gwen petersen
Big timber, mont.

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April 22, 2014
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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 4-21-14

As people (with money) pour out of the Cities and go Out West seeking that perfect chunk of land made just for them, they’re often confronted with tasks they don’t understand. City folk who want to metamorphose (not a dirty word) into Country folk are in dire need of pertinent instruction in the Art of Choring. I’m happy to help.

Chores: A term that means tasks, jobs, responsibilities, activities and duties necessary to sustain life.

Chores do not allow time off just because it’s Sunday or because it’s too hot, too cold or too tedious. You can be slightly flexible — start the jobs an hour earlier or an hour later. If you break something such as a leg or an arm, you still have to do chores. (Hint: To keep hay and grain dust from creeping inside the cast and itching like crazy, wrap the open cast ends surrounding the damaged limb in plastic — but it’ll still itch like crazy).

Though relief from doing chores is not an option, there are certain assists that have developed over the years that can offer relief to the chore person charged with doing odious tasks — especially a woman — at least temporarily. Such as having children. For example: A woman can opt out of chores for a day or two just by going to the hospital to give birth. If she is clever, she can go into false labor a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, thereby enjoying several days of rest and relaxation. (Advice: Take along favorite reading material and remember to moan whenever a Doctor or spouse is near).

If child bearing is not an option or a preference or if one is of the male persuasion, there’s the Tom Sawyer gambit. You can invite a friend to loan kids (if they’re old enough to handle shovels) to clean the chicken house. Promise rides on tractor, or a horse or a chance to drive the pickup. This ploy can get the chicken house shoveled out, but usually only once. After that, the youngsters demand cash and Obama Care.

Assistance for the corral-cleaning chore is usually easier to obtain. Locate a teen-age girl who’s wild about horses but has no equine of her own. Promise her use of Old Dobbin in exchange for shoveling out corral and barn, and that chore will be taken care of for at least a summer. By next year, she’ll have acquired her own beloved riding steed. Sometimes the corral-cleaning can be parlayed into another summer of corral and barn upkeep in exchange for letting Miss Teen pasture her beloved equine on your property. The added perk here is that often she brings a girl-friend or two along who will help with the mucking out. It’s wise to make sure to have extra shovels and rakes handy.

A similar approach to chores can be employed in the elimination of pesky varmints (the ones that are not on some endangered list). If a pasture is over-run with gophers, find a reliable teen-age boy and let him target-practice. Like the chore-girl in the barn, the chore-boy in the pasture will likely have a buddy only too glad to practice marksmanship.

Space limitation prevents a complete summary of country chore requirements, but here is a final hint to those City Folk who want to become Country Folk: Like getting dressed every day, nobody notices what goes into keeping up with chores unless they’re left undone or you show up naked. ❖


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The Fence Post Updated Apr 17, 2014 09:29AM Published Apr 28, 2014 02:43PM Copyright 2014 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.