Daughter and I decided that we would each put up our Christmas trees this weekend. It was a lot more difficult for her than for me because she has three small children and a spouse to care for. I only have SwampMan. She called and told me to take a look at FaceBook because she has a picture of Zoe taking the decorations OFF the tree. (Note to Self: Unbreakable plastic ornaments again this year! Dollar Store!) Mine should be up, right? RIGHT?
Today was my designated tree putting up day. I only had a few things planned. Get flu shot. Iron a couple items. Move exercise equipment out of the living room so there’s room for the tree. Vacuum, dust, etc. Overseed some pastures with ryegrass before the rain comes in tomorrow. Feed the livestock. Clean out the gutters because they’re jammed full of leaves and there will be rain tomorrow. Put up and decorate tree. You know, regular stuff. Shouldn’t take long, right? Be done by evening. No problemo.
Things started going wrong early. SwampMan wanted to go out for breakfast. I wanted to cook breakfast. SwampMan said he was tired of eggs. He didn’t want fried eggs or scrambled eggs or an omelette. He wanted a restaurant because he wanted to do something nice for me. *sigh* Fine. But we gotta come right back, because I have a LOT of stuff to do, okay? “No problem!” assured SwampMan. “We’re just going to eat and come right home!”
I dressed up slightly to go out. By slightly, I mean I wore clean clothes in good repair, the kind that I could wear for work. I noted that SwampMan’s clothes looked as though he had just changed oil in them. I asked him about that. “That’s because I’m going to change the oil in your van when we get back!” Oh. Well, I was going to feed livestock and clean gutters when we get back, but I wasn’t dressed for it now! The restaurant where we decided to eat (in Jacksonville) was *very* crowded. Maybe everybody else was tired of eggs, too! SwampMan ordered….eggs, among other things. (Mentally knocked head on table…not my head, SWAMPMAN’s head.) I had….eggs. Coulda stayed home for that!
After a couple of stops at Home Depot (somehow we can never pass one without going in) and the local pharmacy (flu shot!), we got home. SwampMan tossed me a $20 bill because my bank account only had a couple dust bunnies lurking in the corner. “Uh, what’s this?”
“Gas money. You said you were broke!”
“You don’t have any idea how much I spend per week in gas, do you?” We get paid Thursday. That $20 will *maybe* get me through Tuesday. “So, uh, why now?”
“I want you to go fill up with gas before I change your oil!”
“We’ll get the tractor out and ride out and look to see what that wet part will need in order to get a fence up when you get back from the station.” SwampMan had talked about maybe mowing some of the trees down on the unfenced section that stayed swampy year round on the way home. I mentioned putting some fence up (since we already had the fence posts in) and letting the sheep clear it. It would help with our hay problem, too, giving the sheep roughage to keep their tummies happy. We argued whether to use barbed wire or field fence. “No, that’s okay!” I said. “It’s gonna rain tomorrow, so it’ll be far too wet to fence next weekend. I’ll walk out and take a look at it.”
“No, we’ll ride out there on the tractor!”
“I’d rather walk!”
“Well, I wouldn’t!”
“This is a bad idea. We’ve got too much to do!”
“It won’t take FIVE MINUTES when you get back. Hurry up!”
When I got back, I walked out. SwampMan drove out on the tractor. “Be careful, it’s real wet back there!” I nagged. I had seen enough. It was still too wet to fence. In fact, it was too wet for me to be squishing around in a pair of good shoes and getting my nice clothes snagged by thorny vines. “I wanna see what kind of corner post we put up!” SwampMan declared. “You can see it from this side of the fence! You’re gonna get stu…” but SwampMan was chugging off on the tractor.
I hopped from dry spot to dry spot while SwampMan and his tractor sank in the muck to the tractor frame. Not good. “I need you to go get my hammer so I can get this box blade loose and get unstuck!” SwampMan commanded. Well, there went MY afternoon. I walked to the barn then kept on walking to the house so I could change into clothes more appropriate for getting covered in mud and briars and big ol’ fat spiders. Then I carried the hammer back out. SwampMan knocked the pins loose and there it sat, right behind the tractor where SwampMan had to back to get out. “Now what?” I asked.
“Now we’re going to move it over to the side by that tree.”
I looked at the box blade. I guesstimated the weight at a minimum to be 600 lbs., probably more like 800 lbs. “Uh, do what?”
“We’re going to pick it up and flip it over.”
This time I was a little more emphatic. “Have you lost your mind?” There were probably a few naughty words sprinkled in there somewhere. I’m sure of it.
“Quit whining and just grab it and flip it, damnit!”
So, somehow we flipped it over backward into the mud, where it snuggled in deeper. “So, how is this helping?”
“Now we’re going to slide it outta the way.”
I looked doubtfully at the box blade. It looked pretty snug in that mud hole, nestled amongst tree roots and such. “If you say so!” We gripped it and tried dragging it. It did not drag. We tried shoving it. It did not shove. Then we tried levering it out. That didn’t work either. I was sent back to the barn to get various accoutrements to help with moving heavy stuck things. The best thing would have been a tractor but oh, yeah, it was STUCK! We got the box blade moved (finally) out of the way and chained to a tree to keep it up out of the way so it wouldn’t fall on anybody and crush them.
SwampMan tried to get the tractor out again without the weight of the box blade behind it and using the front end loader to push. He almost got out of the hole he was in but there was a sapling behind him, about 4″ in diameter, that the tires would not go over. “DAMNIT! That thing is too big for the limb loppers.”
“I’ll get it out!” I announced. That sumbitch was keeping me from getting my Christmas tree up and getting my clothes ironed. “How?” SwampMan asked. “Just WATCH me!” So I jumped up and grabbed that tree as far up as I could, then bent it down, stood on it, and stomped it down further. “Try it now!” SwampMan still couldn’t get over it. “FINE!” I huffed. Damn trees. Damn tractors. Damn men who think tractors float. I yanked that poor maple tree back and forth until its roots snapped and pulled it outta the ground. “How about NOW?”
“It’s gonna have to stay here until the ground gets drier.”
“HOW THE HELL MUCH DRIER DO YOU WANT IT TO GET? WE’RE IN A FREAKING DROUGHT! IT WILL RAIN TOMORROW! GET IT OUT NOW!” I started throwing lumber at the tractor tires and underneath it. I went back to the barn to get bricks and blocks and chunks of concrete to throw at the tractor. I started throwing them over the fence in preparation for throwing them in the back of the truck to go throw them at the tractor and SwampMan. SwampMan drove the truck up to the barn to tell me my services were no longer needed. “Maybe you should go do your tree stuff and ironing.” Well, maybe I should, but the sun was going down, and I STILL needed to feed, and clean out gutters, and overseed the pasture (by hand). I stomped inside and called our son and told him I’d been let go from the job but that his daddy still needed help and/or a miracle to get the tractor out.
“Where’d he get it stuck?”
“You remember that unfenced section of land?”
“Back in the back of the pasture?”
“You can’t drive a tractor back there!”
“Well, you’re daddy wanted to prove to me that he COULD drive a tractor back there. He just couldn’t drive it back out.”
Son started laughing. “Okay, Mom. I’m on my way home now and should be near your place in about five minutes.” He wasn’t there long and came driving out, still laughing his ass off. “That tractor can’t come out until it dries up back there some.”
“Son, this is the driest it’s been back there in years!”
“Unh hunh.” He drove off, still laughing.
So that’s why the tractor is stuck in the mud in the woods, maybe permanently, there’s a box blade chained to a tree, maybe permanently, the fence needs fixing because SwampMan optimistically cut a section out in anticipation of getting the tractor unstuck, my Christmas tree ain’t up, my clothes ain’t ironed, and I don’t have SwampMan’s breakfast and lunch for tomorrow cooked and in the fridge. I’m going to bed anyway.