Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Draining the Bunk

In 48 hours we have gone from a purebred cattle operation to a full-blown mud ranch. 

It really is amazing what 3+ inches of rain can do to a place in such a short amount of time. Nothing looks pleasant, everything is brown, and everyone moves slower than normal – humans included.

The mud doesn’t bother the kids, of course, until they’re face down in it. Otherwise, they appreciate puddles and endless brown paints to smear on the side of vehicles. 

I buckled them into the Kubota last evening to do chores and began filling buckets of feed from the bin. Because of the depth of the mud, I opted to carry buckets everywhere rather than attempt to drive an ATV through it. I let the kids know I was going to start carrying buckets and they could watch but they were not to go anywhere. This instruction was easier before Caroline learned how to undo seatbelts on her and her brother. 

I got about twenty yards into a lot when the mud got really bad; soupy, deep, bad. My pace slowed as every step was harder to lift my leg out of. I suddenly heard a strange noise coming from back in the barn lot. I stopped in my tracks and listened – it was Caroline, but what was she screaming?

“Gooooo Mommy! Don’t get your feet stuck!” Over and over again. I had my own personal cheerleader for MudFest 2020. That somehow made me stronger. 

Fifteen minutes later we moved over to the next lot where we feed our steers. I began carrying the buckets to the metal feed bunk and arrived to find it had standing water in it. The drain holes on each end of the bunk were plugged by sediment; remnants of feed, hay chaff, or mud that one of the stock had flipped into the feeder. I removed my glove and ran my hand along the inside of the bunk, finding the plugged hole. As soon as I cleared the blockage, brown water began draining from the bunk. The rain was still coming down steadily while I was draining this water, but I wanted to ensure it drained completely before putting anymore feed into the wet bunk, as cattle don’t like to drink their dinner. I stood in the rain and let it unload while the kids watched from afar. 

In those long minutes (maybe four, but it felt much longer), I thought about the things that take up space in life that need to go away so something better can fill it. 

Our house, especially after the holidays, has become a point of stress for me. Because I have a terribly hard time tossing anything related to our children, we now have double the toys any two kids could play with. We have books we haven’t read in months, but I can’t toss them because they bring back a special memory of two sets of footie pajamas on my exhausted lap. We have art brought home from Sunday school where Jesus’ head is missing because someone was curious and teething, and I cannot put that piece of paper in the trash. Don’t get me started on tiny tractors with only two tires remaining.

Then I thought about how I spend my time. I should probably cut out Facebook, but then how would I know what my second cousin twice removed had for supper? I should probably cut out Pinterest, but then how would I find hundreds of recipes for the four open containers of dry mustard I have in my kitchen cupboard?

What about you? 

Is there anything in your life, filling so much space or your precious time, that the things that bring you peace can’t fit in? Maybe it is clutter, knick-knacks you never even dust, clothes you’ve not worn in a year, or shoes that hurt your feet. Maybe it is time-wasters such as apps that consume your time and attention, taking you away from life happening right in front of you. Or perhaps, even, it is simply people who drain you, rather than fill you up. 

It’s ok to pull the plug on anything that is filling your bunk that shouldn’t be there. Could now be the time to finally make room for what truly belongs?

Of course, I pen this with a stack of Country Living magazines dating back to 2016, the year I had Caroline. I have saved them with great intention to “get back to them when things slow down.” 

When I have more time. 

Who am I kidding? I’m writing a newspaper column from a cattle pen in the pouring rain.  

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