An Honest Day’s Sweat


The Painted Mountain Corn is planted. It took six hours to collect, haul, and spread the bedding from the sheep’s shed. This bedding forms the mulch between the rows which are three feet wide. I spread 16 cartloads of bedding in an area 45 feet by 15 feet. Long planks were laid down where each row was to go. The planks kept bedding from covering the rows’ locations making it easier to dig the furrows later.

The next day, when it was time to dig furrows, I moved the planks into the mulched area and worked from there. Planting took one hour and 600 seeds of corn were planted. Next, I lightly mulched the planted furrows with a thin layer of spoiled hay (four cartloads) to conserve moisture and to hide the freshly dug ground from blackbirds who were eyeing me the whole time. This took about 30 minutes to complete. On two sides of the corn patch I planted a pollinator strip with hairy vetch, buckwheat, mustard, berseem clover, coriander, and poppies. I dragged a five-tine cultivator over these and spread a thin mulch of spoiled hay, another cartload and another half-hour of work. Then I was done for the time being.

A lot of walking was involved just in the planting phase which I roughly calculated to be about 2,400 feet. I haven’t figured out how many feet I walked hauling and spreading the sheep bedding but it was at least as many feet. Tons of material lifted, hauled, and lifted again are unknown but must be considerable. I was careful to lift with the legs and exhale while lifting and throwing. I did not feel I needed to go to the gymnasium after that but then I never have felt that way.

If we get some rain tonight then in about 10 days the first corn shoots should poke through the soil. Meanwhile, I will be planting two more varieties of corn, pole beans, runner beans, beets, quinoa, amaranth, and all sorts of squashes and cucumbers. But planting the garden won’t be done because there are tomatoes and peppers to transplant next weekend. Then I still won’t be done. There is always a lot of work here and the list includes fence repair, cleaning the roof gutters, fixing a broken basement window, and painting the porch. And get that junk out of the basement and down to the recycling center (hey, I’ve gotten a lot of it already).

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