Zen and the Art of Backhoe Operation

| 10/21/2011 8:42:41 AM

Tags: machinery, gardening, manual labour, Cam Mather,

 By Cam Mather

There was a book years ago called “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” I don’t know what it was about. I never read it. But I loved the title.

I’m not even sure I really understand the concept of Zen, but I believe it is sort of an advanced state of enlightenment one achieves through meditation. I believe it’s something I often achieve when weeding the gardening or cutting firewood. It’s a pretty great feeling, even if I’m not doing the meditation thing correctly to get there. But if the endless chatter in my brain can shut up long enough for it to happen, that’s an accomplishment.

On a different but related topic, I have great neighbors. I don’t think anything makes the move to the country easier than getting great neighbors and we’ve been blessed with lots of them. A while ago I wrote about the exceptional women of Mountain Road (the road that we live on.) There is a new addition to this group of wonderful women, Heidi Lind. Heidi built a very efficient house not too far from us. She was one of our best customers buying vegetables from us this past summer and has been a tremendous source of support for Michelle when she joined that very exclusive club, the one no one wants to join, the breast cancer club.

Heidi and her husband Gary have a Kubota tractor with a backhoe attachment. I have coveted such a machine for many years, and when I saw theirs I did try and hide just how “green” I am, in this case green with envy, about that fine machine. Heidi and Gary were gracious enough to offer to lend me their exceptional tractor. I think it was above and beyond and just can’t say enough how impressed I was with their offer. I could have been a proud, independent, “No, I can do stuff myself” kind of guy, but I must be getting old because I jumped at the chance to use their machine. And I’ve gotta tell you, it was a little mini dream come true.

I have been saving jobs for a backhoe for months. Rocks in the garden that are too big to dig out by hand. Manure that needs spreading. Sand that needs spreading. Top soil that needed to be moved into the barn foundation. That big rock over by the paddock that always gets in the way but that I haven’t been able to move myself. Moving some gravel to a new trench that I dug to keep the guesthouse from flooding. The list was long.

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