Here’s another post from Digger! I think I’ve got him hooked on this blogging stuff.
According to Wikipedia “a gumption trap is an event or mindset that can cause a person to lose enthusiasm and become discouraged from starting or continuing a project.” I could go on at length in this subject as I’m painfully familiar with it, but I’m afraid the length and breadth of it as a whole would soon intimidate my intentions of sharing insight gleaned from experience, thus leading to boredom and disinterest on my part and ultimately leaving this draft saved but unfinished for years before finally being deleted. So why bring it up? Well…
I’m always fiddlin’ around with some new interest, and always have every intention of finishing whatever that particular interest might be. Far off in the back of my mind (where I don’t dare contemplate too deeply) there is a fond fantasy that someday I’ll start a project and work at it until it’s done without some distraction pulling me away. I really don’t mind being distracted for the most part given that it’s typically caused by friends or family either with a need, or simply seeking fellowship; but what it means in the end is that I generally have half a dozen projects laying around the place cluttering things up. Right now there’s a big hunk of aluminum on the lathe I’m trying to turn into a sanding disc for the shopsmith. (It’s made out of beer cans, but that’s another story) Yea,… It’s been there for about five weeks.
Last Saturday while I was working on it Grace came out and asked if I could make her a tool that would cut the core out of apple slices… It really only took a few minutes to grab one of those cheap (and dead) l.e.d. flashlights, chuck it up in the lathe to cut the ends off, and sharpen one end. No problem. The gumption trap came when I took the tool inside for her to use. She was drying the apple slices in the dehydrator and making applesauce, which of course I needed to taste test. (Oh man did it smell good!)
Now look,… What I’m about to say isn’t derogatory in the least; Grace and I are best friends and I’m honored to be spending my life with her,… BUT! When we are both at home it can be hard for either of us to stay focused on whatever task may be at hand. I have no idea what we talked about for an hour and a half that day, but we did. We can talk about anything! It could be the stupidist (is that a word?) subject in the world and we just chuckle and keep going. Typically this is great, but it has drawbacks. I remember one Saturday morning she came to me and sternly said; “You have to go to work today!”. There was a long pause while I just stared at her. I didn’t need to go to work that day. So then she said “I have too much to do; YOU have to leave.” And pointed at the door. I don’t exactly know what she meant to do with that day in particular, but I got the message and made myself scarce. (probably a bunch of cookin’ for some church function, a birthday barbeque, or some other thing such as the like. Frankly I can never keep up.) I get it, and so does she, and now you might begin to appreciate how easy it is to spring the gumption trap around here.
For most folks there’s a line between the things that need done, and the things we want done. When my wife gets involved that line gets kinda blurry. Take her chickens for example. We discussed raising chickens for a long time. She did all the research and decided on the breed she wanted, and I was good with all that. I kept telling her “when we have the facilities for chickens you can order them.” What does she do? Yea,… she goes right on ahead and orders them! It’s summer time; I’m busy trying to get as many jobs done as I can before another winter sets in, and we have no place for a bunch of chicks! (I don’t care how cute they are!) When she told me she’d gone ahead and done it, all I could do was laugh. I really didn’t want to hear that the only way we were ever going to get prepared for the little buggers was to have them on their way. I didn’t want to hear it because she was right. I hate that! This crafty little maneuver goes to show how familiar the Queen is with gumption traps as well.
To clarify her perspective: She’s been waiting for a mud room I’d promised to build on the end of our home since it was set up. “Before the snow flies,” I’d promised. That was seven years ago. (Thank you Lord for patient women!) We only have lawn because she said it was time we had a lawn. When she said it I looked at her and immediately realized that it really WAS time. Never mind the fact that it’s the first week in August. It’ll be fine. And it was; because I babysat that seedling grass for a week and a half! (BIG gumption trap!) But hey,… If you want to see grass seed germinate and grow in three days, just plant it when it’s over one hundred degrees outside. Oh, and keep it wet. Really, I mean that part.
This summer it was Cornish Cross meat chickens. Grace wanted them to be the right size for the girls to take to the fair, and this meant ordering them on the right date. I didn’t argue this time. I just resigned myself to the inevitable and waited for a want to become a need… Now don’t get me wrong,… I like the idea of raising our own meat chickens. It’s nice to know what they’ve been fed and that they haven’t been shot full of antibiotics, or worse. By the way, she did her homework (to the extent that she knew more than the vet at the fair) and has several posts on the subject if your curious.
Sure enough, after three weeks having been confined in an old playpen IN MY SHOP, the “need” came. I’d begun to wonder if the heat lamp weren’t in fact a grow light given their phenomenal rate of growth. I’m tellin’ ya, these things grow FAST, and had already begun to outgrow the playpen. They couldn’t be turned loose with the laying hens, so new accommodations were needed. This wasn’t a surprise; we’d talked about clearing out one side of the barn for them, but that never happened. (Several gumption traps there.) Now that it was time, the chore seemed daunting, and beings Grace really liked the idea of keeping them on the grass, I began to consider potential alternatives. (I’m thinking quick, cheap, and easy.) There’s an old canopy off a pickup I don’t own anymore that would work, but it was in the same side of the barn we’d considered clearing out before. By the time I’d have managed to get the thing dug out, the chore I was trying to avoid would have been half done. Besides, it’s made of fiberglass which means it’s heavy, making it hard to move around for my ladies; and given I was the one rationalizing the most logical course of action to take I decided that the barn is an awful long ways from any lawn we’d want these chickens on… I chewed on it awhile longer trying not to think about all the other things on my plate, and finally decided to build a “chicken tractor“. I don’t think chicken tractor accurately describes what I built, but it met the needed requirements, and way better still; the Queen was happy! I ripped some old lumber on the table saw, grabbed the screw gun, and by the end of the day had a 3′x3′x8′ frame. This is about the time the girls insisted it needed some paint. (Another gumption trap!)
Some scrap chip board cut into triangles for gussets on the corners gave it enough structural integrity to be moved around the yard without falling apart, and hardware cloth I bought at the hardware store (umm… is there a correlation there?) wrapped three sides and covered the door at one end. We learned the hard way that standard chicken wire allows chicks to stick their heads through the mesh making a fine snack for any of the dozen or so barn cats we have running around. (Can’t have that happen again!) The bottom was obviously meant to be open, but what about the top? The chickens couldn’t get out, but the cats and other critters would be able to get in if left open. It needed to be covered but light enough to move around easily, so tin or plywood was out. Cornish Cross also need shade, so wire alone was also out. I had a rare epiphany and asked Grace to go find one of the living room drapes she’d become disenchanted with. These were factory drapes that came with the red double wide, and at least for the living room just didn’t suit. In my mind the dimensions seemed about right, and I was sure they’d be sturdy enough, so why not? We both laughed when we spread it over the top of the chicken tractor; it was a perfect fit!… By the way; the chicken tractor is still sitting exactly where it was when we removed the Cornish Cross to be butchered. That was two months ago!… Oh yea,… That must have been about the time Papa Dave limped his broken combine up to the shop!