Life is Hard. Work Harder.

It’s been a hard week around the farm. Quite a few of my “critical” projects– the donkey fence, cleaning out the barn, building a chicken run, mowing the back field– are at a tipping point, and just as I lowered my head to plow through these first few weeks of spring, something stopped me dead in my tracks.

My grandpa had a stroke.

My grandpa is by far the strongest man in my life, and the one who loves me the best. We’ve been particularly close since I bought the Liberty House– he’s been my go-to guy when I need advice, equipment, someone to explain how to operate the damn mower. I didn’t quite realize how much I relied on him until he wasn’t there.

And, listen , you couldn’t take that man down with a tank, much less a little blood-clot to the brain, so he’ll pull though this just fine, but since he’s got some recovery time ahead of him I suddenly found myself without my go-to guy, and I was a little like, “Well, shit. Now what do I do?”

What I’ve been doing is visiting the hospital as often as possible, reminding myself how lucky I am to have him and to have spent so much time with him in the last year, and digging deep to remember that as long as I’m willing to work my ass off (no doubt that work ethic came straight from Papa, too) there’s nothing I can’t do.

So the little cart with a flat tire that my grandpa was going to fix and bring up to the farm so I could hitch it up to the mower and use it for mucking the donkey barn or moving wood out of the junk pile became my first project…

I hauled that thing–flat tire and all– up into the trailer while wearing a skirt and flip flops.

First thing Saturday I set to fixing the tire and hitching it up to the mower:


My grandpa was right (as usual) this cart made life on the farm a thousand times easier. I’ve been trying for the last two weeks to get the remaining part of the junk pile under control so that it could be mowed around. I’m having a huge problem with ticks on the donkeys (and myself) so getting rid of any tall grass in the pasture is priority one.


As you can see, I’ve got my work cut out for me. I actually found another wheelbarow-ish thing in the remaining rubble…


This may be one of the greatest finds in the pile so far because look what I can do with it.


However, the cart was actually way more efficient for the volume of crap I need to move.


I hauled a ton of brush and wood to the burn pile, and more wood went to the big barn to be sorted for future projects. Plus there was a truck-bed liner, and six garbage bags full of actual junk to haul around.


It doesn’t look like a good 30 hours worth of progress, but wading your way through a mass of vines, brush, grasses, and fallen-over-barn takes longer than one would think. There was a point where I was up to my eyeballs in what could only be Devil’s Snare and the first thought that came to mind was “I need a machete.”

Uh. I’m the person who damn near lost a finger tip to a piece of metal roofing. Give me a machete and I’ll probably cut off my own leg.

But, I happened to find this thing at the local hardware store instead…


Yes. It’s every bit as amazing and destructive as it looks. Plus, great practice for your golf swing. Not that I would ever take time to golf.

The cart also made a deep-cleaning of the donkey barn significantly easier than the last time I did it (which required enlisting my mom to help me drag a twenty foot tarp heaped with stall bedding a good 50 yards to the compost pile.)


I’ll tell you honestly, in the last week I’ve felt pretty stuck. Stuck because I don’t have nearly enough time to get all this work done, stuck because half the time I don’t have the right equipment or enough man-power to get things under control, stuck because sometimes I don’t even know what questions to ask much less have anyone to ask them to. But if I wanted to sit on my ass watching TV and eating bon-bons all day, I’d buy a brand new condo somewhere that doesn’t require any work or maintenance.

The truth is, even when it’s hard, even when it seems overwhelming, I love the work. I love spending eight hours outside on a Saturday fighting the jungle that is slowly encroaching on my property, slinging around barn beams that by all account should be too heavy for me to move, doing everything I can to be the best caretaker of this property that I can be.

And, you know, it has it’s rewards.


The good news is, starting Saturday I’ve got nine whole days off from my day-job (I haven’t taken a full week of vacation at once in…maybe ever) so if this place isn’t in working order after that, it might never be.

25 Responses

  1. So sorry to read about your grandfather, mine had a stroke last week and it reallllly threw me for a loop. It’s strange when they’re suddenly not invincible naymore.
    Can’t wait to see what you get done on your time off!!

  2. Glad your grandfather is on his way to recovering. We think my Uncle had a stroke last week too. But last I knew it was unconfirmed. They were running some tests, but I guess he is doing OK. Good luck with the jungle.

  3. I’m sorry to hear about your grandfather. I know that overwhelming feeling of trying to do everything yourself. Maybe you could schedule a workday with your friends and family. Make a list and divide and conquer. It is amazing how much help an extra set of hands can be. Then once you have things back a little closer to order, it will be easier for you to maintain alone.

  4. Thinking of you. And admiring you for your determination!

    My dad had a stroke my senior year of high school – at the too young age of 48. The recovery journey can be a long, frustrating one and it will be so important to have you guys close. He’s so lucky to have you!

    Hoping your week off is just what the doctor ordered.

  5. Good luck to both of you. Stay close to the ones that love you, and the work that satisfies you–both are so vital. But you know that, of course.


  6. Praying for the speediest recovery in stroke history. And for you to be careful out there without your go-to guy.

    1. My sentiments exactly! If all else fails (which it won’t) you could always bottle up your kick-butt attitude and sell it for millions!

  7. I’m so sorry to hear about your Papa – I still find myself missing mine at random times.

    I think you made some great progress – anything on wheels (that work anyway) is a help in my book.

  8. You’re newfound wheelie dealie appears to be a hay bale cart…. makes moving them a lot easier.

  9. I’m glad your grandfather is going to be okay and that you have been able to spend time with him.

    Chickens eat ticks don’t they? I hope they will help control the problem for you.

  10. So sorry to hear about your grandfathers stroke. You do have a lot on your plate. Is a call to ” Got Junk” out of the question?Good luck with it all!

  11. My grandfather is my very favorite person in the whole world so I can completely understand where you are! He’s also my go-to advice guy. We are lucky ladies and I will be praying that yours is up and active again in no time. Also, that Devil’s Snare reference made my day! 🙂

  12. Sorry to hear about your grandad, hopefully he will be up and running soon.

    I have one of those cut the grass things while practicing ones golf swing things too. Works well! Just remember to give yourself sometime to relax this week as well. NO NEW PROJECTS, just get some on your to do list done….

  13. Keep sending good thoughts to your grandpa. Determination goes a long way in healing, and I think your family has that in spades.

  14. I’m sorry to hear about your grandpa, but happy to hear he is going to recover.
    I have grown up working on land like this at my grandmas farm, then at my families cabin, a house we fixed up, and our own country place.
    It is Hard work! Give yourself some slack, that stuff took years to accumulate/grow, don’t expect to wave a wand and have it just fly away, you are doing fine!
    If your land is very uneven, so it’s hard to mow, sometimes the best thing is to have someone harrow it in the fall to sort of flatten it. You can also use a roller ,but that is time consuming. I like your tractor, but you may want someday to get an ATV and a bushog, much more fun to ride (ours was till it broke down:) Little tractors like that can do a lot though.
    Best wishes!

  15. Also, if you have a particularly stubborn weed and can’t get rid of it, borrow or buy a goat. Our goat killed a multi-flora rosebush we couldn’t get to stop growing in the wrong spot…

  16. I am hopeful your grandpa has a speedy recovery.
    You are such an inspiration to me. I really enjoy your posts.

  17. So sorry about your papa Kit. Good thoughts for him. Stop for a donkey hug and a cat cuddle while working hard. And the sunset is beautiful! Compensation for your winters. Your work ethic is amazing.

  18. I’m sorry to hear about your grandfather, but glad he is okay. Just remember to slow down and drink a cold beer every now and again- I say this as a fellow work-until-everything-hurts-then-work-more type of person. Appreciating what has been accomplished helps stuff overwhelming feelings down to a manageable level (they never actually go away). Oh, and thanks to you by the way- bought those two chicken books you suggested. Awesome. Going to be super helpful.

  19. I’m sorry to hear about your grandfather, and hope recovery is already well on its way. It sounds like you two are a pair.

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.