Small tasks

"Girl Sweeping," by William  McGregor Paxton, 1912.  (Sadly, many of the painters seemed to have lacked any imagination whatsoever when naming their work.

“Girl Sweeping,” by William McGregor Paxton, 1912.                                       (Sadly, many of the painters seemed to have lacked any imagination whatsoever when naming their work. I would suggest, “Was it wrong to put mouse droppings in Gerald’s shoes? It was he fifty fourth time they weren’t put away this month, but maybe he’s trying I can’t see it. Maybe I’ll tell him where I keep the cookies . . .  but it’s awfully hard to keep up if he knows where they are. Dear me.” to be a much more interesting title.)


Yesterdays sorrows and triumphs were small. With all the farm work recently, the house has been sorely neglected. A missing book loaned by a friend (who had herself borrowed it from a library), tipped the scales to desperation and I hit the sorting and cleaning with a will. Everywhere I turned things needed doing. Some discoveries were too terrifying to detail.  – Let’s just say that the night I was sure I smelled toilet like items originating from a cat and then decided it was all in my head, well, I was right the first time. –  I vacuumed, mopped, cleaned bathrooms, culled bookshelves and went through almost endless piles of papers.

For other small triumphs, all twelve lambs are doing great. The bottle guys are down to three feedings a day, soon to be two. All of them are energetic and growing like weeds. Speaking of which, the lowly pricker bush is our big winner this year, bested in number by the dandelion, but hated so much more deeply that it wins for worst weed thus far.

In poultry, the meat chicks are also doing well. Three more weeks before their life insurance plans run out. Unfortunately, we have a wounded chicken from the layers. I haven’t figured out what happened yet. The skin underneath her was torn by something. Recovery does not seem possible. Madam is on the porch in a blue tub where the other chickens won’t bother her and we are keeping her hydrated. Sprouts from the desert wildflower seeds are hopefully providing a bit of ambiance on the table beside her. As well, we have the candles and a cross on the doughboy by the couch for when the porch serves as our makeshift family chapel, so really, Madam should have everything she needs for this life and the next.

But back to house sorting . . . after seven hours of taking things from where they were and putting them where they go, the book was found! I had already given up, deciding that a donation to the library was preferable to further fruitless searching, when lo and behold, it’s little green cover appeared.  An inordinate amount of satisfaction rose up in me and smugly remained. I laughed at myself but the laughter did not diminish contentment even slightly. Some days the simple things suffice.

Helen Keller described my life at present pretty well.

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.


Thank you, Ms. Keller.







4 Comments to Small tasks

  1. claudia says:

    I am glad to hear we are not the only ones who misplace library books, which becomes a reason to clean the whole house!
    I am very happy your lambs are doing well!

  2. Leslie Lynch says:

    There must have been something in the air. I attacked the stack of overflowing paper that had taken over the dining room table, part of the kitchen counter, and half of the island where we usually eat (hence, the covered dining room table). It is not all put away yet, but I can now draw a breath when I walk in the door. This is a good thing.

    Glad you found the library book, and glad the lambs are doing so well. :-)

  3. dad says:

    OK I’ll join in. Yesterday and the day before and today are paper and administrative days at my house too!

    I’m reminded of the Wendell Berry’s three line poem titled:

    Suppose we did our work
    like the snow, quietly, quietly,
    leaving nothing out.

    I guess that’s the ideal… That is a distant peak for me.. maybe I’ll get it all done today. Maybe not. Thanks