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September 3, 2012: Labor, Part I, Big Projects

I’m not sure why Labor Day is called Labor Day – I presume that it’s a holiday for those who labor. So why isn’t it called “Worker’s Holiday,” or Day off Day?”

So, Labor Day is (at least in my mind) a day to either labor or think about the nature of labor. I decided to do both. I don’t multi-task. I find it hard to do even individual things correctly – but today I did both simultaneously. As I worked on a big project, I kept track of what I was doing, so that I might write about it later.

The labor- related event centered around working on the new compost facility. I assisted Pete with the foundation work. I’d hoped that he’d take on the entire project, but discovered that this wasn’t possible. A few days ago he ripped some shoulder muscles, making lifting tasks difficult. Also, there is this business of follow-through. Recall that some time back, I said that I needed to turn a new leaf, and start to act on ideas. The new

compost facility was a bench-marker of sorts for me. I envisioned it, and therefore was going to build it. Usually I envision it, Pete designs it, and then builds it. I’m the dreams part of Field of Dreams. Deep down, I knew that this was a major failing. I could do better. Pete should not have to do it all.

So today I agreed to help move and put railroad ties in place and move dirt, so that the ties might then be level. As I understand it (and I don’t understand much) he’s planning on attaching the rear plywood walls to these ties.

All was, for some time going well. I put myself in the zone, that state of being in which one is attentive to the task at hand – and I soon saw the light at the end of the foundational tunnel. We’d determined that railroad tie number three wasn’t quite level, and had begun moving the dirt underneath when it happened. Clank, clank. My metal shovel hit something hard. I knew immediately that it was rock. “Oh oh,” I said to Pete, who replied, “oh oh is right.”

Oh oh, that’s what I named the boulder that was then covered with dirt. And so, with pick axe, digging bar, shovel, and hands, we removed the dirt that was packed tightly around Oh oh. We also dug the dirt that was alongside Oh oh, so that we might roll it (no him or her here) out of the hole. Then Pete wedged the digging bar under the rock, and I wedged a 2x4 under the digging bar. Pete made guy grunty sounds, and the rock rolled a few inches. Then a few inches more. Finally, it was officially dislodged.

The above description makes it seem like the entire process of Oh oh removal was simple and fast. This is because language is fairly nonlinear. The truth is, there was a lot of stopping to access the situation and a lot of backtracking. With boulder removal, if one thing doesn’t work, you try another.

Pete and I have done a lot of rock and boulder removal over the past ten years. There were, in fact, many, many such things under the horse pen and hoop house and fence posts. So we know how to do this. In all fairness to my hardworking partner, Pete has unearthed more boulders than me, but I’ve done what I consider to be my fair share. So what if you can count this number on one hand? I chipped in . . . .

I didn’t really enjoy the process of extracting Oh oh. But I remained patient because I could see that we’re coming to the end of the Squalor Holler building project era. We have two big projects and two mid-size projects left. The big projects are the new compost facility and Tinni’s run-in shed. And the two mid-size projects are a tractor shelter and a new shack for the generators’ gas. I will help with the former. This is because the compost facility was my idea, and Tinni is my horse.

The rock is now where we left it, at the center of the new compost facility. All the animals have come and checked it out. Pete said that we’ll move it with the tractor. This statement was of course, music to my ears.

Next: 269. 09/4/12: Labor Day Part II