About a month ago, I vowed to delete the words just, only and almost from my vocabulary. The reasoning went something like this: I'd be finished with about three-quarters of my chores for the morning (or evening), look at the clock, and think to myself, "I'm almost done. I just need to feed the bull calves and bed the heifers. I can be in the house early this morning." Or, Glen would flag me down, ask how my chores were going and I'd tell him, "I've only got the new calves left" or something like that.
I swear, every time I uttered the words almost, just or only, either to myself or to Glen, I could count on adding another hour to my chores because something would come up, I'd think, "I'm ahead of schedule; I have time to eartag those calves this morning" or Glen would ask me to push up feed and I'd say yes.
So, for the last month, I've resisted the urge to look at the clock and gauge my progress during chores. I'm certainly not getting in the house any earlier, but at least I'm not deceiving myself into thinking I'm almost done.
I forgot about my new rule on Sunday night. I had finished everything but bedding the heifers in the overflow pen and feeding two of the bull calves. I went out to the hay shed for a bale of straw and heard the unmistakable, nearly silent sound of a mother cow greeting her newborn calf. Just outside the door in the dry cow pen was Dinky licking her new calf. I looked around for the other calf, since we knew she was due with twins and the calf on the ground was tiny. By the time I carried the bull calf to the barn, the second twin was coming – backwards, of course.
By the time we got Dinky in the barn, delivered the breech twin (a heifer, of course), milked Dinky, fed the two calves and settled them into the warmer, my hopes of being in the house early had been blown to smithereens. I should have known better than to let myself think about an early night.
As I always tell myself, though, when chores run long, it could have been worse. We had two new live calves and a healthy cow. It won't be the last time chores trump sleep. I just need to remember that the mere act of thinking about getting chores done early is enough to guarantee that they won't be.