I Am Not Qualified to Have Conversations. Nevertheless, I Persist. Sorry.

Alright. I don’t know if this is advice or anti-advice, but it’s something, and now you’ll know it, too, instead of me just carrying it around in my head all by myself where it should probably stay locked up forever. 

Here’s the sitch: We bought a stunning farm in Oregon. And we’re working on the farm — a LOT these days — hoping to open early summer as a private park.

Most things, we’re doing ourselves. Because money. 

Some things, we have to contract out. Because we have a No Dying Rule in our family, and it has recently struck us how easy it could be to break that rule if we have to, say, lift a deteriorating, ancient barn by its rafters to replace a fully rotten foundation. Or mess around with a 650’ well to replace a pump. 

We like to Parent by Example, after all. That’s very important to us. And we figured there’s no better way to do that than Not to Have a Barn Crush Us to Death and Not to Fall Sixty-Five Stories Into a Mountain. This is, frankly, a helpful parenting system. Next time I think I’m not very good at the whole parenting gig, I’m going to remind myself of All the Things I’ve taught my children by example. I have NEVER ONCE been crushed by a barn. Not in all my decades of life. And I ALMOST ALWAYS remember to put on clothes before I leave the house. So next time I think about the number of green vegetables my 12-year-olds are willing to eat (one. spinach. if it’s well hidden in other foods like they’re toddlers), I’m going to shake it off by recalling the number of times they’ve seen me recklessly climb the roof of a house in search of mini booze bottles, which is ONLY ONE, just like the veggies. A VERY limited number. Hardly any at all. I am a Paragon of Virtue, in other words. A Mother Exemplar.  I mean, if I look at it pragmatically, the number of things I’ve taught by example are LEGION. How to warm a frozen egg. How to never, ever waste your time folding laundry. And the ways I haven’t died? Could fill an OCEAN. 

Which brings me back to contractors whom we need lest all our good intentions to keep breathing go awry.

We hire them. We live. The less fortunate part of hiring contractors, however, is the host of conversations I’m suddenly having for which I am vastly unqualified. 

The latest was last week. About trenching. With the Pump Guy. 

It turns out, water doesn’t magically go from a well to a reservoir tank. Not even if you build the tank a fancy house. 

You still have to build a real, physical conduit from the source of water to the tank and then from the tank to where you ultimately need the water.


Or rather, it seems incredibly simple until you find yourself standing with the Pump Guy in an open field and telling him exactly where you need a trench to go through the rocky landscape so you don’t, say, kill ancient trees, mar the landscape irreparably, and generally eff up your property.

The Pump Guy, of course, because he’s professional, kind, collaborative, and cares about doing excellent work will ask you for your preferences and opinions. And you, of course, because you try to play a Normal Human Being on occasion will try very hard not to answer every query with a shrug, a vacant expression, and by quoting your preschool niece in a sing-song voice… “I just no know.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Thus, the Pump Guy will share important information about your property’s topography and what it will take to trench through, basically, solid rock.

He will talk about trenching devices.

And eventually he will sigh a little and say, “I really prefer a vibratory plow.”

And you, pretending to be knowledgeable, will feel the need to respond in a coherent, sensical manner. 

You will hear, “I really prefer a vibratory plow,” and you will think you need to share what kind of plow YOU like, and your brain, because it ceased development at 12, apparently, will think — VIVIDLY — of all the kinds of ways you’ve been plowed. 🙄🙄🙄 And you will settle, ultimately, on the Exact Same Conclusion as the Pump Guy, which is… “I really prefer a vibratory plow, too.”

Y’ALL, I TRIED NOT TO SAY IT OUT LOUD. Especially, I tried not to say it out loud with a GIGANTIC SMIRK. I really, really did. But I have very selective impulse control, and I have spent zero minutes trying to strengthen it, so I said it anyway.

“I mean, I really prefer a vibratory plow, too. It’s my favorite kind of plow. Of all the types of plows I’ve ever had, the vibratory kind definitely gets the job done.” 

I stood in a field on a gorgeous, sunny day with my sister-in-law WHO WATCHED THE TRAIN WRECK COME OUT OF MY MOUTH and giggled while I told the Pump Guy THE KIND OF PLOW I PREFER. 🤦🏻‍♀️

Jesus, take the wheel. 

Folks, listen up. (Especially you, Anita, who is married to the Pump Guy and is, therefore, my likeliest informant for insider information.) The Pump Guy either a) is THE NICEST HUMAN ALIVE with ONLY THE VERY MOST APPROPRIATE THOUGHTS, EVER, or b) has THE WORLD’S BEST POKER FACE. His face did not even twitch, friends. Not a muscle out of place. Nothing. Nada. 

All of which is to say, I am not qualified to have conversations. Nevertheless, I persisted. And now I’m wondering if Hallmark makes an appropriate apology card I can send to the Pump Guy who I need not to fire us as clients.

You can pray for us.





P.S. When you Google images of vibratory plows, nothing naughty come up (that’s what she said), so evidence suggests I’m the only human with a 12yo boy brain who’s unable to talk about them without the giggles.

P.P.S. F your I, there are lots (and lots and lots) of kinds of vibratory plows for all your vibratory plow needs. You can get a mini vibratory plow. A clamp-on vibratory plow. An earthmoving vibratory plow. A 6-way vibratory plow. A rear vibratory plow. And a Pro Sneak 365 vibratory plow, which sounds a little kinky if you ask me, but I’m game. 

P.P.P.S. If you’re not ready for a dedicated vibratory plow, I hear the vibratory plow attachments are very nice. 

P.P.P.P.S. I’ll leave you with some helpful quotes about how vibratory plows work. You know, for those of you who care about plow-related science.

“It took us half a day, but we learned so much more by “doing” instead of “reading.””

“The vibratory plow increases flexibility.” 

“The shank you see is the magic.”

“It keeps homeowners happy.”

P.P.P.P.P.S. Unrelated (except that I can’t promise I won’t talk about vibratory plows), under the auspices of our farm, my sister-in-law and I are offering a $50 gnocchi-making workshop at my house this Thursday. We’ll be eating several types of gnocchi, making some so you can take home a fresh potato-pasta meal, drinking wine from my friends at Sandro wines, and generally chatting and having a fab time. There are still some spots open. Email info@cairnsfarm.com for more info and to sign up. Bring a friend! Spaces are limited to 12, so it’ll be a fairly intimate gathering of friends. Talking about gnocchi and plows. You know; the usual. 

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9 responses to “I Am Not Qualified to Have Conversations. Nevertheless, I Persist. Sorry.”

  1. Thank you starting my day out with crying laughter. I plan on hiking today, which is much more boring than your days, but will keep my eye out for vibrator plows in the desert (as though I would recognized one). Have a great day Beth.

  2. So. Since we’re talking about things that vibrate: I have a thing that massages your shoulders. My mom has one too. Was visiting my parents and my 69 (haha) year old dad says, “hey if you want to borrow mum’s vibrator, you can.” I looked at him and said “please don’t EVER say those words again.” He still didn’t get it.

  3. Or c) the Pump Guy has already heard all of the possible iterations of jokes regarding Laying Pipe and all of the other, ahem, Tools so often, that they’re not funny enough for him to smirk at anymore.

    This one time, at Band Camp, I mean worship band rehearsal (which I was LEADING)….one of the members was talking about her optometrist appointment earlier that day. The dramatically indignant way in which she said, “And then he just SQUIRTED that STUFF in my EYE…!” caused me to suddenly need to dive under the piano to retrieve a pencil I’d dropped, or something, anything, to hide my smirking and coughing…

  4. Loved this! Almost woke the week old new grandbaby I am holding while giggling —- because I have BEEN THERE! But never have I have the courage to write it down. Thank you for this!

  5. Aaand I’m a 12-year-old boy, apparently. (Said the actress to the bishop. Ahem.)

    Thank you so much for that laugh, Beth! I’ve been wrestling with homemade buttercream eggs and peanut butter cream eggs and maple cream eggs and Lordy Lords, there is dripped melted chocolate in every crevice in my kitchen…and self! Plus sprinkles. Did you know that sprinkles, when they become slightly damp, ooze dye every damn place they go?! But at least the Easter gifts are coming along…

  6. Anything with the word vibrator and my mind is gonna go there. It’s not really the mind of a 12 yr old boy, boys don’t use vibrators…….us women on the other hand, especially me since I hit my 40s.

  7. Front of card: Photo of beefy man in hard hat
    Inside card: “Thank you SO much for all your hard work with the vibratory plow! Your dedication REALLY gets results!”

    They say, kids on farms learn about the birds and bees early…

    You mak-a me laugh 😉

  8. I would have giggled too. It is SO HARD (that’s what she said) teaching middle school and not laughing at that kind of humor. (I wrote “inappropriate humor” first, but is it? Is it really?)

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