I never would have thought that 21 cubic yards of cow manure compost would be the basis for a blog post, but this particular pile of shit compelled me to share part of its story. It's got me feeling pretty good about my fellow human at a time when I could really use the reminder.
Last fall I moved into a new home in need of landscaping. So new that there was nothing living in our yard. No soil or worms, let alone grass, trees, vegetables, or flowers. While a tree and sod for the front yard was part of the purchase of our home, the landscapers had to wait for warmer weather to get it done. When the tree arrived earlier this week, I knew that the sod was soon to arrive and I'd have to get moving to till compost into the clay ahead of time as I had planned.
I called Brian at Soil Rejuvenation in Longmont based on a referral from a gardening class I took with Berthoud Local. He was incredibly patient, helping me think through how much compost to order, answering questions about where to rent equipment, and handling delivery logistics with several phone exchanges. He graciously cut my order in half after the first truckload arrived and it was obvious I had miscalculated the size of my yard. He took care of me even though it made his sale much smaller and threw a wrench in his delivery logistics.
I started spreading the compost last night to get a jump start on the work that I had planned on taking all weekend. 21 cubic yards of compost is a lot of cow shit. One of my neighbors walked up with two beers and a shovel in his hands, almost as if we were playing out a TV commercial. We spread some compost together, and when I called it quits to get something to eat, he walked across the street to help out other neighbors who were doing some landscaping of their own. His enthusiasm for lending a hand really struck me.
This morning I went through my usual routine for the start of a day, then headed out to spread some more compost at around 6:30am. About an hour into my work I knew that I'd have to plan on spending the entire day with the shovel and wheelbarrow. I started getting into the same mindset I have for long distance backpacking, focusing on one shovelful at a time and finding ways to appreciate the physical discomfort. I put together a plan to ask a construction worker to move it with a Bobcat in exchange for some cash if I had the chance. And then a pickup pulled up next to.
The driver rolled down his window, explained that he owned the landscaping company that would be laying our sod, and asked if I wanted help. I asked him what it'd cost, and when he told me he'd do it just to help me out, I didn't entirely believe him. He went up the street, grabbed his Bobcat, and spread most of my compost out, saving me countless hours of hard work.
When he refused my offer to pay I shook his hand and thanked him, particularly for setting a great example for his 10 year old son who had been waiting patiently as his father helped out a stranger. We shared a moment among fathers as he explained that setting an example for his son was what motivated him to help, and that I'd be sure to let my daughter what had happened this morning.
Every few days it occurs to me how lucky I am. Today was definitely one of those days.