Yoke

water.jpgOne habit I’ve developed with the garden is watering as much as I can with pond water. This involves dipping and carrying two 5-gallon pails from the pond up to the garden numerous times each watering. The pump that services our house sits 75′ below the ground inside our well casing, and reliably pushes water up to our house, out the hose, and onto whatever plant I point the hose at. Yet I feel funny using all that technology to accomplish what I can do just as well, and powered by a few ounces of useless belly fat.

I’ve been doing it this way for years, and if you’ve ever done something relatively mindless and repetitious like this, you’ve probably had the, “there must be a better way to do this” thought too. I’ve heard about yokes and even seen some, but haven’t made the proper connection until the other day. “Say,” my brilliant mind conjectured; “I’ll bet I could use a yoke to carry this water, just like people have been doing for thousands of years.”

I looked around online, and found some shoulder yokes actually for sale. One catalog claims theirs is Amish made, and is made from poplar. What a claim to make! As far as I know, poplar has never been known as the wood of choice for heavy lifting. Oh yes, the cost for this yoke, complete with manila rope and hooks, is $174.

Next I contacted my neighbor, who is well-read, has an extensive library, and can put a finger on the book he is looking for faster than anyone in know of. He emailed me back to say he had a couple of books, but also had a real water carrying yoke that had come from his Mother-in-law’s barn. I hightailed it up there and looked it over. He allowed me to bring it home and experiment with it.

yoke.jpgThis thing is surely over 100 years old, and could be as much as 200 years old, so I promised I wouldn’t put any real weight on it. I did want to see if it fit my shoulders, so I whacked off a couple of pieces of binder twine and tied on a couple of empty buckets. It fit me great. This one has no shoulder notch like some I’ve researched. I think I’ll use it for a pattern for width, but I think I’ll add the notch to make it sit a bit more comfortably on my shoulders. I intended to get started making my own today, but my shop was a shambles from too many projects that need to be put away. So I cleaned up a bit, and hope to start on it again soon.

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