I hope you all had a relaxing Labor Day weekend. I spent a good chunk of it laboring outdoors. After sitting at a desk and writing software code all week, I find physical labor enjoyable, if not exactly relaxing.
Almost three years ago, I hacked down one of the briar jungles near our creek. Before I started, the jungle looked like this.
Man, that was some work. I promised myself I’d never let it grow back, and I haven’t. Once those pesky briars get to about shin height, I cut them down again. Over the long weekend, I took The Beast in there and let it eat. I didn’t think to take a before picture, but here’s the after picture.
With that out of the way, I returned to the small jungle that had grown up inside the now-abandoned chicken yard in the front pasture. Here’s how it looked a couple of weeks ago.
And here’s how it looks now.
My biggest concern during jungle-whacking days used to be cutting off my own foot. But now we know the meat-allergy tick is in our area. Hmmm … lose a foot or never eat meat again … both fates are too horrible to imagine. I want to keep all my appendages and use at least two of them to eat steaks.
I don’t like to soak my skin with Deep Woods Off – maybe it’s harmless, but I don’t know. On the other hand, I really, really, really don’t want to wake up some morning and find a tick burrowed into my skin. That’s happened a few times since we bought the farm.
As a compromise, I prepare for jungle expeditions by spritzing my arms and legs with a natural insect repellent I’ve mentioned before: Maddie Hayes Naturals. The main ingredient is grape seed oil, the aroma is pleasant enough, and it seems to work – meaning I’ve never been bitten by a bug on my skin where I’ve sprayed the stuff.
But even when my skin is protected, I’ve discovered ticks clinging to my shoes or jeans. Bringing them into the house as stowaways is inviting trouble, but I don’t want to soak my jeans with grape seed oil. So the comprise is spraying my shoes and jeans with the Deep Woods Off. Grape seed oil on the skin, chemicals on the clothes. I can live with that.
Anyway, I managed to get through a long day of jungle-whacking without any tick or chigger bites.
We’ll plant something in the chicken yard (er, former chicken yard) this spring. The ground has proved itself to be incredibly fertile, but as Chareva pointed out, nothing else will grow in there until the weeds are gone.
As I was putting The Beast away, it occurred to me that I’ve had to kill some mental weeds as well while becoming a weekend farmer. The biggest weed was a species called I Don’t Know Nuttin’ About Tools And Stuff. That one grew in my brain for years, along with a species called I Don’t Like Yard Work.
Until we moved to the farm, my tool collection was nearly identical to my dad’s: a wrench, a hammer, a regular screwdriver, a Phillips screwdriver, and (most importantly) a telephone to call people who know how to build and fix things. Once in awhile I’d be tempted to expand the collection, but then the I Don’t Know Nuttin’ About Tools And Stuff weed got in the way.
I should have known better, of course. As I remind my daughters whenever they say they’re no good at this-or-that, nobody is born knowing how to do anything. I didn’t let the I Don’t Know Nuttin’ About That Stuff weed stop me from taking up software programming as I was pushing age 40, or from making my first film as I was pushing age 50. But for some reason, I still suspected guys who are good at building and fixing are blessed with a Tool-Guy gene I didn’t inherit.
Weekend work on the farm finally convinced me to pull that weed from my brain. As a result, I’ve become a fairly decent Mr. Fixit.
When I first attempted to take The Beast through the chicken yard a couple of weeks ago, something started smoking and the blades stopped turning. Three years ago, I would have taken it to a repair shop and paid whatever they charged. Last weekend, I partially disassembled the thing, located a shredded belt, and figured out which parts to remove to get to it. Then I bought a replacement belt for $8 at a hardware store and put everything back together. That actually made knocking down the weeds even more satisfying.
Enjoy the upcoming weekend … and if there are any I Don’t Know Nuttin’ About That Stuff weeds in your brain, you might want to take a few moments to pull them. They keep the good stuff from growing.
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