The Muck Stops Here

gardening equipment

August 3, 2020

I like to celebrate things. Birthdays, holidays, events, a productive day, a lazy day, Tuesday. And sometimes I like to celebrate with a little present – you know, a treat. Such was the case at the end of July when I’d had a particularly fruitful work week. My husband and I were talking about celebratory options while we were in the barn doing evening chores. I was dragging our 14 year old muck barrel around on its tire rims when the epiphany struck – I was going to celebrate with a new muck barrel. (Who says we don’t know how to party?) I had visions of sturdy wheels, easy to maneuver, something that would practically dump itself. So, ridiculously excited at the prospect, the next morning we headed to the farm supply store.

Since we tend to use our things until they die on the side of the road, we hadn’t shopped for a muck barrel in a very long time and were a little taken aback at both the range of options and the corresponding prices. Apparently the $50 muck barrel has gone the way of the $68,000 house. So, wandering the yard we compared notes. This one? Not enough clearance. This one? Wimpy construction. This one? Too small. I felt like Goldilocks and the three barrels.  And then we saw it: the biggest, bad-assiest, brawniest muck barrel in the history of all muck barrels. I swear the clouds parted and I heard a choir. This was a behemoth. The Bimford 2000 of muck barrels. Hard rubber tires with good traction, enormous capacity, and handled like a dream when I took her for a test drive. I was sold.

My first clue that I may have gone a little overboard should have been the surprise at just how much space in the back of the Tahoe that this baby took up. That old Tahoe holds a surprising amount of cargo and there wasn’t much room left over after we muscled her in there. The second clue should have been that we actually needed to muscle her in there – she was a little on the hefty side to say the least. But like a first date, I was willing to overlook a few odd personality traits. You know, those things that you initially find charming and quirky but three weeks later are the same things that make you want to poke someone in the eye.

Getting her home, I was practically giddy at the prospect of trying her out. Now granted, the output of alpacas is considerably less than their equine counterparts. And true, they’re also very tidy livestock and create a communal muck pile rather than going willy nilly wherever the mood strikes. But still, 18 alpacas produce a fair amount of poop; enough that we usually wind up mucking twice a day. So the idea of cleaning out both the boys’ stalls and girls’ stalls in one fell swoop made me pretty happy.

Bucket full, off I went to dump it. I was still happy with the maneuverability and how smooth the tires rolled as I headed towards the muck pile, although I started to realize that with a full load it may be a little heavier than I anticipated. Knowing I’m stronger than I look, I still was pretty confident. Ok, perhaps actually bordering on cocky. I’m thinking I’ll just roll that puppy right up to the top of the pile, give a delicate little flick of my wrist, and voila – empty bucket. So imagine my surprise when instead my first attempt culminated in a what amounted to a head on collision with the muck pile. The muck barrel stopped, I didn’t, and impact of the handle into my stomach resulted in a resounding “oof.” Undeterred, I figured no problem, I just needed a better run at it. Backing up far enough to get a good pace going, I have another go. Apparently the laws of physics will prove that more speed on the same trajectory will only result in a larger impact of said handle into said stomach. And some choice words other than “oof.” And a need for a better strategy.

Third time’s the charm, I get the barrel about two thirds of the way up the pile, and realize there’s no way I can actually dump it out without either a) figuring out how to get enough torque to twist it sideways while still hanging on to the handle, or b) pause dramatically with it held vertical from underneath, then let it fall all the way over and finally climb the rest of the way onto the muck pile to retrieve it.  After five minutes of trying to wrestle it sideways, my bragging rights to upper body strength were severely diminished and I had no choice but to go with option b.

So, no moral to the story here except, perhaps, bigger isn’t always better. I continue to think daily there’s got to be some trick to this sucker that I’m missing, but so far no success. More often than not, Superhubby Jim is at the barn with me and takes over the dumping for me. Other days, I pretty much just hope the neighbors aren’t watching.

The Muck Stops Here
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