Monday, October 17:
We are convinced we should try to get the spring piped underground before the deep frost sets in; that is, I am convinced, and I am pushing everyone else to make noises of agreement and come out with a shovel and help. After breakfast this morning, when my Beloved Spouse set off for a tense meeting, and the self-starters got out their books, I headed down the hill with a pick and shovel to see what one small forty-seven year old woman could do in the way of trenching.
The frost-free tank we are trying to build will go – if things work out – off the east corner on the north side of the barn. Higher on the hill, the improved spring tank — with underground inlet, draw-down pipe, and berm, — will be installed next to the present spring tank, principally so that we can keep our running water as continuous as possible. We will trench, lay pipe, and set both new tanks, all before we cut through the seep trench that fills the spring tank and divert the water. As I stood off the corner of the barn taking sight lines, I hoped that just eyeballing would be good enough.
The overcast weather of the last few days broke last night, and when the people responsible for this chaos – Mom and Dad – got up this morning to milk, skim, make tea ,and fry the breakfast hash, a three-quarters moon waning poured down like whitewash out of a deep black sky. Now, four hours later, the sky is a perfect bowl of blue, and the sunlight and the trees are competing to see which is brighter gold. My fleece vest is too hot after only a few minutes of digging.
By evening, with the boys (S-4 and S-5) coming down during the afternoon, we were far enough on the job to make us think another day or two should do it – if Mom’s arms still work after today. Answer to the question “how much can one woman dig?” is, in five and a half hours she can drop a two-foot trench, one shovel-width wide, twenty-odd feet. And when the five and a half hours are over, she will be very tired, and her arms will hurt. More of the same tomorrow.