Homestead Resolutions

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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I expect when it comes to making New Year’s resolutions I am not much different than most people. As I sit down and ponder them I’m conflicted because I’m aware that I won’t keep most or maybe any of them as I’m truly a creature of habit. Therefore if I didn’t keep them in past years I probably won’t keep them this year. My solution is to make a project list instead of a resolutions list. It may seem like semantics or psychological, but I manage to keep a project list when I know I won’t keep a list of resolutions!

Our homestead has numerous difficult tasks that must be done for us to survive and be safe. At the top of my “project” list is getting in our firewood for next winter. When we cut, haul, split and stack 9 to 11 cords of firewood I head immediately for my project list and cross it off…project completed for another year. Then I move on to my next project. I have made so many resolutions over the years and failed to follow through with them that I have lost count. Not so with a project list because I need that list to insure all prospective tasks are accomplished in a timely fashion.

On my past resolution list I would have put down to lose weight and that would last until the first sweet temptation came along. My good intentions would totally dissolve and I would justify more sweets with a litany of excuses to myself. As most people who have chosen to live on a remote homestead are aware of the physical effort is endless. That substitutes for going to a gym to work out or jogging to stay fit. A resolution excuse for me would therefore be “since I’m saving money by not having a gym membership I’ll buy ice cream and snacks.” My project list would instead read “avoid sweets and snacks.” Staying fit is not even an issue if I continue to make headway on a project list; instead it is a given due to the strenuous daily activity. I look at that project list often as a constant reminder to keep my focus on progressing and not missing or overlooking needed jobs. For some reason I manage to keep the project list but not when it’s a resolution! Perhaps because I can cross specific tasks off the list because I review that project list frequently and the resolution list is rarely reviewed. To me my project list is a check off list and my resolution list is a “suggestion” list as I perceive it.

Then there is the item on the project list to “clean the wood stove and chimney.” This is a dreaded project due to the height of the chimney and it is the dirtiest of all the projects I do. Putting it on a resolution list would probably be reason for me to not do the job. As a resolution I could rationalize doing it next year. When it is on the project list I take it in order and like it or not it gets done. Having a project list for me is a serious proposition. The resolution list would probably have another item like “be a better person.” I’m not sure why I ever put that down anyway because I try to be a good person so where is the challenge and what is the end goal? By whose standard do I measure anyway? If I look around I can always find a less than nice person so as long as I consider myself better than that person is that really a success? That standard just may take me in the wrong direction. That used to be a subjective item on my resolution list and did not require any effort. Instead I’ll just clean the chimney because I can then cross that task off the project list.

Each new year is also a new beginning and I have read all the suggestions on how to make a proper resolution list by being specific and containing achievable goals. Also to review it often but I never seemed to be able to do that hence my resolutions wouldn’t last but a couple of weeks. A good entry on my resolution list would be to have all the projects crossed off my project list by year end. But I already know that is needed so I don’t bother with a resolution list anyway. While many choose to make a resolution list I therefore prefer a project list of specific achievable projects that are clearly needed and truly demanding and offer some challenges.

A resolution list is supposed to make you happy and a better and healthier person. My project list easily accomplishes that for me. There is nothing more healthy than running a ‘back to basics’ homestead where I am tired at the end of the day because I have made visible and tangible accomplishments. I am healthy because of the physical demands and happy because I am healthy and can meet the rigorous demands of remote living. It is a satisfaction that can be measured on a daily basis and enjoyed fully. Come to think about it I never remember being happy over a resolutions list; only disappointed. Having completed a projects list does have a sense of completion and satisfaction and only when there are incomplete projects is there any disappointment.

If I were to make a resolution list (which I do not plan to do) it would include learning to type faster with two fingers since I recently crushed my finger tip that is needed to type the e, w, c, d keys. Doing this and other blogs is a real challenge without the use of that finger. I used to work with a man that could type faster with two fingers than I could using all of mine. My resolution would be to achieve his level of success.

My wish for readers is that the new year will bring you good health and much happiness by several successfully completed projects.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their homestead experiences go to their blog, McElmurray’s Mountain Retreat.

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