I am a planner, not to the point of having every little detail of my life planned, but enough so I have some order in my life. I tend to err on the cautious side, I think things through before I jump in... yes, I do read the instructions before attempting something new. I also tend to back away from machinery and equipment that I am not experienced with instead of just going for it and trying to figure it out on the fly.
However, this whole perspective changed this past week as I even surprised myself. Like many of my adventures and misadventures, this escapade happened in the garden.
All of these years, my garden has been separated into two because we had originally landscaped with a huge boulder right behind the first garden spot. Also, there has always been an old tree stump in that area. It has been a pain to keep it weeded and to get in the small area to mow.
Enough was enough. I decided to make things easier. So, Ron Hacker was so kind as to bring his backhoe over and remove them both for me. Then there was the issue of removing the rest of the sod and actually making the space into a garden.
My Ron and Wyatt have always been around when something needed done and I have always been perfectly content to be the clean-up person and let them run the tractor. Well, this year they weren't around and I was anxious to get the garden ready for planting.
Totally against my norm and being as non-mechanical as I am, I decided to "just do it!" After all, I had learned to drive Ron's larger International tractors, so I could certainly learn my little one.
It started off great as I couldn't even find the dipstick to check my oil. Patience wore off after about 20 minutes and I called Ron. One problem solved. Ready to go and it wouldn't start. One minor detail made all the difference, it was not in neutral. Problem solved, I was on my way.
Finally at the garden, I had to skim the sod up. First, I had to play with the bucket a little, to get the controls in my head and figure out which way they worked and to remember that!
I finally got the hang of getting the sod sliced off the ground but I could not get the bucket to scoop it up. Eventually, I gave up and just loaded the sod in the bucket by hand and then drove and placed it where I wanted it. I know, it must have looked pretty silly but I got the job done.
Though the sod was off, it didn't look too pretty. I had mountains and valleys... lots of them! So, I decided to forego the tractor and grab a couple tools that I had mastered: the rototiller and a shovel. This cleaned the mess up enough that I could have a load of topsoil brought in.
The next task at hand was to level the dirt throughout the garden. This would surely be easy. All I needed to do was drive in and get a bucketful and dump it where I wanted.
Hard as I tried, I could not get dirt in that bucket. Of course, every time I stood up to see how much I had, the safety switch shut the tractor down. At least I had Plan B, tip the bucket down and drag the dirt where I wanted. This worked reasonably well until I got about half the pile down and could not drag anymore.
Again, I succumbed to a tool that I knew would work, my shovel. I know that shoveling dirt into a bucket looked even more ridiculous than loading sod into it. At one point, a farmer working ground to the north of me actually stopped and watched. I am so glad that I could provide a good laugh for him for the day!
Eventually, it got leveled and after spreading fertilizer and rototilling it twice more, it is ready to plant. This was after four long days of work but it was done and, I have to admit, it looks decent.
The point of this is, after all these years, I proved something to myself. Sometimes you just have to take the bull by the horns and try something new.
It is the fear of breaking something or doing it wrong that has kept me from it. So, what if I am not mechanically inclined, I don't have to understand every little detail of how things work. I just have to have enough common sense to watch my gauges, listen for sounds that are not right and know enough to stop when something isn't right.
It's always good to step outside of the norm sometimes. Just like this, you never know when you will have to do something for yourself. Would it have been easier if I had tried while one of the guys was here to show me? Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes, just you and yourself, using trial and error makes the greatest teacher.
I learned a little more than just getting familiar with the tractor this week. I learned that I can do some things that I had always depended on others to do for me. It gives me a little more independence and it feels good. Sometimes it's not so bad to "just do it!"
Photos property of Lois Hoffman.