Friday, July 6, 2007

Teaming Up

If yesterday I felt like I actually accomplished very little, today was the opposite. Synergy from several sources made it a banner day.

A friend came fairly early in the day, for "farmercize", and started hacking down towering weeds with her machete. That's a tool I don't own and have never really developed a fondness for, though I have a great appreciation for it in someone else's responsible hands.

Under certain areas of weeds were piles of junk or unused-but-still-important items, or tomato cages which fit in either category according to individual condition. I set to MAKING DECISIONS about each item as quickly as she could liberate them. The result was a truck full of scrap metal.

Encouraged by the more than $4 cash in hand from the metal recyclers, when my apprentices came in the afternoon we set to sorting another pile of unused cages, yielding another small ($2) load of scrap. I know, small change, but that kind of instant gratification is hard to come by in farming! To do this for once and for all, we started by laying down used metal roofing on the area where I've had tarps to try to smother out bindweed. Bindweed was growing through the holes in the tarps, and the rumpled surface was catching water and breeding mosquitos. Bindweed may grow through the holes in the used metal, but the flame weeder should be able to reach through the cages and burn it back.

Moving those cages allowed us to put the tarps down on another area, to kill out some fescue. Then we enclosed the weedy former cage area, two unplanted and very weedy beds in the potato block, and another large fallow area in electronet fencing and turn in the sheep. Wow, what a difference in just a couple hours! We'll adjust the fence in a couple days to allow us to plant the potato beds, while leaving the sheep to maintain the fallow areas until we're ready to mulch and plant them.

I'm looking at several other parts of the garden that are essentially fallow, that I could turn the sheep in on.

Finally, I decided to load one last (for today) item on the truck for recycling--a huge steel cabinet that was given to me years ago, that is too tall (over 8') for any space where I might have used it, and constructed in such a manner that it isn't rodent-proof. It's extremely heavy, and has just been an eyesore for a long time, lying on its back along a fence.

When I tried to lift one end, it didn't budge. I realized dirt had risen up around it, and was sort of sucking it down. I hitched a tow strap to it and to the truck, and drove forward a few feet to break the ground's grip on the cabinet. This also fortuitously turned it on its side, allowing us to clean the caked dirt off the back. That made it significantly lighter, something I felt we could tackle (I weigh less than 130 lbs. these days, and MR is smaller than me).

No heroics here, just a few quick, carefully planned increments that got the cabinet in place on the truck easily. First we placed a heavy steel pipe sawhorse at the end of the cabinet, tilted so that the near legs were a few inches down the cabinet sides, with the top butted up against the cabinet. When we lifted the cabinet to the sawhorse height, the horse was easily tipped upright so that it was under the cabinet. After a rest, we hoisted the cabinet and slid the sawhorse further under it, raising the end further in the air. This let me back the open tailgate of the truck under it...and by continuing to back a little ways, the tailgate lifted the cabinet even higher, thus more of the cabineet was over the tailgate. Now it was fairly easy for MR and I to lift the other end from the ground to truck level, and slide the cabinet fully into the truck.

Who was it said they could move the earth if only they had a properly placed fulcrum and a lever long enough? Anyhow, I maintain that I can move almost anything if the earth is helping me carry it!

Once again, I am moved to deep appreciation of the education my parents, especially my father, gave me in "how things work". I've never taken a formal physics class, but absorbed enough understanding of the principles from dinner-table talk (Dad taught freshman physics for many years) to be able to put the forces of the universe to work on MY side of any given project.

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