I haven’t put in much farm work this summer. Much of my weekend time has been devoted to putting together all the various and sundry items required by the distributor of the Fat Head Kids film. To name just one example, they need a script that is 1) word-for-word accurate on all dialog, and 2) has the timecode noted next to every change in dialog. For those of you who don’t know, timecode tells us where we’re at in the film in hours, minutes, seconds and frames. A script with timecode is necessary for producing accurate subtitles. So I’m going through each and every bit of dialog and putting timecode in like this:
[00:12:21.09] MR. SPOT
That’s correct, Captain. We know The Nautilus depends on a super-computer we call The Brain.
I’ve also had insurance forms to fill out, releases to send out and chase down, etc., etc. We’ll just refer to this as the less-than-fun portion of producing a film.
There’s more film work to do, but Chareva and I nonetheless decided to spend much of the weekend laboring outdoors. Ninety degrees and humid both days … heck, what’s not to like?
We were motivated partly by the arrival of the new chickens. After Rocky Raccoon VII and Rocky Racoon VIII relieved her of chicken duties, Chareva elected to take a break. But the break was brief. We now have 25 chicks living in a horse trough in the newest of the chicken yards, the one we built last summer.
The chicks are in that particular coop in that particular yard because it’s the most secure. We didn’t lose any chickens to predators in that yard. The only problem is that over the course of a few months, chickens can peck a mini-jungle down to the dirt. When the yard was bare, Chareva moved the flock to an older yard we thought was secure enough. Rocky VII and Rocky VIII taught us otherwise.
We want both of the older yards to be like the newest one: secure, and with a second level of fencing to keep the nets way above our heads. I don’t like ducking under a net whenever I enter a chicken yard. This is much more pleasant:
On Saturday, we tackled the worst of the two yards. I say worst because we had to remove the old net, which had gotten torn in some places and was brittle enough in other places for Rocky VIII to chew a hole in it. Removing a net may not sound difficult, but trust me, it is when the net has fallen down off the poles and you’ve allowed a jungle to grow up and poke through it.
Working in a mini-jungle is practically begging to become a blood donor for ticks. I’ve never liked ticks, but I only started seeing them as a major hazard when the meat-allergy tick made its way to Tennessee. If I become allergic to red meat, my life will have no meaning.
So I finally followed the advice a reader left in comments long ago and bought some knee-high boots, then tucked my jeans into them. Then I sprayed the boots with a tick repellent. I also sprayed my sleeves, the area around my collar, and all around my waist – pretty much everywhere a tick might make an entrance.
We spent most of Saturday yanking and cutting and cutting and yanking and uttering ancient curses known only to small-time farmers. Little by little, we managed to tear the net away from the thick weeds. Then I ran The Beast through the yard to shred the jungle.
On Sunday, the second yard presented a different problem. We had the good sense to remove the net months ago before the jungle could grow into it. But as you can see, it was quite a jungle:
There’s a gate on the downhill side of the fence, but the jungle was so thick, I couldn’t find the chains holding it in place to remove them and open the damned thing. The door on the uphill side of the fence was clear of the jungle, but too narrow for The Beast.
Well, to heck with this, I thought. I’ll just take down this jungle using the weed-whacker with the blade attachment.
That plan lasted, oh, I don’t know, maybe 10 minutes. Yes, the weed-whacker blade was capable of knocking down the weeds. But that’s all. I was ending up with piles of fallen weeds three feet high. The Beast, by contrast, doesn’t just knock them down. It knocks them down, chews them up, and spits them out.
After uttering some ancient curses known only to small-time farmers, it occurred to me that I could use the weed-whacker to clear a path to the downhill gate. Once I knocked weeds away from the gate, I could finally find the chain and carabiner holding it in place. The carabiner was jammed and didn’t want to move, so Chareva used wire cutters to release it from the fence. The gate still wouldn’t move because the base was buried in soil. So Chareva used to spade to dig it out.
Bingo. We were able to crank and yank the gate open. That’s when we noticed soil had built up enough inside the fence to create quite a drop to the ground outside the fence. The Beast weighs a ton, and lifting it isn’t really an option. Fortunately, we had the good sense to buy a portable ramp a couple of years ago.
So I pushed The Beast up the ramp (which made me realize I wasn’t missing anything by skipping my usual Sunday workout at the gym) and got to work. Dang, that is one fine machine. The weeds were so tall and thick in places, I thought, This is going to be too much. The Beast is going to lock up or something.
Nope. Knocked ’em down, chewed ’em up, spit ’em out. With that work done, I used the weed-whacker to finish up areas too tight for the Beast to enter.
It was two long afternoons of hot, heavy, dirty, sweaty work. And it left me feeling Dog-Tired Satisfied.