[Previous Rural Farmgirl, June 2010 – January 2012]

Have you ever gotten to a point in life where all you want to do is to clean out the house with a firehose, spray the whole farm with weed killer, go on a lemon-water diet for a month and then start over??? Well, I think I’ve hit one of those times where I need to do a little cleaning out. Not in quite such a radical way, but it really feels like there is too much “stuff” in my life — not too many people, or too many things to do, but just plain too much STUFF that is taking time, energy and attention from things that I really, truly WANT and love to do.

It’s autumn – or at least the beginning of it. I love September for the very reason that, to me, autumn is my “new year.” I think that autumn should be declared the New Year for farmgirls everywhere, in fact. It’s a time when you can reap what you’ve sown – and harvest the good (and bad) that you’ve put forth since late winter and early spring.It’s also a time for planning the new year – a perfect time to figure out what has been working, and what hasn’t.  As I’ve been harvesting from the garden and putting up things for winter, I’ve been making a life assessment, as well. Somehow as a little nip enters the air, I get a renewed energy and optimism for the future. In my thinking, I’ve come to some conclusions that are going to require some action on my part (“Aye, there’s the rub!”).

First of all, there’s the farm – the “vegetable” part of it. I am going to do a master plan over the winter as far as perennial plants go. The most immediate decision I need to make is where to plant the garlic this/next month. After that, I can use the winter to make a good, solid plan. I also am going to ask for help from my spouse. (ASIDE: The reason I call him my “spouse” is that quite a few years ago I gave him some “Old Spice” aftershave (I can’t help it. I know it’s corny, but I really DO like the smell), and, as he opened the package, he smilingly declared, “Oh, great!!! Some “Old Spouse” cologne! It’s stuck ever since.) Somehow I get all nervous about asking for help – like I should “at least” be able to do everything on my own. I have a good feeling about this – and I also think we will both work much better as a team then as two individuals doing our own “things” on the same farm. Good night! Has it taken me 12 years of marriage to figure this one out?!?!?!?!

And as far as the annual/garden plants go, I am going to work on the premise of an “edible landscape,” so I am going to use the winter to plan it out carefully so I can make it pretty AND tasty. One idea I saw that was pretty amazing – and a good dose of lovely and edible at the same time – was where a family had lined their entrance walkway with the rainbow colored chard. It was so pretty! as beautiful as flowers and, hey, if you’re hungry on your way out, grab a leaf! We have my little ones’ “mint farm” right around a water spigot, and almost every day in the summer, they come in at one time or another green-mouthed and minty-smelling. I love it when they can graze around the yard!

Second, there’s the “animal” part of the farm. I really need to work on this one, as it is SOoooooo easy for me to somehow “acquire” animals and then, voila, I take a look around and I live in a zoo. Not a bad thing, really, but it’s one of those things that needs to be addressed for me, anyway. So, I’m going to find a good home for the alpacas (Anybody want a couple of darling, intact male alpacas? Free if you come and get them? Their names are Machu – a brown and white loverly – and Picchu – an espresso-brown darling with those wonderful EYES…). I’m also going to pare down the dogs to two pups and make the kittens be “outside” barn cats. Evelynn, the “how now, brown cow,” will, of course, stay, and so will the horses and sheep, but the chickens need to be pared down to layers. Right now, we have several “retiree” hens that, I think, will be slow-cooker meals throughout the winter. I think that will make things much easier to handle and to do in a way that I feeel good about.

Third, the farmhouse. Hmmmmmmm… this one’s going to take some time, I think. My house is generally pretty tidy – pretty clean and “okay” for the most part. HOWEVER, it could be SO much easier and simpler if I could get things pared down to what is “meaningful and/or useful.” I figure, if I can use those as guidelines while going throught the things in the house, I can end up with fewer “things” as well as ending up using things I love instead of keeping them hidden and protected for “fancy” or “good” times. Now, really, why would I want to save those things for later instead of using them to treat my family, friends and myself well right NOW? What this boils down to is finding things I love that make my life good and make me feel good about life, and using them – and going ahead and sending things that don’t fit who I am and what I am doing on down the line to someone who needs them. An added bonus? Fewer things to take care of – clean, dust, find places for, etc. Oh, and this applies to clothing and…gulp…shoes, too.

The fourth thing – my brain. I have discovered that I spend a significant amount of time living in some fantasy world called, “not right now.” I find that I am thinking of the past, the future and anything that isn’t right NOW when there are things that need to be done. Some may call this “procrastination,” but I find that the more gentle term “daydreaming” is more my speed. I would like to be able to move from ideas to action more easily – I have these wonderful IDEAS, but when it comes to finding time to make them real? Well, there’s where the first, second and third parts of my plan (above) come into play. I can ALWAYS find something that needs my attention instead of doing the work it takes to make an idea into reality.

My grandmother, “Nanny” always said “Out of emotion and into motion!” when she needed to get going, and that saying carried on through my mom and now, it pops into my head when I am stuck. “Out of emotion and into motion.” I so love that saying, and it is really applicable right now to me. I want to do things in a simple, beautiful, sustainable way that is my own. I think, at the age of almost 40, I am growing up and into my life. Isn’t it funny how, somehow we move through “places” in our lives – now that my beloved “Nanny” is gone, my mother is growing into her place, and I am growing into my mother’s place. Her place is one of steadiness and beauty – I grew up in my mother’s home – and it was what I want – beauty, stability, love – and I want that for myself and my boys.

So, that’s my plan of action for the next little while. What’s yours?

  1. Colleen says:

    I so agree with September being the ‘new year’! It has always felt that way to me with the season change (darker earlier, crisp temperatures), clothing change (putting away the tank tops, sandals & pulling out sweaters & boots) and putting the outside to ‘rest’ (pulling out the annuals, dead garden things, turning over the soil).
    One of my favorite things to say to myself when I’m paring down (house hold items to clothing to my favorite books) is "Does this make my life better?" — I find it’s much easier to let things go when they don’t make my life ‘better’ in a way I can appreciate!

  2. Catherine says:

    I’ve had some of those "enough" thoughts lately as well.
    September is a month of new beginnings at my home, too and I am working on clearing out,cleaning up and simplifying things. I focused on the most needful area this afternoon- my desk, which is the depository for everything that someone doesn’t know what to do with! No more, I have declared it an OFF LIMITS area to everyone as of now LOL!
    I’m also taking inventory of my activies and other pursuits and weeding out those things that no longer bring me joy.
    The fall garden has been planted, and I look forward to tending new growth in a few weeks.

    I love your Nanny’s motto, that’s a great one!

    Catherine 🙂

  3. I am right there with you (actually blogged about it recently), maybe it is this time of year for us farm girls that makes us evaluate the past year.

    My main problem is trying to do too much outside of the home (county fair board, homeschool activities, and on and on) and not saying NO when asked to help out with something. I am going to be more diligent on choosing only those things that bring joy and enhance our family life.

    Yearning for beauty, stability, and love also,
    The Park wife

  4. Debbie says:

    Dear Libbie,

    DITTO!!!!. Yes! Let’s declare September farmgirl month of the year! I’m with ya on this one… September is my absolute favorite time of year…I have the energy of 20 farmgirls 10 years younger than I am…and yet, I find myself doing what you’re doing… daydreaming my days away and clearing clutter…If I only had a nickle for every item that came and went through my kitchen door… in and out! I’m getting ready for my 10th year of homeschooling and that means getting organized…I’m learning to enlist more help from my beloved and the kids along these lines… It makes for a much smoother entry into fall!

    Keep up the good work and great writing…’I loved this post!
    September farmgirl # 2 … you’re number one!
    Happy September
    ps. I don’t think I’ll ever not be a day dreamer,( I love it too much) but as each year passes I’m getting a bit more choosy about what I daydream about!

  5. donna says:

    Ditto too…September is the beginning of a new and Marvelous-Darling Year, always re-evaluating and re-inventing who, where and why’s in my life. So awesome seeing that so many of us Lady’s are doin the same…Garage-Sale time in Sunny Florida! Have a Sweet Sweet re-discovering…

  6. Dee Cox says:

    What a great article. Coming from a family of farmers, living in a small rural area surrounded by centenial farms brings back so many memories of my plans in life. Live your dreams when you are dreaming, complete your goals, cherish your family. Fall is my favorite season to share and make plans….what’s next? I’m on the road and sometimes missing my roots..

  7. Bama Suzy says:

    Wow! You’ve certainly got me motivated…especially with your grandmother’s saying! On my farm this fall the BIGGIE is that I am expanding my farm store from the little room off my carport to a bigger outbuilding at the other end of my house. PATIENCE is NOT one of my virtues and it’s hard for me to not want it done ALL AT ONCE but son and son-in-law have begun the clean out, next will come the electrical wiring, insulation in walls (which I can do), installing paneling and building the little front porch (which I can help with!)….to make a REAL little country store….when we’re not actually working on the remodel I am busy making all sorts of jelly to sell in the current store and the new-old store, more goat milk soap, and all sorts of aprons, vests, and baby quilts….some with Christmas themes…but my main goal today is to finish writing an article that is near deadline AND finish patchig a weak place in the goat’s fence! I DO NOT have your sense of organization! Hope your sweet cow is doing fine!!!!!

  8. carol branum says:

    hi,I too,am totally overwhelmed,there is just too much to do,and I do not have enough space,I thew a bunch of vegtables out in some tall weeds to hide them.lol,have a great day!carol

  9. kay says:

    One thing I did was start using things, what am I saving them for. For instance, I have my mothers linen napkins that
    I use now and wash and hang out in the sunshine to dry and
    think of her….plus it saves a tree.

  10. Keleen says:

    Converting to a more simple life is definitely not easy, and it may take some time to learn the process! Lately I’ve been asking how I let myself get so entangled in the "clutches of culture". I’m finding that the less cluttered my physical life is, the more my brain is at peace. Don’t stop daydreaming, though! Just keep a journal of those great ideas, and write down the steps it would take to accomplish them. You may find that you have the time to pursue them after all!

  11. Karen says:

    Love your nanny’s quote, totally going to use that one! Fabulous "kick you in the butt, in a loving way" wisdom.

  12. Denise says:

    September is a great time to take stock of our goals.Simplifying is not an easy thing.Letting go of excesses when we have been trained to believe more is better comes with much hesitation.The fear of needing something you give away or discard is real.I have a shelf in my closet where I put things that I feel I will need and haven’t used in recent memory.If used it gets to leave the shelf.If it is still there in Sept/Oct it is given away or filled with baked goods and handed out at Christmas.It’s a time when the heart gives willingly with no regrets.

  13. Sharon Roberts says:

    Libby–you sure said it right! There are many times I want to get a firehose and flush it all out!! I work fulltime and my house-husband, the professional mess-maker, gardner, poultry farmer, cook, canner, can’t find time to put anything away when he is done with it. I can’t really complain, since he does so much already, but I don’t want to clean it up!! He/We have put up lots of jars of home-grown produce this year and I am ready to snuggle into my chair with a stitching project and let winter come.

  14. Nancy J says:

    For me, I think this theme comes with age…I am a Wife, a Mom, a Nana, a sister, a daughter & a friend(not always in that order). Yes, I like my home to be clean & comfortable, but I enjoy my family & friends more…I would rather sit on the floor playing dolls with my grand-daughters, or sitting at the kitchen table sharing a meal with my husband,adult children & grandchildren, or relaxing with my sister telling family news…their is a saying I have seen around lately, "The most important things in life, aren’t things". Hope everyone has a fun Harvest time!!!

  15. Connie H. says:

    I agree…next to Spring, my favorite time of year is Fall. Both seasons, I go through the house and weed out non-ecentials. My Mom, (I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s) used to do vigorous housecleaning both Spring and Fall. I loved helping her and the satisfaction that we had when all was clean, bright, and comfy. Loved the way the house smelled of fresh air and sunshine. I still throw the windows open as much as possible….even on sunny winter days (here in IL.) and hang the quilts and duvet’s out on the line for freshening. I have 10 grandchildren and we spend a LOT of time leaf and flower gathering, garden planting and weeding, watching birds, watching all sorts of bugs, gathering little rocks, baking and just having fun. Don’t need clutter gobbing things up. The older I get, the easier it is for me to throw away "stuff". My hubby, on the other hand…well, that’s another story…Ha! We love country living and the country life. Fresh wholesome food and everything as free from chemicals as we can get. My life is just about perfect and the good Lord has been gracious to me. I am going to go enjoy my front porch and count my blessings! Have a WONDERFUL Fall!

  16. Laurie says:

    Oh my! I could have written some of this. I thought I was the only one with the motivation issue. I have so many ideas, and then trying to implement them… well, I lack that part. Sometimes I think there is too much to do and blame that on my indecision. Sometimes, I just can’t get my body moving, at least not until late at night when it’s time to go to bed and then the ideas flood of things I want to do.

    I laughed at your "I should be able to do it all" comment. That is so me. I’m horrible at asking for help. Why are we like that? My boyfriend ha no issues and I just stuttered through trying to get it all done.

    Great blog and thanks for sharing.

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