How To Do Anything

I walked 250 miles.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that number show up on my Fitbit app. That is a long way. It’s like walking from St. Louis to Indianapolis.

Or Fort Worth to Houston.

Or Sherman’s march to the sea from Atlanta to Savannah.

I didn’t think about walking that far. I had no specific plan to go 250 miles on foot. I didn’t sign up for a marathon or even a 5K. I wasn’t training for any long distance event. But there it was in black and white.

250 miles.

Here’s the catch: I didn’t do it all at once. I did it one step at a time over a period of time. Day after day, putting one foot in front of the other, going about my daily activitiy. Some days I moved more than others. Occasionally I was on my feet almost all day and logged a lot of steps. Most of the time it was a few thousand steps. But it all added up.

Seeing that number made me think. I realized I had completed a significant distance even though it took a while.

The same thing is true in building this Farm business or doing anything of value. It’s hard work and sometimes it goes slow. But if I do at least one thing toward the goal every day, over time it will bear fruit. One day I will look back over 250 tasks and find that a lot has been accomplished.

The key is to be patient in the process. Continue to do each task as it comes even when the goal is far off. Even when it feels like nothing is getting done. In those dark days, I just have to put one foot in front of the other.

250 miles is walked one step at a time.

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Take Some Time Off

It’s all going wrong.

Have you ever been in one of those cycles when every thing just seems to go wrong?

We recently battled one of those cycles.

First came unusually heavy rains washing out newly planted garden seeds. Logs ferried down the swollen creek jammed under the bridge we use to take the ATV to the back of the property.

One of the mowers wouldn’t start and a tire on the ATV went flat. Not once, but twice.

The two of us just didn’t have enough hands to hold up the sheets of tin while screwing to the mercantile ceiling. That project came to a halt while we figured out what to do.

It’s hard to stay positive in the face of continued adversity. Hard to remember when we are sore, exhausted and frustrated that we truly are blessed. Hard to recall all the progress we’ve made over the years.

What to do?

How do you cope and break through when nothing is going your way?

We took a day off.

That’s right. Put down the shovel, the hoe and the screwdriver.

Sometimes the best thing to do when nothing seems to be going right is to back off. We’ve learned from experience that continually banging your head against the same old wall does not improve focus and clarity. It only hurts your head.

We came back refreshed with new perspective. It was possible to think through problems and come up with a new solution.

The garden is replanted and thriving. The ATV tire is fixed and the mower starts. There are still logs to remove from the bridge and a few details in the Mercantile to finish.

But it looks better every day.

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How Do You Do All That?

One of the most frequently asked questions about the Farm is “how do you have the time to do all this?” It’s a question we even ask ourselves sometimes. There are only two of us working this hobby farm. No employees, no volunteers, no interns. There are some things that we do contract, but those are the big things like installing a generator or building a garage. The day-to-day is all us. 

There is always something to be done. Build garden beds. Plant those gardens. Inspect the beehives. Prepare for the 18th Street Farmer’s Market. Document what we do on the blog and Facebook. Not to mention the regular everyday chores that keep a household running. 

And of course cater to the every whim of the felines. 

We tend to be self-reliant and try to figure out a way to do for ourselves whenever possible. That includes lots of hard physical labor, repurposing, creating and constant improvements to the Farm. 

Back to the question at hand. How do we have time to do all this? 

Everyone has the same 24 hours a day. It is all in how you choose to spend your 24 hours. It is important to us to build this hobby farm into a viable business, so we make decisions about our time accordingly. 

Sometimes it comes down to planning. What thing can be accomplished in the 15 minutes before signing on to the computer for work?  It only takes a minute to pour leftover apple cider into a jar and cover it with cheesecloth to make vinegar. Maybe 30 seconds more to add a bit of mother from a previous batch.

We try to break down projects into manageable tasks. Preparing for new package bees requires location preparation, hive box building, setting up the new hive and preparing a starter batch of two gallons of syrup per hive. All of that happens before the bees actually arrive. These steps have been in progress for over two months with each step wedged in whenever time allows.

Lists are key. When life gets busy there is typically a to-do list on the kitchen counter. Either of us who has a spare moment will check the list and take care of a task that will fit into that moment. This keeps us focused and gives a sense of achievement when we can scratch through the final task on a list.

So it really is a matter of choices, planning and hard work. We look for efficiencies to maximize our time and effort, but there is no shortcut to doing a job well.  

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