More surprising benefits from life getting in the way.


11 tons corn overflow








It has been an interesting two weeks for me. In my post “Surprising benefits when life gets in the way“, I wrote about helping my neighbours with their corn harvest. Murphy’s law came into play so that the start of my brief return to farming coincided with Sue’s departure overseas to visit family and friends.

The combined assault of days away from home and taking on the duties of chief cat herder, cook and dishwasher, on my previously well-ordered life could have been extremely stressful and was for the first few days until I got into a routine.

Unseasonally good weather for combining meant that the anticipated few hours a day for a few days a week became up to 11 hours a day for 5 days each week. Wonderful for getting the harvest done quickly, but it created havoc with my own work.

Despite getting up at 5 every morning and working until 11 most evenings, my writing work suffered. Posts on this and my other blog became less frequent than they should have been. I hardly touched social media and a few other projects had to be put on hold.

But I had given a commitment and I stuck to it. We finished at 6 pm on Friday.

It was interesting in other ways too. Despite walking 3 km (2 miles) most mornings for many months, riding my horse regularly, cutting and splitting wood, I found being on my feet and moving around equipment all day tiring on the legs. Apart from spending 2 or 3 hours a day outside in spring, I have been working at my desk for the last 2 years since my heart attack.

The good side to that was that I lost about 8 lbs of weight which I had been trying hard to shed. I also found that apart from the tired legs, I managed the physical activity well. That was reassuring as a heart attack survivor.

Another benefit was accepting that my commitment meant that some other things would not get done and not worrying about it. One of the advantages of being a baby boomer I find is that we can be more selective with what we worry about.

We had a few setbacks and interruptions during the 2 weeks,

A miscalculation (not mine) caused a silo to overflow so 11 tons of corn ended up on the ground. Some lower quality corn clogged up pipes and jammed elevators. A driver reversed a truck into an electricity pole stay wire which snapped, shorted out the transformer and caused a power outage for a couple of hours.

Rain at night got into an electrical panel and burned out some switch gear, trucks and tractors did not start. All normal stuff that happen on farms, but good reminders that things never go exactly as planned, that  we need to be flexible and find creative ways to overcome problems.

It was a good two weeks out of my normal environment, nice to experience farming activity again, have more face to face contact with different people and do something totally different.

I am glad that I gave, and stuck to my commitment, it helped me as much as my neighbours.

When Sue was planning her trip to Zimbabwe, I wondered what her thoughts would be when she got there. It is easy to reflect on “The Good Old Days”  through rose-tinted glasses when we have moved on to new places, adventures or, in our case, countries. We tend to remember the good parts and evade the realities of the bad. I wondered if Sue would have a yearning to return permanently.

On the phone today, she assured me that we could not possibly live there again. The deterioration and decay have been considerable since we left, roads with more potholes than asphalt, dirty, run down buildings, chaos every where. The once beautiful city of Salisbury reduced to the miserable shambles of Harare, just another dilapidated African city.

It is estimated that the White population is now only about 26 000, less than a small town in North America, down from nearly 400 000 in Rhodesian days. It is also one of the few countries in the world to experience an overall population decline.

A life expectancy below 40 years, unemployment, destruction of commercial agriculture, massive (and mainly illegal) emigration of Black Zimbabweans to South Africa and a brain drain of educated people overseas are all factors for this decline. It is estimated that 25 % of the pre 2000 population is now living outside the country.

There is nothing like experiencing chaos there to make us appreciate the stability here.

Wishing you success.

Peter Wright

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