Yes, I actually said relaxation. Are you finding yourself overwhelmed with chores, or frazzled and just flat out fatigued trying to accomplish everything you must do in a workday on the homestead?
I have recently lost my right arm support on my homestead. As all of you know who are practicing “prepper’s” of self-sufficiency, the Fall season, which by the way is my favorite, is almost equal to that of Spring in the number and intensity of the tasks and chores that must be performed in order to keep your slice of heaven on earth in sequence of the time cycle of Mother Nature. It’s time to close the garden and fields, and plant green fertilizer legumes or over-seed it with clover for the spring, overwinter and greenhouse enclose any vegetation you intend to keep through the next planting season, fertilize the fruit bearing trees in your orchard and prune back vines, the fruit bearing bramble bushes and your blueberries. Then there is the winter prep for animal housing, feed, mineral and fodder storage for wintering, getting that hay put up into the hay loft from the field, cut and stack cords of firewood, and attend to the fuel stores required that will be used over the long colder days which are approaching in short chronological ordering.
By that loss of support, I mean that my best half of my marriage partnership has unexpectedly been called to work performing medical duty on a base which is unreasonably too far to commute home daily. Thus, I am winging and carrying out the normal daily chores and tasks which had previously utilized 75% of my available waking hours already in performing productive homestead work. With his absence, I am now electing to pick up the difference of all the seasonal chores as well. At first, I admit with no shame, I was panicked and overwhelmed at just the thought of undertaking all our homestead chores alone. I prayed as I worked. Allot. I asked the Lord our God for strength, for physical durability and mental application of my wisdom and knowledge, and for fortitude. I set out on this journey to come up with a written task sheet showing myself exactly what must be done, when, and set realistic expected dates of target completion. What I have learned, and am still learning, with every step and breath I take, is that there are many useless, inefficient steps that we take every single day. We do them over and over because that’s the way we’ve always done them. Or, that’s the way a husband did them who could lift twice what I can, did them. Here are some examples of time and work saving issues I have addressed and corrected so far in this learning and revision process. This has really been a experience of self observation and revision of old work habits. Now I can say, “Yes, it can and will be done.” I have been sole paddling this canoe over and through the rough waters for 4 months now. It was not possible without reworking some old work habits and practices.
The initial first days and weeks I noticed just how many actual footsteps and trips I made going back and forth to the feed containers. It was numerous, a wasteful expenditure of my body energy and time consumptive. I never noticed it before, because there were two of us splitting that energy by half. I was also doing it in a leisurely manner. I immediately set out to rework the setup of my animal chores from what I observed and learned. The first revision made was physically moving those numerous 32 gallon galvanized containers of different feeds from one central feeding location, to the external walls next to each of the separate animal housing areas of our dairy goats, both nanny and bucks, which are separated by paddocks across a large field, and also for our guard dogs pen. This also included the poultry, duck, geese, and guinea fowl pens. We have separate securely penned housing for all the poultry, a “nursery” and their mama’s, due to the annual history of high fowl losses by predation of red foxes, and coons in the Fall. So, they all get penned up in the late summer and for overwintering. This one revision action has saved me 10 trips back and forth to one central feed location. I also used individual scoopfuls before for serving up each of corn, scratch grains, and sunflower seeds. I observed the pen floor. All those grains ended up mixed and thrown together by the poultry anyway. Why was I still scooping grain individually? Revision two, the grain, and seeds, and pellets, all go into one large 5 gallon bucket. One trip. Completed. Now my extra time is spent in observing the animals and pens for actual or potential problems that I need to address for them.
The poultry watering is obtained by a central well head pump and hose which is 30 feet from the pens in any direction. Each time I had to untangle a central hose and drag it around the yard to get to the pens. A 100 ft. run of Rubber hose is heavy! I installed a 5 head, split manifold on the spigot with a master shutoff. This now allows me to have numerous shorter hoses, (I cut the 100 footer into three shorter hoses using mending kits) at each pen location. No more carting 7 gallon waterier containers across the yard. [JWR Adds: For providing livestock water, getting an inexpensive automatic float valve for each livestock tank is a tremendous labor saver. In warm climates these can be used year-round, but in cold climates, you’ll have to remove them for the coldest months to prevent cracking in sub-zero weather.] Next, I installed an overhang shelter to protect each of the feeding stations. It keeps the rain, and snow which sometimes comes in winter off of me, and also shields the open feed containers from the weather while I’m scooping into the buckets. It also has given me an area to hang the tools that I use for each set of animals and I can keep a reserve bale of hay there as well. This saves me numerous trips and energy going back and forth to the barn. I installed a T-post pole mounted liquid soap dispenser at each of our watering locations. They used to be attached on the outbuildings. I attached a short hose extension to one of the vacant manifold outlets with a shutoff switch. This is used only for hand washing.
I observed and made instant mental note, as to how many footsteps I was taking to avoid or sidestep an object, large rock, or bush in the field or paddocks, or how many times I tripped over that same old stump sitting out the ground. Or, how many times I needed to open and close a gate latch. All of these can be revised or removed. I had the stumps ground. I moved field hay feeders closer to the fence, same with mineral blocks. I took out bushes.
The examples of revisions I have made toward a more efficient workplace are numerous and too many to list here. I hope you get the gist of this message in this process, so you can observe and create your own revisions of inefficient work habits or routines. It is truly an ongoing process and perpetual and continually refined and never static, toward an end goal target of your homestead efficiency success. Keenly observe what you do with your energy and time. Make each and every step you take count toward productivity and efficiency of both your physical energy and time expenditure, and you will find that you will get everything you must get done completed. After four months of reworking some old habits, practices, and farmstead layouts, we now have quality time left for us. When hubby does get to come home for a long 3 or 4 day stretch off in his schedule, we do some quality enjoyment functions and enjoy some relaxation together, or we tackle a planned project that absolutely requires two efficiently operating people to get it done.
Remember, and honor what the Lord God said, Genesis 2:2, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made”.
Rest and Relaxation is the reward for all your hard earned work. Make plans for that rest as well as your work. May you all have a God Blessed and Happy Fall season!