Finish What You Start

Of all the seasons, spring was once my least favorite of all. Growing up on the farm, the season after the winter snow melt brought muddy yards, mud-caked boots, and hours upon hours of spring cleaning.

Only the spring cleaning I refer to was done with a pitchfork in hand and a manure wagon parked along the side of the barn. A long winter of adding fresh bedding in the goat pens created a mound of work, literally — hard labor that caused my arms and back to ache, the callouses to form, my patience to wear thin.

A photo of my latest cross-stitch project, as of March 18.

I can still picture myself as a teen, leaning on the pitchfork as I surveyed the work ahead of me, dreaming I could be anywhere but there — standing there in the dung-laden straw and saturated grass hay.

I would have been happy to be just outside the barn door, sitting on a log in the goat yard and watching the kids get their first taste of freedom. I could spend a good hour giggling as I watched them prance around, stand on their hind legs and test out their place in the world.

They had all of the fun and I had a job to do — a job Dad said I had to do until it was done. The more I dawdled, the longer it would take, he warned.

He was right, of course, but what teen would ever admit that?

The finished piece, completed April 8.

There was a life lesson in that farm work, probably a few of them.

Finish what you start — and sooner or later you have to start … and finish.

Do it right the first time — if a project is worth doing, give it your best effort.

There’s time for fun, when the work is done.

I haven’t lived on that farm for 25 years, but those lessons are ingrained in me. It’s a good thing, I suppose, considering my line of work. No one wants to read half a story or one littered with errors and typos.

Those goat chores were replaced with free time for needlework, a hobby bound by farm life lessons as well. I learned early on that it was better to rip out a mistake and start again, rather than try to hide it in my work. Perhaps no one else would notice, but I would. Do it right the first time.

Now, I just need to apply that “finish what you start” concept to the UFO’s (Un-Finished Objects) hidden away in my stitching stash. I’ll get to them … some day.