I don’t think about this very often, the glamour and romance part, partly because after 22 years I’m pretty used to it, and partly because I don’t have strong ties to the city and city friends (the people who might find my life exotic) the way I did when I was still teaching at UBC. This is not to say that I don’t, at least once or twice a day, offer up enormous gratitude that we live here in this beautiful place and are able to choose to live the way we do because of it. But some days I’m reminded of just how different my life is now from what it was when I was living in the city and working at the university. A couple of weeks ago we had one of those days.
One of the chores that has to be done each spring is to gather together all the manure that the horses have generously deposited all over the barnyard and somehow get it out onto the field where it will do some good. And honestly, I haven’t been interested enough in the process to be able to remember how this has been done in the past. But this year, dh was pretty excited. He had just the right combination of equipment! A horse-drawn manure spreader! And a tractor! He’s had the manure spreader for years and years but until we got the tractor last year, he had no way of getting the mountains of manure into the bed of the manure spreader unless the loader happened to be here at home rather than on the woodlot. For the past several years, the loader hasn’t been home. This year, all the stars aligned.
Here it is; the star of the show. The tractor is essential, of course. But manure spreader uses the kind of old-fashioned, ingenious, and simple technology that really gets dh’s blood pumping. He was really eager for me to come out with the camera and record the process.
So here’s what’s happening.
My dh is on the tractor, scooping up rotten hay that we forked out of the barn throughout the winter. Hay sometimes gets put up (meaning rolled into bales) when it’s still damp and that inevitably leads to mould and then rot. You don’t want to feed mouldy hay to horses: it’s really, really bad for them. So when it appears in a bale, the bad hay gets dumped somewhere else. Ivy and Oscar are hooked to the manure spreader, patiently waiting for the next trip out to the field.
I love the lacklustre, somewhat ironic look in Ivy’s eye. “Right, this again,” she seems to be thinking. Oscar just looks like his sweet self. The horses stand easily while the manure spreader is loaded up: this kind of activity behind them doesn’t bother them at all. They’re old hands.
Tuffy is feeling a bit fussy and left out.
He watches as dh scoops a load of manure from down near the round pen.
Then makes himself useful by cozying up to Ivy and Oscar in the shade of the barn.
The team backs away from the barn, turning as they go.
And here they come back from the field, ready for another load. Django joins the parade.
I particularly like the one below because all three critters are stepping forward with their left legs.
While the team rests, I come around to the back to get a clear shot of the mechanism that makes the magic happen. I don’t know how it works, but it’s intriguing.
And here you can see that the teamster’s seat is on a spring, which makes for a somewhat smoother ride.
Django joins the horses in the shade of the barn while dh loads up with more rotten hay.
Ready to go!
Django and I sprint ahead to be in place as the crew came through the gate out into the fence. Hmm. I think Django needs more walks. He’s got a bit of middle-aged spread going on.
It’s a bit of a pull up to the crest of the hill where the need for fertilizer is greatest.
Phew. Made it.
The first pass has begun, and dh has lowered the lever that engages the mechanism to start the load moving out the back of the manure spreader.
This is the part that gets dh really excited: “It’s so cool,” he says. “Watch what happens!"
Yup, it flies. It’s as if it hit a fan. Clods and dust and gobbets all over the place. It’s actually sort of amazing how well the machine breaks apart the chunks of material and spreads them far and wide behind the spreader.
It takes only a few minutes to empty that whole load, and back the crew goes to the barnyard for the next one, Tuffy watching intensely.
So, are you swooning with the romance and glamour of it all? I thought so.
On a totally different note, this afternoon I helped with photographing the bed quilt, the lap quilt, and the book bag that the Greenwood Public Library raffle quilt makers have created this year. I’m showing you these photos because raffle tickets are on sale now! You can buy them through me (just send me an email if you have my address, or leave a comment here if you don’t) or by visiting the library.
First, here’s the bed quilt, 96 inches square.
Not the greatest photo, but the people holding up the quilt weren’t quite tall enough to get it all up off the floor. The pattern is a cheery mix of batiks and white. We started with a pattern published in one of the quilt magazines but weren’t happy with the results once we’d finished all the blocks, so we totally changed everything. The finished quilt bears very little resemblance to the original. We particularly like the checkerboard border we dreamt up. As she did last year, Miriam March of Whispering Pines Quilt Studio near Rock Creek quilted the large quilt for us for free. She did a wonderful job: you can see how well the curvy lines of the quilting play off the straight geometrics of the piecing. Thank you Miriam!
And because we changed the design so much, we had lots of pre-cut bits left over from the parts we didn’t include. After a couple of happy afternoons of playing around with the possibilities, we used them in the lap quilt (thanks, Myrna, for quilting it!). And offcuts went to make the book bag (nice job, Ann!).
We have to admit we’re pretty pleased with our efforts this year.
So there you go, from rotten hay and a manure spreader to quilts. What a great life I have. Romance and glamour in spades.