The Age of Shovelry

I’m standing at the kitchen sink peeling literally the 78th peach this week when the Bearded One approaches and touches my back.  I lean into his hand and request a scratch.  I’m on my last peach for the eighth and final tray of the new dehydrator, my hands are slimy, it’s hot and my back itches.  Ever chivalrous, he obliges.  Oooooo, I say.  To the left.  Yes, yes.  Down.  I shiver.  We now call this sex.

Earlier we had both been in the garden digging up potatoes.  At this time of year especially, when there’s so much physical work to do, whether it’s digging potatoes or turning compost, we try to be sweet to each other, offer encouragement and praise, say thank you and please and make each other sandwiches.  I help adjust the TV antennae to get the football channel.  He vacuums the red rug.  The shovel may be the centerpiece of the farmer’s life, but it’s the chivalry that makes it all work.

Shoveling potatoes is tricky because you don’t want to stab them.  Just loosen the soil, then I use my bare hands to feel around in the trench for them.  The Bearded One wears gloves to just reach in and force them out.  It’s exciting and we shout and show our biggest and weirdest to each other, but it takes ages.  My back not only itches, it aches.

We had about the same harvest as last year, but half what we had the year before. Still, it's all the potatoes we need.

“Could you rub my left lat, Sweetie?” I say.  He kneads my tight, aching latissimus dorsi, which I hurt angling the buckets of potatoes into the root cellar.  I dug the shallow root cellar last year and the Bearded One made the lid.  It kept our potatoes and carrots and cabbage consistently in the 40’s and humid last year.  This year I’m using the recycled buckets because last year’s cardboard boxes disintegrated.

Hobbit hole root cellar

The compost didn’t completely cook this year (we only had maybe 2 weeks of summer — in the 80’s…), so shoveling it has been a huge pain.  You have to fork it because the straw and other garden debris is still interlaced.  It doesn’t smell, it just hasn’t completely disintegrated.  We’ve both been forking it out.  “Up,” I say to my masseuse.  “More.  More.  Right there.”  I lean back hard into his hand.

Shovel ready.

The Bearded One has designed a new compost system for next year which will include the straw with chicken poop.  We’ve spent many hours watching our new hen Kimber and the Seven Chicks, which have easily doubled in size in two weeks.  They run and flap and actually get some hang time, as the Bearded One says.  But the poop is starting to be noticeable.  It will greatly enrich the compost, but there’s another thing to shovel, load, haul, dump, turn, empty and spread.

The two Steves.

I stretch to the side, then to the other side.  I’m finally finished with the peach and am about to say my thanks and tell him how much I love him when he cries “Ouch!”  His own sore back has spasmed.  “Oh, Sweetie,” I say, “thank you for the back rub!”

He shuffles away, crippled and incoherent. “The gift of the Magi,” he mutters.

I laugh and wince.  Shovelry is not dead, but it could kill you.

6 responses to “The Age of Shovelry

  1. The potato photo makes my mouth water. I LOVE potatoes. French fried, baked, mashed, hashed, scalloped, seasoned in a skillet…any way – any time. And I can imagine how especially yummy they are fresh from your farmlet ground.
    Peeling peaches. I think of your peachy peach jam…how is has sweetened many of my mornings.
    The labor of creating sustenance. Both physically and in the support you and the Bearded One give each other as you labor.
    “Oooo…to the left…yes, yes. We now call this sex.”
    Absolutely without a doubt laugh out loud. lol lol lol.

  2. It’s the age of shovelry, chilvary and animal husbandry at the farmlet! I’m picturing the flying chickens, and guard dog Ruby, who appreciate how lucky they are to be at the Farmlet with The bearded one and mother nature! (you!) I’m sure that everything you two grow is especially yummy, because of the love you so obviously have to put into it. Even your words brighten up my outlook on life! Cheers and kudos to you both for being so dedicated to your Farmlet, and to each other. It’s a love story that extends to animals, people and the Earth herself! I love you, Christi! Don’t ever stop doing what iit is that you do. You enrich the world by virtue of the honest, wonderful way you choose to live your life, and the unselfish way you allow others to experience it vicariously. 🙂

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