Inducing labor

I have a theory about spring.

Spring is a con. Sure, there’s all this wonderful stuff going on as the world comes to life. Renewed perennials are peeking through warming soil. Chickens are scratching up bugs and the year’s first weeds. And, every day, you’re just grateful that it isn’t quite so cold.

But it’s all misdirection. The point of spring isn’t to renew the world. The point of spring is to get you to do week after week of backbreaking labor. McCormick, the God of Seasons, knows it’s impossible to get you to do it in the summer – the kids are out of school and the weather’s too nice. Fall, there’s too much other stuff going on as the kids go back to school and the holidays approach. Winter’s a non-starter. So that leaves spring.

“I know,” says McCormick, “I’ll make the air smell good and the sun shine just enough so everyone wants to go outside. Then, when they go outside, they’ll see all the jobs they have to get done and they just won’t be able to help themselves.”  Then he adds, “Heh heh.”

Exhibit A is raking. We live on two acres populated primarily by deciduous trees. Who decided deciduousness was a good idea, I don’t know, but I have a bone to pick with him. Some time in October, the leaves start coming down, but I do only minimal leaf-management at that time of the year, on the principle that the leaves just keep coming, so what’s the point. All fall, there’s a reasonably clear 100-foot circle in front of the house, with the outdoor electrical outlet at its center. The circumference is easy to see – it’s a big circle of leaves, pushed only as far as the 50-foot extension cord takes the electric blower.

I do this on the theory that the leaves break down, at least a little, over the winter, and the job is more manageable in the spring. In November, this is an excellent theory. In April, it looks much less compelling.

Then there’s the garden. Before you even start, you have to clear away last year’s debris (a job postponed on the raking principle). Then there’s amending. Because we live on sand, we have to bring in compost literally by the trailerload. We’re fortunate in that our town has a composting program, and the compost is free for the shoveling for a few weeks in the spring. But shoveling is even worse than raking, and it has to happen twice – first into the trailer, and then out again. All this in service of the flowers that bloom in the spring. Well, tra fucking la.

Then there’s the oyster farm. We buttoned it up in January, and now we have to unbutton it. There are some 300 trays, each weighing about 10 pounds, that have to be cleaned up and taken out, in a boat that holds about thirty. There are the oysters we left out over the winter, that have to be culled and distributed. There are 2000 pounds of year-old oysters, divided into 437 bags, that have to be taken out of the refrigerator they overwintered in and taken out to the farm.

We have to dust off the brooder, because we’re getting a few more chickens. We have to shore up the fences, because we’re (thinking about) getting a few more pigs. And we have to design a crazy new irrigation system for the hoophouse!

Okay, that last one’s optional, and there’s no ‘we’ about it. Kevin decided that standing in the hoophouse with a hose was an inefficient way to water, and he had a better idea. When Kevin has a better idea and sets off for Home Depot, I know not to interfere. I headed out in the other direction, in search of garden supplies.

When I came home, he was almost finished. He’d bought the kind of irrigation equipment that usually runs underground, with little spigots that poke out, and installed it from the ceiling in the hoophouse. He fine-tuned the spigots so they reached every corner of the interior, and we can turn the whole thing on with the flip of a switch. It’s pretty much genius.

McCormick has bamboozled us into getting most of the spring work done, but warmth and sunshine aren’t the only tricks he has up his sleeve. The spring striped bass run also falls under the jurisdiction of the God of Seasons, and we figure that, if we work hard, and give thanks for warmth and sunshine, we’ll be rewarded with excellent fishing.

That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it.

20 people are having a conversation about “Inducing labor

  1. I had a very similar epiphany along those lines this weekend. I reused some old funny pipe for hoops over the cabbage bed over which I’ve stretched bird netting to keep the damn cabbage butterflies out. It was only working in principle until I realized I had to keep the edges of the netting down firmly. Now it works in practice. Some of the funny pipe (I think that’s a Toro brand name- it’s otherwise called 1/2″ vinyl pipe) still has six inch risers with tiny little spray heads on them because I’m repurposing old pipe and in order to keep them from snagging the bird netting, I’ve turn the pipe so that the risers are hanging down from the hoop, and I thought, if I had half a brain I’d figure out how to make that work for me as a sprinkler, only I don’t have half a brain. I bet Kevin could make it work though.

  2. potato queen says:

    “tra fucking la” made my morning and sums up my outlook on life for the last month. Thanks for a badly needed giggle this morning, Tamar.

  3. Paula, you and Kevin must be related, somehow. And I sympathize with having to spend time and energy in that space between theory and practice — I go there all the time!

    PQ – Any time, my friend. Any time.

  4. Accidental Mick says:

    People who obsess about their lawns buy a lawn scarifier (rake). It is designed to rip up moss but does a pretty good job on leaves. You just walk along steering it and daydream whilst doing a ‘vital’ job.

    Normally, I am extremely respectful of what Kevin achieves. In this instance, however, I prefer to stand there with a hose in hand, daydreaming, whilst doing a ‘vital’ job.

    Notice a theme?

  5. Spring has sprung. We lost most of our snow this weekend. Green poky things sticking out of brown dirt. I declare Spring officially here!

    I love the indoor rain solution. We plan to build a large greenhouse for our grunty friends. During the winter they’ll get to use it – it will be open to the elements but provide a large covered area. They really like having a bright roof. During the warm seasons I’ll get to use it to enhance our climate length. I want to have indoor rain too as it stimulates the plants in a way greenhouses lack.

  6. Mick – I do understand your affinity for vital jobs that involve a lot of standing around, daydreaming. It’s the best argument ever for watering, I think. I plan to make up for the loss of watering time by increasing sitting-on-the-deck-with-a-glass-of-wine time.

    Walter – It’s a great system, and has the added benefit, in your case, of keeping all the equipment well over the heads of inquisitive snouts housing strong jaws and sharp teeth.

    And congratulations on springing. You’re late to the party!

  7. Spring is a crucial time for the honeybees … how are yours doing?

    I’ve been busy with swarms and queen issues but have also found some time to launch some honey labels for anyone who is interested. Not quite living off the land … but kind of.

  8. So.. Watcha up to? We haven’t heard from you since April!! April!! It’s now July! Hellloooo?

    • My thoughts exactly, Marcia. (Well, for even a bit longer … truth be told). And, frankly … a bit of worry has crept in about those “what if” things that can go wrong in living (starving) off the land.

      • Well, she’s probably off playing with her oysters or fishing, or watching Kevin devise some tricky new thing for the garden.. Which is Annoying, because I’d like pictures and a story about all of the above mentioned activities!! Especially since I just recognized that next month is August and I’ve been chained to my desk all summer!! Argh!

      • while never daring to speak for Ms. Haspel, i will say she is totally fine when last we talked a week or so ago. Just excruciatingly busy.

        • Thanks, for you post Amanda, it’s good to hear a first-hand report that all seems well with Tamar and Kevin!

          Like Marcia, I’ve been chained to work for months, too.

          I’ve grown fond of Tamar and Kevin … perhaps even a little addicted to her “deathless prose” so I miss her posts and updates.

          Wishing them well as they work like crazy to starve off the land!

  9. Get out the wet noodles, readers, I’m braced for my lashes.

    Amanda, thanks for allaying the anxiety. Everyone else, I’m very sorry to have been AWOL for so long. I do promise you an update. Amanda’s “excruciatingly busy” pretty much covers it. Kevin and I are knee-deep in oysters, it’s fishing season, and I have this pesky need to make a living by writing things that actually pay.

    I promise an update soon. Promise.

    And thanks for caring. Seriously.

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