Thursday, May 10, 2018

Something's Gotta Give

I cleaned out the chicken coop the other day.
And you're wondering why that's worthy of an opening sentence. You're thinking, Whoopee?

You're thinking right. Whoopee! I cleaned out the chicken coop! I don't remember the last time I did that but it's at least two years ago, maybe even three.
That's a long time to go without doing something you enjoy. And yes, I do enjoy cleaning out the chicken coop; it's part of what I love about my life in the country life.
But I'm not feeling as countrified as I once was. I'm feeling lopsided these days, too heavy on the Sara the Writer, and not enough of Sara the Country Girl.

"You're busy writing, I'll take care of it," he would say when I was writing Field Notes and writing weekly sermons for church, and as time went on, I did less and less, while he did more and more. He'd let the chickens out in the morning then collect the eggs and close them up. He'd feed the cats and dogs supper, then he took over breakfast. He planted trees by himself, he raked out my gardens in the spring.
Which was great for Sara the Writer but Sara the Country Girl became lost in the process.
 Even last year's "Summer of the Horse" was as much a part of Sara the Writer's work as it was part of Sara the Country Girl's life. Once the winter rolled around, and I started writing a novel, and without a horse of my own to care for, I stopped going to the barn, I stopped shovelling shit, I stopped riding.
Sara the Writer was too busy.

Realizing this meant having a serious conversation recently with my husband while sitting on a pile of freshly hewed posts. All winter, he'd been planning a major project and had just started collecting materials for it, but I'd been thinking hard for a couple of days and had screwed up the courage to question this project.
"Should we really be building a barn and getting animals?" I asked him.
He looked at me. "I've been wondering the same thing."

His doubts came from his chronic pain and worrying about being able to finish the job. My doubts -- oh, how I hated to doubt this -- came from knowing that Sara the Writer wasn't going to get any less busy. Getting animals was something we wanted to do together, and it was a commitment that needed both of us, but in all honesty, my husband could no longer count on Sara the Country Girl.
I mean, he'd done all the planning, he was doing all the work of getting the boards and beams and trusses, he was vetoing every animal I said I wanted (what on earth does the man have against llamas??). It was going to be his barn, and both of us knew that wasn't what we wanted. Just like building a chicken coop and getting chickens, this needed to be done together. I wouldn't want to miss out on anything, and I couldn't expect my husband to shoulder the entire load of my dream of having animals. Did I have time for the learning curve that would be keeping farm animals?

I can't believe I'm saying this but we scrapped the idea. No barn, no goats, no pig, no miniature horse. We both felt equal parts relief and disappointment.
Ten years ago, eight, even five years ago, we could have done the barn and the animals -- but too much has changed. Building a barn and filling it with critters who need far more daily care than chickens is a full-time commitment and although our hearts want it, our brains know it's no longer feasible. If we're going to wing it, we're better off with birds. We've decided to add some guinea hens and some ducks to our flock of feathered friends.
And I really do believe that if I can't have a llama, I should be able to get a peacock.

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