Yesterday was a hot, sunny, sweaty, tiring, wonderful day. Allen’s son Damon operated a bulldozer for me for five hours.
Since losing part of his foot and then his lower right leg, Damon has not been able to hold a job. Sometimes he has not been able to get out of bed. Yesterday he was in constant pain; he was quickly exhausted; but he was determined to work off his end of a trade we’d made last year for beef. Though I repeatedly asked if he wanted to quit, he refused. So we had our day.
Remember all the fill I was blessed with this summer?
Damon came to spread it.
The area below the south field, north of the pond, has been a wasteland for years. Back in 2005, Allen and Damon had excavated an enormous pond site, using the gravel to build the driveway and then underlay the barn and garage. However the giant pond — having a gravel base — did not hold water. Thus in later years Allen and I had decided to fill it with the stumps (illegal to burn) and boulders from clearing the back field, digging a smaller pond off to the side. The original site was covered with a skim of dirt but was far too rough to mow. More than an acre had grown up as a useless jungle of briars and weeds over broken logs. Now Damon was going to spread the summer fill.
“You’re creating new land!” I shouted happily over the roar of the bulldozer.
Damon made a face. “They brung you nothin’ but rocks!”
There were two or three… thousand. The job seemed enormous and the bulldozer very small.
After watching him get started, I had to spend an hour moving the sheep. From the east end of the property I could hear the warning beep! of the bulldozer as it was backing. The sound filled me with happiness. I was wearing my baseball cap and lightweight blue summer Dickies. If I closed my eyes I could imagine it was ten years ago, Allen and Damon were working at the bottom of the farm, we’d soon have lunch when they would joke and tease, and Allen’s eyes would twinkle at me over his thermos cup of coffee.
It wasn’t ten years ago and Allen is gone, but the echoes were still happy. Even Damon’s needling felt heartwarming.
When I came back, I brought him a diet soda and a sandwich. He had already accomplished a tremendous amount.
He had dropped the blade as close to the pasture fenceline as he dared.
I ran to get my weedwhacker while he went back to work.
From a short level stretch, the ground still slopes steadily down to a hole. Damon says that to level it completely we could use almost as much fill all over again.
But as he back-bladed the new clean surface, I wanted to tap dance.
Damon also spread a load of fill the men had dropped in the back field, near the remains of a gully where he himself had trucked loads of fill four or five years ago. While there he also pushed some boulders into a pile. My goal, as always, is to make the entire farm mow-able.
I’d been feeling rather stuck and discouraged but this giant burst of progress has filled me with joy.