Spring Cleaning

As the warm weather lazily ­rolls in on the Cwach farm, it’s finally time to start on the best (and worst) project of the year: Spring cleaning.

After a lengthy hibernation, I’m itching to tackle the outdoor elements of the farm, having neglected much of it over the course of the winter. There are dead leaves to rake out of the bushes, seed bags that have blown into the shelter belts, and the never-ending barrage of odd shoes and pails that our Australian Shepherd, Bodie, has taken to scattering around the surrounding acres of our farm.

An annual farm clean-up has always been important on the Cwach farm. Dan’s late father, Gary, impressed upon him at an early age the importance of keeping a tidy farm. It’s a never-ending task, to be sure – especially when you have a hoarding canine squirreling away his treasures in every last nook and cranny – but one that I think is important on any farm. Depending on the weather and the year, you may not always be able to control how your fields look (particularly on an organic farm likes ours where you can’t spray pesticides to keep weeds down) but you can always make the extra effort to keep the farm clean and orderly.

Knowing I would soon be spending the majority of my time outdoors cleaning up the farm, I have worked hard over the winter to prep the inside of our farmhouse by purging and organizing. Even though we have only lived on the farm for two short years, it’s amazing what we have already accumulated. Of course, some of it we inherited when we moved in to the farmhouse when Dan’s mom decided to move to town. We’re still trying to downsize and sort through unnecessary items, like the oversupply of seed hats from the past three decades (I hate to break it to the seed companies, but once a farmer breaks in a hat, that’s the only hat he’ll wear, no matter how shabby it becomes) and the hundreds upon hundreds of old mason jars waiting to be filled and canned (to my dear mother-in-law: I’ll never know how you found so much energy as a farm wife! Netflix clearly wasn’t around in your day.)

Luckily for me, Dan isn’t much into hanging on to things he doesn’t use, with the exception of any and all Yankton High School memorabilia – that stuff is non-negotiable. Some days, I truly worry that he will make good on his promise and make me sit through all the VHS tapes of his high school football days. But Dan has come to terms with the fact that it’s difficult to be a packrat and still stay on top of the daily chores, like the heaping mounds of laundry that just never seem to end. Laundry is always an interesting chore on the farm because you never quite know what you’ll find in your farmer’s pockets – handfuls of corn kernels (why so many? How do they end up there?), tools, fencing staples, sale barn booklets, ear tags and more. I do actually enjoy it though, despite my protests, because it paints a little picture for me of what my farmer was doing that day.

We’re still trying to downsize and sort through unnecessary items, like the oversupply of seed hats from the past three decades (I hate to break it to the seed companies, but once a farmer breaks in a hat, that’s the only hat he’ll wear, no matter how shabby it becomes) and the hundreds upon hundreds of old mason jars waiting to be filled and canned (to my dear mother-in-law: I’ll never know how you found so much energy as a farm wife! Netflix clearly wasn’t around in your day.)

Admittedly, I probably place some undue extra pressure on myself and Dan when it comes to housekeeping since we are now living in my husband’s childhood home. This is a situation many farm wives find themselves in, as one generation moves off the farm and another takes it over. Luckily for me, I have a great relationship with my mother-in-law, and besides, she’s already witnessed my worst domestic blunders. Once, I offered to help her clean before a party, long before my husband and I were married. As I loaded the dishwasher, I added what I thought was liquid dishwashing detergent, but what turned out to be regular old dish soap. This was only discovered once the dishwasher started emitting a huge bubbly mess at least two feet high while still running.

Another time, after we had just moved to an older, historic apartment in town, which lacked a washer and dryer, I had brought over a load of laundry to the farm as Dan worked late one night, as I often did. Unfortunately, we had just had our first (and hopefully last ever) bout with ants. I had a damp wash cloth in the laundry basket, and thought nothing of it until my mother-in-law picked it up to throw it in the washer, and – ANTS! I’ve never ran as fast as I did when I raced to grab that vacuum cleaner. Farming together creates a whole new level of closeness, as most farm families can testify, but there’s nothing quite like an ant scare to really bring you into the fold of your new family.

While we’ve got a lengthy list of projects facing us this spring, it’s rewarding work that will help us keep up the farm for the next generation. And if anyone’s looking for an assortment of half-chewed, mismatched shoes, let us know- we’ve got a few to spare.

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