Working for Play

IMG_20140621_191329_774It’s day four of a major clean up project here at the farm and am I glad it’s raining. I’ve been tearing down a dilapidated old shed on the property. Besides being an eyesore, it was a danger because it was falling down.
First I hauled out as much of the contents as I could while it was still being held up by rotting posts, and in part the junk that was inside. Then with the help of a neighbor I managed to pull the bottom edge of the front wall down so the shed roof could continue to fall back and to the side. The next two days held the task of pulling apart the rotting roof, working downward and to the back dismantling the wreckage and sorting it into piles:

  • Wood to be burned
  • Metal to be scrapped
  • Trash to haul to the dump
  • Broken glass to dispose of carefully.

As I worked the ground underneath felt unstable enough that I was concerned I would find an old root cellar – by falling into it. (It didn’t help that the neighbor kid kept making references to Ted Bundy, Dahmer etc.) It was just the rotting floorboards collapsing the few inches from joist to dirt and sometimes into critter tunnels or along tree roots. Fortunately I didn’t come across any wild critters more threatening than a few mice, and a lot of ants.
Yesterday I finally got it down to working with rakes, shovels and pitchforks to weed out the remaining trash, rotting wood, broken glass, feed bags and piles of old plastic yogurt/butter/ tubs. There is a pile of old lumber that should keep the neighbor’s bonfire fed through the fourth of July.

This is hot, dirty and somewhat dangerous work. Broken glass, rusty nails, and rotting boards, not to mention a fat old lady working to exhaustion in hot humid weather. Why do I get so much pleasure out of it? I suppose it is similar to folks who get a rush out of exercise. It requires strength and stamina. At one point I could actually begin to believe again the amount of work that I did as a young woman. Of course I didn’t milk a barn full of cows before I started, and I didn’t have to milk them again when I was done for the day.

This is work that you can actually see is getting done. Unlike housework and paperwork, and even barn chores, it will stay done. On a treadmill or exercise bike you only have a gauge to reward you. I have piles of trash. The way forward is clear.

There were times during the tear down that I wasn’t sure what to do next. It seemed like there wasn’t a logical next step, but if I moved to the side or back of the pile I could find safe footing and a beam or roof piece that I could work loose.

As the area opens up the possibilities for the space seem endless. Originally my idea was to use the saved half for livestock as it adjoins my pasture lot. Another possibility is an off grid guest cottage with a garden plot. There are a couple of big trees and limbs that need to come down. This shed was crumpled by a falling tree over a decade ago. By removing the leaning tree it would leave a yard with enough sun for a garden, enough clearance for a fire pit, and still enough shade to be cool in summer.

So though I am thankful for the rain this morning which gives my legs and back a time to rejuvenate, I wish this afternoon left free time to do a little more on this project, not the requirement of going to my office job with clean clothes and air conditioning.

Now if I could only garner this much enthusiasm for setting my garage straight.