It’s been a couple of weeks since we did an actual blog post. That was our anniversary of beginning the Ambling Full Tilt journey. What has happened since has included another anniversary of sorts; an “annibirthary” as Dani calls it.
I’m now 40. From the day before, to the birthday, to the day after I found I felt the same. I have always felt the same. Yet 40 is a big number; I remember as a little kid how I marveled that I would 24 In The Year 2000. How old that seems when you’re seven, ten or 12! But now all of us “bicentennial babies” – and the ’77 stragglers – are staring 40 in the face.
I’m happy! I still feel like I’m 18. But my body doesn’t feel that way. It aches. A lot. Old injuries (right wrist, right knee, lower back) constantly remind me that I’m not a teenager. But I’m having more fun than I ever did as a teenager, even if that means occasionally doing the military crawl in a pitch black crawl space with only inches of clearance, and more (now I know) porcupine droppings than you can shake a cobweb-swaddled yardstick at… Or pickaxing raised garden beds… or carrying endless loads of dirt and rock here and there… I haven’t even started the tree felling and bucking operation! Or the re-insulation of the attic. Or the excavation of the crawlspace – which is simply to prepare the way for re-insulating and re-sealing several floor bays that had water damage. They rotted and dropped the old sheathing like loading ramps so mice and every creepy crawly has direct access to our subfloor… oh and all that needs to get done before the weather turns to its legendary “Maine winter” state. There’s actually a LOT more that needs to happen before the winter than just those things, but they aren’t nearly as physically demanding.
In these ways the changes keep rolling; from age to season to activity.
I’m in far better shape at 40 than I was at 20 (and I wasn’t a complete slouch then). If that’s not common, it’s frequent enough. I feel good about that. But I do miss the 20-year-old body’s ability to recover! Yet I’ve met people approaching their mid-50s who make me look like an utter cream puff. I’m hoping I can age half as well. Working on a homestead sure seems to be a good way to achieve that fitness goal, though it’s probably not a very pragmatic choice for many middle-agers.
Excavating and working on the nether regions of our post-foundation home is the highest-priority task in front of me and a huge challenge physically. But it’s needed to secure our home for the long winter season. Mice and bugs have long had easy access to this place. We really try not to kill things, so biosecurity is the best way to prevent the need for lethal corrective measures.
This work for the change of seasons takes place in the midst of something we have mentioned several times, but only just recently came into focus: the squatter living downstairs…
Phil the Mentally Challenged Groundhog was who I blamed for everything that went awry on the property where digging animals are concerned. I saw Phil exactly twice. Midday, he was sneaking snacks from our container garden before we had finished construction of our raised beds. I chased him off our “deck” where the containers lived, but not before he had wreaked havoc on our peppers, eggplants and celery especially.
That first day I noticed he was sheltering under the shed. So I boarded up access to the foundation and have not seen him since. He may have been the digging culprit early on, but we had not seen direct evidence for him; retrospectively I am guessing he actually moved on. Since then we have been frequented by skunks, I’ve found scat that I think is raccoon and the other droppings that were everywhere, especially surrounding the giant den in the crawlspace under the den. Until we had caught the culprit I thought they were groundhog droppings. But no. We had a porcupine living under the house!
Well, our "groundhog" turned out to be a slightly more prickly customer. No wonder it eluded us for days. We were after a crepuscular creature when we wanted a nocturnal one. Oops. Oh, well. Our porcupine friend was treated well in captivity and has since been released to seek his or her fortune elsewhere. #bornfree #adayinthelife #harvestveggiesrelocateporcupine #ontothenext
So today I begin the grand excavation of that space. Clear all the years of dung out, fill in the old burrow, clear travel space to every section of the crawlspace that needs attention (I estimate I have five yards of dirt and rock to move), and clear the work areas of spiders, construction refuse and debris. I get to do all this with no natural light, working entirely on my belly with just a tiny utility shovel and only a few inches of clearance between the bottom of the floor and the dirt.
It’s a job better suited to a 20 year old. But sometimes crappy jobs just need doing. Here’s to life keeping me from being too sedentary in my old age!