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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"You only have to work 1/2 days!"

In 1995 when I made the decision to leave my management job and become a blacksmith/farrier, I remember talking to my mom and dad. We lived on the other side of the country from them (which was a constant source of irritation for my mom) and I suspect that they felt a bit anxious about this decision. I told them kind of nonchalantly that I was going to learn to shoe horses and open my own business..............shock, then chocked back tears from my mother. She quickly dismissed herself and told me to talk to my father. I said, "dad, I thought this would be hard, but tears?" Dad went on to explain that they didn't know anyone who shoed horses for a living, "oh, with one exception," he said. "There was a man that lived in a clapboard shack in the back of your grandfather's Phillips 66 station in Victor, ID named whiskey Bill." He said, "the good people in the south end of the Teton valley could take their horse to Bill and for any portion of a fifth of whiskey he would shoe their horse." I guess if tears was all I got, I got of easy.
My dad went on to say how marvelous it was to be self employed. (he had been self employed for my entire childhood) He said that it had many advantages over employment one of which was only having to work 1/2 days. I laughed and said, "really only 1/2 days?" He answered, "you bet, and the best part is, you can chose which 12 hours it is!"

Not too long ago I received a phone call from a young man who said that he wanted to shoe horses for a living. He asked if he could come work for me to learn how. I wasn't looking for an apprentice and I had a funny feeling about it so I started to ask questions. He informed me that he hated his job, hated his boss, hated the people he worked with, and so it went. He said he loved horses, so he was just certain that if he could shoe horses for a living, all would be right with the world. I was sorry to do it but I just had to. I took a deep breath and said something like this. "You know I think your problem is not with the kind of work you do, I think your problem is with work itself. You go solve your problem with work, and you might find that you don't need to be a farrier to be happy,"

These two experiences really serve to illustrate what an important role work plays in our lives. With rare exception, it is necessary to work really hard to either make ends meet, or just to keep a good thing going. For us to have a comfortable and peaceful home life, we need to work at it very hard. To keep the bills paid we need to work very hard. To keep our loved ones safe we need to work very hard. To raise responsible children of integrity we have to work very hard.

I love this quote from Sam Ewing:

Hard work spotlights the
character of people: some
turn up their sleeves, some
turn up their noses, and
some don't turn up at all.


  1. Bruce -- thanks for hooking me up with your blog. This is going to be fun!

    1. Oh right, no pressure! Your posts are always so good. So now I guess I'm going to have to have my wife proof before I post. :) It is great to hear from you and thanks for looking at my stuff.