Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Time is Money"

So, apples are oranges? Okra is pork? I don't get it.

As the daylight shortens each day, and we pass the "expected date of first frost" (calculated on pre-global-warming data, I suspect), a certain internal tension inevitably builds. It's a seasonal thing, familar, inescapable. Finally I decide to give way to the feeling, and to act on my stubborn belief that time is time, and money is money, and all the money in the world won't buy back an autumn day when the January winds are howling and the ground is frozen.

Today was my first day of a projected 3-week leave from my full-time, off-farm job (as distinct from my full-time-and-then-some on-farm job). Time to do all those outdoor jobs that need done "before winter", time to mend fences, time to get the resurrected barn furnished and functioning.

Yesterday, driving the bus, the weather was the best that fall can offer: flawless blue sky, balmy temperature, just a light bit of breeze, a gentler sun than August offers. The kind of day that brings back childhood memories of sailing through flocks of migrating gulls. I kept thinking, this is to give me good memories so I'll want to go back to driving after my leave.

Today, I think we got the leftovers from someone's hurricane. It poured all day, a total of 2 3/4 inches. Emily commented when she got home, "Good day to not drive the bus." After a pause, she said, "Bummer. You had all that outdoor work to do, and it rained."

Last night I put up a 22" x 36" dry-erase board on the kitchen wall, and started writing things down. Things that pretty much need done "before winter"--getting the woodpile ready (our main heat source), reseeding pasture, barn work, fences, garden stuff, marketing, building a privy, paperwork, meetings, crafting for holiday sales, stuff with the sheep, stuff with the chickens..... The sheet is so full I can hardly add anything. It's daunting. But it feels better now that it's out of my brain. I looked at it and thought, "No wonder I've been feeling tense and overwhelmed!"

I put a red "x" next to the most important things to try to get done this three weeks off. Still scary. I circled the things that need done first. Yikes!

I got up this morning and started doing stuff. There were plenty of indoor things on the list, like "washing" fat for soap and candles. Some of it had been rendered but not completely washed before I went to Canada in 2005, so there were some pretty scary biology/chemistry experiments. Sheep tallow really does make pretty good candles, and the fat from the pan that rusted out is an interesting orange color....

Working with the fat is a garage thing. "Clean and organize garage" was on the list, too. So I'd stir the fat, clean something, put something away, stir the fat, rearrange a bit, label a drawer, stir the fat, etc. I finally found the do-hicky that goes with the thing-a-ma-jig and put them together in the same place as the gizmo, so I'm ready to start--START!--that project now. OK, OK--progress, not perfection.

Since it seemed like a good day to cook things, I also put all three roosters in a canning kettle in the kitchen and simmered them all day with three onions, cut up, and about a 1/4 cup of chopped homegrown garlic. Boned them out this evening and there's enough meat for 6 meals for 6 people, plus a lot of stock. Everyone agreed the flavor was fabulous and asked about the seasoning...mostly, I don't think anyone had ever tasted a REAL chicken before, just the pale, pudgy store-bought things.

About mid-afternoon, I looked at the whiteboard, thinking I could cross something off...surely?...I've been in constant motion all day....? Hmmmmm. Not good. I decided to put dots next to the things I'd WORKED on, whether I ever got them "done" or not.

Three dots. THREE DOTS for a whole day's work!

I did get all the existing rendered fat washed, but there's still two huge bags of unrendered fat in the freezer.

"Fat" was just part of one line item on the whiteboard.

But "fat" is just "faith" that needs a couple more letters, isn't it? And somehow I DO have faith that I'll get done what needs to be done, in God's time not mine.

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