Posted by: tlnemethy | October 3, 2013

Take My Strong Hand

Similar to the feeling my hands felt in Naknek, Alaska, my poor wittle fingers are now like those of an arthritic retired carpenter. I wake up in the morning and flex everything out, just for a morning routine that ensures I am, in fact, still alive and kickin’. Kickin’ is an exaggeration, of course. I can barely walk through my tight calves and decimated toes. Damn you frostbite for making my little piggies weak!

Not sure what the deal is with the fingers though. It probably has to do with the countless hours spent pulling the devil’s hair out of the earth. Part of the wonders of organic farming include no pesticides to kill those pesky weeds that we take for granted. In place of those pesticides, there is me. I’ve been working on a single blueberry patch covered in Bermuda grass for over a week, most of it wasn’t solo either. The first day three of us spent hours pulling the stubborn hell weed from around the fragile looking limbs of tiny blueberry bushes and didn’t even come close to finishing the row. I have a personal vendetta raging around the weeds of the blueberry patch.

We moved on from weeding to a wonderful new adventure called barn mucking. Apparently, the idea of clearing as a mess is made does not indeed relate to barns and cow shit. Instead, a new layer of hay is added to the shitty floor of the stall after it gets too mucky. This makes one hell of a layer cake of heavy, wet-concrete thick, shit paste. It was awesome.

From camp, we learned that I was an amazing shit mover. It’s a gift, really. Cow shit, pig shit, not too much of a difference. About halfway through the four hours it took to effectively clear out over a foot and a half of tramped down poopy I was toasted. My meager muscles were pissed at me and I was winded to boot. But I was smiling. I’d developed a system to pick up the muck with my pitchfork, a well thought up plan of scooping what seemed like it’d be way too effortless of a scoop and then being surprised with the strain it took to shift my fork a foot in the air and around a corner before being deposited on the growing mountain of stink. Might I add that the barn walls were covered in an intricate lacework of spider webs built for maximum scaring effect and also optimal mobility. I avoided wall segments, but you couldn’t help but see their spindly legs poking out of corners or see the flash of movement as they retreated back inside their den tunnels.

Like working at camp socialized me to children, Missouri is socializing me to countless spiders that like to lurk in barns and on the stems of weeds I’m pulling. Snakes too, really. I had the pleasure of riding in a truck bed after dropping off a mound of weeds and brush only to see a snake flicker its tongue at me from the other wheel well. Little dudes are little dudes, but finding yourself sitting in a truck bed with a slithery fellow is mildly disconcerting anyways.

Snake count to this day: three slithering, and one in a freezer bag. Spider count: However many minutes I spend outside on a daily.


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