Thursday 31 May 2012

An Early Death From Exhaustion

I went over to my sons to give him and his wife a hand tonight. They are having a garage pad poured tomorrow and the concrete guys had to tear out a tree and they left it in the back yard. My job was to help make a tangled mess of roots and branches into an orderly pile or six of wood and branches.
I came armed with a chainsaw, hatchet and other weapons of mass destruction. It kind of felt like I should have been filming a horror movie when I was walking up to Brendan’s house with all that stuff under my arms. We put in a couple of hours cutting and stacking, and in the end the backyard looks like a backyard again. It was a lot of work, but I think it will look great when all is said and done.

Towards the end of the evening as exhaustion was setting in, we began to talk about what life must have been like when our ancestors were clearing land for their farms. It took us about two and a half hours of hacking and cutting to reduce a relatively small tree to kindling and we were using modern tools. We didn’t even have to uproot the damned thing; a guy in a bobcat tore it from the earth without even working up a sweat. Two hundred years ago the men used horses and elbow grease to clear their land. I can’t imagine how long it would take them to clear an acre or at least enough land to feed them for the coming winter.

There was a TV show a few years back where two or three couples were put in the pioneer situation and they had to adhere to a strict set of guidelines to survive. They did pretty well, but I don’t think they would have actually survived without help. One of the men actually had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. A hundred years ago he would have been rushed into the ground and his family would more than likely starve to death. There was a fire that killed the only pig and a multitude of problems that they ran into. No, the show proved to me that no matter how much you might think you could survive, without a lifetime of training we would all most likely be dead.

The key to survival is that back in the day the people were inured to that kind of life. They would know all about horses and pigs and just what would be necessary to keep them alive and healthy. They would probably have a working knowledge of how to do almost everything from making furniture to planting a crop. The population was small enough that all members of the community would have to help with the seeding and harvest. They were a tougher bunch as well. Life was hard, but the people were harder. You and I are just creampuffs and for the most part can’t do anything that is saleable at all.

Yep, they worked hard and then worked harder and on the weekend they would bust their guts working harder still. They didn’t even have indoor plumbing! Come to think of it, the only thing they had to look forwards to was an early death from exhaustion.

Hip…hip…hooray…for the modern world and our lazy ass ways.

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