Wednesday, June 12, 2013

One for the Books

Phil and I got up at 5:45 this morning. (For the duration of the summer, that would probably be a prudent rising time, though I doubt we could sustain it long term.) We soon got to work: me, filling buckets with sand and peastone and trying to do whatever support roles I could. Phil: mixing concrete, pouring it into the bucket of the tractor, and scooping, metal feed scoop by metal feed scoop into the bond beam.

The first batch was great. I figured we probably needed to do a batch an hour, or maybe a bit more, and we would finish in a day. First batch took 80 minutes. Phil mixed the second batch.

And then, midway through mixing, the mixer quit. Twenty minutes of fiddling later, Phil called the rental company. They told him to pull a yellow wire. He did that, and the machine started up again. What a relief! Five hundred or so pounds of concrete wouldn't have to go on the ground.

Sometime during the second or third batch, our wood shipment arrived. We sure love the delivery guys. Today's man hadn't been to the farm for some months, but he greeted me with a huge smile and a, "I HAVE been here before!" He cheerfully moved pallets, helped Phil lift a 200 pound lintel we won't use onto a pallet in order to move the pallet out of the way. We had expected the wood to be smack in the middle of the driveway (we are running out of space!), but he fit it beautifully right next to the driveway, uphill from the big greenhouse. It took an hour or two to unload everything.

By now, the full heat had come. With all the recent rain and the burning sun, the heat index was 96, warm enough that sweat beaded all over my face and dripped off my nose if I went over to the RV for any amount of time.

And then, midway through mixing the fourth batch, the mixer quit again. We needed servicing.

Unfortunately, the repair man got lost, so what should have been a 30 minute trip took 90. The mixer didn't come from his shop, and simply needed a new air filter. But despite arriving in a fix-it vehicle, he didn't have the right size with him. Nevertheless, he had no interest in going away to get another one, so he jury rigged one.

Happily, Phil was able to remove the concrete and finish batch four. Batch five: mixer was going along, mixing the half batch that didn't fit in the tractor bucket when the mixer quit again.

This time, we were out of gas. Phil had checked it a short time before and it appeared to have plenty yet. And since the machine is new to us, he had no idea. Too bad! I could have run up to the gas station while we waited for the repair man.

Half an hour later, Phil had a can of gas and could finish the fifth batch.

But he was overheated, water logged yet still thirsty, getting dizzy.

I made homemade electrolyte drink: for a half gallon, it has about a cup of whey, half a Tablespoon sea salt, juice of a lemon, a tray of ice and top off with water. That helped revive Phil: I have no idea how much salt he had lost, but water was not helping.

After a cold shower, a short nap, a half gallon or more of electrolytes, and a chance to simply rest, Phil was ready to go back for the sixth batch.

And then, while he was moving a T-post in order to maneuver the tractor, it somehow whacked his shin very hard. I happened to be inside with the AC at that moment and didn't hear his cry for help. Besides a huge swelling, the pain made him almost pass out. And vomit.

Arnica for shock and trauma, a bit of rest, and he went back out. What else could he do?

By now it was 6:30. While Phil worked on the seventh and final batch of the day, I had a stretch of usefulness I haven't had yet this year. Filling buckets for Phil; keeping him hydrated. Milk the cow. Water the other cows, and walk to their paddock to move them (acres and acres away). Water Belle. Feed the calves. Shred the cooked chicken. Cover the wood delivery with plastic in case it rains tonight. Make chicken rice salad.

By 9:30, we had both had refreshing cold showers to wash away the sweat of the day. Fed, cooled, and ready for bed, we'll need to rise early tomorrow, as we have several more batches to do.

Lord willing, we'll be able to finish before the predicted derecho arrives. More hopefully, perhaps the derecho will pass us altogether.

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