During summer in the Chilcotin's and the ranch, there is an abundance of activity. We are fully staffed and have guests joining each week for guided horse and angling trips. Everyone is staying busy and conquering a number of projects at the ranch as we welcome the summer season.
One day I found myself attempting a new carpentry project. I have experience with tools and I have been fascinated with designing furniture and buildings since I was a child. I drew chairs and homes for entertainment; these designs have been one of my creative outlets since I was eight-years-old. However, I never made my design ideas reality until this garden project. This was an opportunity to be creative and contribute my interest and skills to the betterment of the ranch.
The garden has been carefully nurtured; it is watered daily, weeds are removed multiple times a week, and the plants were carefully placed in the soil. As much as we may try to manage a garden, environmental factors such as wind, drought and even the sun get in the way. We have been fortunate this summer to have mostly sunny days but this wears on the recently planted squash. Another attempt to care for the plants in the garden was to protect them from the sun with a shade structure. I was excited to work with tools and build something new. However, what should have been a two hour project ended up spilling into two days.
In my mind I had designed a really simple, lean-to tent that would block out the light for a few hours a day to minimize heat and overexposure from the sun. I first walked to the garden bed to measure approximately six meters in length. I decided to start building a long structure that would shade the whole bed. I used nails and a hammer, wood and a handsaw and in what started as awkward motions soon fell into a rhythm of sound and movement. The goal of this structure was to make a stable, semi-attractive tent for shading. At first, all seemed to be going well. My measurements were accurate and the last nail hammered into the wood made the structure stand on its own. I carefully wrapped up the pieces and moved it to the garden. Setting up the structure I realized that it was well-constructed, for a flat surface. The garden, however, was much more organic in shape, making the shade structure that I built lopsided and ultimately unsuitable for shading the plants. I mentally went back to square one to think of a new design but emotionally I was exhausted. I knew that a new day would foster more creativity and encouragement.
The next day I found new pieces of wood, grabbed a handful of nails, and hammered away. It seemed like every other nail I placed in the wood either cracked the wood or bent in shape. I slowly felt irritated and incompetent. I made some adjustments to the design and finally completed the structure. Using simple design and some physics (balance), the plants are currently resting under the shade. I hope they are now capable of growing and producing fresh, delicious squash.
Even though this seemed like a simple project, I soon realized that if I didn't have the necessary tools and patience, it would not be successful. I'm grateful that I made mistakes and learned from this new experience to build my skills in design and carpentry. I am motivated now to work at home on projects such as reconstructing furniture and building garden beds. In the future I would like to apply the skills that I am practicing at the ranch to design and construct my own home.