Farm Hands

I sometimes wish I was more handy. I wish I knew how to do things and fix things around the house. How does one learn that kind of thing? I’ve just never known.
We had been planning for the past several weekends to go up to our farm, but something or another would get in the way at the last minute. Well, this past weekend, we finally did it. We headed up at last.
I think I’ve told you before, that this farm-thing is mine and mine alone. I’ve always had a certain pull towards wide open spaces and a house in the country like Grandma’s. Not so much the case for my husband. He goes along with it, like he goes along with my cats, because he loves me. I love cats and he loves me, so he puts up with them. I love farms and he loves me, so he puts up with it.
But back to my general lack of handy-ness. Well, no. First let me tell you about the drive to our farm. It was such a pleasurable drive and I was beyond excited to finally be going. And of course, spring is a beautiful time of the year to be out and about. I couldn’t believe all the different shades of green on the trees on the passing hillsides. If someone had painted them, it would be look surreal. It was simply a perfect trip there, all four hours of it filled with singing and goofing and having fun. 

Well, it was 6 pm on Friday when we finally got to our sweet little farmhouse.
We pulled in the driveway and right there sleeping on the front porch was a big, black cat. He opened his eyes, but didn’t get up. Instead, he stared at us. He lay there, challenging us to get any closer. This was one tough Tom-cat.

We got out of the car and the cat squinted his eyes at us as we got closer to the house. He was right outside of the front door. He sat up, but didn’t move away from the door. He twitched his tail and his ears moved to that downward and backward position. I think he had decided on “fight” instead of “flight.”

Then my daughter darted towards him, squealing with delight, “A caaaaaaaaat!!!!”
His flight or fight instinct changed to flight. He fled and we never saw him again.
As I pontificated about what this whole “black cat on the front porch” thing could mean, my hubby said, “There’s a smell this place has that is incredible. What is that? The smell? It’s so sweet.”
The country does smell good, doesn’t it?
 “And, wow,” he added, “The skies really are bluer here, aren’t they?”
Country skies are more vivid, are they?
Suddenly it dawned on me. He was being positive about this place. He. Usually it’s me. Me pointing out this and that. Me trying to get him to like it.
But, this time, it was him.
(Cool. A convert perhaps?)
Well, the farmhouse had been shut up for months and it needed a lot of cleaning. There were ladybugs all over the place; there were cobwebs here and there; there was evidence of mice.
And, worse than all that. There was no water at the kitchen faucet.
We made the best of it the night we arrived. I cleaned up the house and cooked dinner. I boiled water from the bathtub in a big pot and washed the dishes in there. I took them back to the bathtub to rinse them.
And we went to bed.
We talked the next morning, which was Saturday, about finding a plumber. When a neighbor came by, I asked him for a plumber’s name. He said he didn’t know any plumbers. “Who does your plumbing?” I asked. “I do,” he said. He said that he would help me too, except he doesn’t like to work on other people’s stuff because, “I’m afraid I’ll tear it up.”
I wish I could do my own plumbing, I told him. “It’s not so hard,” he said.
I decided that this trip, which was a short one, we’d just do without the kitchen sink. I had lots to do here and I wasn’t really in the mood to hire a plumber on a Saturday if I could help it.
I worked outside some and worked inside some.
What I didn’t do was take any pictures on this trip. I worked instead. Here are some pictures from last year at the farm.

said the spider to the bee…

A house I love that we pass by

“It’s not so hard.” “It’s not so hard.” “It’s not so hard.” I heard it in my head over and over again.

So, I finally came inside to take a look myself at the faucet.
I wound up taking it apart. The whole thing. It was very interesting. The way that bally thing is inside there, and the holes there and that liney thingamajig and the little do-hickey. All very interesting. I didn’t see any reason why water wouldn’t come out of that spout.
So, I know you know what’s next. Yes, I tore it up. I tore up the bally thing, the liney thingamajig, and the little do-hickey. I’ll definitely have to hire a plumber now.
Oh well, I was no worse off, right?
I had shut off the water to the house before I started my DIY plumbing, so I turned the shut-off valve under the sink and went and turned back on the water to the house. When I got back to the kitchen, water was shooting up all over the place from the faucet. I ran down and turned off the main line to the house again.
My husband was out on the mower, cutting us a path through the meadow to get down to our mountain stream. It was about 5 on Saturday afternoon.
I went to get him and told him that not only had I completely destroyed the faucet, but that the cut-off valve under the sink was not working so, you see…we’ll have no water in the whole house.
It sounded like the opposite of fun to him, so we packed up and left. We were back on the road by 6 pm on Saturday. We spent 24 hours at our farm. 8 hours in the car, 24 at the farm.
So on Monday morning, I’m in a meeting and happened to notice someone looking at my hands. It was quick, but I saw it.
I looked at them myself and was surprised to see how horrible they looked. Unkempt and unclean. After that particular 24 hours at our farm, I had pretty much destroyed my nails. I broke most of them in my plumbing mishap and had needed them as a shovel in the dark soil before that. I looked down at my hands in this meeting and I quickly moved them off the conference table. Even the side of my index finger looked stained or dirty. Now in my lap, I noticed how rough the skin on my hands felt. I knew now that when I shook hands with this group of people I had never before met, the roughness was surely noticed. I suddenly felt pain and felt the cut on the ball of my hand that I had acquired this weekend. Oh lordy, I hoped it hadn’t started bleeding again right now.
I am most impressive, don’t you think?
I decided that I needed to address my hand-y untidiness. So I explained my hands at the end of the meeting.
It led to a wonderful discussion on raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes, chickens and cows. No one knew a thing about plumbing, though.
Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!

Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah

  1. Jenny says:

    Oh Rebekah, that old house just speaks to me. I want to buy it and live there and fix it up and find all the little treasures that old houses divulge one by one. The little initials carved into the molding, the star scratched on the window, the old postcard stuck behind the closet door. Listen, if you find a school to teach basic home repair let me know and I’ll go with you. I feel the same way! You are a very interesting woman!

  2. Gary says:

    Another excellent Bloggie Rebekah…!
    I’m not handy with "everything" either, just some things, and for the rest… I found a REALLY good DIY book by Reader’s Digest, and highly recommend it.
    Awww… that Cat was a Good sign… he was waiting for you to come so he could Welcome you. Cats have facial expressions that most city folk (even "Cat Lovers") don’t read well… when a Cat squints, well that is their Smile… when their eyes are wide with pupils dialated they are ready to fight. Yes Rebekah… before he got startled, he was indeed greeting Y’all with a kitty Smile, and the twitching tail shows emotion with the Smile. He was Happy to see you.
    Y’all may have a new Friend there.
    GodSpeed Y’all…!

  3. Cindy says:

    What a nice story! There is no doubt, that nothing compares to the countryside in the spring! This past weekend my husband and I drove to Nashville, TN, from middle Georgia. I hate driving on the interstate highways – but my wonderful map reading husband was able to navigate the route all the way up and back without once going on a interstate! It was country all the way! We went up one way, and came back another, so saw so many cute towns, and beautiful scenery, mountains, lakes and streams. I know what you mean about all the different shades of green! It was so worth the little bit of extra time it took! I love your picture of the old house!

  4. Weeks go by sometimes where I look at my hands and sigh. Especially those weeks when I’m into serious artwork and crafting or projects. You never know what color paint will be stuck on my hands. Then every blue moon I say ‘enough!’ and pamper my hands back to normal. But they never stay that way. Years ago a friend of mine and I decided to take a plumbing course at a local high school when our kids were babies. I remember being terrified to use the torch and the teacher saw that and picked me to go first, the creep. I know how to cut tiles and sweat a pipe if I had to. But I still call the plumber because I’m chicken. 🙂 Have a happy weekend! ^..^ -C

  5. denise says:

    Hi Rebekah, loved your blog, i am new to Mary jane and dream of my own space in the country. I was wondering if you could suggest some areas, not far from NYC to begin looking for the future. It would have to be modest, as I also would be the only one really interested in this endeavor. Thanks, i look forward to reading more from you. fellow "farmgirl" Denise

  6. Belinda says:

    I have been reading your blog for several weeks and had begun to think…Aw, just another city girl trying to fool someone. But your story about the weekend on your farm convinced me otherwise. If you’re willing to work like that with your hands, then you’re OK. Once upon a time, I worried about the appearance of my hands,because they were work-worn and rough. Then one day my Mom took my hands in hers and said, You know, your hands look just like your Granny’s…they are honest hands. What a reward that was! I have never been ashamed on them again. The REAL life is there on the land…not in the office. Thomas Berry put into words what my heart has always felt…"In the end, it is the land that is the most sacred element of our lives."
    Blessed Be.

  7. Cynthia says:

    Rebekah: Your husband sounds like mine. He’ll entertain anything simply because he loves me. I like to THINK I can do anything, so of course I try it once. If I’ve had any moderate success, they I’m happy and I continue. But Plumbing, Electic, and Gas are not something I can even imagine..I’m more a Tile, Paint, Wallpaper…muck out the stall, kinda girl. Choose your battles, know your limits.

  8. the hobbit says:

    New to your blog,but,not to farming.Sounds like the kind of journey I enjoy.A lesson at every turn.Reader’s Digest is good.Also helpful a how-to book with Rosie the Riverter on the cover.It’s always available at Barnes and Noble.I often turn to the web for how-to info.If the water came up when you turned the main on perhaps there was just air in the pipes from being off for so long.Can’t wait for the next trip.

  9. Sheri says:

    I think you learn how to fix things because you have no choice and have to learn! The Readers Digest book mentioned above by Gary is a good start. I have always been a student of "hands" – you can tell a lot about a person by their hands. I know in the city manicured hands are a must but oh the beauty of hands that are used in the dirt or the paint or the clay or whatever creative endeavors we dabble in. Eyes may be the windows of the soul but hands – they are the tools of the soul and all we bring to this earth. Wear your broken nails proudly – like a badge of honor.

  10. Cindy says:

    Some things aren’t as hard as you may think, however, I’ve not tackled a faucet myself…I have several handy fellas around here. You can learn alot by watching DIY programs or reading books…and they do give "classes" at places like Home Depot or Lowes.
    I hope you get to spend more time at your farm this year. John and I were both raised on farms and when we sold our home a few years back, we moved to the Hess Family farm…we love it!

  11. Heather says:

    Rebekah: First time I have read our blog, and I got a chuckle out of it. I live in a very small town in rural Iowa and live in an almost 100 year old house. We bought it as a foreclosure and then discovered that it had sat unheated with water still in the pipes for two years… You can imagine our dismay the 1st day we turned on the water and it shot all over everything. Fixed that, all is good for about 7 months and our upstairs bathtub decided to leak all the way to the basement. (it’s a 2 story house) UGH! Anyway, I keep telling myself it’s part of the charm…Right?

  12. carol branum says:

    hi rebecca,…i had to chuckle,i dont wear acrilic nails either and i own a shop,my hands look awful right now too,you need a parifin dip,and a good regular manicure,go natural for a while,with a french blog just reminded me,i need to get off this and go out to daddys and work on his sink,uguh,one time years ago i had this boyfriend that could fix anything,but he drank too much,so i broke up with him,i miss that guy,when i am in a jam,but not so much as to go call him for help,have a great day,blessed be,The Missouri Farmers Daughter,Carol Branum,Lamar MO.

  13. Tracy says:

    Good for you trying to do your own plumbing. The first thing I did in our house was put in a ceiling fan while Hubie was at work. Was he surprised when he came home. We have learned how to fix a lot of are own things as money doesn’t allow all the time for hired help. I love the part of the hands, The dirtier my hands look at the end of the day, the happier I am. My manicure I had done for a wedding lasted exactly one day. I do a lot of explaining of why my hands are a messy, I’m a hair dresser & make up artist so unkempt hands are usually unacceptable. But I think they look beautiful. They are the signs of hard work. Keep trying. Over the years you will develop all kinds of skills.

  14. Melanie says:

    This story more to me than I can tell you. Thank you!

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