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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Separation of House and Barn

Erik is out of town for the weekend having taken Walker to an event in the state capital.  I am left home with the two youngest and 40 acres of chores.

I think it's pretty safe to say that each household has its division of labor.  Just from my general friendships, (*DISCLAIMER:  I am not implying or saying that this is EVERY household in the world - it is just my view of the microscopic circle in which I am part) I think that typically, the household is divided into outside and inside chores.

 I realize that many men participate in and maybe even enjoy the inside chores, but generally women do dishes, clean house, do the laundry, shopping, schedule and schlep the children, and men typically mow grass, shovel snow, fix things that need repaired, coach the teams the moms are schlepping the children to.  That is just a generality, but one that is, I feel, pretty accurate of the area in which I live.  Now, that is not to say that men can't do the inside stuff or women can't do the outside stuff  - it just tends to be how it works out.  There times in the summer months when I pack up the kids, load up the car and drive to my hometown for a week and leave Erik home alone.   I try to have all the laundry done, stock the refrigerator and pantry and leave little notes about what is there to make for meals, etc.  I can guarantee you nine times out of 10, when I call Erik at the end of the day to say goodnight, he has either been invited to eat at someone else's house or he just ate "on the go."  I come home to expired lunch meat and produce.  I don't usually expect Erik to do any of my inside chores because they don't have to be done.  I can usually catch up with them when I return.  That's not to say I don't appreciate it when he does go ahead and do some of those chores while I'm gone - especially the laundry, but it isn't necessary.  Which is funny because while all of the chores I do are vital to our house and family looking and smelling good, basically none of them have to be done daily, well, other than meals.

This time of year at Goodness Grows Farm, outside duties include:  starting and maintaing a fire in the outdoor wood burner, feeding goats in two barns, watering goats in one barn, feeding chickens in the chicken house, collecting eggs, feeding a variety of ducks and chickens that live outside of the chicken house at various points in the barn yard, and feeding four dogs.  Today this all had to be done in the mud and muck in the pouring rain.  And I had to do it all by myself!

The thing about these chores is that they have to be done regardless of who is home!  See, when I go away in the summer time to visit my hometown, all the chores I do INSIDE on a regular basis do not have to be done!  Erik does not have to do laundry.  He does not have to sweep floors, do laundry, cook meals,

 do laundry, take out garbage, do laundry, clean toilets, do laundry, make beds . . . and did I mention do laundry? 

 Sure, most times he does do some of that stuff, but most of the time he doesn't.  And that's okay, I'm fine with that.  My personal view is that because I have the privilege of being a stay at home mom, there are just certain duties that fall into my jurisdiction as part of the job of staying home. Maybe that's old fashioned, but it's my philosophy.  

But here I am, alone, 30 weeks pregnant (yeah, I slipped that one in) and I HAVE to do all of those outside chores or else I won't have any hot water for bathing, cooking or LAUNDRY, no heat in my house and I would have a barnyard of dead animals on my hands (well, I don't think they would really die of starvation in four days, but you get the point).

This realization has given me pause.  All of the things I do around here that I think are so vital to our existence here, really aren't.  Well, maybe cooking - but that's about it.  Okay, and keeping my kids clean, that is kind of important too, but as evidenced by pictures, I don't do such a bang up job on that front.

Here I was earlier tonight feeling all martyrish that not only was I doing my chores (which, by the way, I do not understand how removing one grown man and one six year old boy from the equation lessened my burden by so much, but it did) but I also had to do the outside chores on top of being 30 weeks pregnant (I know, I'm milking the pregnancy thing).  I was throwing logs into the fire (logs, I might add, my husband carefully cut to manageable sizes and then stacked in a trailer at the same height as the furnace door so I wouldn't have to do any heavy lifting) the rain soaking my hair and dripping into my eyes, mumbling something about how he'd (my husband) better appreciate the fact that I'm willing to come out here and do all these things! when I realized I took for granted that my husband not only willingly goes out and does all of these chores daily, he does so happily and with no complaint, unlike me, who complains at least a million times a day about the mud and the laundry!  I think at most, there have been maybe two times that Erik has complained about a chore and that was when he needed to cut more firewood for the furnace after having already been awake and plowing snow for 16 hours.  But he fired up the skid loader, trekked through a foot of snow and cut wood for the furnace because it was VITAL to our survival.  

So, I'll end my little tale by admitting that I have been significantly chastised and have let go of my martyrdom.  I've turned my complaints to prayers of gratitude for a husband that keeps all the outside chores running so smoothly and for never grumbling about having to do them.

I am grateful for the luxury of living on a farm where the separation of house and barn is an option and that should I ever find the desire to participate in the barn world, I can, but in the meantime, I'll continue to plow through the mountain of laundry that constantly lies in wait, even though I'm 30 weeks pregnant.  And I'll try not to think about how much MORE laundry I'm going to have in 10 weeks time.

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