I hear lots of my friends talking about wants and needs when we are out and about. I struggle with them too. Do I want or need those new boots? That purse? That replacement bale ring for the cows? Then there are the wants and needs that aren't material: more free time, more rewarding experiences, vacations, weekends with friends, or exercising. I'll give you a hint. That last one is probably a need, but I really don't want to!
A lot of times the difference between want and need is painfully apparent when you live on a farm. Fortunately, this week began with them coinciding quite nicely. I wanted to be outside because it was sunshine-y and almost sixty degrees. I needed to move hay. I needed to fix the fence because the cows can easily get on the highway and die tragic bovine deaths.
But there are obviously times when the opposite is true and my wants and my needs are opposed. Like when it is -20 and I need to move hay. Or I want to leave for a vacation, but things will starve to death. Then there are times when my wants turn into needs.
For years I have wanted to clean up the old barn that stands on my parents’ property. It is a thing of beauty – all hand hewn oak beams and hand cut stone quarried from the property is stands on. Though it is home to six stalls and a great amount of space we really only use it for the hayloft and storing a few wagons. The space has been underutilized my entire life, but especially in the last five years since we started feeding the cats in the newer horse barn. The old barn has not received much TLC. We don’t really go in there unless we have to throw hay to the cows.
My grandfather recently passed away, and I am staring some massive barn and house renovations in the face starting around September; so, I have felt a huge push to try and get all of the little things off my to do list at mom and dad’s farm. Some of those things require more than one set of hands. Yeah. I’m talking about you Mr. Corner fence post that is washing away and needs to be fixed before taking the whole fence row down. We are gonna tango mister. Mark my words! Or are made easier with multiple sets of hands like trimming the fence line or replacing white boards in the danged vinyl fence. But one of them that didn’t need many sets of hands was cleaning up some of the trash in the old barn.
I mentioned that we used to feed cats in there. I have a confession. I’m lazy, and rather than cutting the weight circles off the bags (you can turn them in for rewards with Purina) I just threw them behind a partition. Out of sight, out of mind. I am really hating myself for that one. I have spent maybe two hours cutting off weight circles so far, and I am not even close to being done with that project. In the course of this though I have found that my desire to clean the barn might not be a want so much as a need.
When I took Captain America in there to show off my progress three weeks ago we heard the sound of running water coming from the barn basement. Yup. We had a pipe burst right outside the basement wall. The good Captain got right to work and dug a trench that appeared to go halfway to China before I could so much as blink. He and my dad fixed it, and it was all good. Well, if anything like that can actually be good. However, I had this thought in the back of my mind saying, “How long would it have leaked if I hadn’t started cleaning in there? If I hadn’t wanted to show it off it could have run for months without anyone noticing.”
Then it got cold again, and it wasn’t until yesterday that I snuck away from my desk job and out to fix some fence. I got done in the daylight and decided to let the chickens loose for awhile. I won’t leave them out of earshot anymore since the Great Defeathering Incident of 2013 so I went back into the barn to clean up more feed sacks. I opened one of the stall doors to try and shine a little light on my project and started rocking out on my iPod and cutting out weight circles like a boss. I don’t know what drew my attention to it, but after awhile I looked up and noticed that one of the support beams, one of the support beams that is under the hayloft mind you, was sagging. The oak beams it was sitting on have splintered and rotted into almost nothing.
Suddenly cleaning the barn is not a WANT, it is an EMERGENCY. AGH! So much for wanting to go to Captain America’s house this weekend.