By Axie Barclay
Abandon resilience, all ye who enter here.
–Badly paraphrased from Dante’s Inferno
Step 1. Drink a shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, but before completing task get distracted by Facebook alert from SmartPhone. Aww kittens.
Step 2. Load audio book on iPod and attach to belt. Spend fifteen minutes wandering around house unable to find belt. Suddenly realize it’s holding up your pants.
Step 3. Put on shoes and go outside.
Step 4. Go back in house, take off shoes, and pick up forgotten baby out of his Pack ‘N’ Play.
Step 5. Put shoes back on and go outside. Strap baby in stroller.
Step 6. Go back in house with baby to see to poopy diaper. Change baby, feed baby, take twenty minutes to breast pump, change baby again, try to remember where iPod went, grab bottle of water and baby.
Step 7. Put baby in stroller and go back in house for sunglasses, hat, and shoes.
Step 8. Go back outside and remember you forgot iPod.
Step 9. Glance longingly at bottle of Fireball.
Step 10. Find iPod underneath coffeepot.
Step 11. Off to pasture!
Step 12. Back to house to change wet diaper, because you weren’t bright enough to throw extra diapers in the stroller.
Step 13. Repeat steps 6-9.
Step 14. Fight with baby about keeping his hat and sunglasses on.
Step 15. Admit defeat by a drooling twenty-pound dictator.
Step 16. Back out to pasture.
Step 17. Remember you forgot to turn the fencer off as soon as you lay your hand on the electric fence. Curse loudly and shake hand to dispel pain. Glare at baby, who laughs at your misery.
Step 18. Think longingly about drinking a glass of red wine on a veranda in southern California. Or anywhere but here really.
Step 19. Push stroller (complete with chronic flat tire) back through tall grass to go unplug fencer.
Step 20. Back out on pasture, (fence off), determine where to start tearing down fence.
Step 21. Push stroller across rutted, cow-pocked, uneven, hilly ground and narrowly prevent a runway downhill before arriving on the opposite hilltop puffing and blowing, and realize you left your water bottle on the counter.
Step 22. Check phone and realize its 88 degrees outside with high humidity.
Step 23. Curse self over forgotten water bottle.
Step 24. Unhook reel and begin rolling up temporary wire.
Step 25. Let baby fuss.
Step 26. Jog (uphill) back to baby, pulling stubborn step-in fence posts as you go. (Remember to pull with your legs, not your healing C-section incision. The Spousal-Type Creature has sworn he never needs to see inside you ever again.)
Step 27. Balance step-in posts on the umbrella rack on jogging stroller. Gingerly roll down to reel. Work way across field.
Step 28. Spend five minutes rocking and jerking on a well-sunk steel post that shows no sign of giving it up and being pulled out of the ground. Sweat profusely.
Step 29. Kick steel post and curse roundly.
Step 30. Curse again when baby moves from making the “da da da” sound to “ffffffffff.”
Step 31. Kiss mother of the year award goodbye (not that you had an ice cube’s chance anyway…)
Step 32. Leave steel posts for STC to pull later. Goad him away from TV with promises of nudity.
Step 33. Let mouth water over distant memory of mango margaritas.
Step 34. Try to attach rolled up reel to stroller. Fail miserably.
Step 35. Carry reel in one hand and push stroller with one flat tire that veers largely to the left with the other hand the quarter mile back uphill to the barn to drop this section of fencing.
Step 36. Drop reel, which unravels, and try to rock stroller back and forth with one foot to keep baby calm with the illusion of movement while trying to untangle the F^&@ing mess with two hands and your teeth.
Step 37. As baby’s distress of not moving escalates, swear to self never to have naked games with his father ever again.
Step 38. Finally make it to the barn. Whoo hoo!
Step 39. Push arrested stroller back out to pasture to roll up second fence line.
Step 40. Wonder how the hell women did all this crap before mechanization.
Step 41. Realize one roll of temporary fence must be rolled up by hand (think big unwound ball of string). Roll spool to one fence post, doing your best not to pinch your fingers and fail at this, then stop, pull post, jog back to crying baby, roll stroller to where stopped with spool.
Step 42. Repeat for length of field. (Never knew an acre could be that long, did you?)
Step 43. Realize you have no idea what’s going on in your audiobook.
Oh, who cares? Go have a beer. You earned it. Right after you change that wet diaper, get the kid his roasted summer squash so he quits crying, unload and load the dishwasher, sweep the floors, take out the trash, put the chickens in for the night, spin the compost, set up coffee for the morning, measure bottles for the babysitter the next day, take a shower, brush your teeth, feed the dog, pump about four times in there, get the baby to sleep, finish canning cinnamon pickles, and write a book review.
Never mind about the beer. By now, you’re asleep sitting up with the breast pump on. Sweet dreams.
Axie Barclay is a Michigan writer with a cow-habit. Having discovered the joys and potential for growth inalternative agriculture, she quests ever longer and harder for ways to combine farming and writing into a business. When not milking cows, making disgruntled noises at the latest disgusting thing the heeler dogs dredge up, riding horses, or keeping the fence up around her small beef herd, she’s holed up reading an eclectic array of books or tapping out pages. When not working, she enjoys kicking back with her honey, family, and friends at a bonfire with some beers. Chat her up on Twitter and Facebook, /axieb, or http://barclayfarmsandlit.blogspot.com where she delves into literature and agriculture with a relish… and occasionally ketchup. Soon to be homemade.