Making Do

Last week I brought home a load of cow manure from my neighbor Roger.

by Jim Ruen

Jim's sledge made transporting his manure easier

Jim’s sledge made this manure transporting easier. Next week, Jim will tell us how to make your own sledge.

Last week I brought home a load of cow manure from my neighbor Roger.

Roger keeps a beef herd, and over winter the manure collects around the hay sheds and other feeding areas. When I asked if I could buy a load to compost for our gardens, he insisted that I help myself, but I needed to hurry as he was starting to spread it on the fields.

An hour of work with a fork had my truck bed filled, and I left Roger’s yard, leaving behind an embarrassingly small hole in his pile of cow-power fertilizer. I also left behind a promise to drop off a raspberry cream cheese pie and a set of raspberry plants I was clearing out.

What I didn’t have was a clear idea of how I was going to get the manure down the hill to my gardens. I really didn’t want to use the wheelbarrow, and it would mean a great many trips with my ATV loader. Night was falling, rain was expected and I needed it out of my truck.

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I realized that what I needed was a sledge or sled, what my father used to call a “stone boat.”

The goal was something I could pile high with manure and tow behind my ATV.

Now a sledge has to be one of the oldest implements ever devised. It would have been a small step from the caveman who dragged a tree branch to the fire to the guy who tied a couple of branches together and loaded it with meat to haul home from the mastodon hunt.

I didn’t necessarily have what I needed to make a proper sledge or the time or inclination to go buy anything new.  This was, of course, an opportunity to justify the scraps I hadn’t thrown out. I just needed to “make do.”

An hour of banging old timbers and scrap plywood together and I had my sledge.

I would like to say that it was a significant step up from those branches, but it was probably more similar than I would like to admit. It was certainly nothing fancy, but it worked. The first load was a small one, just a test of what the sledge could handle. The second and third were piled higher and deeper.

In no time, the pickup was empty, the sledge was empty and I was headed down the road with Roger’s raspberry pie. Sometimes making do isn’t so bad. In my next entry, I’ll run through what you need to make your own sledge.

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