Both Grasshopper and Ant

Oh, Aesop. You make it all so simple. The ant is the ant and the grasshopper is the grasshopper. But I am a little of each. More of one than the other on certain days.

The Bible makes the same point in a more personally applicable way:

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Work hard and put a little away for uncertain times. I get it. I totally do. But in spite of what my children think, I am not a machine.

I remember thinking my dad was a machine. He was so big. So fast! So strong! Dad would work long hours and changing shifts at the mine then come home to play catch or work on a remodeling project. He took leading roles in plays, took college classes and was active in our church. He would pick up the new issue of Compute’s Gazette to work with my sister on the coding project listed in the back of the magazine or read up on tips for how to use Lotus 1-2-3 more effectively on on Commodore 64 (a machine he is still proud to own). He could do anything.

Does your computer need a cassette recorder!?!?!? LOL

But it turns out my dad is not a machine. He is active, giving and loving but he’s no match for me in a foot race. Turns out he’s mortal. But he’s still more of an ant than I am. Something he inadvertently pointed out to me Wednesday morning.

Wednesday morning. New year’s day. A day off work. Julie and I stayed out late with friends and all of our children coming home around 1:00, four hours after my bedtime. Needless to say we slept in. That’s all grasshopper stuff.

I got up and got started. A snowstorm (well, what we call a snowstorm) was coming through in the next 12 hours and the livestock were not prepared for it. I moved the cows, filled their water, fed them a bale of hay and made plans for additional chores throughout the day before heading back home for breakfast.

But breakfast wasn’t ready. So I sat down to sneak in a few minutes of Super Mario 3D World with the kids…well, with the kids watching. An hour later I was still on the couch. That’s totally grasshopper territory.

Dad came by around that time and asked me what I was hoping to get done before the snow. Well, I need to get the greenhouse closed up, bed the pigs and cut firewood out of the limbs laying in a pile by the back door. The horses need their stalls cleaned. The cows will need another bale of hay (full cows are warm cows) and there is a guy coming to pick up a pig this afternoon. We need to butcher a couple of rabbits, clean their cages and haul rabbit manure to the greenhouse. Several pine trees have fallen over at the pond and need to be cut up. If we somehow manage to do all of that the bathroom needs a coat of primer and there is all kinds of housework to do. Time for this sluggard to start pretending to be an ant.


I came in for a bite to eat around 2:00 then went back to it. The wind had picked up, the air had gotten colder but I still had work to do. Still no skin on the greenhouse but there is a handsome pile of wood in the house and the wood supply outside grew too. As the day wore on I had fewer and fewer helpers around me. I knew the work had to be completed. This was not optional. The kids went inside thinking I was a machine.

But we have already established that I am not. In fact, I think if my dad hadn’t come by to prod me I would have spent many more hours playing video games on the couch Wednesday.

I know what needs to be done but I’m comfortable. Maybe too comfortable. The more effective I am at being an ant the more I want to be a grasshopper. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the work. I had a ball Wednesday. But the couch is comfy. And the fence was working before. Surely it’s still working today…if not, that’s not so big a deal…right?

Too many days like that and the wood pile disappears. The pigs get stressed. The cows lose weight. Our savings get depleted. The cupboards go bare.

On the other hand, all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

I have to both get my work done and take some time off. This is really coming into focus for us this week as Sunday we butchered a 400# hog, Tuesday we stayed out late with friends, Wednesday we did everything listed above, Thursday we had other friends for dinner, Friday we had family dinner plans and Saturday we finally finished the greenhouse, moved the cows and combined the pullets into the layer flock. As I finish this post on Sunday morning I am tired. Tired both from the ant stuff and from the grasshopper stuff.

I have to keep it in balance. My kids need to see that I am not a machine. I am human. I am dedicated to my family. Sometimes that dedication takes me away to restock the cupboards. Sometimes that dedication is expressed in playing board games. A little dose of ant. A little dose of grasshopper.

If we include Julie in the equation the average slides strongly toward ant. She’s a machine.

7 thoughts on “Both Grasshopper and Ant

  1. Here in Central CA we don’t have the lows you do, but we have fog. Wet, misty cold fog that will last for weeks. Lows in the 20’s and the citrus growers go into panic mode and the wind machines run all night.

    Still planning to do though. The valley we live in, like a toilet bowl, won’t let bad air out upwards, so no firewood to cut for heat. Unless you burn illegally.

    I guess for us living in a moderate climate our planning goes towards our garden. We can grow year-round. There is always something to weed, pick or plant.

  2. Yup, that’s me. Strong streak of grasshopper. The computer (browsing blogs!) is a big weakness. That Monet puzzle sucks me in for a few minutes every time I walk by, and those few minutes stretch to 30…Just one more cup of tea with that good book before I head out to do xyz. And there’s a whole alphabet of it out there needing my attention…right after I finish writing this comment…and to top it off, our weather today is NOTHING like what you or Toronto or the Maritimes is getting. I have no excuse. Except that it’s lunch time.

    I hear you about the modeling balance thing. I probably swing too far the other way – I’m pretty good at spending time with the girls on fun stuff, and I think as a family we prioritize family togetherness quite well, but I am well aware that I use that as an excuse all to often to avoid doing stuff that NEEDS to be done, and I’m sending the wrong message to the girls when I do that. I think you’re bang on that the modeling has to be for the whole shebang, to demonstrate that you can make your cake and eat it too.

    • I meant to say too, that I well remember the emergence of the 64…”I adore my 64, my Commodore 64…” I’m very impressed that your Dad still has his. I was trained up in Lotus, too. And I was a Word Perfect freak – loved that I could see the coding to see why it was giving me random spaces where I thought I hadn’t put any…which drives me crazy in MS.

  3. if you just turn on the ant hot and heavy right before the deadline, isn’t that okay?

    my wife had almost lost faith in me yesterday until i stacked an extra rick on the porch as the blizzard kicked into high gear…

    that hedge apple eating up your chains or what?

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