Thursday, October 1, 2009

I've been digging up tree stumps...

... no small task when the ground is hard-packed and interlaced with roots and brambles of every sort. The original builder of the cabin only cleared the land for the pad itself and the driveway, but left the surroundings in their natural state--dense with trees and the default Fairbanks bramble of wild rose vines, raspberry vines, fireweed, etc. The first purchasers of the land with the cabin thinned out the woods nicely so I have some sunlight, but left all of the tree stumps and most of the brambles in place.

Me, I've decided that I'd like to put raised beds in my front yard for a vegetable patch, so the stumps have to come out. Being cheap, I have passed on renting or buying any power tools, and have been hacking away with just an axe and a shovel. And it's going swell. I'm quite proud of myself, because I had never had good upper body strength. But I feel strong and functional, now, between digging up tree stumps and splitting my own firewood. It feels good to be strong for a purpose, and not merely to show off how much you can bench press at a gym. It's weird for me now to think about how some people lift weights and grow strong... just for the purpose of lifting more weights. But I am growing food, making my land useful and safe (I have a tendency to trip over the tree stumps), and keeping my home warm. All of those push-ups I'd been doing over the past few years culminate in the strong, precise swing of an axe.

I've now called it quits on tree-stump-digging for the year. I definitely have another couple of weeks or so before the ground is frozen, but I don't like having so much bare mud in my front yard at once. But over half of the stumps are out, now. Check out my work!

Here is a photo of one half free:


Anonymous said...

Be careful not to hurt your back. Take frequent breaks and stand up straight and walk around. When I bought my first house, I spent one of the first weekends doing all this work in the backyard to clean up and didn't realize I'd hurt my back! (I was shocked since I thought only old people could hurt their backs!) My back has since recovered, but my back hasn't been the same since. (i.e., more prone to injury)

Debs said...

Proper outside work beats the gym for keeping fit - and fun too! It looks like you've done a great job! Is this cabin yours for the long term then? It looks like you're making great progress with making it into home ;-)

[No Nickname] said...

You are so Alaskan! I love it.


mdr said...

I am very grateful to this "Anonymous" reader -- a good-hearted person who cares about others and is willing to share experience and give advice. Thank you thank you thank you

As he/she said, once the back gets hurt, it NEVER is the same any more. Sometimes a big sneeze threw my back off and I had to stay in bed for days to a week.

A back injury OFTEN cannot be felt until the next day. That is another dangerous part, because people don't know when to stop when their backs were already hurt.

Never bend over to pick up heavy items. Squad down to pick up.

mdr said...

Squad down or kneel down (on your knees) to pick up heavy items.

Anonymous said...

the gym (classes and equipment) are at least designed not to injure you. but during flu season, being indoors at the gym is not so great.

Arvay said...

Thank you for all of your concerns and caring. But the only way to avoid all possibility of injury is not to live a full life, and I'm not interested in that. My latest of a long string of minor injuries was burning my arm on the side of the oven while not being careful taking bread out. I suppose I could quit using the oven, but a more sensible approach would be just to be more careful and use the oven mitt all the time instead of being lazy and grabbing a kitchen towel.

Thank you to anonymous 6:01, for a sensible, measured, and balanced caring and caution.

And, I always squad.

Anonymous said...

baking in your oven and burning yourself mildly is annoying but not terrible.

hurting your back for life is another story.

avoiding all possiblity of injury would be an extreme way to live your life (and probably impossible).

but throwing caution to the wind when participating in high risk activities is also extreme.

being reasonable/moderation is the key.

mdr said...

BIG THANKS TO "Anonymous" again. Best wishes to you and I cannot thank you enough.

Arvay said...

I didn't throw caution to the wind--I wore steel-toed boots and safety glasses! I notice you didn't ask about that, though that ought to be the number one worry--by far--about using an axe.

I very much appreciate the caring and good intentions, I really do, but good intentions don't take the place of knowledge and experience, and I prefer to take my lessons from those who have it, not people speaking from supposition.

So... thank you for giving me a warm fuzzy, but you really can't protect me with misguided advice.

And, plenty of people hurt themselves at the gym, and that's worse because, as my original post points out, it's for no reason.

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Good on ya! I do believe you've outgrown any cheechako label that probably didn't stick to you anyways.

Much better to do work than pump iron.

Anonymous said...

"Be careful not to hurt your back" is misguided advice? Sheesh! Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning!

Arvay said...

No, saying going to the gym is safer than doing yard work is misguided advice. That's sort of analogous to saying that doing yoga is safer than doing the dishes. Both may have inherent risks (pulling a muscle, or handling sharp knives with soap-slippery water), but it's a moot point since the dishes need to get done! Taking exercise as a side benefit doesn't mean you are free to hunt around for alternative exercise. Them dishes still need to be done!