I find that everything is getting heavier as I get older. A bag of groceries seems to weigh a ton. I swear that somehow my hammer puts on weight year to year. Like many seniors, I am experiencing some loss of strength and mobility. For some reason, I still think I am 30. When is comes to physical labor jobs around the house, this is a bad combination.
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Physical Labor Jobs are a Challenge
Last year I dug a trench for a gas line to our barbecue. In total, it was about 50 feet long and 18 inches deep. I took a week to dig the trench. It would be great to say the heat or rain or broken shovels slowed me down. But, in fact, I am not used to physical labor anymore and not as strong as I used to be. Even 10 years ago, I would have dug the trench in a day. Stopping to ease my back and catch my breath took time.
The list of things to do around the house is endless. From changing light bulbs to rearranging furniture. Of course, physical labor jobs are more difficult and often more dangerous. Home Advisor lists the most common household injuries and how to prevent them.
Think about the Job
When we have any job to do around the house, there are a few things we consider as we plan.
- How important is the job compared to everything else that needs to be done?
- Can we do it ourselves?
- Does the job fit into our budget?
- What tools do we need to do the job?
- How long will it take?
- What will be interrupted as we do the job?
- What do we want to achieve?
For example, we have solar panels. They need to be cleaned periodically for maxim efficiency. We know we will use a ladder, a hose and a pressure washer. The big question is who will do the job. Because my wife does not trust me on a ladder anymore, she washes the solar while I prepare to catch her if necessary. We realize the day will come when we need to have help doing this job.
Know Your Limits
Difficulty for most jobs around the house difficulty is relative term. Some things are easier for me to do than for my wife. As well, she has more experience doing some things than I do so she does them better and visa versa.
Recently, I decided to do a job and scared my wife. We had a very large tree in our yard near the house and electrical service wires. The trunk has cracked. I suggested that I cut it down before the wind in the canopy brought the tree down on the house. My wife suggested that we hire someone in the interest of preserving my life. Through a bit of research, we found that removal of the tree would cost $2500 – $3000. As it happens, when I was younger, I cut down dozens of trees. Many of them we close to buildings.
So, I went through the check list. Professional removal was too costly. All I needed to do the job was a ladder, a chain saw and some rope. I had all these things. Having cut lots of trees, I knew how to do the job, but I had to do it in stages. Only about a quarter of the tree would fit into our yard waste bins. They were picked up weekly so the whole job would take a least 4 weeks. This would give me plenty of time to rest. Rather than cut the whole tree, we decided to attempt to train it to grow into a large bush.
My wife was scared by two words that went together during this job…. ladder and chain saw. I reassured her. What could go wrong. My plan was to type a rope as far up in each trunk of the tree as I could. I would cut each trunk almost completely through and pull it down with the rope. Each trunk was tall but not thick. There were 9 small trunks like these. My plan worked. As I pulled each trunk, it dropped where I wanted it.
Enjoy Your Work
Unfortunately, I fell as I pulled down the last trunk. Even more unfortunately, my wife was watching. My using a chain saw while on a ladder days are over.
When I was done, the tree wasn’t beautiful anymore, but all the
literature says it will look like this in 2 years. So, I am happy with the results.
This project although one of the most demanding physical labor jobs around the house was well thought out. Lots of things could have gone wrong, but with planning, it all went well. Now I just have to explain to family and neighbors why that beautiful, big tree looks so bad.
Don’t be afraid of home projects, but be realistic. Plan well and don’t push yourself. The satisfaction of a project done well will last for years.