I don’t think I’ve ever explained how the ranch got its name.
The last thing I remember is that it was 2006 and we were living in the city. We were looking to buy our first house, and I remember urging Seth to look at a cute little bungalow on Weber. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see him come at me with a sledgehammer. Months later, I woke from my coma to find he had driven me — and all our wordly possessions — to a place called Bangs, Ohio. And there was no one around to hear me scream.
I decided to make the best of it. After all, there were stars and fresh air, and it was weird, but someone had removed all the pavement – or maybe they just planted the green stuff on top of it, I don’t know – but just like that, I was living in the country. Forty miles away from civilization. WHAAAAT.
We landed in Bangs with a whimper, as first-time homeowners of a 99-year-old house that needed oh-so-serious repairs, surrounded by ten acres that had to be mowed and maintained and something called a leach field and a tin roof and rotten floorboards and … we didn’t have so much as a push mower. We had no roots in agriculture. We were spindly little seedlings thrust into the rural, clay-filled soils of an unincorporated township. We had no John Deere tractor, no auger to hoist grain. No gravity wagon to move food or balers to make hay … No friends with skid steers. But we had soul, baby!
Also, buckets. We had a ton of buckets.
The previous owners of the ‘stead left our early 1900s barn (Rest in Peace, old barn) filled to the hay lofts with junk. I mean serious junk. It probably technically needed a landfill permit. Old furniture, swing sets, rotten Hustler magazines, weird jugs of poisons, oil and fuel … a whole tack box full of nails and approximately 32,000 tires. How can one family physically collect that many tires? I’m not trying to judge, but WHY. WHAT was the plan?
Our seller gave us an allowance of $2,000 to get the junk removed, so when they cut the check we thought, “Why not just do this ourselves and save a little cash?”
That famous phrase would be uttered before gas leaks and water line freezes and trench-digging and many other ill-advised decisions during the next 7 years.
But we paid $300 for a Dumpster, and began the back-breaking chore of moving several hundred cubic feet of some other guy’s garbage out of the barn and out of our lives. By the end, there was a towering pile of dust and debris that did not lend itself to toting. Oh, and the buckets. The previous owners also hoarded buckets. Perplexed, and lacking more efficient equipment, we came to the conclusion that the debris pile would need to be shoveled into these buckets, and lifted above our heads up and dumped. It wasn’t the most enviable task, but that’s what we did. Six buckets at a time. Until it was finished.
We worked day after day in the hot sun, celebrating our inefficient conquest with frequent lemonade breaks, during which we realized that the sweat was ours and the land was ours and the future was ours and the Tetanus was imminent. And suddenly everything was … equity. We can do everything.
It doesn’t sound very romantic when I spell it out that way, does it? Throwing buckets of ancient and potentially toxic debris up into a rented Dumpster …
But I never said this was a love story.
Ours is a story of two young, stupid and poor people, sick with passion about being in completely over our heads. Ours is the story of monotonous, unmechanized labor in all its glistening glory. Ours is a story of a lot cast with mind-numbing toil, and the intimacy gained with land and beast and with each other. Ours is a story about preemptive Advil.
Now imagine if we had paid some guy to come in with a loader and have the junk hauled away in an hour two. We’d still be searching out a name for our farm.
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