The Farm on Oak Creek

Ms. Clean

It’s time to come clean. I admit it. I am not a spit-wife.

What, you might ask, is a spit-wife?  That’s my translation of what the Dutch call the housewives in their society who keep their homes spit-and-polish clean.

I’ve never, ever been a spit-wife, but I seriously dislike clutter and I don’t like seeing dirt. My favorite thing to do while talking on the phone is to sweep my floors. I can, however, ignore cobwebs, mostly because I want those spiders doing pest control for me. I really have only one hard-and-fast rule about housework. My kitchen is always clean before I go to bed. There’s nothing worse than waking up knowing I have to clean before I can make myself a cup of tea.

But right now I’m in the middle of the biggest clean up effort of my life and I’m hating it.

Between the house and the barn, the house has been easier.  I’ve packed or given away all the stuff I either don’t need or don’t want. This has led to some interesting discoveries, such as I own seven brooms–not including the three push brooms in the barn–and four mops. Why do I own seven brooms and four mops? I have no idea, but I have used them all over the past weeks. I like the small blue one and the black one with stiff bristles best.

As for the barn, I started cleaning it almost two years ago. Over that time I’ve rented three giant dumpsters and two small ones. Gone are all the half-empty bottles of who-knows-what, broken tools, banks of screws, nuts, and bolts, tools I didn’t like, didn’t recognize, or didn’t use. The fodder system is gone, as are most of the gas-driven tools. Although I’ve opened up great swaths of barn space, there was still the back corner, where the leftover wood was stored, and the front shelves to address.

I tackled the back corner on Saturday. It was easier than I thought mostly because before I took it on I answered a Freecycle request for wood. Three very nice people came and began sorting through what I had. They took about half of it. After they left I took the rest off the shelves and stirred up an ancient packrat nest along with piles of its dried poop.  Convinced I was now dying of hanta virus, I remembered a friend had wanted wood for her stove, so I sorted out all the unpainted, unused pieces and gave her a call. She happily took it all. That left a small pile of pressboard, plywood and paperboard–not sure what I’m doing with that–as well as perforated plastic tubing, dryer venting, copper piping, conduit and plastic gas line. Now, why in the world were those things stored on the wood shelves?

It was still early so I turned to the front shelves. It’s there that the farm’s former owner and my neighbor Al have stored at least forty years worth of pvc fittings and fence clamps and hinges as well as coffee can after coffee can of more screws, bolts, and nuts. It was easier than I expected because I want most of the 3″, 2″, 1.5″, and 1″ pvc fittings. I left those bins to be sorted by size later and turned to the last two bins which, I thought, held all the 4″ and larger fittings. Instead, under the thick layer of dust and straw (and more packrat poop) were a bunch of ancient galvanized plumbing pipes fitted out with hose bibs. No wonder the bin was so heavy!

By Sunday night those shelves were almost empty. The center of the barn is presently filled with carefully sorted piles of conduit, copper piping, fencing wire, leftover lengths of pvc, coffee cans filled with massive bolts, a wide assortment of small to medium sized wheels as well as a number of strange items I can’t identify. Once these are gone–by whatever means they go–I’ll clean off the top of the work benches and THE BARN WILL BE CLEAN!

That thought motivated me today. I returned to the house to finish cleaning under the porch, a space that should be nothing but a walkway. Instead, there are a pair of six foot wide, three foot high bunkers filled with dirt in front of the basement walls. I think this has to do with the fact that the Page Spring ditch is piped under the porch–probably where the bunkers are–at a depth of somewhere between six to ten feet. Maybe leaving the dirt allows for the possibility of digging down to the spring pipe. While cleaning, I found an abandoned hen’s nest buried in the dirt filled with whole but empty eggs. The cobwebs are gone. So are of the coolers and camping supplies that were stored there far longer than they should have been. The one window is now clean and the weird little door that leads into the basement hasn’t a speck of dirt on it.

That left my last task for the house: power washing my bedroom window. I couldn’t do it. I just didn’t want to end up cold and wet. Instead, foolishly believing it might really rain, I dragged my last bag of pasture mix seed down to creek level and tossed the seeds where the piles of wood used to be. Then I climbed the orchard hillside and took down my extra wobblers (sprinklers). They went to the barn while their sun-damaged hoses went into the growing pile of stuff on its way to somewhere else. By then it was time for my evening chores, after which I came in and made an absolutely spectacular dinner–sauteed chicken thighs with gravy, lettuce from the garden, and mashed kabocha squash with butter and arugula, cleaned the kitchen, then sat down to write this post because it’s Monday.

Maybe I don’t hate being Ms. Clean after all. She really gets things done.


© Denise Domning, 2023