Written by Lydia Benedict.

I never used to be a procrastinator. I got my school assignments done as soon as possible. I studied for tests weeks in advance. And my Christmas cards went out the day after Thanksgiving. Then I had children and moved to a farm. Now I am the caretaker of 20 acres in the Shenandoah Valley. When we bought it, the property was unkempt; no one had lived there in about ten years. Brush had overtaken much of the landscape. The bushes around the house were so big that it hid parts of the house. And poison ivy was growing up the house. Add to this work animals and gardens and the conviction to home school, and now instead of getting things done as soon as possible, I get them done as late as possible. Sometimes I don't get it done at all. I no longer consider procrastination substandard, but instead—necessary. Procrastination is a survival skill.

Our property

And fall is as busy as ever. There are still tomatoes to pick and put back, potatoes and sweet potatoes to dig up,

Digging sweet potatoes

apples and crabapples to pick,

and garlic to plant.

The next garlic crop

There are old vegetable plants to pull out and compost, stakes to be removed and stacked, and a final weeding before the beds are ready for winter. A cover crop would be ideal, but I never get that far. And I still need to mulch my carrots and beets with a thick layer of straw.

On top of that, there are acres of recently excavated landscape that requires seed and straw plus temporary fencing to keep the guinea hens from eating the grass seed.

Newly seeded landscape

Of course we don't clean up all the fall leaves, but raking just around the house takes days. And there are always the chickens that need to be moved to fresh pasture

and firewood to stack.

Jeff splitting firewood

And that's just the outside work.

Inside work includes juicing the crabapples and making jelly out of the juice. I need to make applesauce. I purposely cut back on how much I planted this past season knowing that I would be tied up starting a new business. For example, I only planted three cucumber plants. I figured it would be just enough for fresh eating. In addition to eating cucumbers at every meal for months, I also made 33 pints of bread and butter pickles. From my tomato plants, I only did 14 quarts of stewed tomatoes and froze another half dozen pints of diced tomatoes. I made six pints of salsa and nine quarts of spaghetti sauce. And I tried something new with my zucchini: relish. I've made enough jams and jellies this year to last us several years: 15 pints of crabapple jelly, 19 pints of grape jelly, 38 pints of raspberry jam, and more than 50 pints (I lost count) of peach-basil jam. And I still have gallons of pureed strawberries in my freezer to turn into strawberry jam.

2014 Canning

Plus I'm still selling ice cream. Just since my last blog, I've covered four festivals. The only weekend I skipped a festival was the one we spent moving my sister-in-law. Instead I spent that day moving. We took truckloads of beds, dressers, and much more from our home to help her and her children get a fresh start. I still haven't got the house put back together because—well—it can wait.

Likewise, my blog typically has to wait. Often I barely squeeze my blog out before another month ends. And it usually requires me to neglect things like sleep. I now freely admit: I am a procrastinator. If it can wait, then it must...because there are at least a dozen and a half things on any given day that can't.


0 #1 Joanne 2014-11-08 12:23
You are so fun and funny! Thank you for sharing farm life in a family in this day and time. My Father's family had a dairy farm for generations in East Lyme Connecticut before I95 was put in. The land as taken against the will of my Grandparents, Federal Government did it legally, Eminent Domain they called it. I call it stealing, but there you have it. You remember Flanders Four Corners? That was the main throughway and all that land was my ancestors til the esly 1949s.