Tuesday, May 19, 2020

but my wheels won't go

I often sing a bit while doing chores.

Sometimes I sing to focus my mind and remain calm when life is complicated.
I think Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" got me through chores the entire first year after the 2016 election.

Sometimes I sing to distract the goats while they are being combed. I'll bet my goats know more Hamilton material than just about any other goats.
Even my own special segue from "The Room Where It Happens" into "Quiet Uptown." Whew, I can almost make them cry with that one.

Well, do you remember the Cat Stevens* song, "Fill My Eyes"?
This song has become the whimsical sound track for my morning chores these days:

"I'm just a coaster but my wheels won't go..."

I own two wheelbarrows, a garden cart, and - a very recent acquisition - a tiny open trailer designed to be towed behind a utility tractor or whatever those machines are called. Every one of these items was secondhand and, except for latest, each has already given me years of yeoman's work.

Unfortunately, at the moment, none of my four cargo-movers has its requisite number of functioning wheels. In fact the wheelbarrows don't have one functioning wheel between them and my fanciful idea of cobbling one sound undercarriage out of parts from two very different wheelbarrows hit a snag quite early on.

If the pandemic hadn't put a crimp in even my limited amount of normal "travel," I would have made a determined effort to get the garden cart in working order by early April. I knew at least one tire was in sad shape last Autumn. Once the snow is gone, I rely on the cart to move bales of hay from the roundtop to the "central distribution landing" between the barns. The bales I'm feeding now are particularly heavy, and - although I don't like to admit it and have had to prove it to myself over and over again - I cannot carry a whole bale that far. So I have to open a bale in the roundtop, stuff flakes of the hay into a big plastic bin, and carry the bin out to the paddocks.
It takes three or four trips per bale. Four to six trips per day.

"I'm just a coaster but my wheels won't go...
my legs are weak, my heels are low."

After the initial rebuild, 2015

The extra work isn't a bad thing in and of itself (I could live without it), but every time I open a bale, some hay falls to the ground. Every time I grab a flake to stuff into a bin, some hay falls to the ground. Every time I put the bin down to open a gate, carry the bin through the gate, then put it down again to close the gate, ditto and ditto. I've been trailing hay all over the place, several times a day, and the wastefulness is very frustrating. Considering how often the goats hear a lecture about not wasting hay, this very much smacks of "Do what I say, not what I do!" 

Still going strong in 2016...right through 2019

So on today's early-morning walk with Piper - which is when I got all these fern portraits you may have been wondering about - I decided to Take Steps. As soon as we were home and Piper was having her breakfast, I got online and found a bicycle shop a half-hour away that is open, with appropriate levels of distancing and caution. I've emailed my cart details to the shop with a request for an estimate. The tires may be standard bike tires, but the axle of the cart is different from a typical bike axle, so the job may hang on whether the rims are still in good shape.

I'm hoping this won't turn into one of those decisions about replacing an entire  item because the relative cost of parts is so high. I don't enjoy those decisions.
On the other hand, this little cart has worked very hard for a long time and "doesn't owe me a thing," as the saying goes. Do you remember the state it was in when I found it?

2014: the original "cart" - a jumble of metal parts


*  "Fill My Eyes" 1970 by Cat Stevens, who later changed his name to Yusuf Islam and stepped away from music to focus on doing good in the world, and now, later still, is known by both names and for using music as a vehicle for doing good in the world. He's always been On The Road To Find Out, that fellow.