Tuesday, July 7, 2015

30 Months of Lessons

It has been two and a half years since we began living here; three since we began taking care of this piece of rural land. I had no idea then what lessons I'd have learned, this far along. I was already somewhat handy and very Type-A about learning things that interest me. If something or someone does not interest me, I won't recall it or them. I'm bad at names that way.

What follows is not a bragging list but a taking stock. I've failed at most of these things too. Still, how much of this would I have learned had I sat before this screen and played video games? Obsessively checked others' Facebook profiles?

What really counts in life? Socrates said that only the examined life was worth living. I am not very social, so you can guess that I'd pick items on this list over more time with online "friends." Sometimes over seeing people I cherish face-to-face, when I'm on-task, a habit familiar to every successful academic.

Anyhow, see how much of this arcana of DIY life would be new to you:

  • Setting up an LLC and learning the basics of State and IRS rules
  • Learning to scour Craig's List like a pro
  • Honing my haggling skills with equipment suppliers, sellers of used gear, and repair shops. I will blame my Middle-Eastern heritage here for being tough when haggling.
  • Cleaning points in a distributor
  • Straining all gas and diesel through paint filters
  • Knowing the difference between load needles and idle screws in a carburetor
  • Learning how to set the gap on a spark plug
  • Painting with an auto-paint gun
  • Helping a friend tear down a tractor engine, replace a cam gear, and finally see how valves, tappets, and a cam dance together to make a big heavy machine move.
  • Watching the life-cycle of pests such as squash-bugs and beginning to interrupt it
  • Keeping ground hogs and raccoons out of the garden.  Improving head-shots when these critters enter a trap. Live-trapping and safely releasing a skunk without being sprayed (skunk seemed to think it was a game and appeared to enjoy it)
  •  Learning how to air-cure garlic and onions and store them in a root cellar
  • Building that root cellar
  • Living with black snakes (those great mousers) in every out building
  • Installing 400' of dog-pen fence and an equal amount of wooden-post-and-wire garden fence, using a tractor-mounted post-hole digger
  • Figuring out how to hand-bale hay and straw
  • Continuing to avoid pesticides and herbicides (we still paint stumps of Tree of Paradise with Roundup and will spray our apple trees next year--once, when not in blossom--with Captan)
  • Expanding out rainwater-collection system to 1200 gallons (and getting closer to a goal of 3000 gallons for the main garden).
  • Getting much more serious about canning. Mainstays now have grown from tomato sauce and pickles to include green beans,  apple sauce, and grape leaves
  • Freezing peas, squash, butter beans, and blackberries with success
  • Drying and saving seed from hot peppers and string beans.
  • Cutting out areas of rotten wood and repairing with Bondo
  • Planing a sticky door until it closes and looks good
  • Building sag-free garden gates 6' tall by 8' wide
  • Learning to use well a router and planer
  • Figuring out what to reuse and what to toss with 10,000 square feet of barns and out buildings.
  • Installing a hardwood floor of salvaged oak flooring tucked in a corner of the barn.
The next 30 months will bring more adventures, and I will return to this list to see what can be added.

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