Do something. Even if it’s wrong – by Curt Swarm, Empty Nest

Curt Swarm - Empty Nest

If there’s one motto I’ve lived by all my life, and especially now that I’m a (ahem) “senior citizen” it is, “Do something, even if it’s wrong.” I often get caught up in the morning in the myriad things I want to accomplish. But first and foremost I need to get my 30 minutes of aerobic exercise in, then I need to do the chicken chores, then I need to shower, then I need to eat breakfast, then the phone rings and it’s the pharmacy reminding me of a prescription I need to pick up, then insurance appointments come in on the computer and I need to call the prospective clients and they’re not home so I leave a message, then “breaking news” appears on the television that captures my attention (usually a mass shooting), then Ginnie texts me to see how my morning is going and we do a “back-and-forth” for 15 minutes, then one of the prospective clients calls back to tell me they have to “think about it,” then some passerby on the highway pulls in and asks how much my metal pheasants are, then he has some idea for a rusty-metal sculpture he wants built and we spend half-an-hour drawing rough pencil sketches and b.s.’ing, then he tells me he’ll have to “think about it.” I look at the clock and it’s 11:30, I haven’t accomplished a dang thing, and it’s time for lunch (dinner in the country).
That’s when I tell myself, “Do something, even if it’s wrong!” I heard it from my dad.
There are two major projects I want to accomplish before snow flies, both of which I’ve been putting off. I want to insulate the chicken house, and I want to give the grass its final mowing. Mowing is a major project on our two-and-a-half-acre Empty Nest farm. I have a 60-inch deck on the John Deere but it still takes a full day to do the mowing and trimming. If I had a zero-turn radius mower I know I could reduce the mowing time by half. Seeing how it’s November, I bet I could get a real good deal on one of those fancy, zero-turn radius mowers. I text the dealer and spend a half an hour figuring out how to use the voice message feature. I tell myself that if I don’t hear immediately back from the dealer (he’ll never figure out the voice recording), I’ll interpret it as a sign that I don’t need a new mower . I don’t hear immediately back. Ahh.
I have to get that hen house patched up and insulated before the cold wind starts blowing. There are gaping holes in the north wall and I need to set bales of straw around the foundation. What to do first? Stop it! Do something, even if it’s wrong!
I go to town and get the insulation. That shoots a day. It’s too cold and windy to do anything more.
The second day, I patch the holes on the north side of the chicken house and place bales of straw around the foundation. That’s enough for the second day.
On the third day, a Saturday, Ginnie and I watch the Iowa/Ohio State and Iowa State/West Virginia football games that come on at the same time, different networks. I spend an hour trying to figure out the split-screen feature on the television. I give up and decide to switch back and forth. Iowa upsets Ohio State and Iowa State is embarrassed by West Virginia. Excitement and disappointment clashing together leaves me feeling—uh, blank. And I have accomplished nothing.
On the fourth day I pull the guts out of the chicken house so I can hang insulation on the west wall. The chickens are beside themselves with curiosity and are a nuisance underfoot. I uncover a mouse nest and the chickens go berserk catching mice. Hilarious!
Then the mower dealer texts back (he figured out the voice message after all) and says he has a real good deal on a zero-turn radius-mower and he will deliver. Dear God, do I stop everything to play with a new toy? No, a job started is a job worth finishing (also, from my dad). I text the dealer back, “I’ll think about it.”
I finish hanging insulation. The chickens seem to think they are owed the warmth and comfort of a newly insulated hen house and show no appreciation whatsoever.
Unannounced, the dealer shows up all smiles pulling the new zero-turn radius mower on a trailer. It’s a beauty. He starts it up and backs it off the trailer. I give it a spin around the barnyard. It turns on a dime.
It starts to spit snow. The dealer looks at me, I look at him. He says, “Do something, even if it’s wrong, Curtis.” I pull out my checkbook.Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.

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