Today we decided to invest some sweat equity in the place, cleaning up the downed pine trees along the driveway. Ten 60-foot pines topped at about 20 feet off the ground makes for a lot of brush and logs. Yeoldfurt used the tow chain and the tractor to move the big logs and I used the little truck to carry the cut logs and smaller limbs. We each carried several loads out to the big burn pile at the back pasture. When I was on my way out with my third load, I noticed Yeoldfurt was in the process of loading up a big round bale. I know the drill, so I put my truck in park and went to open gates for him to get the fresh bale out for the horses. These bales are at least 1100 pounds and you have to baby the tractor on the incline to keep it from rearing under the weight. After he dropped it where he wanted it, he suggested I go drop my second load and then come back to the patio for a well-earned break. We had been at the log-moving exercise for a little over an hour and were about halfway finished with the job. There was a time when we could both work all day at a job like this. But we're not spring chickens anymore. These days we try to pace ourselves a little. Physically, we still work harder than a lot of folks, simply because of our chosen lifestyle. But we like to think we work smarter these days.
I never judge whether I succeeded in 'working smart' that day until after the job is done and I have only two basic criteria for making that decision. The first thing I ask myself is did anyone get hurt? Little bandaid boo-boos don't count ...but if you hurt yourself bad enough to make you stop working for the day, or if you need to seek medical attention for the injury, or if you have physical limitations for a day or longer after the injury ...you failed. Case in point... I tore ligaments in my ankle about ten years ago because I got in a hurry and didn't watch what I was doing. I've paid the price for that injury nearly daily ever since, some days worse than others. Dumb, really dumb, on my part but what's done is done. The second thing I ask myself is did any tools or equipment get damaged or destroyed? Hand tools, power tools, tractors and vehicles ...even straps and chains have thresholds of weight and torque too. As much as you'd like to get the job done and over with, it never pays in the long run to overload and damage (or destroy) your equipment in the process.
If I have to say 'yes' to either of those two questions, I did not work smart. If my injury or my equipment issues are minor, I count myself lucky and resolve to be smarter with the next project. If my injury or equipment issues are serious, I have no one to blame but myself. I really hate when that happens!
Today, I am happy to say we both worked smart. Neither of us got hurt and none of the tools or equipment were damaged. We cleared enough of the logs to regain full use of our driveway and what's still left is small enough to be moved with just the little truck. I'll accomplish that in one or two loads a day over the next week or so. It's coming to the time of year when we need to fertilize and seed the pasture with winter rye but before we do that, the pasture needs to be mowed one last time. So Yeoldfurt put the shredder on the tractor and we'll tackle the mowing over the next week or ten days also. We just need to get it done before the next round bale goes out because that would mean unhitching the shredder and putting the hay spear back on so we can move a bale. Hitching and unhitching that shredder is a major pain, so we need to shred as soon as possible now that it's hitched up.
While I was moving the brush and reflecting on how much quicker I wear out on physical labor these days, this song from Toby Keith was running through my head. I can honestly say I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm still as good once as I ever was.
By noon, we had moved half the brush and logs, put out a new round bale, got the shredder hitched to the tractor and gotten a good start on the weekend laundry. Not bad for half a day's work. So now we're heading into town to run some errands. Yeoldfurt wants to treat me to dinner tonight and I'm hoping he'll let me treat him to a movie if there's anything worthwhile playing at the theater.