Flexibility is the Key



Most of my readers are probably familiar with the cartoon and movie character Gumby, the little green man who can contort himself into various poses. He’s a good mascot for the ranch wife, who needs not only multiple skills but the flexibility of a yoga guru. It’s not just the interruptions — which can certainly create an ever-changing daily to-do list — but the need for mental as well as physical flexibility. Many of these physical and mental gyrations are weather-related. The original plan might have been to plant the tomato transplants, but yesterday’s thunderstorms have left the soil too wet to work. Wet weather means it’s much easier to pull weeds, however, so you pull weeds instead. The seedling tomatoes and peppers are currently on a cart so I can move them into the ideal sunspots during the day and into the wash-house at night if the temperatures drop below 50 degrees, so I have to keep a close eye on the sun to make sure they get moved as necessary. We even had one night with a low temp of 30 degrees, which is highly unusual around here in late May. My seedlings did OK, partly because they were very small. My daughter’s, which were big, robust store-bought seedlings that someone gave her, looked pretty ragged and may not make it.


Some of these mental gyrations occur as you go through a planning session. By the way, the term planning sessions is much too formal for the reality of what we do, which can be anything from an uninterrupted 45 minutes of discussion as we ride to town for our weekly errand trip to a fast reversal of plans on the way down to feed when we realize that the “possible thunderstorm” is almost overhead and the tarp has blown off the haystack. Other abrupt changes in direction can occur because you look at an animal and realize it’s suddenly very sick. And a few occur because you’ve misjudged how long it will take the yearling bull to get through the gate before you can close it or to get out of the way of an irate gander protecting his nesting mate. The latter tend to include physical gyrations as well — often at high speed…


One morning planning session included the subject of the pig we needed to butcher for our annual pig feed (we roast a half or whole pig over an open pit and invite friends and relatives to share). A pig should hang for several days to a week after it’s killed before you butcher or cook it. The weather wishers were predicting night temps in the fifties and day temps in the 70s and 80s, neither of which is conducive to hanging a pig as the risk of spoilage is too high. So I added cleaning out our old refrigerator to my list so we could put the pig in cold storage until we barbequed. On Sunday, after the pig feed, we butchered the other half for fresh pork.


Or take the other day, when laundry was high on my list, but hubby was working on the tractor. I got one load done before I was needed to help try and start the tractor while he stood on his head to reach over the loader arm and choke it manually (the choke handle was broken, which was why we were trying to fix the blasted thing in the first place). By the time he decided other strategies were required, I had time to do one more load before it got too dark to hang out clothes on the line.


I just take it as a given that no matter what my to-do list says, I am going to add and subtract as necessary depending on the day’s need for Gumbyness.



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