Friday, January 20, 2017

Got to Have a System

In the chaos of self-employment you need to have a system. There isn't a boss waiting for me to show up at my desk at 8AM anymore. There's just me. Now my boss is the list of obligations, farm animals, bills, clients, and work ahead. I have said it before - I gave up one steady job I hated for 37 unsteady ones I adore. It's a mixed bag.

Working for yourself means having the ability to blow off a day and just go horseback riding or running - but that rarely happens, almost never in winter when stress and expenses are so much higher on this farm. I think the reason I love summer so much is the heat is free. I am not attached to a wood stove's maw or worried about not being home for 4 hours. The truck runs better in warm weather, too. I hay to bring in hay and firewood, extra calories in the form of feed, and figure out how to deal with ice, rain, bad roofs, etc. I am at war with winter. Summer really is paradise and fall is the fireworks before the darker months. Anyway - ponies and running shoes are not as common a blow off as 67 degree mornings. Mostly because I don't have the ability to enjoy those things when my time is needed elsewhere. So there is a system of literal lists I write every morning Monday - Friday. They are split up into Farm/House/Work/Me and as silly as that sounds - that list it is my real boss.

The Farm portion is a list of all the animals and their needs. Every animal is on it; from feeding loud cats to bringing in Aya for weighing and notes. Between cat chow and hawks there are sheep to deliver second cut hay to, a horse to feed and observe, and geese honking as I do both. There are *hopefully* pregnant dairy goats to fork hay over to and check their water's level and freezing. There are five growing hogs to break fasts, chickens to get corn to, and dogs that demand calories for their work as my all-around farmhands. Most mornings they get fried eggs and a peanut butter biscuit. Friday is starting heat right now so that adds a list of diaper duty for her and keeping Gibson away from her swimsuit area. Fun! Anyway, the animals come first. Once these chores are done I get to check off about 8-10 items off my list. It makes me feel like I am already accomplishing something and being productive.

Inside the farmhouse is another set of To-Dos. There is coffee to start, a fire to light, and weird chores suited to just this house in her current state of scrappy. There are plumbing issues I can't afford to fix right now so I need to bail out gray water from a drainage tub I set up in the mudroom. There is also the everyday tasks of basic cleanliness. I live alone, but make my bed every single morning. This is less about proper living and more of a habit/morale boost. Like brushing your teeth or putting on eyeliner before going out in public - it's just the right thing to do. Surface cleanliness is my religion. One time a writer friend came by and looked around at my house - asking if I straightened up just for him. He meant the odd knickknacks arranged on bookshelves, just-mopped floors, and perceived order of the place. (I was grateful he didn't the place basically needs to be hosed down with bleach.) But it is all just polishing a first impression. Open a drawer or closet and see the real mess. This is also true about my brain. Outside you see some decent eye makeup and a 3-inch heel on my riding boots but inside it is just a clutter of anxiety, excitement, and ruthless optimism bordering on crazy.

I consider the farm part of my job, but when I say "work" I mean writing/design/illustration gigs. The stuff people have paid me money to do. My bare-bones level of clients to work on every day is 3. So far today I've already hit that and it isn't even lunch (which is why I am blogging now and yes I will add blog post to my work list and then check it off, thank you). It took watching four episodes of The Good Place while coloring in an Alberta client's mare and inking her mane strand by strand - but I got it done while thoroughly enjoying Kristen Bell. Not a bad morning.

Now the part of the day I really have to work at: me. This is when I get up from the computer and go for a run, do yoga, meditate, read a book. It's basically break time from animals, changing sheets, and computers. I won't be watching the news today, but I will be checking in with Twitter - which has been a life saver this past year. If you want to see daily photos of the farm - follow me there. I don't do much farm updates on Facebook anymore. I have learned that Twitter is more of a coffee house of like minds and shared ideas and Facebook is more of a Thanksgiving dinner in which everyone is disappointed in me at different levels. @coldantlerfarm

If I get all these lists checked off by early afternoon I go hunting with Aya Cash. Just being out in the woods for an hour or two - hiking and seeing her follow me high in the trees above is meditation in itself. I can't listen to audiobooks or podcasts. There isn't a computer screen playing Pitch Perfect or Braveheart for the 3000th time.  There is just the sounds of her wings whistling though cloven air as she comes back to me. There is just the self doubt and fear in my head. There is just the hope that seems louder, and therefore more real that keeps me going.

A gal has got to have a system.


Blogger Maria said...

It sounds like a pretty good system to me Jenna - and you are wise to have 'you' as one of the lists. You know that now, but think back and imagine - would you have had such a list as a 24 year old? I sure as heck would not have.

Love reading about your day, as always. I'm interested to read about the multitasking you do - watching TV while drawing. I don't think my brain works like that, but then I'm not a painter/artist in the first place...

January 20, 2017 at 3:10 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

24 year old me WOULD not have a list.

Well, the TV is on or a movie is playing - but anything I am watching while designing/working isn't getting my full attention (apologies, Megan Amram). I can't watch stuff and write. I can't watch stuff and draw either - but I can have it playing in the background while I draw and get an audiobook version of parts of the show. It calms me down and helps me keep track of time - like 4 episodes of The Good Place on Hulu is about 2 hours in their extended versions there. I try to sit and work indoors 4-6 hours a day. 3 more clients to work on and check with this afternoon post hunting.

January 20, 2017 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

WOULD NOT have a list* I have no idea why WOULD is only capitalized. I am not an editor.

January 20, 2017 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I hear ya girl. My day rolls out in a bit of a different order because the kids come before the animals but it's basically the same. I stop in here and at other blogs to feel validated by all the work I get done in a day. I'm not alone and neither are you! I hope the graphic work starts to roll in for you. Have a productive weekend! Mine will consist of cleaning out horse stalls and a shit tonne of laundry and probably sweeping up the hair of 2 dogs and a cat for the umpteenth million time. Cheers!

January 20, 2017 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger Christina S said...

My husband always has to have sound when he is working, eating, or doing anything for that matter...he always has the TV on, but never really watches it ;). It calms him down as well.

January 24, 2017 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Girl, I just stumbled upon your blog and am never leaving. Much love from your kindred farm-living, freelancing, femming spirit in rural Northwest Missouri. I feel like I found a home on your blog and am so thankful! Keep up the wonderful work! Back to my lists ...

January 25, 2017 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger DeDe said...

Think you will have some workshops this year? I would love to learn to play the fiddle. :)

January 26, 2017 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger JKB said...

You ok over there?

January 29, 2017 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I like reading about your day. Thank you for sharing.

- Gustavo Woltmann

February 3, 2017 at 11:32 AM  

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