Friday, April 22, 2011

Horse Work vs. House Work

As I said to a friend few days ago, there is not much difference between inside my house and outside my house. My house is an old farm house where the line between farm and house is most definitely smeary. Here are my excuses for not keeping up with the house work: 19 horses, 7 ducks, 2 cats, 1 St. Bernard (so a dog and a half), 1 rabbit and one small boy. Divide all of that by one harried Mom/horse trainer/riding instructor/cook/secretary/barn manager/chauffeur/ballroom dancer/blog writer/groundskeeper/maintenance person and that equals: not a clean house.

It's a hectic life for sure but there's no way I could give up the horses. Horses have been a passion since I can remember and according to my baby book, before that even. I feel like I was meant to ride horses. I do not feel I was meant to clean counter-tops.

There is never a moment when I wish I wasn't a Mom. Not ever. That small boy is every cliche in the book to me. My heart and soul, light of my life, reason for being... and so on. He brings me joy like nothing else on this Earth. He also brings me flowers, pretty rocks he finds, old bits of pottery and shells he's dug up in the garden, interesting bugs, special sticks and anything else he considers treasure.

The dancing, I took up almost 4 years ago on a whim when I felt like I needed to do something different. Something that would challenge me in a new way, something that had nothing to do with horses (or so I thought... turns out, it was very much like riding) and would allow me to feel like a girl for a little while.

As for the rest of it - pfffft.

Notice that no where in that job description does it say maid or business person. That is simply because I fail miserably in both disciplines. It's not that I don't want to live in a clean house. I sigh longingly over photos of clutter-free, horse hair-free, dirt and rubble-free homes in magazines. When ever the wistful feeling gets too over-powering, I remind myself that no one lives in those homes in those photos. Well, maybe someone does, but that someone certainly doesn't have an Old McDonald song's worth of inhabitants wreaking havoc, spewing hair and dirt and some unmentionable substances, in all directions as they go about their lives.

If I spend an appropriate amount of time in the house trying to make order of things, then the barn is neglected. If I spend time in the barn or yard taking care of the aesthetics out there, then the house deteriorates faster than an Oreo dissolves in a glass of milk (and then spills on the carpet, as would be the case in my house).

Don't even get me started on the laundry! Judging by the pile of it, I certainly haven't gotten started on it in a long time. Not only am I doing my laundry, but also laundry for the small boy whose clothes attract soil, and also for 8 of the 19 horses. Thank goodness the other 11 don't belong to me and only board here. I wouldn't mind doing laundry, or any of the other mundane chores, if they would just stay done! As soon as I think of gloating about my conquering the bulging clothes hamper, it spontaneously refills, not unlike the rising of the Phoenix out of the ashes. Except in this case, it's not a magnificent bird with plumage that would put Monty Python's parrot to shame, but a mass of horse blankets, polowraps, jeans and small boy sized underpants that rise up from the nest-like basket.

I think that's why, for me, the vacuuming is the least of the evils of housework. When I vacuum up the dirt, it's gone. Done. The dirt doesn't require, after vacuuming, that I fold it, put it in the cupboard, or file it. It is just gone. Laundry, dishes and paperwork are never done. They are just at different phases in a cycle.

My approach to tidying up consists of piling. There are strategic piles of stuff in various stages of done-ness around the house and barn. Occasionally, a pile is re-organized or re-located but it still exists in some form.

I have grand aspirations to running one of those neat as a pin stables or having a house that is delightfully clutter-free, but they remain fanciful daydreams. As much as the animals and the small boy add to the problem, I'd never, ever trade them in for a chance at a magazine page home. It may mean never inviting people in to my house due to the embarrassment of my living conditions and the fact that said guest may fall into one of my piles (or filing systems as I prefer to call them) and never be found.

It is difficult trying to keep the stable organized and get all the horses and riders trained too. If I take the time needed to have the barn ship-shape, then the horses start collecting barnacles. If I get the horses ridden, the barn chores start piling up. So I've had to come up with a system. Priority status goes to anything who's life becomes endangered if I don't take action. After that comes everything else.

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