I haven’t quite admitted to myself that some of the decisions I’ve made over the last month are going to have a lasting effect on the daily distribution of my time, and yet, I’ve already had to get up three times in the writing of this post to 1.) feed the donkeys, 2.) let the cat in, and 3.) respond to a full-blown chicken meltdown that, upon investigation, was the result of one troublemaker finding his way outside of the nugget box. Apparently it’s time for an upgrade.
Truth is, for the last four years–since MysteryMan and I broke ground on the Memorial House–I’ve had this idea in my head about a mythical point in time where I transition from spending all of my time building my future life to actually living it.
Part of me didn’t actually believe that it existed, especially after I sold my half of the Memorial House and started this new adventure. And don’t get me wrong, there is still a shit-load of work to be done on the Liberty House– I mean, I would literally sell one of my non-essential internal organs on the black market to have a working bathtub in this house for a good soak–but once I started hoarding farm animals the way old ladies hoard cats, I was, in effect, starting the transition from “building it” to “living it.”
My brain is still trying to catch up to what this means for my usual routines (or lack thereof). Most days, when I sit down to write a post, there are a plethora of house-building activities that have occurred recently to write about. Tonight I sat down, thought about the last several days, and realized it consisted of:
- One evening spent in a small panic trying to find a supplier that wasn’t out of hay
- Diagnosing and treating rain rot on one of the donkeys (yep, real thing, not real fun)
- Trying to prevent chicken meltdowns every time I try to change the feed and water in the nugget box (singing Joe Pug seems to help)
- Chasing a coyote off my property at 7:30 in the morning wearing heels and carrying a purse and laptop
(Same coyote, different day.)
The other truth is that I love building shit. I mean, right down to the core of my being, it’s what I’m meant to do…. and I’ve toyed with the idea that that means I’m not ever meant to have a “normal” life. One with clean dishes and a well-vacuumed floor. Because if you want to spend your time both building shit (figuratively) and shoveling shit (literally), something’s gotta give. It’s definitely going to be laundry.
If I somehow give you the impression that carrying the weight of this house, the work associated with it, writing about it, and finding time to make up songs to sing to the cat is, you know, effortless? Eh, not so much.
There is almost no minute of my day that I’m not rushing to do the next thing on my list. I often forget things (sometimes important things, like filling my fuel oil tank). I never go to bed feeling like I’ve done everything I should. After eight years of blogging, I feel guilty if I’m off my game for a few days, if I’m not funny or not cranking out posts every day. Sometimes I’m afraid that I’ll wake up five years from now and this great adventure will just be one big blur of chicken feathers and sawdust. Sometimes I’m even more afraid that I’ll wake up in five years and feel just as rushed and behind as I do today. Most days I don’t have time to worry about what I’m afraid of though, I have a house to rebuild, donkeys to hug, chickens to tame.
So, hey, I’m figuring it out… and if anyone out there has a magic wand that lets you get everything done in a day, I’d totally trade you one of my kidneys for it.
I would have paid to see you chasing that coyote! BAD COYOTE! No bullying the donkeys! I think this is a curse that us DIYers have to live with. My house will always have dog hair tumbleweeds and my garage will always have sawdust on the floor. I won’t ever have a vacation where I’m not planning the next thing. Just know that you’ve got a ton of people out there for a with you on it and we totally understand when your donkeybabies take precedent. There are days I have to smother Seamus with love in hopes of getting anything accomplished the next day.
“Sometimes I’m even more afraid that I’ll wake up in five years and feel just as rushed and behind as I do today.”
This is my biggest fear also.
Out of all of that, I love that you listen to Joe Pug. He’s so great and such a nice and genuine guy. I love his stuff.
And you are far more busier than I am but I agree on feeling like you haven’t done much at the end if the day. I could be on the go, doing shit all day and feel like I got nothing done. Hang in there!
Wow…this sentence says it all:
“Sometimes I’m even more afraid that I’ll wake up in five years and feel just as rushed and behind as I do today.”
And talking about living your life instead of building it? I feel the same way. Except I am not to that point yet. And I think it is awesome that you are LIVING now.
PS: Totally jealous of your chickens.
Technically speaking, aren’t “building it” and “living it” the same thing? I’m not the kind of person who’s happy just sitting back and relaxing – I’ve got to be doing something, plotting something, or learning something. Your posts make me think you’re the same.
Embrace the chaos. You’d probably be bored senseless without it?
Also, protip – keep your liver. You’ll need it.
I don’t know if my liver would even fetch a good price these days!
You ask a good question Britt, but if I’m using a house as a metaphor, there’s a time when your life is devote to rebuilding a kitchen because you’re cooking on a hot plate in the bathroom, and there’s a time when the kitchen is done and you actually cook, clean, sit down, and in general live in it.
With the addition of the farm animals, I find myself without the usual time to do all the building and work on the house I usually do, because it takes time to care for them. I literally have not touched one project on this house in the last two weeks which has happened… pretty much never before.
You’re totally right, I’ve got to be doing something! But I’m used to that something being progress towards a finished state instead of maintenance and it’s a big mindset shift!
What exactly is a chicken meltdown?
Oh god, the dramatic chirping, stepping all over one another to escape the BIG EVIL LADY CHANGING OUR BEDDING. There may be fake chicken fainting involved… my nuggets are such drama queens.
That sounds soo cute and video worthy! ;0
And here I thought all along, you were living it, one transition at a time!
Let me give you a little perspective from the other side. I was always busy for about a ten year period (with school, not so much house stuff). I took extra classes and summer programs and was constantly go go go and always felt behind. My life was rationing my ramen and trail mix so I would have enough food to make it to the weekend when I would either have a minute to make it to the store. Fortunately, I finally graduated and started real life with a real job, a 8 to 5 one. After two years of stress-free living, the lack of stress is really stressing me out. Motivation is much easier to come by when you have to have it to survive. I could probably go to work, come home and sit on my couch, and then go to bed, doing absolutely nothing else and it probably wouldn’t impact my life for weeks. Do you know how infuriating that is? If I was lazy enough, there would be absolutely no point to my life.
I guess my point through my rambling is that it’s ok to embrace the craziness. It may never be simpler or stress-free, but do you really want it to be?
Amen sista! We (I, really) just remodeled our first floor and since then I’ve been in a funk. We’re in the city and while I’d love to have chickens, it ain’t hap’nin’. Since I quit an interesting airline marketing job to stay home with kiddos, now 8 years later I find I’m pretty bored, though I have learned quite a bit of DIY in those years.
Kit–You are still in the thick of it, but I see you shaping that view of “living” into what you want. And I imagine you’ll be building all your life. Your life will be long and full when you do what you love! Would you really want to be living anyone else’s life right now?!
I totally agree. I can’t even go on a vacation where there isn’t something to build or fix or do, because it totally stresses me out! My life will never be devoid of things to do, but it’s more the management of all of those things… for years I’ve given myself a pass on staying organized and cleaning the house because things are “under construction” but the truth is I don’t always want my life to be a disaster. But, when my daily routines shift more to chores and less to projects (which means I’m not seeing visible progress… which I’m used to seeing) then my whole perspective gets a little out of whack. And I have nothing to write about. lol.
Rain rot won’t be the end of the world for the donkeys. Skip the expensive solutions, get a thing of rubbing alcohol, a spray bottle, a scrubby,some betadine, and prepare to have one tired arm. If you spend a good hour with the betadine and scrubby, you can get most of the rain rot out. Use the alcohol (in a spray bottle) prevent it from coming back. In the future you can use the alcohol in their ‘problem areas’ when it is especially moist out. (Spring is killer) Also, the dollar store is your best friend for these types of products!
This. Was it just one of the donkeys? It may be futile if they stay cuddled up with each other most of the time but keeping separate brushes for the boys would help. Getting rid of that thick coat and the scab is the most essential part. The alcohol + scrub solution mentioned above is the best remedy, but you may be fighting this year after year.
Thanks Beth. Lucy and PJ never had a problem at Memorial and I’m wondering if it’s because these guys didn’t have great shelter before…
It’s just Parker right now, and I’ve been disinfecting the brush (it’s a wide toothed rubber thing and doesn’t hold hair, so I’m hoping that helps) but I’ll definitely get a second.
Thanks Sarah. I’ve been picking the scabs off and using some kind of antibacterial solution I found at Tractor Supply. The problem is that 1.) I’m still building trust with these guys so it’s hard to go in and start picking and spraying without freaking them out, and 2.) I don’t have a good setup for “treating” one of the donkeys separate from the other yet. So it’s contstantly trying to manage working on Parker, and Doc wanting attention… it’s a big old mess.
If you are still building trust then completely shaving the little beasts are out of the question. But I would suggest getting something like this: http://www.smartpakequine.com/leather-shedding-blade-1534p.aspx?cm_vc=Search
It works wonders in the shedding process and that will help heal the rain rot. The thickness of their hair will hold the moisture. Instead of spraying, try rubbing with a cotton ball. Same job, less scary.
Rainrot is from exposure to moisture. Not having a shelter definitely helped this fungus grow. But it can grow fairly easily and if you don’t catch it early on, it’s a huge pain to get rid of. Don’t be surprised when this comes back next year either. The more regularly you groom them, the easier to catch and stop/prevent. The fungus loves their legs! I spray my horses legs every day in the spring because of this.
PS the rubber toothed brush is called a curry!
I know of the general vicinity where you live, and if it’s not too far, check out Mark Oberley’s auctions on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Saturday of each month if you haven’t already done so. I believe hay sells at 1. I know chickens/geese/ducks/turkeys/pigeons sell at noon. You’ll also find tools and other livestock being sold earlier in the day.
This is awesome. I’m not far from the Michigan Farm Exchange auction house, but they only auction on Mondays so I’d have to take an afternoon off work. I’ll check this out!
I think that is what I need to come to terms with in my life. My house/land/property will never be “DONE” so I need to focus on enjoying life while I continue to improve my surroundings.
“…finding time to make up songs to sing to the cat…” This sentence just made me fall in love with you.
I freely admit I have zero knowledge in this area, but is it possible to somehow up the income from this fantastic blog so you can spend a few hours less at work each week? I certainly wouldn’t mind looking at a few ads or a sponsored post now and then, if it helps you have more time to share your crazy life with us. 😀
Perspective is a funny thing. I don’t know if this will make you feel better, but I (outside perspective) find you very inspiring simply because I think you are a great example of someone who is living the hell out of life…every.single.day!
(Largely because I’m still stuck in the degree-getting, rental apartment living, career establishing section of life…which is why I come here to live vicariously through yours, lol)
This post made my day. Hmm…should I make something else and wear a dirty shirt, or do laundry?
We are related somewhere along the road my friend.
Thanks for voicing it for me.
To my little girl,
You are going through the “new mother” stage. This poem helped me when you were a baby:
“The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.”
A woman named Ruth Hamilton wrote this poem in 1958 when she had her 5th child. These 4 lines are really the last part to a longer poem. It is still popular today, and for good reason.
I can’t say that I agree with the “sorrow” part. I always wanted to see you get to the next thing you could do.
So, I must say to all your readers, that Kit has been this entertaining since toddlerhood!
How about I come up on Sunday to play with my grand-donkeys, grand-chicks, and do a little bit of laundry?
A million likes for Kit’s mum! My mother would say something very similar if it were me having a teeny meltdown =) Seriously, what would we do without our mothers?!
Kit – You have to know that you have the coolest Mom ever right?? I so wish my Mom had been so supportive, helpful, and fun! Yeah for Donkey Grandbabies!! (I could barely get my Mom to pet the dog sometimes!)
Kit, you are one lucky woman. I miss my mom every day, every minute.
You may not have (formally) realized it but you have already ‘built’ in a way not to wake up in 5 years with a big blur of memory. This blog is a living scrapbook of all that you are doing, seeing, and feeling (keep a backup on a flash drive!)
Because you know yourself well (even if you don’t pay close attention to it daily) you initiated this blog and took all of us (and more to come) along for the ride so it would never be forgotten, so it would be a reminder of the daily goings on, the highs, the lows, the hollers and the sighs. The more you work through things, the more you express your thoughts and feelings, the less opportunity for the blur to ever become a reality.
Lest I really age myself here…from The Profit..”Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.”
We all log on here for one reason…you…and your life adventure. Keep on keeping on.
Ok, I am awake now…make that The Prophet…(there is the blur showing up!) Geeze!
As long as you are making time for donkey hugs, you ARE living life! I miss my donkies that I lost in my divorce and I’m living vicariously through yours right now until I can afford to put up a turn out shed and a paddock. I’ve been known to pull over and bray at donkies when I am lucky enough to see some when I’m driving. So there, you are living my “someday”….and I know that I will again too.
To my amazing grandchild I am looking forward to the time when I can look after the donkeys and the chickens and you can go on vacation. Mamie
A few years ago I made a rule for myself (and then promptly broke it several times over), to be a human BEing and not a human DOing. The idea was that even with a long crazy list of things I wanted to do and needed to do, it was still MY list and I was going to get some kind of satisfaction out of the craziness one way or another. This philosophy escapes me frequently…but has also helped me give in when I need to, to celebrate distraction, or to plow ahead. Thanks for reflecting on the juggling act you do – your thoughts are definitely a human being moment! You realistically pair can-do and will-do with how-am-i-doing in this blog – and it’s one of the reasons I love reading it.
Laundry = Purgatory…..My project list never ends (110 year old houses will do that) but I’ve realized that, well, I LIKE fixing up this old place. After 11 years life here with it’s projects and oddities (I’m still working on my bathtub sitting in the shed, to someday be hauled by some very strong men up my stairs), I finally feel like I belong here. Every project we do, I feel like we are leaving a little of ourselves and improving the place for whoever is next to grace it after we are gone. And probably, my mother in law will always be slightly appalled at my lack of laundry handling. I’m over it! And now, from reading your blog, I sort of want a donkey or two to share our pasture with the cows and sheep when we get around to building that fence.