The Farmer had one week of vacation left for this year, so he decided to take off and spend it with the girls and me. What could be more fun than spending a week here on the farm enjoying the sights and sounds of the blessings God has given us here on the farm?
So we wake up the first morning and The Farmer says to me, “Are you ready?”
“Ready for what?” I ask expectantly.
“Ready to start on the shed!” he exclaims.
Oh, right…I had forgotten this was a working vacation.
“Well of course I’m ready,” I say, “but I’m not sure we’ll be able to do that without help. The sidewalls are too high.”
“We’ll figure something out”, he assures me.
“Maybe we should call the boys over and see if they can help”, I comment.
“Everybody’s busy. We can do it ourselves,” he says dismissively.
We walked out to the shed and sure enough, those walls were high. The sidewalls, which we had planned to cover with tin, were 13’ high. I’m 5’2” fully stretched out and shamefully afraid of heights. The only thing I could think about was if The Farmer was going to be the one screwing in the screws, then that left me to be the one climbing and holding. I don’t do either one of those well.
So putting on a brave front, I climbed up on a 5-gallon bucket to hold up the first piece of tin, which had to be held up 4’ from the floor. I made sure my end was straight and secure, and waited (and waited) for The Farmer to screw it onto the wall.
Okay, this isn’t so bad, I tell myself, the first minute or two. It’s not as heavy as I thought. All I have to do is hold this up and he’ll have it done in no time. Wow, my muscles are starting to ache—still speaking to myself—and I think I let my end slip a little (and said as much to The Farmer, who waited patiently for me to tug it back into place).
“Can I let go, yet?” I ask.
“Well, can you hold it until I get a screw in it?” He inquires.
“A couple at least,” he says, as he picks up the level to mark where the screws are going to go.
Oh my gosh! I’m not going to be able to hold this much longer! Breathe, breathe…
About the time I think I’m going to drop it I hear The Farmer say, “Okay, that’s good. You can let go.”
Dropping my heavy, aching arms to my sides, I watch as he screws in several more screws, checking to make sure my end was held straight. We hang up a couple more pieces at that level, me counting down the minutes I have to hold the tin up and he diligently measuring and screwing in all the screws. At last, we stand back and look at the next row to hang.
“Well, we’re never going to be able to hang that row without help”, I summarize.
But The Farmer wasn’t so easily put off. “Oh, we can do it.”
I was sure he couldn’t see the height difference between my arm’s reach and where the tin needed to be held, so I stretched out my arm, as high as I could and said, “Look, this is as high as I can reach”.
“You can use the stepladder,” he instructs, “and I’ll get the wagon and climb up in it ”.
Okay, that was a quick fix, and I’ve never seen anyone fall off of a stepladder, I assured myself, I’m sure I’ll be fine. We picked up the next piece of tin, held it against the wall, and I began climbing up the ladder. The first two steps weren’t so bad, but when I began to put the tin into place, I wasn’t high enough. So I stepped up one more rung. Still can’t reach.
“You’re going to have to go to the top step,” The Farmer stated as he patiently held his end of the tin.
“Have you never read the instructions on this ladder? It says not to stand on the top rung.”
“You’ll be fine”, he assures once again. “Just be careful and don’t lean against the wall too much.”
So as I begin to precariously climb to the top of the ladder, I consider my fall route, just in case. It shouldn’t be too bad, I tell myself, I’ve seen my boys jump from heights higher than this 6’ stepladder. I’ll just jump away from the ladder, and hopefully miss the 5-gallon bucket I left underneath the ladder. And I need to fall away from the wall, or should I try to catch myself against the wall? Securing the tin to the wall and getting it lined up with the first row, I begin to lose my grip on the tin.
“Lean into it”, calls out The Farmer.
“You told me not to lean!”
“Well, lean in a little to help you hold the tin. But be careful not to kick the ladder out from under you”, he states obviously.
Securing my position, as much as possible, I successfully held the tin until he got enough screws in that I could let go. We hung the next few pieces without incident, and my confidence grew as each piece of tin was firmly fixed into place.
Wow! I was impressed. We hung all this tin up without injury. Looking at the third row that needed to be hung, reality set in once again. “We make a great team,” I encouraged, “but we’ll never be able to do the third row without help. I can barely reach the bottom of the third row even if I stood on the tiptop of the stepladder. You’ll have to wait until one of the boys can come over to help you.”
But The Farmer isn’t so easily discouraged. “Let’s sit down here and consider our options. I’m sure we can figure out something.”
This unwavering ability The Farmer has to look at a situation and conquer it comes from the encouragement of his Father who often told him, “There’s always a way to accomplish a thing, you just have to figure out the answer.”
I, on the other hand, am not so gullible; there are many things in life that I can’t accomplish. But I sat down with him anyway, to contemplate the situation (and to drink a cup of coffee).
We tossed around some ideas and decided to use the stock trailer to climb on top of, which seemed like a great idea because we would be able to stand on a large, flat surface. But when he pulled the trailer into the shed, and I began to climb the stepladder to discover that the trailer was still a large step away from the very tip top of the ladder, my confidence began to waver. “Maybe we should have the girls come out and help,” I suggest.
“I think we’ll be okay.” His confidence in his own abilities is so frustrating at times.
Wow…this is really high (back to talking to myself). I’ll be okay, I can hang off a rafter if I start to fall, except I’m not sure how long I could support my weight, since the tin proved to get too heavy for me at times. If I do fall, I need to tuck and roll, I’ve seen that done when people jump from rooftop to rooftop on action films. Be real that’s not going to work. If I fall, it’s going to be a splat! not a roll. Maybe I can catch myself between the trailer and the wall…
“Hey! Can you grab this piece of tin?” I hear The Farmer urge.
“Uh, no.” I can’t quite reach it.”
So I do and I did. I managed to get the first piece up on top of the trailer. Climbing up the ladder, The Farmer noticed he forgot the drill. So he climbed back down and started up again, going back down to get the level, oh, and the saw. He gives into my idea of having the girls come out to help, which was fortunate, because it ended up that we needed one of them on top to help me hold as he cut around the rafters.
As we began to finish that row on the wall, my fear of being on the trailer began to diminish. I was semi-confidently walking back and forth handing The Farmer the drill, or saw, or level. After climbing off the trailer (with much trepidation), I was feeling very proud of what we had accomplished. Between The Farmer, myself, and two teenage daughters, the use of a 5-gallon bucket, a couple of ladders, a wagon, and a stock trailer, we were able to do in eight hours what a crew of capable carpenters could have done in two.
“Looks great! So, what are we doing tomorrow?” I ask expectantly.
“We'll be closing in the attic over the workshop,” The Farmer replies.
I look up to assess the situation. “You’re kidding, right? We’ll never be able to do that without help.”