A lifetime ago, when I worked in the corporate world, interruptions usually meant stopping, listening to a complaint or problem, taking note of it, and taking action in the hours or days to come. At worst, I'd be able to finish whatever task I was working on, and THEN deal with the problem "immediately."
When I went back to writing and editing, Nils knew better than to pull me from my writing cave, so interruptions came in the form of text messages or emails (even if he was in the next room). If it was really important, a note was slipped under my office door, e.g., "I'm getting really hungry and dinner is getting cold!" I could pretty much pick and choose my moments of interruption.
But here on the farm, interruptions take a whole different form. Most of the time there's no "I'll just finish this thought!" or "I'll get back to you in a moment."
Just this past week:
- Sitting at the computer, Kazu's lying at my feet, chewing away at a rawhide bone. EXCEPT, she hasn't been given a rawhide bone in a long time. I lean back in my chair, cringe, and look beneath. She's gingerly nipping off and spitting out feathers from what appears to have been a young sparrow. Rear back in horror. "Oh My Gawd!" Dog goes running, tail between legs. Grab wad of paper towels. Scoop up dead bird. Contemplate burying it. Conclude that the dogs will dig it up. Keeping at arm's length, carry the poor dead thing across the farm. Throw it over the fence where the dogs won't get to it again. Return to office. Pick out down, feathers, and what might be beak (I didn't look that closely) stuck in carpet. Is that blood or dog saliva on the carpeting? Get the cleaning solution and the vacuum cleaner from the terrace. Pick up vacuum cleaner hose, and concrete bits and paint chips pour out onto the carpet. Someone used the vacuum cleaner in the construction area of the house! Vacuum cleaner must be thoroughly cleaned, in addition to much of the carpet. A whole-afternoon-long event.
- Sitting at the computer, I look out toward the back of the farm where Nils, a neighbor, and staff are burning firebreaks. They've already burned on the upper farm behind the house. I spy several curlicues of smoke rising from areas they've long ago finished. It could just be the last smolderings. It could be. And then again. … I watch. The curlicues aren't diminishing. I think they're getting bigger. A fire hazard? Might be. Nils and the staff are now down at the other end of the farm. I get up. Squeeze through sliding glass doors so the dogs don't escape the house — they're already in a panic over the fire. Go to the shed next to the house. Look for a fire beater. Nothing. Must be in the workshop on the other side of the farm. Walk back to house. Squeeze back through sliding glass doors. Change fake Crocs to thick-soled hiking boots. Can always stamp out a small fire in the grass. Walk across yard to curlicues. No grass or veldt burning. It's large piles of cow poo! Pull out unburnt grass around flaming cow poo. Nothing but my feet to stamp out poo. Sigh. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Drag feet back to house with hope that most cow poo will come off. No joy. Remove boots. Go to garden spigot to wash poo out of deeply carved soles. Garden hose no longer connected to the spigot. Garden hose nowhere to be found. Sit on potato box, rip branch off of apple tree. Spend next half-hour scraping cow poo out of crevices in boot soles.
- Sitting at the computer. The damned guinea fowl are going at it again. They make such a racket for no apparent reason. I refuse to be interrupted. Later that afternoon, we discover one of our Austraulope chickens is missing, likely taken by a raptor. The guinea fowl tried to tell me; I didn't listen. And they DO make a gawd-awful noise (turn down your volume before clicking below):
- Sitting at the computer. I hear Solo leap up from his "guard post" at the back door. "Rar, rar, rar, rar, rar, rar, rar." Not unusual for him. He barks at lots of things. But, this time, he's persistent. Learned my lesson days before with the loss of a chicken. Go out to terrace. Can't see what he's barking at. Walk across the orchard. The donkeys are at the fence, teasing Solo as they are apt to do. No big deal. Head back toward house. I haven't checked the tomatoes in a couple of days. A slight detour to the vegetable garden. Pick a few ripe tomatoes. We really haven't been taking very good care of the garden. Pull weeds. Pick the last of the season's beans. The raised bed meant for cauliflower, broccoli, and winter lettuce has become overgrown again. Pick out last season's plants. Pick out weeds. The afternoon passes.
With all this in mind, not to mention the periodic vomiting dogs, exploding forgotten boiling eggs, or clever escaping cattle that must be herded back into their paddocks, I'm now quite proud that I've managed to write this much today.
But, the dogs are awfully quiet, the birds and donkeys, too. This could mean trouble. Must go!