Most jobs on the farm are physically taxing. From hauling five-gallon buckets full of feed to several different places, cutting, splitting and stacking firewood, hoeing the garden and repairing fence, you have to have a lot of muscles to carry the load. And regardless of the job, if you don’t want to do it again (at least, not in that section of the fence) you need to do it right the first time.
In a post on Le Ferme Sabloneuse, my friend Gary quoted his Pa, when he spotted a stack of firewood by the outhouse that Gary’s brother had done. “My Pa, when he came home from work, took a look at the sorry wood stack and remarked, ‘This was done by a man who had very little ambition.’” What a perfect way to tell someone that they didn’t do a very good job!
It takes quite a bit of ambition to stack firewood, and even more to stack it right. To throw it willy-nilly in one big pile means that some of the inner wood won’t dry properly, which in turn means it won’t burn well, if at all. To load it onto a rack means that it needs to be even from front to back, or it will eventually start to lean until it falls off and onto the ground. If you don’t stack it well from side to side, then you will have an avalanche of firewood on either side – again ending up with firewood on the ground. If you had just taken the time to learn how to stack it properly in the first place, you wouldn’t have to handle it again until you wanted to haul nice, dry firewood inside.
You all know the problems we have with fencing. Our biggest issue is just how much fencing we have. Although, each year, we replace a section, there is still close to 20,000 feet of fencing, most of which is extremely old. Some of that fence has been there so long it has grown into the trees and shrubbery that borders our property. Some of it is perimeter fencing that separates our place from the neighbor’s. And some places won’t allow for t-posts and net wire – we have to settle for barbed wire and electric. Because of our cattle’s talent for sniffing out when the electric wire is grounded, we have to be diligent in checking and making sure all debris is off the wire. With our hectic schedule, we sometimes don’t get around to it. Which means we’ll be fixing fence in the pouring down rain or in the dead of night. When we do check the fence, we keep wire, clips and other tools to repair anything that is damaged or broken.
Ambition is the key to completing any job – whether it is teaching, sitting behind a desk or out in the field raking hay. You have to tackle it with the mindset of doing it right the first time. All too often doing a job well takes a bit of time, and long before we are finished we get tired of doing it. It is at that time you need to take stock. You think you don’t like doing it now? Think about how many times you are going to have to tackle that very same thing if you do a poor job. I think I would rather spend an extra hour or so to completely do the job, and do it well, than have to redo it, losing several precious hours in the process.
Next time you have a big job ahead of you, take a few extra moments to decide how to tackle it. Break it down into smaller steps. Then wrap your mind around taking your time to do it well and completely – never forgetting that the job really isn’t done until the tools are put away. Then when you finish, step back and admire the job well done, and figure out how you can spend all that time you saved by not having to do it again.