I devoted a few hours to tidying up, Marie Kondo style today. In her book, she outlines the appropriate tidying order as clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany), and then anything with sentimental value.
“Papers” are a bit of a weird category for me. We use most of our stuff, e.g. what we can’t get people to polluting our mail box with, as fire starter or free mulch. The actual paperwork I have forced myself to keep fits into two letter size hanging files that are about two inches thick. I detest keeping tedious paperwork around and I even throw out manuals if I know I can find them online.
However, I do have several inches of random notes written down at meetings and classes, on receipts, inside magazines or catalogs, or on the back of whatever is handy wherever I am. I am a note-taker. Always have been. I have a milk crate designated as my note pile. Whenever I come home with notes, I stack them in my crate. Periodically, when I feel the need for inspiration, I go through my notes and discard anything I have already used, committed to memory, or no longer need (in Kondo-san terms, that no longer sparks joy).
I also have two other paperwork habits that take up storage space. I am a journaler, so I have lots of old journals. I do in fact reference them often and they still spark joy, so they all get to stay. I keep them in a cedar chest my grandmother bought my mother as a wedding present, that after much begging, my mother gave to me a few years back.
I also have an obsessive love for stationary. Once I spent the better part of a day, with my BFF and long-time pen pal, doing almost nothing but roaming through the paper stores in Venice, Italy. The paper was so beautiful, but so expensive that I would just buy one or two sheets from each of my favorite shops. The paper felt like such a luxury that I was afraid to write on it and would instead just take it out occasionally and imagine what kind of words might want to be on those pages. I did that for years before I finally wrote my pen pal letters on that paper.
Needless to say, my stationary collection still sparks immense joy. So, other than giving it a more orderly home, there was no need to do any discarding. I also plan to give myself permission to use my fancy stationary for important notes since I don’t write letters as often as I used to. That might make it harder to discard notes, but perhaps not if I make them into mulch and let them live eternally in our garden.
So with paper quickly dispatched, it was on to Komono – a catch-all category for everything else. Within a few minutes of starting to sort the stuff that had accumulated on top of my washer and dryer, I realized Marie Kondo had probably not worked with homesteading clients before.
There was absolutely no joy sparked in holding giant wad of straw bale ties. Yet, I know I must keep them because I use them constantly. The orange, green, and blue colors our baler seems to favor are hideous. And the polyethylene texture, though durable, is not nearly as scintillating as burlap twine which is a thing of beauty. Despite the lack of joy, I know I need these ties. I never seem to have enough when I start training trees, patching fences, or even making those bamboo teepees I mentioned a few posts ago.
As much as I have come to respect Marie’s expertise and her method, I think I am going to have to take a different approach to our komono, most of which is homestead related. Does it spark joy can still be my first question. But if the answer is no, the next question is “OK, but does it make your homesteading work easier?”
Plastic buckets are a perfect example. They are hideous, but so incredibly useful that I can’t imagine homesteading without them. Galvanized buckets wear out faster, are less comfortable to carry, and get hot in the sun. Sure, I’d rather keep my sauerkraut in stoneware fermenting vessels because those beaautiful bits of crockery do spark joy. For now, though, we’d go broke buying stoneware for all our fermentation experiments. Food grade buckets are a useful alternative until our crock budget increases.
It will probably take me a few months to get through our Kimono because we have it stored in multiple sheds and every crevice of our house not used for something else. I know there are things we can get rid of and things we can put away in better locations. There is a lot in Marie’s method that will translate to homestead stuff.
I also think we can apply many of Ben Hartman’s, The Lean Farm, principles to our homestead for greater efficiency. I particularly like his idea of getting each work area in a perfect state of order and then taking a picture. Then you hang the picture to make it easy to see where things go and can tell if things are out of order.
I’ll keep you posted if I come up with anything useful on homestead kimono tidying.
I am putting this post up early today because we have some friends coming by tonight for dinner and to load up their trailer with all our hog slaughter stuff. That includes a stainless steel table, a giant scalding vat, a grinder, chains, sausage stuffer, lots of buckets and containers, and more. The really cool thing about homesteaders is that we like to borrow and share. So even though we need a lot of stuff to do what we do, we don’t always have to keep our own. We can share and help each other.