Homestead Multitasking

By , April 29, 2010

The admonition, “fish or cut bait” has little meaning on our homestead, largely because it’s deficient: it only offers two alternatives. Many of our activities involve a bewildering variety of options. Multitasking is the only sane response.

Fishing the herring run provides a classic example. The run is a convergence of several different “arrivals” that are important to us. The herring provide food and fertilizer for the garden; the fish that eat the herring, dolly varden char and salmon, feed us. Rafts of bladderwrack and other seaweeds begin to drift along the shore at the same time, an important fertilizer for the gardens as well. Unfortunately, those rafts make the fishing harder.

Thus, on a typical day during the run, I’ll stand at the water’s edge, with a gill net stretched out into the water in front of me to catch herring. I’ll have a fishing pole for the salmon and dollies. Between casts, I’ll use a long stick to scoop seaweed that accumulates on the net onto the rocks or into buckets. Any herring that strike my lure go into the same bucket. I may get the long-handled dip net if the herring’s running thick; if I can’t scoop them up in the dip net, at least my thrashing around will frighten the fish into the gill net, which quickly loses its invisibility as weed accumulates. If I’m feeling particularly adventurous, I might opt for the cast net to pursue the herring. If that’s not enough, I can always pick the net (of herring and seaweed) clean the fish, or haul buckets of seaweed over to the garden. So many choices present themselves, and I flit from one activity to another as if afflicted with Attention Deficit Disorder. To a watcher, I must seem disorganized, indecisive, perhaps even manic.

But at least I never appear bored.

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