You know what I love more than anything? Routine. I love having a routine. I don’t just like it I love it! I love waking up in the morning, not that I know what’s going to happen, rather just knowing exactly what I’m going to do. Even if something interrupts that process I can handle it, no biggie because I still know what comes next. Now, I understand routine and monotony are obviously not even in the same ball park here right? So, I’m not saying I Loooove to dredge through life making the same movements day after day after bloody day, but…. Hey for some that might be okay I can even think of occasions I would relish such a life, more truthfully a day or at best a week. But that’s just how I tick.
My whole life before farming was made up of a series of methodical routine. Come to work, unlock the door, turn alarm off, turn lights on, turn ovens on, and turn hood on. Check phone messages, receive produce order, study prep list, execute prep list, set up station, open for dinner, cook orders, clean up and then reverse the beginning, lights off, alarm set, door locked. So on and so on for twenty eight or so years! This is a pretty loose generalization but you get the picture. Then I get myself tossed onto a farm in Oklahoma of all the wonderful places in the world, and it’s like getting hired as the captain of a cruise ship and my only qualification is I know how to swim, but never the less I take all of it as serious as a heart attack, right. Act like I know what I’m doing in spite of getting tossed about. “Where do we keep the steering wheel in this place?” I ask.
No, I love routine! The alarm goes off, the coffee is poured, the social media is checked, the journal is written in, thoughts are attended to, the body is stretched, the lungs are filled and emptied, then light starts to creep in and I pull on my work pants, the ones I don’t mind having chicken shit smeared on, bundle up a bit, slide my feet into my muck boots and I know exactly what to do next. I don’t stand up look in the mirror awe stuck and b’haggled (I made that word up) and ask myself “What should I do first?” (for the record, I’ve done exactly that for more years than I am able to admit).
So I wonder sometimes is this not okay? Is this a gateway into monotony? Should I do something else like take another path to the chicken house? Or feed the dogs first before the goats or the goats first and then the chickens and then the dogs? Or should I eat breakfast before chores today and after chores tomorrow? And the cats? When should I…. See?! Never does it occur to me that it doesn’t matter. It does matter because now I’m out of my head. I’m not uncomfortable. I’m not trying to make decisions. Shoot, as I’m writing, it has just occurred to me that I’m putting way to much thought into this.
But really, finally finding this routine has its benefits. It helps me focus. When there is always so much to do I have a real problem with getting side tracked. One thing I have tried is to make a little promise to myself that I will finish a project before I start a new one. When I finish with a job I’ll pack it up and put tools back and clean up after. You can’t believe what a challenge this has been. This is because I get 98.2% done and then something happens somewhere else, a pipe breaks or there’s a blow out in the irrigation, etc. It’s always something. So I say….”I’ll be right back” yup, exactly. This is a very bad habit but I’m giving it the old college try to overcome.
So having a routine helps me start and finish something completely. 100% it feels good; it feels like an accomplishment even though I kind of feel like it shouldn’t. When you’re just putting your clothes on its not really an accomplishment to be dressed is it? There’s a higher bar I think to what can be called accomplishment. I know there are the exceptions but at this point in my life I’m not qualified for that exception. In 30 years maybe (if I should be so lucky).
It’s the off season. Now is when the big projects happen. (Like the new dairy barn) Project time begins after morning chores, breakfast and tea and writing time. (I get a lot done before 9am)They can change like the wind and this can get me in trouble sometimes so it takes a lot of work to stay on task even when other projects are seductively winking every time I walk by. “Don’t you just want to work on me for an hour or so?” they ask. Oh it’s so tempting! But… no! The rule is; finish the job. Put the tools away. Clean up the job site. Dust off and enjoy the benefits and satisfaction that comes with project completion!
So, I’m grateful for my routine, grateful for the comfort it offers me in exchange for unfetter freedom that I generally wouldn’t know what to do with anyway. I feel taken care of. It’s the few hours each day that I feel like I’m standing on solid ground. Not that I expect or have any illusion of said solid ground, it’s just nice not to be looking for the steering wheel.