Want to rule your rural domain? Make a “to do” list.

There’s a lot to be said for making a list of projects around the property. At a mundane level it helps us to organize and schedule. I have a running ‘to do’ list. If it has to get done, no matter what it goes in my notebook list. “Honey, could you look at that plug by the kitchen sink?” “It’s on the list dear”.

An excerpt from my list looks something like this:

Fix outlet by sink

Get hot tub running for summer

Install light on side of shanty

Stop losing list

Repair sprinkler in front field

Move wall in henhouse

Stuff insulation in holes in pump house.

Seems fairly innocuous right? It certainly helps us fellows to keep on top of things.

But there is something deeper here. A ‘to do’ list is the key to being master of your hobby farm; of that pipsqueak property that will become an integral part of your identity as a man.

That identity as a man in control of hobby farm hell will be grounded in the notion of blue jobs and pink jobs.

You see, gender is a fundamental organizing principle of the human condition. Now I have little time for those who argue men are genetically predisposed to certain jobs and women can only do other jobs. That’s a load of hooey. Try explaining that to my sister whose job title is Superintendant of Roads. She can drive anything on wheels or tracks, and the men who work for her respect her for it.

But we do organize by gender. Out in hobby farm country there are the pink jobs and blue jobs. It becomes a division of labour that gets things done, sometimes efficiently. It’s everywhere in the rural environment. Junk strewn all over the property? Things overgrown along the road? Fences down? They judge the man of that property. And I notice the judgements are swift and harsh.

You have to control your identity as a man in the rural environment. That means controlling your environment. It will be connected to tools and dirt, so get intimate with both.

Let me give you two small examples of how women take control of their environment. Does your wife sew? Lots of women like to sew. I imagine that’s why they do it. I tend not to question their motives for sewing. I like having buttons on my shirt. I have also noticed they usually have numerous buckets and boxes full of fabric and patterns.

Here’s a challenge. Go ahead, organize them for her. Haul them out and start sorting and classifying the fabric and patterns. When she comes around the corner I suggest you duck.

One of the first things a woman does when she reaches adulthood and gets her own place is to create the plastic container cupboard from hell. You know the one. You stick your head in it and can never find a lid that matches a container. But she can find them. In no time, with the appropriate condescending sigh and “there you go dear” she plops both on the counter with slightly more force than usual. I advise against re-organizing that cupboard. Believe me, it’s already organized. She’s in control of her domain.

You have to do the same thing.

With a ‘to do’ list, her request “Honey, could you look at that plug by the kitchen sink?” now becomes yours. On the list it goes. You control the priorities of that list. You control the scheduling and resource allocation deriving from that list.

When she asks “did you have a chance to look at that plug?” you have the answer. It is an answer that reflects the best interests of hearth and home. You know the priorities. You know the resource needs. You get to say, “It’s scheduled for Saturday honey”.

Now if she gets uppity and asks why, you pull out that list. With the appropriate sigh and condescending tone, you go over the items on that list and explain the priorities, the resource needs.

But it’s deeper than that. Have children? What do you want your male children to see in you? Are you the dad who gets things done? Do you get to explain to your son how you prioritize the chores; how you organize the resources to get things done? Can your son see why this is important for hearth and home? This is an environment to teach your sons to become good men; men who control their lives and domain. You are creating men who know that others depend on them. These are the men who garner respect in the rural environment.

There is little of this in the urban world. Men do not have control of their environment in the cities. Sons do not see how they connect with the larger world. Taking out the garbage hardly represents role modelling. Neither is time spent watching fight shows.

You control the blue jobs. You are the master of your domain. Your neighbours, especially the men folk will note your common sense. Just stay the hell away from the sewing buckets and container cupboard.

And make that list.