Why HGTV host Chip Gaines insists on doing the farm chores himself

HGTV's Chip and Joanna Gaines at the NYSE
HGTV's Chip and Joanna Gaines at the NYSE

Fans of the hit HGTV show "Fixer Upper" are well aware that its stars, Chip and Joanna Gaines, live on a farm in Waco, Texas.

Nearly every episode features some kind of montage of their four kids romping outside with various kinds of farm animals, from pigs to horses to goats.

What viewers may wonder is how in the world Chip and Joanna can keep a farm going while filming the show and launching dozens of other endeavors, from their "Magnolia Journal" magazine to furniture lines to curated paint colors, and now a partnership with Target stores.

In his new autobiography, "Capital Gaines," Chip talks about the farm work — and he says he does, in fact, do it himself.

Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of HGTV's Fixer Upper.
Nathan Congleton | NBC

"Getting up at four in the morning to tend the farm while the world is quiet — feeding animals, mucking stalls, gathering eggs, filling water troughs, checking fences, letting animals out into the field — is a high point to my day," he writes.

"It probably would be wiser, from a time-management standpoint, if I hired a crew to take care of the farm so I could get a little more rest. But the thing is," he writes, "when I start my morning out there, I'm more productive for the rest of the day."

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"Maybe," Chip writes, "it's because my farm chores guarantee that every day I have those two hours to myself. No texts or emails or phone calls or meetings. No producers sending me pictures of the shirt I'm supposed to be wearing."

For the Gaineses, time management is no small thing. In fact, in discussing their decision to end "Fixer Upper" after season five, which begins next month, Chip writes that, quite simply, "Jo and I need a break."

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But Chip's attitude towards farm work — and construction work, which he also still continues doing — may help explain why he would pick grueling, repetitive labor someone else could handle for him over continuing their wildly popular television show.

"Though farm chores and construction work are the most physically demanding jobs that I currently do," Chip writes, "they feel like recess to me. And there's something really beautiful about work that feels like play."

"Maybe it's because I'm task-oriented and like seeing something through from start to finish. Maybe I just love the outdoors. I can't be sure what it is about this kind of work I love," he writes, "but I know I love it."

"A job," he continues, "is something you do for money. Your life's work is done for a bigger purpose …. And when you manage to find that work — that's when it starts feeling like play."

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