"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Workload (Bitching and Moaning)

Everywhere I rest my eyes I see a pile of work waiting to be done. I literally can't look in any direction without seeing some kind of mess. Everything goes to hell in a handbasket so much faster than I can maintain it. The grass grows faster than I can cut it; the weeds engulf the garden and go to seed faster than I can pull them; the goat's hooves grow faster than I can trim them. Fences get mashed down, paint flakes, deck planks succumb to rot. Clothes get holey and stained. Floors get sticky and disgusting and dishes pile up with incredible speed.

This house is twice as big as my old house, there's more than twice as much housework, now that we have a farm and a mechanic's shop on premises. Take sweeping, for example - just sweeping. It seems there we have about a half-acre of floors in this house, and I can easily spend thirty minutes or so sweeping. And then, fifteen minutes later, it looks exactly the same.
Where DOES all the dirt come from?

Outside, yes, I know.

And the kitchen - this being August, I am naturally doing a lot of canning and other types of food processing. There is a never ending stream of grubby bug-covered produce coming in the door, and a never ending pile of scraps and peelings going out. There is always a compost bucket full of vegetable scraps on the counter, and the fruit flies are having a heyday. No matter how quickly I remove the bucket, it is never quick enough to avoid fruit flies. Canning plus regular three-times-a-day cooking means that there is almost always something on the stove, and sure as God made little green apples, something will boil over or spill every day. Then we have an oil slick on the floor or a shiny patch of irremoveable jam-laquer on the stovetop, or maybe a quietly stagnating milk-puddle under the fridge.

I make no pretense of being a good housekeeper. Even in my smaller house and with only one child, I was a pretty piss-poor housekeeper. Here in this rambling, sprawling old farmhouse with three kids and a farm, there's just no getting around the fact that I'm in over my head. Let me take you on a little tour:

The compost pile needs turning - it hasn't been turned in so long that it is growing it's own cover crop of weeds. This is heavy work for me. I can do it, but only very slowly, and for a half hour or so. After that, my bad shoulder starts to pain me and I will pay for it for a week or two if I try to push it. Mostly, I leave the compost pile to Homero, with the results you see here.

The lawn, covered in false dandelions and thistles. I don't care much for neatly kept lawns, but I do like to keep at least one small patch cut short and relatively weed free, just enough to toss a frisbee or lay down a blanket for a picnic. I have no excuse, because the lawnmower is actually working, for once. This year, Homero only had to fix it twice - a record. Knock on wood.

Can you find the cabbages in amongst the weeds? Hint: there are at least four.

Laundry on the line - er, the fence. The dryer has been broken for a month now. Since it is high summer, there's been no great urgency about fixing it. However, I find that after the seven hundredth load, hauling a big wet bag of laundry outside and hanging it up piece by piece kind of loses its charm. I've fallen behind. Way behind. How far behind? Here, look:

The laundry room - a month without the dryer has caused a backup that totally overwhelms our hamper-capacity. Luckily, the room has pocket doors and I can just slide them closed when it all becomes too much.

There's so much more that I haven't the fortitude to document with the camera, much less actually do something about.

There's a thirty-foot length of fencing that is mashed to the ground and the goats can get out, although oddly, they haven't yet.

It's time to muck out the barn, which is a day's work - hard, sweaty, stinky work.

We need to go to the dump.

Goat's hooves need trimming.

Time to sort out the kid's clothes in advance of the school year, and get rid of everything that is hopelessly worn, too small, or stained beyond redemption. Then shop for new (I mean, new to US of course. Goodwill is my best friend.) clothes.

I could go on and on, but I feel a wave of lethargy overtaking me. I think I need a hot bath... just as soon as I scrub out the tub!


Andy Brown said...

I'm still in the small house version of poor housekeeping, so I can't imagine. My piece of unsolicited advice is to get the kids going on chores. It's a bit of a time investment at first (always it's quicker to do it yourself than to get a kid to do it!), but long term it's a necessity. Kids are capable of a lot more than we usually give them credit for. Also, I know that traditionally people found a low-cost hired hand for things like turning compost heaps. A couple of hours labor by a vigorous high-schooler can do wonders for the haven't gotten round to it jobs. It might be worth the 20 bucks.

The Idiot Gardener said...

My house is small, we have no farm, and our dryer works.

Are we up to speed? Are we buggery!

It seems that unless you are happy sitting on your arse watching TV, consuming plastic-wrapped crap and paying for bland sterile consumables,m there will always be more work to do.

Rejoice in the undone tasks; they stop you from becoming boring!!!

Laura said...

Somebody was posting on facebook about the person with an immaculate house, perfect hair, clean clothes and dinner on time, and how now you realize you're a man! I laughed out loud. I am with you - when it starts raining, I don't mop my floor. Until it quits... Which this year was quite late. And since I'm moving, I decided to leave it until I'm walking out the door, and do it so the new folks will have a clean one (that will instantly get dirty...).

House work is overrated. However, children, no matter how much they grump, are a wonderful resource. How will they learn to can and be self-sufficient if they don't help? Helping includes doing clean up. My son complained one time that the shirt he wanted to wear wasn't clean. I explained that if he didn't put it into his hamper, I wouldn't wash it. I then told him, that in order to keep this from happening again, he was now in charge of his own laundry... He was 10. My DIL is still amazed that he does his own, more often than not.

While I really detest housework, I recognize its value, and have guests over every few months to force myself to do it!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad it's not just me who feels this way!

jj said...

At least you can see the cabbages! I have a similar garden, but weedier. We're calling it the Public Service Garden - folks can look at our garden and fee better about their own...

Shaela said...

I'm just loving this post! Thanks for keepin it real, and for taking the time to document the chaos so we all know we're not alone.