Grunt Labor

Yesterday was a clear, sunny day in the 40°s. Though there is still snow in the woods, the snow in the fields ebbed away. The warm spring weather after a grey week of spitting snow and freezing rain was a tonic. Having dragged myself through Saturday with the remains of a sick headache and nausea, for Sunday I had a long list.

I had planned to go to church but Rick, my hay man, emailed that he would be at the farm with an early morning hay delivery. I had written to Rick this winter to express my unhappiness with this year’s hay, loaded with inedible weeds. Every day I have had to clean the hay racks of tough stalks. The ground of the barn paddock is littered with stalks. While I have saved on mulch hay for bedding, mulch hay is half the price of feed hay. I should not be using feed hay for bedding. I have also worried about the weed load being introduced to my farm.

Rick got out of his truck in the bright morning sun.

“How ya doin’, Cry Ass!”

Rick is Rick. Still, he brought better hay.

But after stacking hay bales, the main job for the day was emptying the mudroom. The biggest problem there was the two giant steel shelves. These shelves were cast-offs from the school maintenance garage seven years ago. Luke and I had snagged them to hold DH’s climbing gear.

The shelves are seven feet tall, 18″ deep, and probably weigh 200 pounds apiece. I had hoped to have help moving them, but Lucy went back to school early last weekend and this weekend there was no one available.

Whenever I have to move something too big for me, I think of my older brother, who was a mover for many years and taught me a few tricks of the trade. Always try to slide something rather than lift it. Though the shelves are multi-colored from years of paint (I will be repainting them next summer) and scratches were not a real concern, I did not think I could slide them. Too heavy.

But I did have this wheeled trash can dolly. Maybe I could roll them?

I removed the stacked boxes from each case and took out all the individual steel shelves to lighten the load. Then I tipped each shelf on its side on the dolly.

The dolly has a rounded top so the load was extremely tippy as I pulled each shelf through the kitchen and dining room. I was terrified a heavy shelf would slide off and damage the new sheetrock. I moved very, very slowly to the head of the cellar stairs. At that point, I lifted each off the dolly, pivoted it in a ten-point turn, and pulled it halfway into the stairwell.

Then I nipped around and got in front of the shelf on the stairs. I pulled it gently until it tipped to rest against my back. Bracing the heavy weight with my thighs, I walked down the stairs slowly (and puffing with effort) step by step until I was safe at the bottom.

Whenever I successfully accomplish something difficult (with Allen, with Luke, or recently with Lucy), it is my habit to shriek, “We are the champions of the world!” Yesterday I smiled to myself and thought, I am a champion.

After ten minutes to “walk” the heavy shelf into place, I began loading it with its previous boxes.

Then I went back for the next one. By the end of the day, both shelves were down and loaded, with more boxes in front of them.

Another quadrant of the basement has all the books, the filing cabinets, and various boxes and bags. I had zero time to evaluate anything when I emptied our school apartment. That will happen this summer and I imagine a great deal will go to Goodwill or the dump.

It was fun to revisit the past (a plastic dinosaur with JON on the bottom of its foot) and read the box tops as I carried things to the basement: in Lucy’s handwriting: FRAGILE! Lucy’s rock collection. Ah yes, those fragile rocks.

The mudroom is almost empty, except for Lucy’s childhood dollhouse (too fragile for manhandling) and a lot of miscellanous farm equipment. I will deal with all that tomorrow after work.

It was a long day of grunt work listening to hymns. Very satisfying to make visible progress.

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2 Responses to Grunt Labor

  1. Elaine Murphy says:

    Selden, your headache sounds like a migraine. They are debilitating. My father had cluster headaches, I had migraines as does Jennifer and Ethan. Hopefully they will be random….

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Thank you, Elaine. I was frightened by the intensity of the headache — never had anything like it before. I don’t know HOW anyone manages life with these as an ongoing problem. I was holding my head against the pressure and worrying about a brain tumor! However, two other people in my life were afflicted by the same thing in the past week, with the queasy stomach, and it seems to be a strange virus. Whatever it was, I pray it does not return! Truly, an eye-opening event for me! People who manage similar headaches regularly are stronger than I.

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