A Mulch Mob of Sorts

Logan, Corrina and I rolled in heavy with the Ray on Saturday afternoon, post-farmers’ markets. Oren, Danny and Ed milled around the premises as we unloaded our bins of leftover veggies into the cooler and counted our cash from the Neenah and Appleton markets. I had big plans for the afternoon. Earlier in the week, I’d started an email chain regarding a Saturday afternoon mob-mulching party, in which we’d gather a large crew and mulch our expensive hemp plants, which have been so long neglected.

I had it all worked out in my mind. We would all be there; a bunch of our friends would be there; the mulch would be lined up along the fence and ready to go, and we’d crank out the whole plot. We’d blast some reggae music, have a cooler of cold beers ready, and maybe even take a swim after or something.  At the end of it all, I’d have a twilight moment to gaze out over the rolling hills of hemp; ground covered in golden hay with not a weed in sight.

It didn’t quite turn out that way. Earlier in the day, Jimi C. had bailed on me; Corrina went home ill, and no one else really showed. Plus, the mulch, though cut, hadn’t yet been gathered, and Oren was in the middle of fixing our busted Gator. Slowly but surely, however, we got our small crew together and down to business.

Small though it was, Danny, Oren, Logan and I made a formidable force, and I enjoyed some classic dude-banter while we trudged through the hay field with our pitch forks; piling high on the flat-bed wagon behind our dusty John Deere. Yeah, I thought, as we started to gain some momentum through the field, We’re going to get some work done today.


Hay wagon heaping, we bounced and rattled back to the hemp plot, where Logan made a tight left turn to edge up to the fence. He jackknifed the back tire, and got too close to an old round bale stacked along the fence line. “Yo,” I said, “just let me drive; I’ll get it out of here and back it up close to the fence.”

“No,” replied Oren adamantly. “You can’t back this trailer.”

“I can.”

“I think Logan should get put the forks on and move these bales. Then we can get right up to the fence line.”

So, we unhooked the John Deere from the trailer and got the forks on, while Oren tried to start the Chalmers, which had been sitting in the field from the last time it had died. It turned over tiredly and begrudgingly. Somehow, however, he got it to fire up, and we returned to the paddock with the forks.

“Yo, we changed our plan. We should just clear out that space by the gate there, so we can walk in and out of the paddock.”

First, the corn planter had to be moved, but blocking its way was a stupid wire-cage frame that Kelly had picked up free from somewhere and stashed in this particular corner. Danny, Logan and I all grabbed a side.

“Where are we gonna go with this thing?”

“Hmm…. Maybe over there?”

We hemmed and hawed for a bit, eventually hoisting it “over there.” It was a technical decision. Oren backed the Chalmers up to the corn planter, but without a working hitch, decided to chain it together to move it. For that, though, we needed a jack, which Danny left to get. Meanwhile, Logan and I tried to move the first bale, which promptly fell apart, leaving a muddy, smelly heap of near-compost in place.


Oren finally got the corn planter moving, but its new spot was to be right “over there” where we’d hoisted the stupid wire cage, so we hoisted it again, to a new corner, and he backed into this one. Logan couldn’t back up with the half-hanging bale crumbling behind the tractor, so we parked it stupidly in front of the gate. We moved a grand total of 1.5 bales, while Oren, Polly and Danny started slowly mulching with the stinking half bale by the gate, which happened to have a bee hive in it, and happened to result in a sting to Oren’s palm. Giving up on the bales, we unhooked the forks and returned to the wagon with the John Deere.

We hooked the wagon back up and scratched our heads stupidly –realizing that we still couldn’t really move the wagon, giving the stinking, slippery half-bale blocking the tractor’s path.

“Yo, let me back this out of here.”

We decided, again, to power through. Oren and I coalesced around Logan, calling out opposing orders from either side as he navigated his way through the slippery bale.

“Push that lever with your back foot; that’s the differential. You should crawl right through.”

“Dude, just back up further and give it the nuts. You’ll power through.”

“No, get to where you stop spinning, then hit the brakes and start again slowly. You’ll crawl through it.”

“Rev it up, man; rev it up…”

Oren eventually left, and Logan eventually powered through. By now, the moment of truth had finally come, and it was time to back the four-wheeled wagon.

The rest of the crew dispensed themselves to other tasks, as I took an extended moment of machine-centered mindfulness, which resulted in a perfectly positioned trailer – completely parallel to the gate; squared up, with mere inches of clearance. It was a work of art, and everyone knew it. Proud though I was, I kept it nonchalant.

We gathered the crew at long last, and took care of some real work. By the time we’d finished unloading our second wagon, it was approaching dusk, and we decided to call it a day. About a third of the hemp had been mulched, and I took my twilight moment to observe the beautiful scene about me. Though it hadn’t been the glorious mob-mulching party I’d envisioned, I was an honest reminder of the way we tend to do things at RSO, and why I love these guys all so much.