The Super Secret Secret to Getting Stuff Done

Quite often when I tell people what I have been up to I give them the short list and as far as I can see, it’s not much. Yet I tend to get a surprised reply of “how do you find the time?’ or “I wish I had that much energy.” Well, let me tell yah, it’s not that I have a never ending supply of energy or that I don’t get tired. There are days that I wonder how I made it home from work. Scary I know. You know you’ve been there too, you know the way and could get there in your sleep and sometimes do.

It’s not a matter of so much cardio and the perfect amount of sleep and all those things that the health magazines tell you. They do help, but there’s more to it than that. It’s motivation. It’s the drive to get up in early morning hours to “get stuff done”. It’s the daily and weekly “to do” list and the need to get it done.

It most certainly is something that everyone can do. The whole “if it were easy everyone would do it” is bologna. It takes practice and the feeling that you want to do it. It’s got nothing to do with difficulty. How difficult is it to fold a load of laundry? For most people it’s a very simple task and still not everyone does it. Those that want things organized and put away do it, (or have their wives do it) not those that sit back and think “gee it sure would be nice if …”.

I have always been busy but I wasn’t always motivated to get things done. There is a difference. So many people race to get here and there and at the end of the day can’t seem to think of a single thing the actually accomplished aside from going to work or picking up groceries. That is where the “to do” lists come in to play.

A good list will keep you on track. At the end of the day you will have a piece of paper with all sorts of things crossed off and can see exactly what you got done and what will have to be added to tomorrows list. You only have to fall behind a couple times on your list to understand that it needs to get done or tomorrow (and possibly days after) will be affected. At that point you have the choice to give up or to decide that you will put in a little more effort.

For my lists I like to have them organized, which sometimes means I write a list and then rewrite it to get the “kitchen stuff” together, the “barn stuff” together and so on. I also include any craft or fun project I want to work on. Everything that I hope to accomplish for the day goes on the list. I need to think about a nap category; that might be nice. This way as you are working on one task you know what the next will be there is no time wasted wandering around trying to remember what you were going to do next or deciding what to do. You already have your plan set. Just get to it!

A good list is like new exercise program. You can print off as many programs as you want but they aren’t going to get you in shape. You still need to do the work to see the results. Your “to do” list is the same way. Write as many as you want, color coded, categorized, sprinkle it with glitter if you want. You just wasted good time glittering a list of things that are actually needing to be done. Good job. Take the time to get organized and then get to work. That sparkly list isn’t going to complete itself.

Motivation is not something that can be taught in a book sense but I do think it can be learned in a working sense. If you start small, make a little list for the day. Get everything on your list done by the end of the day and look back on what you accomplished. Let that feeling of accomplishment drive you to try again tomorrow. You also really have to want to accomplish your list. I mean really want to. Just like anything else, talking is just that, it doesn’t add up to anything but noise. The cliché “actions speak louder than words” although over used, is true.

So now you have your list, your motivated and “I will start tomorrow”. Just toss your list at that point.

Start today.

Sitting on lunch break making your list? Make one for the remainder of the day. Then start writing tomorrow’s if you want. Starting tomorrow really doesn’t work for too many people. You go to bed all motivated and ready to get started. When you wake up, are half asleep, “oh that list thing, I will start later” and so it begins. The next thing you know you are going to bed and haven’t touched the list because you forgot to start “later”. Start now. Diets don’t need to start on a Monday, neither does a “to do” list. Besides the sooner you start the sooner you’re done.

I think I may have perfected my “to do” list/ Daily planner organizing. I will continue to give it a trial run for a while. If it proves effective I will make the print outs available to you. Daily planners with time slots have never done me much good. I don’t make that many appointments in the day (if any). I do have a rather lengthy list that needs to get done. I have managed to come up with a system that keeps everything in it’s category and even includes a meal plan! It’s great!

I remember on Saturday mornings, mom would work and it was up to dad to get things going around the house. We used to ask mom to tell dad to let us sleep in. “Get up! You’re burn’n daylight!” was what I remember him saying. At the time I was not happy about the wake up call. Now, I can’t believe he let us sleep in as late as he did! The amount of time I wasted sleeping in when I could have been doing something, oh boy. I now find that I am telling myself “get out of bed, or you will just waste a day”. It’s still about as well received as it was when dad would say it, but it’s true and so I get up.

At this point I am pretty sure that even though I have the drive, the motivation and a well organized list, I am still running on perpetual motion and coffee. 🙂

To do list

 

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All in a Day’s Work

Go to work, for a long shift, plow snow, do animal chores, haul a little firewood, deliver a baby, make supper. Just a normal Tuesday on the farm.

I know over the years I have unintentionally, we will say “given Mike opportunities” to do things that he never would have guessed he would do. Own a farm, raise his own livestock, tend a garden, deliver his daughter. That’s right, he delivered our little girl last week. The midwife was on her way but baby decided not to wait.

I share a lot of what goes on around here but the stuff that is the most “close to home” I like to keep “close to home”. I want to share this story because I am so amazed and proud of my husband.

I hadn’t been feeling real great Monday night to Tuesday, but by the time it was time for me to go to work Tuesday night I was feeling better, so in I went. I figured it was only a 4 hour shift and not strenuous by any means, there was no reason not to go. I had been there about an hour and a half when I began to feel uncomfortable again. Slight contractions but mostly uncomfortable. A bit later a co-worker asked if I was going to make it through my shift. I had planned to but wasn’t totally sure. A half hour later I headed home, knowing the roads were terrible and the drive would be a slow one. I needed to be able to walk to my car and drive home and if this was labor I didn’t want to be stuck at work. (I can see the hospital from my office window but had no intention of ending up there.)

Mike was working an extra long shift due to the snow we had been getting and wasn’t home when I arrived. I called him to say I was home. Then I called Rebekah, the midwife,

“I think I’m in labor. I know the roads are awful and I would hate to have you come on a false alarm but if you don’t mind, it might be a good idea to head this direction.”

(She was only 1 1/2 hours away. Much closer than when our little boy was born.) She was on her way with her apprentice within 15 minutes and had called a second apprentice to meet her here as well.

I called my dad to see if it was ok that the little boy stayed a bit longer.

“That’s just fine. Call if you need anything; I’ve pulled a lot of calves in my day!”

We had a good laugh. (It’s not the first time I have been likened to a cow. Some might take offense, but hey, if the shoe fits! Haha!)

I decided to try to relax by taking a hot shower. At some point Mike arrived home and checked in to see how I was doing.

“I’m fine.”

He was headed out to plow snow and take care of the animals.

“Flash the porch light if you need something.” (He wouldn’t be able to hear the dinner triangle in the truck.)

When he got back in from chores I headed upstairs. He was getting things from the birth kit (supplies ordered and on hand for home births) ready for when Rebekah arrived. Checking in every little while on me and on the phone with her giving updates.

M:”She said she’s doing good. She hasn’t been able to time contractions yet.”

R:”Has her water broke yet?”

M:”Has your water broke?”

A:”No.”

M:”No.”

R:”Ok, you have some time then.”

A:”My water broke.”

After that I’m not sure how the conversation went. Mike kept checking in and preparing.

M:”Are you doing ok? Going to make it til she gets here in about 45 minutes?”

A:”I’m fine. I will make it… I’m sorry, I know you didn’t want to catch but you’re going to have to.”

M:”I see that. I’m just looking for gloves.”

A:”They are in the… You don’t need gloves!”

M:”Okay!”

Two quick pushes.

M:”Well do you want to know?”  “It’s a girl!”

I held her as he cleaned her up. He called the midwife with the update. We had a half hour or so and used the time to let our parents and siblings know.

The ladies arrived and did their midwife thing and helped clean up. My parents brought up the little boy for a quick visit and brought supper. Mike got that going and the night went on. For how he handled everything, you would think this was just a regular Tuesday night.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, “Everything works out as God plans it is to be and there is never a dull moment on the farm.”Baby

We are very thankful for Rebekah Knapp for her prenatal care and venturing out to help us on delivery night. A thank you to Molly and Karissa too! All wonderful women to work with.

 

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The Book Shelf

One of my hap-hazard book shelves.
One of my hap-hazard book shelves.

I have a ever so slight book problem. I made mention of my cookbook collection a while back, but the book collecting isn’t limited to those. Every time I take up a new interest or just have a question about something I feel the need to get a book. I may do a quick web search to tide me over but eventually the question will end up in a book.

I like to read, but if I sit down to read I need to be able to feel like I am not wasting time. By reading something non-fiction, instructional, reference or something where I am learning something, the guilty feeling of “doing nothing” goes away. I am learning. Not every book I own I buy into the full truth of it, but I usually find some bit of information that is useful. I like to read different views on the same topic at times as well. Looking up the references a book uses can lead to more interesting reading also.

Someday the we are planning a built-in bookshelf that is floor to 12 foot ceiling. When that happens our books are going to be so organized even the library will be jealous! I can hardly wait for that day to come. As of now, we have a few bookshelves that I try to keep somewhat categorized at least but that just doesn’t always work either.

I started a “short” list of some of what’s on my shelf as of now. The cookbooks, I am not ready to admit just how many are actually there; a five shelf case dedicated to cookbooks that is overflowing is where we will leave that. As time goes on and I continue to collect, you can find the running list of my “reference” books here.

The Book Shelf
Some of these fall into multiple categories, in which case I just picked one.

Animals
The Back Yard Cow, Sue Weaver
Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle, Heather Smith Thomas
Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, Gail Damerow
Storey’s Guide to Raising Horses, Heather Smith Thomas
Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs, Kelly Klober
Storey’s Guide to Raising Poultry, Glenn Drowns
Storey’s Guide to Training Horses, Heather Smith Thomas

Babies and Family
A Christian Guide to Childbirth Handbook, Jennifer Vanderlaan
Beautiful Babies. Kristen Michaelis
Ina May’s Guide to Child Birth, Ina May Gaskin
Smart Martha’s Catholic Guide for Busy Moms, Tami Kiser
Special Delivery, Rahima, Baldwin
What to Expect When You are Expecting, Heidi Murkoff

Food
Artisan Cheese Making at Home, Mary Karlin
Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Michael Pollan
Fields of Plenty, Michael Ableman
Home Cheese Making, Ricki Carroll
Natural Wonder Foods,
Wild Fermentation, Sandor Ellix Katz
Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan

Gardening and Farming
Carrots Love Tomatoes, Louise Riotte
Complete Guide to Gardening, Better Homes and Gardens
Garden Wisdom and Know-How, from the Editors of Rodale Gardening Books
The Heirloom Life Gardener, Jere and Emilee Gettle
Home Grown Whole Grains, Sara Pitzer
New Garden Book, Better Homes and Gardens
Seed to Seed, Susanne Ashworth
Folks, This ain’t normal, Joel Salatin

General “How to” and Homesteading
These are good starting points for some fun projects and ideas.
Country Wisdom and Know-How, from the Editors of Storey Books
Encyclopedia of Country Living, Carla Emery
Little House in the Suburbs, Deanna Caswell and Daisy Siskins
The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading, Nicole Faires

Health and Nutrition
Breaking the Vicious Cycle; Intestinal Health Through Diet, Elaine Gloria Gottschall
The Gerson Therapy, Charlotte Gerson and Morton Walker D.P.M.
Natural Relief for Anxiety, Edmond J. Bourne Ph.D
Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon
Nourishing Traditions; Book of Baby and Child Care, Sally Fallon

Leather Working
The Stohlman’s Encyclopedia of Saddle Making 1, Al and Ann Stohlman
The Stohlman’s Encyclopedia of Saddle Making 2, Al and Ann Stohlman
The Stohlman’s Encyclopedia of Saddle Making 3, Al and Ann Stohlman
To be continued…There’s more on the shelf.

Other Reading (non-fiction)
The Bible
Montana Women Homesteaders: A field of ones own, Sarah Carter

 

 

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A Table to Share

TableThe last dining room table we had was 100 years old. Over the years the extra leaves were lost and to top finally glued together. All but 4 of the chairs had disappeared along the way as well. So many meals were share at that table over the last century, countless stories told, some filled with roaring laughter and others tears. That is the beauty of a table and a meal. Our table sat 4 comfortably, there were times that we had at least double that squished around there. A rouge elbow may have ended up in someone’s mashed potatoes every now and then, but we were together.

It never mattered who showed up at the door, hungry or not a place was set and they ate.

Two years ago I received a chop saw for my birthday, with it I proceeded to build a book shelf in the living room. I admit it wasn’t the smartest place for a construction project but it turned out nice. Kind of a crate/pallet style shelf you could say. After that I was on a roll.

It was time for a new dining room table. I had always envisioned a long farmhouse style table with benches (it’s easier to squeeze more people at the table on a bench than with chairs). I searched online for plans that were simple enough for my amazing carpentry skills. I found the perfect ones and it was complete an extension on each end in case extra space is needed. I measured the floor and “Yep, it will fit perfect”.

I showed the plans to my husband and he reluctantly said “ok”. As he looked over the plans and questioned whether or not it would fit, I brought him the tape measure and told him he could check but I’m pretty sure it will fit.

“I think we should shorten these plans, by about 2 feet and we can think about the extensions when the time comes. I will give you a hand with this.”

Knowing how my impressive carpentry skills are I decided to follow his advice. The next day he left me the truck and to the lumber yard I went. Picked up all the wood for the project.

When Mike got home he checked over my purchase and gave it a rather… um… disapproving and funny look.

“What?”

“You bought stud grade lumber. Some of this has holes and deep knots. This one even has a slight twist.”

“And?”

“Nothing.” as he shook his head and sighed.

We started cutting pieces and screwing them together. Each piece he let me inspect to see which had “prettier” knots and which end they should go on. Slowly we got the table and benches assembled.

table

I sanded off the “stud grade” stamps and smoothed out the rough spots. On two sides I burned “Give us this day our daily bread”. A simple reminder that today we only need enough for today. Tomorrow we can again ask for enough to get us through the day. I should have put a “fishes and loaves” inscription on there. The amount of times I have prayed for one of those miracles is… well… plenty.

Let me explain. There is a story in the bible where Jesus feeds a thousand people with a few fish and a couple loaves of bread. I would think they had to be small whales and huge loaves of bread but the little sketches only show tiny little fish. So now when we keep adding a place at the table and I’m not sure if we will have enough to fill everyone I ask for a “fishes and loaves” miracle. Every time, everyone goes away full.

The table was stained, sealed and moved into the dining room. Good thing we went with Mike’s measurements rather than mine. It fit perfect, any bigger and we would have been sitting in the living room too.

Bench

When we bought the farm, we were worried that the table wouldn’t fit in the dining room again. There was talk of taking it apart and shortening it. Considering I had planned to make it two feet longer and with extensions I wasn’t too fond of the shortening idea. But I would rather that, than the scrap the table all together. It was only a few months old. Again, it fit. It’s a little tighter fit than the last house; any longer and one end would be eating in the bathroom and the other in the living room.

“Can I get the mashed potatoes down here?”

“What do you need toilet paper for?”

“Mashed Potatoes not chicken!”

“Will tissue work?”

So the room isn’t that big but you can see the problems that could occur.

It doesn’t seem to matter what size table we have, it always gets filled. There is somehow always enough food to go around and enough people to squish onto the benches and leave me searching for more chairs. I find great joy in setting a meal of any sort on the table surrounded by friends and family. Some nights the stories start flowing and laughter rolling. Other nights it’s a smaller crowd with a quiet meal after an exhausting day of setting fence posts or baling hay. We have already had so many great memories sitting at the table and I know there are many more to come. It really is a wonderful blessing to have and share a spot at the table.

Table

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Pregnant and Waiting…Impatiently Waiting…

Lucy and Elvis
Lucy and Elvis

Elvis is here. Lucy is producing milk. I could be milking her. I have been dying to have fresh milk on the farm since Lucy first arrived. Actually since before she arrived, but once she got here there was a real possibility of having milk. I got her all halter broke again and she is very used to me handling her and being around her. Yet here I sit, next to Lola the chicken in the kitchen, during the early morning hours before chores when I could be milking a cow.

I have been told by multiple people- Husband, Dad, Mom, friends… that I should/need to wait until after I have the baby to begin the cow milking. I know they are just trying to keep us safe. I am trying to be an obedient wife, daughter and friend, but that doesn’t mean I am any less impatient when it comes to something as exciting as milking a cow.

Waiting is not an ability I am very good at when it comes an activity that I am so excited about. However, they all know that unless I lock the cow or calf outside the barn for the night, I have no way of keeping them separate for a morning milking. They also know that for how cold it has been there is no way I would be able to put one or the other out for the night. I have thought about putting the calf in the meat bird side of the chicken coop. He would stay plenty warm and safe and it won’t be in use until spring again.

You see the problem is I have saved up the money to get the panels for the calf pen and what I will need to put together a make-shift milking stall but I can’t go get them. Well, I could go get them hope that the nice gentlemen working would load them for me but then there they will sit; in the trailer or truck bed. A load of water to the barn and tossing down a few hay bales has already made me wonder if the baby was going to come while I’m mid-chores in the barn. As much as I want to start milking the cow I don’t want the baby to come too early either. Seeing as though my panel unloading help thinks I should be waiting to get kicked milking the cow for a few more weeks, there the panels would sit, just tormenting me.

In the mean time I’ve been trying to think of different indoor projects to work on. Winter is usually the season I’m creating all sorts for things in the comfort of the house. At this point they idea list I have came up with looks like this:

1. Work on the next cookbook(s).
2.Make hard cheese.
3. Carve a butter press.
4. Make cottage cheese.
5. Mend jeans that should have been done months ago.
6. Organize the basement.
7. Make butter.
8. Start a new sewing project.
9. Finish knitting the sweater.

So far the most appealing things on the list require me to milk the cow first. I have been doing some work on the cookbooks, but still. Mending jeans, although it needs to be done is not something I am interested in at the moment. I could plan the 2016 garden because I don’t know how much we are actually going to plant this year. I have been doing my pig and peacock research so this spring I will be all set to get started on those projects. For now everything just seems to revolve around the cows and dealing with the little chicken issues that have been arising.

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