Most modern-day homesteaders have one foot on the farm….and the other foot still in the working world.
To keep the sustainable lifestyle going, many folks need to keep their “day jobs” in order to finance it, at least for now.
Being pulled between two worlds can be stressful, defeating and expensive. Routinely simplifying all parts of our lives can improve our health, family and overall effectiveness.
For us, we are still raising 7 children, ages 6-16 at home, with two out of the home. Some are in public school, others are homeschooled. We run two businesses as well as a farm. I also maintain and author this website. We’re busy.
This is the time of the year when I’m completely exhausted from gardening, canning, the duties involved in caring for farm animals (full-time job right there!), school related chores and activities, and running a home.
The schedule that I am currently keeping isn’t sustainable, and thankfully it’s temporary. Once fall sets in, the fall garden will be much smaller and manageable. Most of the harvesting and preserving will be complete. After just one more miniature donkey baby is delivered here in the next week or so, we’ll be finished with farm babies for the year. The last of the meat chickens will be dealt with this weekend. I cancelled the chicken order I had planned for October, I’m just tired.
Whew, I am ready for a break! As much of a break you can have with 7 kids at home.
Quite frankly, I long for some time to read and sew again…perhaps even a little boredom would be enjoyable.
Yet, I am constantly scrutinizing our “systems”
* What could we do better? Faster? With less effort?
* Are we taking on too much? Where can we cut?
* How can we be more efficient with our time and dollars?
I’m sharing a few of the issues we’ve dealt with this year along with some suggestions about how to deal with them.
Errands off the Property
Every time I get in the van, I lose time on the farm. During harvest and canning season, an unexpected errand can completely throw my day off, rendering me ineffective.
Thinking ahead and combining errands, when they become unavoidable, is helpful. Better yet, look for ways to bring what you need to the farm.
Order Bulk Feed: I wish I had done this sooner, but I finally took the time to call the local feed store, set up an account and get a monthly feed order delivered. There was a 500# minimum and we can meet that, however, why not go in with a neighbor if you can’t meet the minimum?
The prices were cheaper as well and it saves me time and gas to go get feed.
Order on-line: Ordering on-line is a great way to get what you need on your homestead. Frankly, I find the prices on-line to be much more competitive.
If you must leave the property, ask your neighbors if they need anything: They’ll be sure to return the favor sometime.
Growing Your Own Food
Being overwhelmed with harvesting and preserving food is a tricky thing…..part of you wants to put up as much food as you can, yet another part of you is exhausted from all the work.
Be realistic about what you can do.
Grow a more manageable garden: I’m not good at this because I always plant for loss….yet, most of it comes in. I’m working on this myself.
Know When to Let Go: Call neighbors or friends to come over and pick what you have when you’ve just had enough. Your food won’t go to waste and you can let go to do other more pressing things.
Spread out the harvest: Plant in two week intervals so that the harvest doesn’t come in all at once. This will give you time to breath and catch up.
Remember there’s always next year: There are those who won’t agree with me, but I believe in ‘next year”. There’s going to be another opportunity to do better.
Meredith with Ziggy, one of our babies this summer
Husbandry and Raising Your Own Meat
For those of you with farm critters, you know that juggling high-production gardening along with husbandry can be quite a challenge.
That said, I believe in the importance of keeping your flocks at a manageable number. With the drought of 2012, most of us are feeling the pressure of rising feed prices.
Winter can be very long when we are dealing with animals that we can’t afford to feed and that serve little purpose.
Sell: Those that you really can’t use in the next 12 months. Those animals who don’t quite “fit” your farm, whether they be high maintenance or just a nuisance, let them move on.
Buy: Make sure you can keep the commitment, but lower prices make a better environment for acquiring critters.
Cull: This can be difficult, but if you can feed your family with healthy but otherwise useless animals on your farm, why not? I have a few unexpected roosters and two goat bucks that are under consideration. Once again, feed is expensive.
Keeping the simple life….simple.