When we were in the planning stage of our farm the possibilities and dreams were endless, almost glamorous I might add. The hard, hot reality didn't take long to set in the moment we started to work. While I am no stranger to hard work, I am a stranger to difficult manual labor. Sure I have worked in our garden and yard on all of our projects, but the type of work we were setting out to do was a concept I was not familiar with.
By the end of our first day, the glamour was over. I was sweating from places on my body I didn’t know had the ability to sweat and there was a strange smell emanating from nearby. I asked Mark if he thought there was a dead animal or some funky plant or something we walked on. He started laughing and said the smell was coming from me. Oh! Ew!
Most of the work we have done over the last 7 weeks has been more of the manual type at its most primitive level. We chose to go this route instead of hiring in a timber company or renting heavy equipment to clear fence rows and paths, because maintaining the integrity of the property is very important to us. We want to keep the natural look of the land as much as possible without rutting and tearing up the terrain.
There have been days after cutting down trees and moving the branches that every muscle in my body screams in pain, but I dig deep and to quote Cold Miser of the Miser Brothers, I “put one foot in front of the other” and keep working. It’s not easy, but I want to contribute as much as possible. You see, I am employed in the traditional manner. I report to an office and suck up air conditioning Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm. I work at our land on the weekends usually from about 7 am until 2 or 3 pm.
I come home bleeding, scratched and bruised – many of which I don’t even remember receiving. My clothes are soaking wet by 9 am and carrying on as planned during a rain shower doesn't make me run for the car or a raincoat.
I will say that I have flat refused to do one task that was asked of me. A few weeks ago we were clearing out some small diameter (6 inches and less) pine trees in order to make room to fell a very large pine tree sitting in the way of our future fence row. Mark cuts the small pine tree down and asks me to drag it down the way about 20 or 30 feet. While this tree was very small in diameter it was close to 15 or 20 feet tall. I kind of gave him “the look’ and he asked me again, to just drag it “over there”. I pick it up, well, I try to pick it up and it wouldn't budge. I try harder and that sucker isn’t budging an inch. I couldn't even get an ounce of momentum on it. I explain myself and someone gets huffy, fires up the chain saw and cuts the top out of the tree. I try again. Nothing, again. This time I hear some cursing being drowned by the firing up of the chain saw yet again and the tree gets cut in half. That should do it. Nope. Finally, he gets on one end and helps me out. We get the tree trunk where it’s intended to go and he tells me, “wow that was heavier than I thought!”
While I can dig deep and do most things I am faced with, carrying whole trees is where I and my body draw the line.
I have learned a lot about myself in a very short period of time. Most important is that I am stronger than I thought I was – physically and mentally. At age 43, it’s not normal for most people to purchase 10 acres, get up off the couch, start clearing land (with a machete no less) and say they are going to start a farm. Remember from this post we are not most people. I have also learned that it’s a rush of excitement to follow your dream and watch how it begins to unfold before your very eyes. It’s scary at first, but then as it starts to take place the fulfilling sense of accomplishment takes over and you realize that the little bit of digging deep is going to pay off well for you!//tr
In 2014 a couple of 40-somethings decided to make a change. The purchase of 10 raw, pine scrub acres along Florida's Nature Coast started it all. This is that story.