Getting organized


I have declared the year 2023 one of decluttering and reorganizing. With a family of six people in our household, it is easy to accumulate things in the shop and garage if we are not careful. Our children are growing like weeds. They are still outgrowing shoes and jeans every year. As they have gotten older, they have tried out new sports and games and abandoned old ones. I am a firm believer in passing usable items on to the next user. We love to share hand-me-downs.

This process started way up inside an attic space where I was looking for some cardboard bank boxes to put 2022 files into. Every year I attempt to get a jumpstart on tax preparation by clearing out the previous year’s files for the farm and our businesses. 

When I was up in the attic, I got a little bit nervous about spiders. A couple of weeks before Christmas, I had a strange insect bite-like bump pop up on my back. After a couple of days of scary swelling, I had the nurse at my allergist’s office look at it, I was already there for an appointment. I left thinking it might be a spider bite, but she was not sure. As a precaution she sent me home with a prescription for some cream and antibiotics. I was on high alert for anything creepy or crawly up in the attic.

I did not encounter any vicious arachnids. I discovered we had tax accounting records well over seven years old. At that point, I knew what I needed to do. I went through each file box and took out everything from 2016 and older. I organized all the files we needed to keep by date and made an orderly system out of it. 

My husband was busy downstairs answering work emails. I had a huge smile on my face and my clothes were dusty. I told him to come upstairs. I had a surprise for him. I think he realized it was not necessarily a fun surprise. We got up to the top of the staircase and his eyes bugged out. We had kept a lot of old records for too long. He asked what I wanted to do with them. It was supposed to rain that day so I said I thought we may as well burn them. There was no way I was going to shred all that stuff. There were boxes dating back to 1997.

Our sons went and got the Kubota RTV and backed it up the driveway. We loaded all the boxes. They thought it was great fun to add to this fire and make it bigger. Unfortunately, it started pouring rain in this process. My husband was worried it wasn’t going to burn all the way and we would have papers flying around all over the pasture. The fire continued and we put off the rest of the boxes for another day. We all retreated to the house soaking wet.

After that, we decided it was a job that really needed to be done and made a list of all the other things on the farm and in our household that we should reorganize in the new year. 

I do not know how long this resolution will last but I hope to keep our busy family mindful of clutter and sharing things outgrown with our friends and neighbors. 

Happy New Year, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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