I ordered the gravel I also came home with a ton (8L) so it was.... 16 tons! ha!

You're just right Ginny, its good for the soul. "Two buck chuck" is a brand of wine you can get at Trader Joe's. There's a funny story behind the name that I kinda forget, but the wine is good and pretty cheap. Not exact $2 anymore - but its pretty cheap. The days of me spending $20 on a bottle of wine are over.

Hi Darius! The short answer is that we hemmed and hawed about using the fabric or not and decided in the end to believe this guy:

You have to concentrate to see past the ads, but once you get to the articles it made sense especially since we are using all gravel in our trenches and not just a few inches then backfilling with dirt. And also - none of the farmers around here use it in their fields. I'll give more info about this tomorrow. Some other folks asked other questions so I'll do a follow up.

Hey Sonja! We are thinking of starting a brick making foundry.. sheesh!

Hi SFG! Drat - that never works around here. I'm the 'Type A' that comes up with all these projects...

Hi Tina! Check out the link that I gave Darius (above) and also I go out and take some pix to show what we did. I'll post tomorrow with a better explanation.

Jody said...

Ditch digging is the definition of hard work. I bet you'll sleep well tonight.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hey Jody! No. If you can believe it - it was an epic dog barkin' night. ugh!

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