My husband's removal of sod that died in the winter and dirt in the last few weeks, pushing a squeaking old wheelbarrow around, reminds me of a little anecdote on the farm.
Irish families like to go "for a drive" on a Sunday afternoon. Usually, the yparked the car by the lake or a beauty spot, mother got out and entertained the children while father would sit behind the wheel and listen to hurling and Gaelic football results. We found our house and what we were doing to it became a similar curiosity attraction in the second year. Regularly after lunch and thoughout the whole afternoon, a car would park outside our main entrance gate where one had a good look over the gardens and back of the house. They pointed at things. It became quite intrusive. Waving at the nosey-parkers didn't deter them. That gate provided a spot to pull in the car without becoming a traffic obstacle whereas the yard gate didn't offer that. And it might have been just of equal interest to them. So we decided to block that gate and view by planting fast growing bushes, my favorite laurels, and only have a little hand gate to get access at an angle where they couldn't peep in.
Mac and a strapping farm hand took out some of the concrete pathway with a jackhammer. Now the soil was ours, Pauline's and mine, to dig and plant. We went about 3 ft deep and 6 yards wide, shoveling the earth until every bone in our bodies hurt. I remember just having over 50 wheelbarrows full of soil which was wheeled around the house onto the compost heap or filled in other places where needed in the garden. Pauline never objected to any kind of work, however hard it was. Hard work had been her life after all. My tea brakes with her and friendship more than compensated for the hardship of all the jobs like plucking chickens, cleaning ashes out of fireplaces, washing floorboards, windows, than anything. I still see us in front of me after filling the last wheelbarrow, planting ca. 20 laurels into the ground. Pauline wiped her brow and said,"We women could run the country."