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Published October 11, 2011, 09:12 AM

That looks a little like work

TOWNER, N.D. — Enjoy what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life, or so they say. So I guess work is defined as anything we don’t enjoy doing. But I know guys who don’t enjoy leisure activities, so is that work? I don’t know. It’s more debate about words and semantics than I care to ponder.

By: Ryan Taylor, Special to Agweek

TOWNER, N.D. — Enjoy what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life, or so they say. So I guess work is defined as anything we don’t enjoy doing. But I know guys who don’t enjoy leisure activities, so is that work? I don’t know. It’s more debate about words and semantics than I care to ponder.

It’s better if it’s fun

The bottom line is this, I guess: Work, or whatever you call it, goes better if it’s fun. This is a place where our parenting skills are tested as we try to con our offspring into doing something helpful for the family unit, or the family ranch.

I must have been easy to entertain with ranch work, because I spent a lot of time outside with Dad when I was a kid. Some of what I did out there must have been helpful. Maybe.

I pounded a lot of nails. To start with, I just pounded them for fun. I pounded 20 or 25 nails in the shape of my initials, RT, into a plank that was part of the walkway to the door of our house. It’s pretty long-lasting nail art — it’s still there 35 years later.

Eventually, the skill set I developed was put to use nailing up corral planks with long pole barn spikes and nailing barbed wire to tough, little, oak fence posts with fencing staples that were a little less tough than the iron hard oak they were trying to penetrate.

When I take the kids to the shop with me, or out to the pasture, I make sure I have three hammers, a can of little nails and three blocks of wood. I also should remember to take some Band-Aids and a hanky to dry the tears because they are certain to hammer a thumb in the process.

But they are learning a little about hammering nails. And it keeps them occupied while I try to do my work, or play, or whatever it is depending on my level of enjoyment.

It takes some effort as a dad to find them a little job they can handle or an activity that’ll keep them busy. Like keeping a pair of little grain scoops in the feed bin so they can help me fill the feed buckets. I could do it just as fast, or faster, by myself, but this way they can help out and I have more fun when I here giggles in the grain bin.

Mini me fencers

I got the two boys helping to build a couple of electric cross fences in our pasture this fall. Nothing’s quite as amusing as listening to a 5- and a 7-year-old visit back and forth like a couple of little old men as they feed me fence posts and clip insulators onto them after I’ve pounded them in.

The best part is that the fencing tasks they took on were of real value. They saved me a lot of walking, and they were pretty darned entertaining co-workers.

It’d have probably been easier to give them my phone to play a video game, or to have left them home with their mother. But it was a beautiful fall day to get out and enjoy.

I don’t think we broke any child labor laws because the boys had so much fun. And, like I started out saying, if you’re enjoying yourself, it ain’t work. Come to think of it, I guess I didn’t work much that afternoon either.

But somehow, at the end of the day, we did get a fence put up.

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