Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Reflections on Saving Time on the Farm

Time has become something that is very precious to me. I don't know if turning 40 or 41 had anything to do with that or not. It might have been that I always felt like I had no time for the things in life that I really enjoy. Don't get me wrong I love our life and the things that I do, but there are leisure activities that I enjoy also. Things that are mine and only mine, things that make me...well me. Those things get pushed to the side in the busy life of trying to homeschool, keep the house, and do the farming. With this life it is very easy to get caught up in being only part of yourself, the part that enjoys hard work and challenges that come along with farming. So this past year has really been about getting that other part of me back at least to some extent. No, I still won't have the time to immerse myself in a painting to the point where I live eat and breathe the painting until it is finished. I once ate nothing but chicken and rice soup for a week while working on a painting. Those were the days before children. However, a couple of hours a week shouldn't be too much to ask. So, this past year I have set out to make my life easier so that I can manage to carve out those few extra moments to be the other side of me. Here are a few of the things that have helped and some things that I am still working on and hope to have finished by the first of the year. I will separate them out by category. Garden 1. Mulch is my very best friend. I mulch heavily and anytime I have a few extra moments it doesn't take long to rake up a couple wheelbarrow loads of mulch and dump them in the garden pathways. I now keep the garden heavily mulched and the weed issue well isn't. 2. Biodynamics-deep beds, heavily composted are invaluable at saving me time. Why? Because I don't have to worry about water and I don't have to worry about weeds because the plants are so close together that the weeds that do get in there are stunted and not much of an issue. Things grow even if I neglect the garden. 3.Stop trying to grow everything. I used to grow corn which was a huge waste of my time and resources simply because we don't use much, don't eat much and it requires a lot of care. Corn needs loads of water down here in the south. It would take me an hour just to water the corn. We eat so little that it is much more worth my time and money to go to the farmer's market and buy it from some other poor sap...cough..farmer... 50.00 has enough corn in our freezer to last us from harvest to harvest and saves me hours of watering, weeding, and harvesting. 4. Take some time off...for folks up north you have no choice but to take winter off unless you are utilizing a greenhouse. I take the summer off with very little in the garden. Tomatoes and okra are about the only things going in the garden by July. Down here in the deep south it is just too hot. Livestock- 1. Build a routine..having a routine means that livestock chores are not that hard. I can do the morning milking, feeding and barn cleanup in an hour in the morning. Since I am fresh in the morning and have more energy than the evening, I do more during that time. I don't hay twice a day, I put out all the days hay in the morning. They nibble all day on it. Nightime feeding takes me about 20 minutes. 2. Put things where you need them. We now have 3 barns...the goat barn, the horse/rabbit barn and the pig "barn" (more of an area really). Chickens are right next to the goats. We keep goat stuff in the goat barn, horse and rabbit stuff in the horse barn and since the pigs are in between we keep that in the goat barn and start there...see routine. I can't tell you how much walking and toting this saves. 3. Keep number manageable and down to what you need, not what you fall in love with. This can be a hard one. Previously, I would never butcher a doe or get rid of one of my girls. However, as the herd grew in size I realized that I really didn't need that many girls and those that weren't producing or producing well needed to go. I still have a couple that might be going soon. I don't want to milk 7 goats every morning. 3 is good, 4 is manageable. Home- 1. De-clutter. Clutter is time consuming because you have to spend two hours moving the clutter so that you can spend 1 hour cleaning. I can no longer deal with stuff. I have spent the better part of the year having major cleanouts and getting rid of stuff. Have a place for everything, if you don't have a cabinet, or drawer home for something then hang it on the wall and if you can't do that then do you really need it? or do you really need what is in the cabinet that it could go in? 2. Develop routines to keep it down to a manageable level. Every morning I wipe down the bathrooms. It takes me 15 minutes tops in my morning routine and my bathroom is always clean. Each evening after my little one's bath the tub gets scrubbed down and rinsed while she is putting on her pj's. Take about 5 minutes. Make the bed as soon as the last person is out of it. It takes 5 minutes and makes a room look so much tidier. Fold and immediately put away all laundry as soon as it is done. Takes just a few minutes and then you aren't looking at that stack of laundry all day that keeps building as it comes off the line or out of the dryer. 3. Keep things where you need them. I don't keep all cleaning supplies in the same spot. I keep them where I use them. Saves time going to get them. 4. Swiffer is your friend. Those dusters are the best home cleaning expense that I spend money on. It takes time to polish furniture, but it takes minutes with a swiffer duster to dust the entire house from top to bottom. Dust is a no no here with our allergies and living in the country unfortunately means lots of dust. The floor dusters are great too in that they take minutes to sweep and dust all the floors. 5. Something I am working on is packing up my glass, heirlooms and collectibles. I have been the family heirloom keeper all my adult life. I have 3 sets of china. Really who needs 3!? So, I am doing what my great grandmother did. First, I am taking certain heirlooms and packing them in boxes for the girls. They will get these boxes when they get their own homes. Second, I am packing things up that will be rotated through the year. I am thinking of 3 rotations, maybe 4 with the seasons. My great-grandmother did this twice a year. She packed up half of her beloved collectibles and put them in a storage room that they had. Then halfway through the year the boys had to bring those boxes out and she rotated what she had packed with what was out. The stuff packed was then put on display and the other was packed away for the next 6 months. Makes cleaning much easier, freshens the house decor, and you enjoy these things much more. So now, that I have gotten rid of things not needed or wanted I am packing and downsizing the rest. Tools- 1. Keep them organized and have a tool place. Moving all the tools except barn clean-up things into one area has helped save me so much time. We are notorious about leaving tools somewhere. My grandfather would be ashamed, he taught me better than that. My husband is worse than I am. Having an organized tools spot means that you want to put the tool back where it belongs and where it can be found. I used to spend forever hunting for the tool I needed to do the job. 2. Keep a small tool box in the house for small things. This saves me time in that I don't have to go outside to get a screwdriver, or a hammer or etc. I have a small toolbox in the house for small little repairs or odds and ends. 3. Keep tools clean and ready to use. Nothing is more aggravating than going to get a tool and it needs a blade changed or whatever. Then you have to stop what you are doing, take care of the tool and you have wasted time getting the job done. When you finish using a tool clean it maintain it and put it back ready to grab and go the next time you need it. When wood splitting day is over the axe head is sharpened and ready to pick up and use then next time wood is split. You get the picture. 4. Keep extra parts on hand. I can't tell you how much time we have wasted over the years by not doing this. Say your in the middle of weed eating and the string runs out. You go to the tool room and there is no more string. So then you get in your car go to town 30 minutes away, get more string 15minutes in store (if you don't get distracted looking at something else, drive the 30 minutes back home and finish the weedeating. See you wasted an hour and 15 minutes minimum and in that time the weedeating could have been done. When I buy replacements, I buy two so that I have what I need and when I use one up I replace it. This saves so much time and wasted energy, plus helps during those times when you are broke and don't have the money to spend on weedeater string or extra staples for the staple gun. So those are my best time saving tips. I am actually beginning to see the point where I might be able to get to do some sewing or some painting or even just sit down and read a book. Amazing, I might get to be me again! Blessings, Kat

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