Friday, May 11, 2012
Driving, sheep, and a Barn Raising!
Well, I feel like I need to write every day here! So much is happening, and I am learning so much information so fast that I think if I don’t write it down I will forget what it was like.
Yesterday morning Donn and I did some horse work even though it was still kind of wet. We cleaned out the barn, I practiced harnessing, and we took two horses out with a forecart and the manure spreader. Donn drove them out to the field, and after the spreader was empty he let me try driving them back in to get the next load. What a rush! It was really fun, so we did it a couple more times :) I really liked driving, but I realized that I don’t quite have the instinct/quick reflexes that I have when riding – when one of the horses spooked a little, I hesitated a few seconds too long because I wasn’t quite sure what to do. In fact, the first time one of the horses just balked a little (I wasn’t driving) I noticed myself having this weird urge to bail – just jump off the wagon! That, of course, is not the appropriate instinct, and my brain quickly realized that. I could feel the connections starting to form, so I think with some practice it won’t be hard to get my reaction time into a good range. The horses settled after the first time around, and it was smooth, although I also need some practice driving something so large – it’s a little like driving a truck and a trailer, which I am not so good at.
It was cold and blustery and sprinkling yesterday. I think I should have brought a few more warm clothes! In the afternoon we spent some time indoors and I helped Donn with some stuff in his shop. He does welding and mower repair, and he showed me how to use the blow torch to heat and bend metal. It was cool, but a little intimidating. I was amused at how much more scared I am of fire than 1500 lb. horses. I didn’t watch the welding, but he explained how it worked, and I’ll probably get to watch at some point once we find another hood.
Last evening I went into the town of Cortland to pick up a couple of things and explore a bit. I found a grocery store, library, wine store, and a big Salvation Army. I’m pretty much set for the summer! I went for wine and chocolate and came back with wine, chocolate, olives, fruit and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. So much for the no sugar resolution! I’ll just head in that direction and get there eventually, I suppose…
Today, we got up and did chores and Maryrose gave me a little lesson in looking at the sheep and pasture to determine when to move them. It’s going to take some time to get the intricacies, but I think it’s really interesting to think about. I had a big breakfast that included a slice of homemade honey-sweetened rhubarb pie (rhubarb from the garden). Donn made it, and I have to say, it was pretty incredible. Might be the best pie I’ve ever had. Afterwards, I decided to go down the road to our Amish neighbors’ house with Donn. They were having a barn raising, and he was going to help. I was a little nervous – I didn’t know if it would be okay for me to help, or if I should hang out with the women, or if I would just be standing around. But I wanted to at least go see it, and I figured I could walk home if I got bored.
I ended up staying all day. They let me work right along with the men, and it was absolutely fascinating. We raised the walls. I carried TONS of boards in from the cutting area, because that was an easy task that I could see how to do. I started a bunch of nails in siding. I talked to some of the men – a few of them were really friendly. They fed us a HUGE lunch. I did try to meet some of the women once, but they were young, and I clearly made them uncomfortable, so I just went back to working. By the time we left, the barn was mostly finished, roof on, doors on. It was probably 3500 sq. ft., and two stories, although the bottom level was mostly done ahead of time. It is something to behold. I can’t even describe what it was like, really. Everything just flowed and worked, and we built this huge amazing structure! It was really beautiful.
Now I’m home and I am beat. I’m covered in pine pitch from carrying all those boards, my brain is mush from trying to deduce what was going on all day with the pieces of the barn and stay alert so I didn’t get a board dropped on my head, and I am physically exhausted. I might have the energy for a shower. And another piece of rhubarb pie. Then I’m going to bed!