Farm Life, “That will never happen”, Part 2

In Part 1, I related when the phrase, “That’ll never happen”, originated.  In reviewing our activities, we identified many other occasions when we hear this concept.  Indulge my rants, and chuckle a little… unless, of course, you do not come from a hard-work ethic back ground.

P1030800Beyond clearing the culverts (we have 16 on our dirt roads), there are lots of sections of the dirt roads which need yearly attention.  We have over 3.5 miles of roads in our association.  Leaves accumulate in ditches, in breakers (dips that direct the water away from the road), and along the shoulders of the road.  When the leaves build up, they raise the level of the edges of the road, thus preventing water from flowing off the road.  Also, they become slippery, making travel more treterous when wet.  The solution is to push the leaves away.  A road grader can do this if you have a couple of hundred thousand dollars to purchase one, or can afford to pay someone to use his.  A tractor with a blade can get the bulk off, but leaves large piles just off the shoulders.  A pitch fork and rake are the most efficient, but labor intensive.  Remember that hard-work ethic?

Last year, working diligently for an couple of hours here and there, we managed to clear all of the leaves from ditches, shoulders, culverts, and breakers from the entrance to our driveway: 1 full mile of road.  But, in the forest, leaves fall every year, so we are back at our winter chore.  After that January thunderstorm which blocked the culvert, our neighbor who has a tractor with a blade cleared a section along his property.  He removed about 90% of the leaves, depositing about 80% in frozen piles and 10% strewn , randomly on the road.

P1030810The Dept. of Dirt Roads and Ditches donned their long johns on a 25F day, to pitch fork out the last 10% of leaves in the ditches, rake off the 10% off the roads, and push the 80% of the piles that were still higher than the shoulders, to get that section of road tidied up.  Along came one of the weekenders in his truck.  He got out, chatted at us for 20 minutes before handling a pitch fork.  Thunk! He sunk the tines into a pile of leaves and ice, and pushed with all his weight.  “That’ll never move”.  He left the pitch fork looking like the Sword in the Stone.  After chatting a little longer, he went off to run his errand.  In Arthurian fashion, with 80 pounds his lighter, I walked over, pushed down on Excalibur, the pitch fork, dislodged the frozen leaves, and pushed them off the bank.

“That’ll never happen”.

P1030806Another road task is filling pot holes.  Freeze and thaw cycles with clay means shifting muck.  Repetitive tire travel pushes the muck to more solid road surfaces, leaving holes.    One of two drywall buckets of gravel fill those holes nicely, and with years of fixing, eventually build a good road base.  Every year, I have our local excavator dump a couple of truck loads (e.g. 20 tons) of crusher-run gavel next to my driveway.  As pot holes develop, I fill the dry-wall buckets, load them into the truck, and drive around, filling soft spots.  If I do not do this for a couple of weeks, neighbors begin to ask if I’m okay, because they have not seen any new patches on the roads.  A couple of times, I have suggested, “If each of us got a pile of gravel every year, we could all work on those soft spots and pot holes along our section of road.”

“That’ll never happen.”

P1030804Living in a forest, when the wind blows, we must watch for downed trees.  This is nature’s pruning program.  We can get 60 MPH gusts up here, that can uproot a 60 foot oak or hickory.  Last spring, one came down, with the crown pushing about four feet into the road.  Other land owners adjust their driving path four feet to the left, rather than getting out the chain saw.  After waiting a day to see if the weekender on whose property this tree had fallen would address the issue, I took my chain saw, walked about ten feet down the crown of the downed tree, and began cutting.  With the branches severed, I then pulled the branches another 20 feet into the forest, clearing the trunk for easy cutting into firewood.  As this was not on my property, I drove up to the weekender’s cabin, and let them know the status of the tree.  I informed them that I had left the trunk for them to cut up for firewood.  “I saw that tree and was just about to go do that.”  The trunk still rests horizontally in the forest, awaiting attention.  Should he have not just said,

“That’ll never happen”?

Gardening on the side of a mountain composed of shale and limestone, requires a lot of digging an amendment to the soil.  We have been muscling the shovels for 15 years, to terrace our slopes, break up the rocks, and add organic matter.  Those leaves from the breakers and ditches along the dirt roads fill our truck, get off loaded to wheel barrels,  dumped onto the garden plots in winter, and turned under in spring.  We have happy worms.  Our neighbors stop by and marvel at our gardens.  One has a ditch and culvert just at the end of their driveway.  Seeing that we haul truck loads of leaves to our gardens, they offered to let us clear the ditch and culvert at the driveway for them and put the leaves on the our gardens.  They also talk about building gardens around their cabin.  We suggested that they could clear the leaves from the ditch and culvert at the end of their driveway, only about 50 feet from where they want tomatoes.

“That’ll never happen.”

Another neighbor knows that we also add truck loads of manure to our gardens and compost pile.  We have an agreement with a local farmer to come to his barn and dig out as much manure as we want.  Several times we have suggested that they call this farmer and ask if they might also do this.  Win-win situation, right?

“That’ll never happen.”

Another neighbor wants to work his ground to improve his soil.  He is convinced that he would need a backhoe to break up the clay and shale, before he could amends the soil (didn’t I just talk about leaves and manure?).  Meanwhile, we stand, smiling, with hands on shovels, and pitch forks, with sweat bringing satisfaction for hard work.  “A tractor with backhoe attachment will run you $25 grand.  Tractor Supply Store will sell you a shovel, pitch fork, and rake for about $75.”

“That’ll never happen.”

Come harvest time, our neighbors are happy to receive a bag of fresh picked tomatoes, peppers, berries, etc.  We have gone to inviting them to come pick some for themselves.

“That’ll never happen.”

Okay, I’m over a thousand words on this blog.  I should stop ranting.

“That’ll never happen.”


About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
This entry was posted in Farm Life and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Farm Life, “That will never happen”, Part 2

  1. Mother Suzanna says:

    Oh, I had a good laugh! Hard-work ethic! I just planted my salad garden, this year sharing my wee space with the new neighbor. I wonder who will do all that hard work?

    • hermitsdoor says:

      Good test of the relationship. Do adjust either your expectations or activity level as you make observations. With new relationships, you have a chance to set precedents early on. 🙂

  2. Barneysday says:

    We are slowly getting volunteers to help out with projects, but it is like pulling teeth. What does help is one neighbor sees another clearing the road in front of their house of pine needles and oak leaves, and then they take it upon themselves to do theirs. Either by each doing their own, or in some cases, they’ll clear two or three lots worth of debris, and eventually most everything gets done. On neighbor is a contractor, and brought in his skip loader to clear the street curbs of mud and dirt from the winter melts.

    Eventually the whole development gets looking better, but it is a slow process, with still too many thinking, “That’ll never happen.”

    Well done

  3. Honestly, I know your post was about funny human-interest (or not-interest??) stuff, but this is what I came away with: You have the coolest truck on the planet!

    • hermitsdoor says:

      I shall have to write the story of the truck some day. Let’s just say that I began adding the Rust-olem leaves about a decade ago to cover rust around the rims. Every June, just before state inspection time when the rust needs to be unseen, I wash the truck, sand down the rust, Bondo the spots and spray paint more leaves. Of course, no mischief and lots of hard work with a truck like that because everyone around here knows to whom it belongs!

  4. The Vicar says:

    In groups brought together by proximity or shared views, there are lots of ideas on what needs to be done, but few workers. I remember serving on the board of the local Little League. 600 kids equals an exponential amount of opinions from parents, grandparents, extended familes, blended families, people with no kids in the sport…. all with ideas on who should play, how practices should be run, a better fundraiser…. but when you ask them to get involved …. “that will never happen” is what comes to mind. The only solace is the apologies that I receive from people 10 years later that see thing from a different perspective now that many years have passed.

    This seems to be a condition of mankind. Jesus said, “The fields are ripe for harvest, but the labors are few”. In modern day terms he could have said, “The leaves fall on the roads every year, but few take the time to move them.” It was the Rolling Stones that reminded us, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well you just might find, you get what you need.” Good for you for not letting the “that will never happen” mindset keep you from getting what you need.

This Hermit's Door is Open: Step in & Share Your Opinion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s