It’s slowly getting cleaner. It can be hard to work in. The dust picks up with ease as the old hay gets moved around in the dry air. It gets into your airways and makes your mucus all kinds of interesting colors. Wearing a dust mask makes it hard to breathe while doing hard work and the combination of a mask and this heat can feel overwhelming. It’s a difficult choice to make.
The garage must be cleaned, largely because of the rats. They must, must, MUST be eliminated before winter. We’d prefer to eliminate them without poison but our options have been wearing slim. But we have one last plan for the elimination of the rats without poison. Through simple denial of resources, carefully laid traps, a clean open garage and some carefully timed dog releases we hope to see rapid results. We plan on putting our chicken and rabbit feed into large steel cans with a moisture absorber in the bottom. As the rats have been gnawing through our feed bags, this should keep them hungry. They have been drinking from a water jug that an isolated chicken inside a cage has been using. We will be returning the chicken to the flock shortly and will leave the water jug and even refill it… Surrounded by manual traps. As it goes dark we have learned the rats come out to play. We’ll be closing off the garage and setting the dogs out at night to hunt the rats while they feel safe and in the open. Our hope is to eliminate them swiftly. We have counted at least five. That means there are likely at least a dozen in the garage. We also know there are some nests outside. Those will be dug and removed as well to the best of our ability.
On Friday we will set off the bug bombs, in both the house and the garage, to eliminate the fleas. In addition to fleas we’ve battled several other kinds of bugs in our years here. House moths, biting black flies, cellar spiders, small ants, big ants, house centipedes and fruit flies to name a few. My hope is that by setting off the bug bombs we’ll defeat (or at least drastically reduce) them all with one blow. It seems like a good plan.
So the garage must be cleaned so that the bug bomb can reach everywhere possible. A layer of hay and dirt on the floor that must be cleaned later means a layer of compostable material that would be covered in an insecticide, and a floor that would be totally open for bugs to move across.
To that end I spent a chunk of the morning tidying a bit with Greg. but right as we started to get down to the heavy lifting he had to run to shower and then leave to work at his shop. I felt pretty morose for a while. It can be somewhat lonely feeling trying to homestead sometimes. I’m often left on my own to do things and I frequently just wish I had company.
Today especially I felt down about it. There were haybales that needed to be moved outside and wheelbarrows to cart around. I wanted Greg’s help with it, but to no avail. He had work to attend to and I was on my own. I moped about as I ate lunch. I was hoping one of my boys would be able to carry the heavy haybales outside for me. I felt so strangely sad and incapable of carrying them myself. I’ve been feeling this way a lot lately, as if all of the strength has been sapped out of me when faced with a task. Not just tasks with heavy lifting, something I have always been under confident about, but most any tasks that aren’t strict routine. I suspect it’s just that creeping, lingering depression that sneaks up every once in a while but I still felt pretty miserable as I ate lunch while watching a terrible series of nature documentaries.
After finishing my lunch and realizing how truly terrible the documentary I was watching was I realized that I was fairly unhappy sitting about doing nothing and that forcing myself to do work wasn’t going to make me feel any worse. I also gave myself a bit of mental pep talk. It’s not like I’d never carried a hay bale before. I hauled in 50lb bags of feed every time we went to the feed store and these were 50lb hay bales. It’s not as if I didn’t haul those very same hay bales into the garage myself when they were delivered, stacking them head-high. Of COURSE I was very capable of lifting those hay bales, and I really needed to just dig deep, find the grit in me and do it whether I liked it or not.
So I stepped forlornely into the garage and sized up the first haybale. I found the ropes and gave them a good tug to stand it on end. Then I bent my knees, wrapped my arms around the bale, and lifted. And I suddenly realized that hay bales are a lot lighter that I remembered them being. I got a surge of confidence as I carried out and stacked my last four hay bales outside. I then proceeded to tidy up several wheelbarrows of compostable litter (hay, old cardboard, etc) and remove some trash as well.
Some days I buy far too easily into the idea that I need other people to help me accomplish things, especially the men in my life, extra especially when it comes to laborious tasks. Today was a good day for me to find that grit in me again. Sometimes I need to remind myself that, regardless of the overwhelming message of society, I am hardly a waif just because I’ve got lady parts. I am 5’11” and have always been taller and broader in the shoulders than most of the men in my life. I am the one who started this, hauling buckets, throwing around hay baled, shoveling dirt and poop and slicing open animals. I’ve done every bit of it on my own at one point or another, often all at once. All because of my own convictions. I just need to be reminded sometimes to find those again.
I’m not there yet. This past year has led to some major blows in my sense of security and confidence. I’m not sure I’m secure enough to reach out into the ether and attempt to start fighting the dominant social structures that feed into that lack of confidence again yet. But think I can be secure enough to try to clean up my little corner of the world and make it a better, smoothly functioning place again.