I have avoided doing any posts dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and all the other turmoil happening these days (or as we like to say in California speak “all this s&%t going on”). This story will be no different… kind of.
Like many people on this planet we have hunkered down and done our best to maintain sanity while also maintaining safety, for ourselves and for others. We are fortunate to be able to do so with financial security and to be able to help out family that has been harder hit, as well. You have no idea the amount of gratitude I have for this current status in my life.
In fact, this extended time that we have been able to be home has been a blessing in disguise for us. I am in no way wanting to diminish the great suffering that has been experienced by others, because some of it has hit way too close to home. However, it’s like the old saying “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade“, at least as best as you can.
So this brings me to the title I chose, which is the real reason for this story. The Old Man and I have been working for years to turn our early 1970s, sprawling ranch-style house into an “urban homestead” of sorts. When you hear the term “homestead”, the typical imagery that pops up will be nothing like our home or property, and for sure not our neighborhood.
Our home sits on nearly half an acre, not an expansive amount of acreage, but definitely bigger than your typical suburban lot, especially in California. Our neighborhood is filled with neatly trimmed shrubs and manicured lawns… until you come to our house.
No, we don’t have farm animals (yet, but we promise to keep it tame). There’s no big, red barn. However, where there was once a lawn, now there is a pollinator garden filled with an array of drought friendly flowering plants of various colors, shapes, and sizes. Shrubs have been replaced with garden beds for growing a variety of vegetables year round (with varying levels of success, but oh well).
The back yard now has a mini fruit orchard and herb garden. Thankfully, those have been very productive so far. We’ve extended part of our vegetable garden into a side yard area, as well. A small pond that holds roughly 250 gallons of water houses an ungodly number of minnows and is habitat for dragonflies.
So what does any of this have to do with “all this s&%t going on”? This transformation has taken a lot of time and energy, and has created a seemingly never ending list of tasks needing to be tackled. That list hasn’t disappeared, but it has now gotten shorter, thanks to this time at home.
There were actually three major tasks that had been lingering on the to-do list for far too long. One was to get a small greenhouse for starting seedlings in the colder months. Done! My medium boy took the lead on that one and it was assembled in April (just in time for the summer heat, but at least it’s ready!). We’ve had piles of wood scattered around the yard needing to be trimmed and split into useful shapes and sizes. Done! Our new electric wood splitter has already logged an impressive amount of work time and our firewood is neatly stacked on the racks and ready to go. The other key item was to give our raised beds a makeover with a hefty layer of soil amendment. Again, done! Our cool weather crops are now nestled amongst a nice cushion of bat and chicken poop, oyster shells and tree shreds.
Now, don’t even think we’ve wrapped everything up. Not by a long stretch. There’s more to do, and there always will be. But the fact that the Old Man and I started on this process years ago actually created things for us to be occupied by while “all this s#&t going on” unfolds around us. In fact, that was part of the point: to have things to do. We are fortunate to have the resources to make this possible, and now I’m realizing how very important it was for us to have this outlet.
So what’s the moral of this story? Busy hands are happy hands. Don’t be afraid of an “unfinished projects” list. Don’t wait until retirement to start the things you want to do. It’s okay to have something to work on, even if it doesn’t get done. I have an embroidery project over twenty years old (okay, on that one I actually lost the pattern over a decade ago and just located a copy on eBay last year, so I have a legitimate excuse). But there are other embroidery/knitting/cross stitch things I have started and put down, and occasionally pick up again here and there that are pretty dang old. Whose deadline do I have to worry about?
Hopefully, there will never be another need to hunker down and hide from the rest of the world for extended periods of time (can we please for once learn from the lessons of the past?!). But should the need arise, even if it’s just to hang out during a winter storm, having unfinished “business” to pick up, if even for just a little while, will go a long way towards personal calm and sense of well being. Really. I’ve now learned how good it is to know that there is always something to do.