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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Composting Manure and More Lessons from G the Skid Steer


G the skid steer got the best of me today.  I was trying to assist in moving composting manure from the piles behind the barn into the manure spreader (a new method of turning compost - pretty slick!). 

It was so straight-forward. Pick up a bucket load of poo, move it over to the manure spreader hooked up to the tractor PTO, dump it in, repeat.

Only problem was, getting to the manure pile required driving up over some pretty big ruts to get up onto the cement pad where the piles lay. In the process, one or both front wheels of the skid steer come off the ground.  And when that happens, I temporarily panic, feeling like the thing is going to tip over backwards.

{Note: I'm not worried about getting hurt. I'm worried about damaging the machine and looking stupid.}

Then I regain composure, fill the bucket with poo, turn the machine around, and, with a full bucket, have to go back down over those same ruts, again panicking when it feels like I am going to tip over, but this time, sideways.  After catching my breath again, I have to go over the ruts a third time as I a approach the tractor, this time simultaneously lifting the bucket (which also makes the load less stable) and, without ramming it into the manure spreader, position it over the manure spreader and dump it in.  Then I have to back away from the spreader while lowering the bucket and going backwards over the ruts all at the same time, again filling me with panic as I feel like I am tipping over yet again while coupled with fear that I will slam the bucket down on the manure spreader and/or tip over backwards while it is still lifted up.

That is just waaayy too much feeling of panic and tipping over and losing control for this gal.

I didn't mind moving hay bales and water, although even those tasks had some moments of tension, and I learned how to dig and move rocks even though I was also dreading that task. But the constant feeling of losing control on the ruts today was just too much.

Even worse than that however was my disappointment and frustration in not being able to finish, and in letting my mentor down. I thought I could do it.  And maybe in time, I will learn how, when I'm more comfortable with the limits of the machine. But not today.  And yes, I could have forced myself to continue, and been afraid the whole time, and hated every second. I don't tend to learn very well under those conditions, and if I had forced myself that way, I may never have set foot in a skid steer again.

I'm just grateful I'm working with a great team here, people that are patient with me (and my weird baggage) as I step outside my comfort zone over and over and over again.  Something I have never been good at, something I struggle with every day here, as daily I am confronted with learning something new, something I'm not good at, something that makes me uncomfortable, sometimes even looking foolish and stupid.  I'm grateful that there is no pressure to be perfect here, because I am really, really, really not good at that.

I tried my whole life to do things perfectly.  My mantra was (and some days, still is), "I'm not good enough." I would never try a new task until I was certain I could master it quickly and easily.  I would never try a new task that could make me look foolish and stupid if I could not do it well. Doing so just brought to life all of my old insecurities.

Never did I guess that stepping into the steel belly of a machine today would also bring to life all of my old insecurities.  About not being in control. About not being perfect. About not doing things right.  About looking stupid.  About being afraid.  About quitting.  About my ability (or lack thereof) to be a farmer.

I've been told that to be a farmer, you need to know your way around a skid steer.  Perhaps I will never be a real farmer then, if that is the requirement.  Or maybe I'll just have to learn how to do things differently. 

Or maybe, just maybe, next time, G won't get the best of me.


Drummond Farms Alpacas and Woolens said...

I am so very proud of you and as always so very happy and lucky to be friends with you. What a joy it is to get to see what you are doing. You are an inspiration to me and boy, that makes me a lucky girl. Keep at it!!!!

Victoria Strauser said...

Thank you so much for your support & encouragement!! It means so much to me!

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