The easy is hard, and the hard…

It would be kind of neat if hard was ‘easy’, wouldn’t it? But usually — speaking from experience of undertaking a lot of jobs I have no idea how to do, let alone do well, what one thinks will be easy is always hard. What one expects to be hard… isn’t always as hard as think it is going to be, as the actress said to the bishop.

I’ve just set about improving the fire-safety of our home, turning area below us – a half-acre or so of weeds a scrub and shrubs into something slightly less flammable, if not lawn. Grass at least. A couple of days work. Easy. A bit of clearing obstacles, and rotary hoe, then plant.

Well, um. in a word, no. You see, the property has been through several owners, all of whom wanted to build roughly where we did. It’s the best spot, with the best view. It was once a paddock, but the natural forest returns fast here. So what looked like chest-high weeds was the debris of repeated attempts at clearing before the next lot of would-be home-builders ran into the horrendous regulatory nightmare the local authorities ‘assist’ you with, and the cost of complying with the same in a very difficult environment (everything – to comply – must be shipped in, and comply that certified local tradesmen that know they charge well above mainland rates, or you have ship in and pay for coming over and accommodation of people from the mainland.) The island is a beautiful, friendly place, but the petty bureaucrats have turned so many properties here, particularly the cheaper ones, into devastated hopes and dreams, for no particularly good reason, or benefit to anyone. This place too had been through just that.

The weeds hid many stumps and the splintered remnants of broken bulldozed trees. And, while I could just have pushed all the debris to edges, that would just have been a slightly further away fire-hazard. It couldn’t be burned in place (too many other trees beyond) and so thinking I might as well get some use out of it, I cut for firewood what was use-able and buried as a carbon addition to our low carbon soils (I’d have liked to charcoal it – but too hard) the rest in about 12 massive holes. It took weeks and produced about 4 years worth of mediocre firewood, blisters, and a zone of weedy devastation. I’d reach the end of an exhausting day and not see any difference. Day after day. It was not quite as endless as the picture, but felt that way. And I knew the grass had to be in before the spring rains finished…

The part I expected to be hard was rotary-hoeing the area. I had borrowed a fitting and tracked bob-cat type machine for it and – after the drama, I expected it to take weeks. Initially I had expected a few hours, but with the experience of clearing debris, I was sure it was going to be a circus.

It actually took about 4 hours – more-or-less what I expected. My skills were tepid, but I had the right tool for the job. The seed was sowed, covered and and watered by nightfall. I’ve now got a week or so to get it wallaby fenced – or they’ll eat the new grass and kill it. I’m actually good with them mowing it once it is established.

In a circuitous way I might as well have been writing about the process of producing books. I also started with some wildly wrong assumptions there. I thought writing it would be hard (which it is but less hard than I had assumed) and selling it to a publisher would be the quick, easy part…. 72 rejections later, I finally sold my first. That aside, the environment has changed and if like, the tools possible have changed. I’m now wrestling with covers and proofs and fonts and blurbs – and yeah, oddly, the weeds are full of old debris in the writing. Some I am trying to get some use out of – which may take longer than just pushing it aside.

Still, if there is one thing I wanted you take out of this, it is that your untested assumptions may well be as wrong as mine. The impossible-seeming, take forever, never seem to achieve anything despite working endlessly job is actually possible and getting done. And the bit you thought might be hard, may not be that bad, and the easy bit… probably will be terrible.

Image by Chiemsee2016 from Pixabay

17 comments

    1. That was my first reaction. “Oh lordy, no, contour plow, contour plow!”

      I’m always surprised when I find out how much is waiting underneath the surface of the “easy” task. Right now I’m fighting a story that should be easy, because I don’t know the area and I’m not sure about the main characters, exactly. The one that ought to be terribly challenging is trying to burst out and run all over the place instead of waiting politely in line. Why? Because I’ve been preparing for story 2 for years, albeit unknowingly. The first one? I need to do research right now.

      1. I was trying to get a small roof (8 sheets of ply is all) and the roofing material up this weekend. didn’t get there (half the sheets are up and anchored, 2 more up waiting and strapped to keep them in place) If I had, I’d be able to do wall work in the relative dry while it rains, today, tomorrow, and the day after.

        1. I was trying to get ground rods in place for the ham radio antenna. I hoped the ones nearer the house would not have major problems with shale, but no such luck. So far, two of the rods were embedded as far as possible (not very at all for one), then bent over to fill the bottom of the wiring trench. Amazingly, I discovered that the lay-down technique is actually considered acceptable.

          On a previous project, I rented a 60 pound jackhammer with a ground rod driver. Said ground rod ended up getting cut into smaller pieces and embedded as far as the shale would let it.

          So, I expected the weekend’s project to be hard. I underestimated the pain. Whee.

          1. Yes, Dad did work for B-I-L in Texas and that was the only way to get enough rod underground, was to bend it and lay it on the bedrock, a foot or so down.

      2. I was writing it off as mostly lens distortion.
        The rows don’t converge towards the vanishing point like they should, and the horizon bends upwards from the center outwards.
        Add to that there’s only one viewpoint so we can’t get perspective via parallax, and it’s really hard to say for certain what’s going on in the picture.
        That said, if it’s flood irrigation (which it appears to be) the head of the field cannot dip towards the center.

        (Yes, I have had heated arguments about why a painting can capture a mountain better than a picture.

        1. Strictly speaking, we don’t even know for sure that it is an agricultural field.

          Maybe someone has gone to a lot of trouble, and has freshly buried a bunch of cable.

          Okay, that sounds insane enough that we would probably know about people doing it, but…

  1. “Everything in war is very simple. But the simplest thing is difficult.” -Von Clauewitz, On War.

    Things only look “simple” from the outside, until they become massively complex…then, to people that have not looked at a thing, it now looks “hard”.

  2. Yep. Formatting the comic book is turning out to be. .. Like getting rid of wild blackberry without any poisons.

    By the way thank you for getting the earworm 🙄 back in my brain.

    I’d just managed to get Tickle Cove Pond replaced with Eternal Father Strong to Save and there you go with the hard in the easy ..

    … the hard and the easy we take as they come / and when ponds freeze over we shorten our run

    oh well it’s a good song 😋

  3. Like I always say: “Complex questions never have simple answers. Hell, most simple questions don’t have simple answers.”

  4. Before I started doing this writing thing, I always thought the -writing- would be the hard part. So many words, so much typing, and where do all those ideas come from?

    As usual, the business part never crossed my mind.

    As to the field, normally you don’t see that type of plowing around here. It looks like somebody took a huge rototiller to that. Seems pretty crumbly too. Going to be a mess if he doesn’t get something in there before it rains…

  5. To those commenting on the picture. Look at about the middle of the left hand side, where it appears that some plowing has been done at a right angle to the furrows that stretch into the distance, and apparently over at least some of those furrows.

    I’ve seen fields like that many times. Now, I’m two generations removed from my Kansas farming forebears, so don’t take this as gospel – but I believe this (cross plowing) is done when a cover crop (like clover) is going to be sown, as opposed to a cash crop (like corn, wheat, cotton, etc.). You would want maximum coverage of growth coming up, so having the ground broken up as much as possible would be desirable.

    Going by the two tiny bits of vibrant green visible in the two top corners, I’m going to assume that the farmer of this field knows what he’s doing. Just may not be quite finished yet, but somebody saw a cool picture in the first plow pass.

    1. I assume that there is some deliberate playing with angles and distortion. It’s just that, having seen lots of contour plowing, and having heard (and seen) horror stories of erosion and accidents from plowing down* the slope, my first reaction was to cringe.

      *Although the worst I saw was a very steep slope (12 degrees+) that really should not have been plowed, had never been farmed in the past, and someone decided that he just HAD to bring it into cultivation. Rolled the tractor four times.

      1. Urp. Sounds like a good bit of the farm on my Dad’s side of the family – but they had the sense to just keep it in buffalo grass (nice dense roots), so it wouldn’t wash down into the good fields.

        One reason they were not all that unhappy when the Feds eminent domained it for the lake. I think at least a third of it was probably not cultivatable.

  6. Nicely done, and yes, easy never is, and hard always is… But one must persevere in both cases, as you have dome. Take heart, because many give up and never complete those tasks.

Comments are closed.