Decluttering and so on

One of my goals for this winter was to start a new writing project. Well, it’s mid-January and I haven’t yet written a word. But I did finally start my research in earnest yesterday, so there’s still hope for finishing it before time to start planting.

So what I have been doing instead? In addition to the regular demands of the farm (a full time job) I’ve used the winter slow-down to tackle a long list of “winter projects” that I’ve been compiling for years.

One task that I assumed would be a major headache turned out to be surprisingly easy. I did a lot of family research 20-30 years ago and dutifully saved all my work on floppy disks (the state-of-the-art storage media at the time). I assumed it would be difficult and expensive to convert all those old disks into something useful today. I was wrong about that. I bought a floppy disk converter from Amazon for less than $10. All I had to do was plug it into the computer, insert the disks, and, presto, the data was transferred to my hard drive.  That was a relief. Now what I am going to do with all these video tapes onto which we transferred the old family super 8 movies? Hopefully that task (which I’m saving for another winter) will be just as easy.

Those old floppies also had some writing from the way-back days and I’m happy to have rescued it. I made the disks with our first home computer. It was a Sony Vaio. We were probably among the last people in America to get a home computer. I wasn’t sure if it was more than a fad. A partner recommended the Sony. “It’s the only computer you’ll ever have to buy in your lifetime,” he told me. “It has more computing power than the Apollo space program had.” So I swallowed hard and shelled out nearly $5,000 for it at Best Buy. Within a couple of years it was little more than a toy. I held onto it much longer than it deserved, but eventually threw it away when we moved. A vastly superior computer today would cost less than 1/10 what we paid for that thing.

Another long-delayed winter project involved going through all the old farm records we had found and saved back when we were remodeling the old house here on the farm. We had receipts, correspondence and journals dating back to the 1870’s. Trying to organize them and separate out the more personal items, like letters and photos, took a long time and still left unanswered the question of what to do with them. If I just put them in a box in a closet there’s a good chance they’d someday end up in a dumpster after my death. Fortunately I arrived at a great solution. We donated them to the special collections department of the University of Virginia library. The folks there seem pleased to have them and now I know they’re going to be well cared-for.


The Old House after this weeks snowfall

While in Charlottesville I even sold my my old UVa sports memorabilia collection, accumulated during a time in my life when that kind of thing was important to me, to a local store that specializes in that kind of thing. It was of no interest to anyone in my family and no longer to me either. It was just collecting dust and taking up space. I’m glad to pass it along to someone who may find some pleasure in it.


I hadn’t been back to UVa in a long time. It was a beautiful day.

I did major service on our tractor and RTV, and some work on fences that wasn’t urgent, but needed doing. I even cleaned out my truck. But the major decluttering projects were our basement, barn and equipment shed. I hauled off truckloads of stuff. Stuff that I’d been afraid to throw away on the theory that I might someday need it. I felt pretty good about my efforts until I finished reading The Lean Farm by Dan Hartman. I now realize that I wasn’t nearly thorough enough. So I’ve already added decluttering to next year’s winter projects list and this time I’m going to be ruthless.

So I’ve checked off the items on the winter projects list, and that’s a good feeling. That list had been nagging at me for a long time.

Now, about that writing project…