The Press of Work

Genovese Basil, just about ready for freezer pesto.

Genovese Basil, just about ready for freezer pesto.

One thing about being a ranch wife, you can never say you don’t have anything to do. Even in the so-called less busy season of winter, you’re still playing catch-up with all the things you put off during the planting/harvesting/food-preserving seasons. In addition to being a ranch wife, I’m a writer, so I have to write a minimum of 2,000 words a day to pay the bills. There are always daily chores that must be done no matter what, such as cooking, watering the garden, feeding animals, collecting eggs and (in summer and fall) irrigating. I suppose I should add dishes, laundry and housework to the daily stuff, but around here, those things always wind up on the bottom of the list and might get done only when I get a round tuit.

New daddy from the rent-a-bull man.

New daddy from the rent-a-bull man.

As an example, here’s what was on my list (in no particular order) a few days back:

• Harvest and dry basil
• Harvest basil for frozen pesto
• Harvest and dry goldenrod flowers for tincture
• Harvest the zucchini, some of which will grated for the freezer and some of which will be added to the eggplants I also need to harvest for ratatouille
• Water the young fruit trees
• Call the rent-a-bull guy about taking the bull back
• Move the hen and half-grown chicks to the chicken tractor
• Clean out the various dog crates and pens we’ve had broody hens and chicks in for the last couple of months
• Juice the rest of the apples
• Decant the vinegar into clean jars
• Ditto the fermented dill pickles
• Plant more fall crops
• Work with the yearling colt
• Bake a red velvet cake for my husband’s birthday
• Do three loads of laundry
• Clean out the wash house
• Fold clean clothes from the last three loads of laundry
• Pick up the house after the latest small fry invasion and return the debris they inevitably leave behind

Summer squash are always productive, but these babies outdid themselves this year.

Summer squash are always productive, but these babies outdid themselves this year.

Please note that about 80 percent of this stuff should be done within a day or so of going on the list. Otherwise the basil will start to flower and go to seed, the zucchini will move from baseball bat to fence post size (and the plant will stop producing). Now you see why housework goes to the bottom of the list – it can almost always wait. And then there’s the constant battle I wage with my weaker self, which is always whispering in my ear that I should just curl up with a good book…

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