Feeling like a real farmer (and I have the backache to prove it)

I recently shared my questions and concerns about how to turn our bare lot into a field. Husband paid a visit to the seed store when he was in the Big City for work, and it turns out we are on the right track. They recommended we mix our Revegetation Mix with some clover: white and crimson varieties. This stuff will indeed grow up quickly and prevent undesirable weeds and plants from growing back after we tore them up. It should grow to about 30 cm and, if we leave it alone, it will reseed itself. And so the Great Seeding Project has begun. The first step, and undoubtedly the most labour-intensive, is raking the rocks and debris out of our new field and smoothing it over before scattering the seed. For various reasons, this job has fallen to me.

I started at the top of the field on Tuesday. I finally had to bite the bullet and drive the ATV – I actually had to get my 7 year old to show me how to start it (she’s been taking lessons with her Dad is a a very competent driver now). But it wasn’t too complicated after that. I hooked up the utility trailer, grabbed our trusty metal rake and some work gloves, and drove up to my starting point.

It was satisfying work, as I could most definitely see the difference as I went along. I would rake through the soil, pick out the bigger rocks and sticks, and toss them into the ATV trailer. This is what the ground looked like before I got to it:

And here is what it looks like when I’m done:

I worked at it for about 2.5 hours when I began to feel rather sore in my back. Just in time to start making dinner! Once I got inside and sat on the couch to eat, it was very hard to get up again! I was exhausted but also very satisfied with myself. I ended up renting a movie via the AppleTV (Garbage Warrior, only 99 cents!) and enjoyed a peaceful evening (Husband was out of town on work that night).

The next day I eagerly headed up to the field again, but within 5 minutes I could feel my aching back and muscles. Still, I pushed on. When I’m up there with my rake, standing in my field listening to all the birds call, with my dog running around me…I feel like a real farmer, like I’m really connecting with this land. It was a most enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours and further affirmation that this lifestyle we’ve chosen suits me. I have put in about 8 – 10 hours so far and I’m determined to get this finished soon: there are other projects popping up on the radar and I really want to get this done. I’ve done about half the field now, but it was also the worst part so the rest should go more quickly.

I knew we had rocky soil here on the BC Coast: this place was shaped by glaciers and they left behind loads and loads of rocks, which now lie just below the surface of the topsoil. But it’s another thing to really see it, to hand-rake it, and see what comes of a couple hours’ work:

This truly is backbreaking work, and for the umpteenth time I am amazed at what the early pioneers/homesteaders did before we had mechanized equipment. I am sore all over, but I am finding great satisfaction in seeing my progress. I know that a nice, smooth surface will make for a lovely field that we’ll enjoy for years to come. It really helps knowing this is a one-time job. God help me if this was like housework, where you know in a week or two you’ll have to do it all over again! And I should point out that I did have a little helper: my dog Rain was good at pulling out roots and loosening up the soil to make it easier on my rake!



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Categories: Uncategorized, working the land | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Feeling like a real farmer (and I have the backache to prove it)

  1. Nice improvements! That’s alot of rock! and I hear you about aching backs-we are shovelling, smoothing and digging here too, but not for 8-10 hours!! You go girl s)!!! So, yer I commiserate…somewhat 😉

    Stretching helps…a good back stretch routine of 20-30 minutes really helps me get through the outdoor months!

    I’m hearing your joy at creating this life on the land and I realte. There is much fulfillment and connection, yes?

    Take care and hope to see you in a couple of weeks?!

  2. Sorry for all the typos!

    xx Erin

  3. It is the season for sore backs, that’s for sure!

  4. Yowza! That’s a lotta rock. I hear you on the manual labor. Got memories of collecting and hauling rock – size of blocks – to build a shed many years ago. We had a HUGE pile yet still ran out fairly quickly once we started placing them in the forms and adding cement. We ended up switching to block (purchased) so that we could get it done.

    Now we’re back into a situation like you where there’s a lot of work to be done, including land contouring. There’s an equipment rental place in the area. I suspect we’ll rent a Bobcat or something like that rather than try to move tons of dirt by the shovelful…

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