The fact that temps were in the sixties and– gasp! — seventies this weekend (In Michigan. In November.) almost made up for the fact that with daylight savings time, it’s officially pitch black at 6 PM. This is The Blackout Zone, where zero outdoor projects will get done during the week until, oh, April. But Mother Nature threw us a bone with almost twenty perfect hours to spend working outside this weekend, and I took advantage of every single one.
Screw the Aliens
The current post hole tally looks a little something like this:
MysteryMan: 2 3
Me: 1 11
Yeah. (I kind of wanted to say “That’s right, baby!” but see? I’m the pinnacle of self-restraint.)
I volunteered to dig three of the huge post holes we had left to get the supports in for the donkey fence, because my alternative job would have been Chief Board Holder for MysteryMan while he finished furring out the station walls (more on how that might have avoided blood and disaster later) and as enthralling as that job sounds I prefer waging war on the impenetrable concrete clay soil we have with the PHD (I’m done writing out the words “post hole digger” for the remainder of this post, and possibly the rest of my natural life.) Thus ends one of the longest sentences I have ever written.
In any case, the sun was shining, it was a beautiful day, and I just couldn’t bring myself to stop digging holes. We’d agreed to use the temporary metal fence around the pasture for now because we’re hoping to expand at some point in the future, but the South side of the area is pretty well set, and I decided I wanted my split rail fence on at least one side of the pasture now.
For reasons that are beyond my comprehension, the idea of putting in a split rail fence makes MysteryMan break out in a cold sweat, so I had to broach the subject carefully. It went something like this.
Me: “Hey I’m going to pick up lunch.”
And then I came back with the line posts to put in 80 feet of split rail.
One of the things you learn after three years of living with someone (a year of which has been devoted to house projects) is how they react to minor deviations in the master-plan. MysteryMan has some sort of mental tick that makes him think of the 1573 reasons why something can’t be done. It’s called, he’s an engineer, and while occasionally it makes me want to stab a pair of pliers into my eyeballs, it’s actually a very useful trait of his. It means instead of getting a wild hair about starting something new, I have to think through every possible step of a project so that I have an answer for any one of the dozens of questions he will throw at me when I bring it up. It goes something like this:
Me: I’m having fun digging holes today, I think I’m just going to put in the line posts for the split rail on the south side of the pasture.
MysteryMan: (feigns seizure)
MysteryMan: You know you’re going to have to dig the holes deeper for those posts than you have been.
Me: 20-30″ is the recommended depth. I already looked it up and think I can manage the 2 additional inches per hole without dying of exhaustion.
MysteryMan: You’re going to have to use quick-crete on them.
Me: I already added 5 bags to my list.
This goes on and on until we get to something like…
MysteryMan: What if one day aliens land in our pasture and we can’t escape because one of your line posts is in the way?!?
And when I show him the emergency evacuation plan I’ve drawn up in case of extraterrestrial invasion, the part of his brain that cannot fathom my ability to put in 80 feet of fence without disrupting the delicate balance of the universe finally short circuits and he allows me to get on with my business.
I love that man, and the truth is, everything I build is a little bit better because of all the reasoning I have to do ahead of time. By the time I actually get to start the project I have such a crystal clear vision of what I need to do and how, I hardly have to think until it’s finished.
As it happened, I strung my line, and spent the next 5 hours digging 8 post holes. I realize that seems ridiculous, but you try digging a hole in straight clay. It’s like using a needle to dig through concrete.
The best soundtrack for digging impossible holes:
Drunken Lullabies, Flogging Molly
Devil’s Dance Floor, Flogging Molly
Gonna Be a Blackout Tonight, Dropkick Murphys
Breakfast in Hell, Slaid Cleaves
After that shoulder-wrenching experience, I spent Sunday getting all the posts lined up, leveled up, and concreted in place.
These were the best two days of good old-fashioned hard work I’ve had in a long time. Maybe the best I’ve had all year.
Not too shabby. Now, you’d think MysteryMan would feel the slightest bit lucky that he fell in love with girl who, when she decides she wants a fence put it, will install the dang thing herself. I keep having to remind him, hey, I could be the kind of woman who expects you to work all day and then use all that hard-earned cash to buy me jewelry. All I’m really asking for is that at the end of the day you clap me on the back and say “Nice job with the 80 feet of fence you installed today, honey.”
Anything You Can Do…
The only bad part about this weekend was when I was striding purposfully through the yard, about half-way through my hole digging, and my left foot found its way into a cleverly disguised pothole. Then my butt found it’s way quickly to the ground, and I twisted my ankle so severly I spent the next 6 minutes doing lamaze breathing.
My ankle was weak (and sore enough) after that that I rolled it twice in the next 5 minutes while digging the next hole, and I resigned myself to using one leg to support my body weight for the next 3 hours.
At the end of the day I had visions of soaking in a tub, and walloing in my ankle-injury for a bit, so I left MysteryMan up on a ladder finishing up the furring work.
Imagine my suprise when I’d just lowered myself into the steaming tub and balanced a bag of ice on my ankle, when MysteryMan comes hobbling into the bathroom with a look of pain on his face.
Because of course that man had to one-up my injury by falling off of a ladder and getting a 3 inch gash in his knee. I couldn’t even limp in good conscious knowing he’d slid 12 feed down a brick wall, bruised the entire left half of his body, and left a good chunk of skin behind on one of the ladder rungs he landed on.
Like last summer when I called him and said, “How’s your day going?” and he’s all, “Not too bad, but I stopped working because I fell off the roof.”
Excuse me? Oh, right… that’s normal. YOU FELL OFF A ROOF. You want to take a little swing by, oh say, the emergency room or anything?!
But the man is made of steel. He’s by far the toughest person I know. And here’s another MysteryMan fun-fact for the day, he also has an aversion to band-aids. Once he split his shin open with a flat bar, then took his sock off and used it (along with some electrical tape) to bandage the wound before getting back to work.
And if that story doesn’t toe the fine line between “impressive” and “um, yuck,” I don’t know what does.
The point of this story is, he lost half a liter of blood and I’ve been hobbling around like a wuss for two days. As much as I like to tease him, the man is way tougher than I am and I’m admitting it to the Entire Internet.
Anxiously Awaiting Residents
Injuries aside, we made excellent progress on the pasture this weekend. We the split rail posts up we only have 250 more feet of steel posts to put in on the West side.
You can see the pasture is a little better than a third of the clover field. I’ll be building the gate next weekend, and then all that’s left is putting up the wire.
We also found out the clover would be a little to rich for the donkeys, so MysteryMan’s grandpa (Superman himself) came over with the tractor and disked up the field. (Not being fully integrated into country life yet, I’m not sure if it’s proper to say “disked the field” or “disked up the field” but regardless, there was big green machinery involved.)
This means I need to take the hand spreader and seed all twenty thousand square feet of this area with something donkey-friendly in the next week.
And now I need to go take a nap or five and contemplate that little bit of fun for a while. Who needs a gym membership?