Sunday, April 25, 2010

morning chores

A lot of folks who read this blog aren't homesteaders, gardeners, or even bread bakers (yet). They seem to have concerns about time restraints. People ask me often how much time goes into caring for the farm and animals. I thought this morning I would time each task, at my normal speed, in hopes it gives you an idea of the energy I have to set aside. So here's a timed example of morning chores.

Taking care of the new laying hen chicks: 2 minutes.

I refill water font and feeder jar from a bag of feed right next to the brooder and the laundry room has a sink in it. Easy. later that day I'll have to refill the brooder with new pine shavings. (I do this every 3 days.) That will take about 5 minutes.

Preparing the laying flock/meat birds for the day: 8 minutes.

Open coop door, feed birds from metal bin and scoop next to the chicken coop. Refill gallon metal water font at the well. Catch egg-eating chicken and place in spare rabbit hutch in barn. Refill meat birds' (too young to free-range unsupervised) feed dish and smaller plastic water font. Later today I will build a meat bird chicken tractor for the sheep pasture. It'll be a simple portable pen of scrap wood and chicken wire. Some nails and a staple gun are all it will take. I look forward to the project, which might last fifteen minutes?

Rabbit work: 3 minutes

Refill all feed trays with pellets, give small ration of second cut hay. Refill any low or empty water bottles at the well. Check on adorable kits. 7 made it and are doing fine. (The others were destroyed by the doe.) Besides repeating this later before bed, that is all the effort they require today.

Sheep work: 5 minutes

Walk up hill. Open gate. Let Sheep graze on hillside surrounded my portable fence. Place hands on hips. Take a deep breathe. Take in the view and smile. Later today I will refill their water, and move the portable fencing to a new area of grass. Because of the hill, wait time for the buckets to fill, and all - this may take fifteen minutes total.

Now, that's a quick morning of clock-winding to keep the animals going for the day. But don't think it's always that simple. If it's pouring rain: things slow down. If something breaks, or you run out of feed it takes longer to mend it or run to the feed store. I imagine if I had children this would take longer and require a second person, possibly. And of course I didn't include the time it took to build the fences, re-fix the chicken coop, build the meat bird pen inside the coop, or transport sheep. However, it was all done in the last eight days with a thirty-two hour work week, a few friends, some hard work, and a trusty post pounder. Far from impossible. And for all it gives me in satisfaction, good food, and sore arms: totally worth it.


Blogger Toni aka irishlas said...

Usually the time I spend dawdling with enjoyment of the quiet morning, surrounding beauty, etc. takes longer than the chores themselves..

April 25, 2010 at 8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find that taking care of my chicken flock of 23, 5 rabbits, 66 quail that I am raising for food as well as my mates in the breeding cages, 3 goats, 5 Khaki Campbell ducks, a dog and two cats takes about 15 minutes a day. I do have to assign a day once a week to spend a little more time mucking out coops, changing hay in nesting boxes and such, which can take 30 minutes to an hour. All of my feed is stored next to the animal pens in water tight containers. Also we installed a laundry sink out by the coop to make washing everyone's water bowl and such more convenient.

April 25, 2010 at 8:12 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

My experience, with a very small flock of chickens only and a pet rabbit but also with three kids, is that it takes a huge amount of mental and physical energy to get over the hump between no-farm-animals and some/any. The building of the portable hen tractor last spring took four trips to the hardware store (no scrap lumber around here), several mornings by myself with a 2YO plus an afternoon with husband. I bet the more practice you get building stuff and scrounging materials the better and faster at it you get. But making that leap is the trick, and so worth it.

April 25, 2010 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

I agree, it takes a ridiculously small amount of time to care for the animals. And yes, more time is often spent breathing deeply while looking around and appreciating the view, the animals, and the fresh air.

April 25, 2010 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Everything takes longer with kids. Like, absurdly longer. If you can do a run to the feed store in 20 minutes by yourself, expect that to take an hour with a kid: convincing them to wear socks, negotiating the transport of snacks and/or figurines, checking the diaper bag for supplies in the event of ill-timed manure generation, extra time to strap them into the car seat if they're thrashing about and trying to bite off your cheeks, protracted lessons about stealing your wallet and ripping up your cash ... notice in this scenario we're not even at the feed store yet. Don't say we parents didn't warn ya!

April 25, 2010 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Sense of Home Kitchen said...

What an exciting weekend you are having! Thank you for sharing and letting us experience some of it with you.

April 25, 2010 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sound like a good morning. I think the most work is getting them setup and once that is done the daily care is not too much.


April 25, 2010 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger CallieK said...

I swear it takes me longer to clean the cat litter box than all of that put together.

April 25, 2010 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

I love when bloggers tell us details like this, it's the little things that I always wonder about!

April 25, 2010 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

A morning schedule for me would be let the 3 German Shepherds out and 2 cats in. Start the coffee. Check food and water of Angora buns especially the doe and 4 little buns. Get scratch feed and any left over vegetable leavings and let 6 layers and rooster out. Check layer pellets and water fount. Fill if need be. Fill food and water founts for 31 chicks who just got put out today. Check water and food of Silver Fox Rabbits. In the evening, close up big chicken house and put screen in front of little chickens dogaloo. Feed, pellets, hay and something green, and water all bunnies. Oh yes, during the day if I'm home I pull grass or weeds for the chickens. In the winter they get some hay. Sounds like a lot of work but the sense of satisfaction far outweighs the work. Check back with me in February to see if I'm still this content.
You also have to account for some time during the day to just enjoy the antics of the animals.

April 25, 2010 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Bex said...

Taking into consideration that I only have six hens and one 4-year-old son, my morning still winds up taking about the same amount of time as yours. During the week I start with getting the spawn to school, so the chickens wind up waiting until I get back from that to get into the yard. Although, with the daylight coming earlier now I may flip that a little and let them out while the spawn is eating or something. I agree with Jill in that it's harder to take the first step and actually get the animals than it is to take a little time to care for them.

April 25, 2010 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

I had no idea a chicken tractor could be so simple to build. Do share us a picture or two when it's done!

April 25, 2010 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger E said...

Don't forget time spent socializing with the animals and appreciating them!

April 25, 2010 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

So much joy and satisfaction for such little time, really! I think about that when I feed my cats (2.5 minutes) - so much love for very little cat chow. And when I play my harps - 20 minutes of hauling to an event and two hours of giving people beauty.

All so very worth it.

April 25, 2010 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger Rois said...

When people learn to slow down they will find that this life is not any more time consuming than any other life but in my opinion a slower life is a joyful one.

April 25, 2010 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger KellyV (Kelly the Fifth) said...

Okay now. I have never heard of a chicken tractor. I had to Wiki it. How about that? I don't have chickens in my corner of L.A., but I do hear them by my school. And I hear the roosters all day. I wonder if they have chicken tractors?

April 25, 2010 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I find that whenever I focus on rushing through things to "save" time, I just end up wasting it on the other end. Better to take the time and enjoy things as they come. What a lovely routine to start the day. :)

April 25, 2010 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger Abi said...

i just did a big post on this just last week! for us, the total time is 1-1/2 hours a day but that is with three kids tagging along and of course we are washing and packing up 4 dozen eggs a day for sale.

April 25, 2010 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger Moose Nuggets said...

Farming Morning with kids and without a second person:
wake around 0600 to the sound of "I'm hungries" and baby still snuggled in nursing. Snuggle for 5 minutes, wander down the loft steps of the cabin. Make sure toddler pees in toilet instead of pants. (you can do this while emptying your own bladder) Brush teeth and pull on clothes while toddler dawdles. Change baby's diaper. Secure baby in highchair and deliver snacks to both kids. Add wood to wood stove. Threaten the toddler with whatever works if she so much as thinks about causing trouble while you tend animals.
Hurry to chicken coop to do a quick head count (26), add feed and water. (seriously, I am in the coop less than 2 minutes and that's if I dawdle.) let the big birds out and promise to see them later.
Return to house and make coffee and breakfast. Get girls dressed while waiting.
My toddler loves the baby's morning nap because it means time to check on the baby chicks with momma. We go again in the afternoon- not because we need to but just to giggle at the baby birds and so the baby can see the chicks. After I tuck my kids to bed, I dash out again to tuck the birds in for the night and replenish food and water.
So far, no casualties.
For the record: it takes less time to make food from scratch (bread included!) than it does to go buy junk food at the grocery.
Also my kids are not a hassle. They are part of the farm. Give them ways to HELP and they aren't in the way at all. My toddler refills the chick feeder for me while I check chicken butts and my one year old thinks she's very important holding something for me while I do something. Any kid can hold a hammer for you or stack scraps of wood somewhere.

April 26, 2010 at 12:39 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

So cool to read about so many people slowing down and enjoying life - especially folks with kids.

I just wish for their own sakes that more people would 'get it'.

April 26, 2010 at 1:19 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

Love all the comments about people with kids; Michael - hilarious, I totally relate. I have always thought Jenna and others like her will benefit from getting the dream underway and some experience with it before (or if ever) they have kids. I'm trying to hammer out these farm dreams myself, plus give my kids one-on-one, eye-to-eye, uninterrupted time everyday. Oh, and work a 9-to-five'er, too. My, the days are short! But lovin' every minute of it.

April 26, 2010 at 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you still have Angora rabbits? How much time did you spend with them in grooming?
I'm SO tempted to acquire a couple of them . . .
Thanks and Congrats! I'm so happy for ya!

April 26, 2010 at 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so agree with the kid comments. I have 4 of them and I would pay any price to go even slower and give my kids a life in the country. What a gift. :)
Jenna, the place is looking more beautiful every day!

April 26, 2010 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

I always find it so surprising when I time myself doing some sort of work or chore - it always takes much less time than I imagine. I love reading about your morning routine, Jenna!
Here's a question: why would a doe destroy her kits? Were they runts? The natural world can be so harsh.

April 26, 2010 at 3:55 PM  
Blogger Leiflet said...

Actually, if you have a baby carrier, such as an ERGO, you can strap 'em on your back and just carry on as usual. With a 4 month-2 year old baby on my back (or chest), i have done these things:

- drawn things for my MFA thesis,
- made homemade pancakes,
- made 4 course Japanese meals,
- worked in my garden,
- done multi-store grocery shopping,
- moved boxes from house to house,
- painted a gross bathroom,
- cleaned floors,
- hiked in the snow,

You can do it it too! He seems pretty happy to watch what goes on.

April 27, 2010 at 11:00 AM  
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April 27, 2010 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger jmabeynot said...

As someone in the planning stages of acquiring chicken, rabbits, and bees, I really appreciate you sharing how long it takes you to complete these daily tasks. All of this is well outside my comfort zone and my friends question my sanity when they hear my plans, but I'm really excited about what the next few months will bring. I can just picture how alive my place will feel, and that makes me happy.

April 28, 2010 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger Andria Crowjoy said...

Now see these timing don't take into account all of the stopping and gazing at the wonder of it all, small distractions like that weird gully or some new indentation in the scrub. I call "full o bologna!"

May 2, 2010 at 7:18 PM  

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