Go to the ant

I’ve read and heard Proverbs 6:6-8 many times in my life. Usually it has been in the context of being a good steward of financial resources.  This summer, though, I think I am gaining a new insight into the Lord’s wisdom as displayed in this verse. The ant necessarily is thinking about the long, cold winter ahead as she gathers her food and stores it.  I find myself doing the same as we bring home our garden’s bounty and preserve it for the winter.  There is more involved, though, in the concept of being prepared for winter.

It is 91 degrees outside with nary a breeze to stir the air. Inside we have 12 fans scattered through the house to try to make some breeze to alleviate this heat. We do have a few window A/C units, but the cost of running them is prohibitive, and we have not even installed them this year. The last thing I am thinking about is firing up the wood stove.

And yet, that is exactly what my husband IS thinking about…how to keep us all warm when this weather departs and leaves us cold temperatures in its stead. Last winter was our first full winter using just wood to heat our home. Our furnace is as old as our home (over 20 years) and the duct work is trashed. Last winter we realized that the the cross-piece that connected the two sides of our mobile home’s ducts was on the ground…again. We kept feeling cold breezes wafting across our feet. It doesn’t matter how warm a room is, when your feet are cold, it just feels cold! So my husband decided to seal all the floor openings to the duct system. He went about it in quite an ingenious way–he screwed boards across the bottom of the openings, but he did it from the top. I couldn’t even explain how he went about it, but the end result works–the ducts are sealed. The places where the ducts were aren’t very pretty–more like a wooden scar in the floor–but I will gladly take warm and functional over pleasing to the eye and cold.

We received a call the other day. My husband’s brother wanted to know if we needed firewood.  His wife’s parents had a tree fall across their swimming pool.  My husband and two of my girls went over there this morning to load his big trailer with wood. It took the better part of the day, and the trailer is full. They will return again in the next few days to get the rest of that massive tree. My husband’s brother also had two trees fall in his yard that he would be delighted for us to take.

Once all the  logs are here, we will have to borrow a wood-splitter to cut them to the right size for our stove. My husband dreams of owning his own wood-splitter.  Some men dream of owning sports cars. I am fortunate indeed!  Last year, before we found a wood-splitter to borrow, my girls were spending their evenings with the ax and maul trying to split the logs into proper-sized pieces.  My husband and daughters have an efficient system: he splits, they stack.  If they have no wood-splitter to borrow, they take turns with the ax. We definitely prefer using a wood-splitter!

It will take several months for us to get all the wood we need for the winter. If we were to wait until the last minute, as we did two years ago, we would end up burning green or rotten wood. Neither burns well or efficiently–no one enjoys a cold, smoky fire. We learned our lesson. It is just hard to get motivated to go spend hours in the heat getting ready for winter when winter seems so far away.

We are very glad that we know we can heat our home this way. As we face unemployment, it is a good feeling to know that we won’t be spending $1400 or more to heat our home for three months this winter.   Our propane tank was filled last year in March, and it is still at 70% full.   At this rate, we won’t need to fill it for another year. That is a great feeling…and a great savings!

The ant sure knows how to work hard in the summer. As do we. We will be comfortable come winter, and that makes all this hard work worthwhile.  That lowly little ant is pretty inspiring, actually. We should all learn from her diligence.

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3 Responses to Go to the ant

  1. Diane says:

    I am enjoying reading your blog.


  2. Cindy says:

    Such satisfaction you and WD must get from such hard work. If you have lessons on how to get children to have initiative..I would LOVE your input.


    • Cindy, it is a life-long training. My children do not always “have initiative” to do what they are supposed to do. A very wise friend reminds me all the time–do not expect what you do not inspect. We have our children work along our sides in the garden and with the wood–they are helping one or both of us, so it is not like they are out there doing it alone. They do have chores that they do alone–laundry, dishes, floors. Sometimes the consequences are natural–if you don’t wash your clothes, the chances are you will not have anything to wear. (they start doing their own laundry around age ten, depending on maturity level. My six year old may start her laundry when she can reach all the buttons.) The bigger girls rotate family laundry–that would be towels, linens, diapers. (I do clothes for myself, my husband and the little people in our home.) The consequences of not doing the family laundry may range from not having a towel after a bath to Daddy being mad because he did not have a towel after a bath to no clean diapers. No one likes it when Daddy doesn’t have a towel after a bath, and everyone appreciates clean diapers! . 😉 Dishes–a no brainer. No clean dishes=no food to put on them. Dishes get done because they like to eat. A chore chart helps. Picking your battles helps. I am not so picky about rooms….my husband is way pickier than I am. As long as they have an escape route, I am okay with their caves being, well, caves. 🙂 It does provide great leverage when they want to do something special. “Sure–as long as your room is clean.” Rooms get cleaned when they want to do something. Daddy likes things a bit more orderly, so I let him be the room enforcer. The biggest tip is to teach them. Step one: have them watch you do the chore. Step two: spend a few days having them help you do the chore. Step three: you help them do the chore. Step four: you watch them do the chore. Step five: they do the chore with check-up when they are done. It takes time to train children to work. Their natural inclination is to play. It is easier to just do it yourself–at least in the short run. It certainly takes less time. But when you train, it is so much more beneficial for the whole family. When I have baby, or when I am down (like last fall when I had my surprise surgery and was gone for a week and then had to do NOTHING for a few weeks) it is such a relief to know that my children could run the day-to-day operations of the home. Not perfectly (they are children!) and not the way I always want….but they can do it. That is such an accomplishment….and it opens up a whole new ministry of them being able to bless other people. Two of my girls trade guitar lessons for half a days work for their teacher and his wife. They clean, they babysit—they know what to do. His wife tells me all the time how much my girls bless her….never mind that they are working a trade. That is the big pay-off to training. And boys are not exempt. Boys need to know how to do basics: wash clothes, sweep and mop floors, clean a toilet and bathtub, make simple meals. Girls need to know how to chop wood, mow a lawn, change a tire or the oil on the car, etc. Life skills. Too many young people are missing them. Those are my tips. Day-by-day, side-by-side, moment-by-moment training.


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