Thursday, July 17, 2008

Simply Exhausted

I've been getting a bit bolder and firmer with my Intro to Simple Living lecture, giving it a bit sooner in the process of working with a new volunteer/student.

Like, the first time they say something about wanting to learn how to live "the simple life."

Kindly, gently, I begin as we stroll out to the barn. "Take the word 'simple'," I suggest, "and lovingly put it in a box and wrap up the box and seal it and put it w-a-a-a-a-y up there on the shelf." We walk a few steps in silence, enjoying the morning. "This is not "the simple life". "Simple" is going to a boring job, doing exactly what they tell you, going home to your apartment, heating up a frozen microwave pizza, and spending the evening watching TV."

The lecture then shifts to answeringsome or another question that was previously raised, like getting a drink of water.

In the city, you turn on the tap and you get water. Every tap, same water. Here, you have choices. The sillcock on the east of the house had pure well water, not even filtered. The cold water in the bathroom, the water in all the farm hydrants, and the little "drinking water" spigot on the kitchen sink are filtered but not softened. All the other household taps, and the sillcock on the front of the house, are softened which means that the traces of iron and calcium have been replaced by sodium. Which water you use depends on what you're doing and on your personal taste. If you want to wash something, use the softened water because the homemade soap curdles in the hard water and doesn't clean. For drinking, I like the unsoftened "mineral" water.


Just wait until we add a graywater system to reuse wash water, and a cistern for rainwater.

Another example of "not so simple". Today's calendar bore the simple note: "4 sheep to Bowser."

In other words, I'd scheduled an appointment to have 4 cull ewes slaughtered and processed into chops, burger, and summer sausage (mmmmmm summer sausage!).

Simple enough. Load sheep, take to Bowser, pick up finished meat next Monday morning.

Well, ok. A bit more complicated than that. Also need to decide which sheep. Hours pouring over pedigrees and production records go into the decision.

Also need to move the sheep to the barn and sort them. The ones I want include the ones that are hardest to get through the chute, so I decide to "just" crowd everyone in the barn, grab them out, and shove them into the loading pen. "A" goes into pen. I grab "B" and try to shove her in. She eventually goes, but by then "A" is out again. Well, I'll try "C" next. Get her in the pen, now "B" is out and there are two spare lambs in the pen. Etc. An extra pair of hands to work the gate would have cut the time to a mere fraction (and a lot less sweat). But--I'm doing this after work, which means it's 10:00 at night. A little hard to find volunteers.

Also before that had to get the truck ready. Unload scrap wood from a project. "Throw" spare tire back up on top of cab, untangle the strap, strap it down...oh, yeah, the cable securing the ladder rack to the truck is loose, tighten the bolts, oh, this one is missing the washer and nut, find washer and nut (note to self: need lock washers), install. Unhook side panels from their stowed position on top of the ladder rack and bungee to truck sides. Oops, bungies have deteriorated in the sun. There should be more in the tie-down box behind the front seat, but evidently I've been too generous with "extras". Hunt for bungees in the barn in the dark (too lazy to sort out the umpteen extension cords to figure out which the light is hooked to), find some (hanging in their right spot, no less!) but they are missing hooks. Eventually figure out that I can transplant hooks from bad bungees to good bungees, and secure rack sides. Look in 4 different places for the back panels for the stock rack, eventually find them. (Right storage place has not yet been determined. 4 wrong ones have been eliminated from consideration.) Bungee them on. Check oil. Top up oil. Remove spinning wheel from front seat.

Words "get truck ready" = 3.

Time to "get truck ready" = 1 hour.

That's AFTER having figured out the whole ladder rack/stock rack transformation from scratch last year, and having figured out stowage for the straps and bungees, and gotten in the habit of actually keeping a spare quart of oil in the truck most of the time--because it only needs it at 10:00 at night when I'm loading sheep.

Etc. I don't think I need to go into the rest of the details of the process.

Sufficient to say that I was in bed by 12:30, then up again at 5 because sheep had to be at Bowser's, 30 miles away, at 6:00 a.m. (beautiful sunrise!).

All in all, things went very smoothly. Sheep eventually trotted right up the ramp (pre-ramp, we would have had to lift each of the nearly 200 lb. ewes onto the tailgate. One of them would have crawled under the truck and escaped.) Herded their lambs back out to pasture with the rest of the sheep, giving them a new paddock to distract them from their separation.

All in all, I've been up for 20 hours on about 5 hours' sleep. Why I took the day off from driving the bus.

"Smoothly" and "simply" are not synonyms, by the way. "Smoothly" is my goal. "Simply" would be...well...not worth writing about.

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