Time Management Tools for the Homestead

| 8/5/2014 3:25:00 PM

Tags: time management tools, homesteading, Mary Lou Shaw, Ohio,

I’ve hOur homesteadeard people say that they want to homestead but “there’s too much work for a single family.” I agree that an ideal situation might include two or three families farming cooperatively so no one has too much work and everyone gets vacations. But waiting for an ideal situation keeps people from taking the first step. A few time management tools can help a homestead run smoothly and enjoyably.

My husband and I grow most the food we eat on our 13 acre homestead with the help of our garden, orchard, bees, poultry and cows. I admit that it can feel a bit like a three-ring circus at peak season, but we’ve figured out some tools for making our work manageable and enjoyable.

Allow each season to be unique: Perhaps most importantly, we do only the work that best fits our Ohio seasons. Having each season unique allows us to be refreshed by constant variety. In springtime, we realize our workload will accelerate sharply, but that comes after a restful winter. It’s a treat then to begin some of our vegetable seedlings in late February. The orchard is pruned in March and the beehives examined. The first calves of our small dairy herd are born in April and the pace sharply accelerates as milking begins. At the same time, chicken and turkey eggs are hatching and the little ones are then cared for in their “brood houses.” Adding one or two new tasks each week allows us to best fit them into our schedules.

Summer requires the steady pace that we have rehearsed for the last decade. The planting and weeding in the garden is quickly followed by summer’s harvesting and preserving. We have meat chickens in one chicken tractor and the young heritage birds in others. We don’t extract honey until all the calves are born and we can again sleep through the nights.

Summer is a preparation for an easier winter. Cheddar cheese accompanies fruits and vegetables into storage. Butchering chickens, making apple cider and shelling dried beans belong to the shorter days of autumn.

Winter provides a slower time for resting, visiting, hobbies and reading. We intentionally no longer milk and let the calves take the mothers’ milk. We don’t use a hoop house to extend the growing season. The food that was preserved in summer provides easy meals for winter. Remembering the slower pace of winter also makes it easier to keep going during the longer days of summer.

8/13/2014 10:53:04 AM

Sounds like a lovely lifestyle! Do you make an income from your homestead or do you and/or husband work outside of the home?

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