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September 21, 2018: The Good Life

I remember reading Helen and Scott Nearing’s The Good Life. They were homesteaders who went into great detail about their day-to-day activities. They first homesteaded in Vermont and later in Maine. Their two books, while interesting, are also a bit on the dry side.

Sometimes I compare our lives to theirs. They didn’t have livestock, which is about the only difference. They grew and ate much of their own produce. They also worked in a very organized and calculated fashion, just like us.

As I recall, the Nearings didn’t talk about the distribution of labor, which to me is one of the most interesting aspects of

Pete setting up the base for the water tank stand

homesteading. So I have since wondered, were they, as Pete and I are, joined at the hip? And if so, how did they deal with the pros and cons of working closely together?

I have come to realize that our best days are those like today, in which there is a clearly defined distribution of labor. Otherwise, we, who both are the oldest, and who both resent being told what to do by the other, get in one another’s way. And when we get in one another’s way, heated arguments ensue.

Our days generally begin with a plan, which we formulate over breakfast. Sometimes we well know that we won’t get everything we hope to get done, but we talk as if we will get it done. Today’s a good example. Pete opted to go get a load of hay. I stayed home because I knew that John DePriest, our hay dealer, would give Pete a hand loading the trailer. In his absence, I worked for a bit on Forks, then went and then prepared the shed storage area for the incoming load.

By the time Pete got back, my bicycles were in their winter home, the two large cardboard boxes I got at the Fair were on the porch of my writer’s cabin, and the feedbags full of moldy hay were stashed in the Tundra that he’d parked by the shed before taking off. I next put a tarp at the foot of the shed, so that I might more easily give the horses the hay dregs after unloading the trailer.

We went to work unloading hay. There was no talk beforehand – we both know the routine. Pete untied the ropes, while I cleaned the horse pen, and then pulled down the first few bales so that I could climb up on top of the load. He began stacking in the shed and I began pulling bales down and tossing them in front of the shed. When finally, we were both about done, I swept the trailer dregs onto the tarp.

During lunch (I had a tomato, beet green, and carrot smoothie), we first talked about afternoon plans, and then sprang into action. Pete was wanting to cut up railroad ties and put them in various sites, so that he might put the square water tanks on them. However, the big project was finishing the left hand horse barn shed. A few weeks back we pulled out the old rotty pallets and plywood. Today, Pete put down the railroad ties first, the plastic, and then the newer plywood.

I went and picked berries. This time I used a one-gallon bucket. This was a lot easier on the neck. It took me approximately two hours to fill my container. I finished up as Pete was putting in the plywood. I next got Tinni out and took him and Ryder out on our trails. Pete was finishing up when I got back. I assisted him with the cleanup, which involved storing the good plywood under my cabin and the not so good plywood in the garbage shed. I also swept the area between the two stalls and then put out hay for Tinni who was waiting at the gate.

Pete gathered up his tools and went inside, his plan was to do the dishes and make pizza. My plan was to take Raudi and Ryder out on Peaches Loop and Siggi’s trail. In both cases, missions were accomplished.

A truly wonderful dinner, one of the best ever. Our pizza toppings consisted of homegrown tomatoes and basil. I then went upstairs to write this dispatch. And Pete began processing the two gallons of high bush cranberries that I picked the past few days.

For us, as the above indicates, the clearly defined distribution of labor works well. Not a single harsh word was exchanged all day, except once, when I nailed Pete in the head with a hay bale.

Next: 264. 9/22/18: Eating Well is the Best Revenge

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