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John Denver Lied

May 3, 2015

Don’t get me wrong, I do like John Denver songs – a lot! But life on the farm is not laid back. At least it’s not on this farm! There is always so much to do, and so little time to get it all done! Perhaps on more established farms, things can become a little more relaxed, but in trying to build this farm, we find ourselves behind the curve every day.

When we get up in the morning its triage. What things are most important to do first today? How can we get into the shop to do our actual paid work and still get the garden worked on, or horses’ feet trimmed? Which project is most important to finish first, the goat pen, or the rabbit cages?

Take yesterday, for instance: We milked and had breakfast, and then started our regular chores. While doing chores, we realized that today was the only day that we could cook for the dogs in the next three days, because we had appointments scheduled. We also had to butcher three roosters and I was planning on canning and drying some citrus too. And somehow we needed to get in the shop too. Laughable! We were already tired, so we really didn’t want to do any of it. Alas, that wasn’t an option. The food we had for the dogs would go bad if we didn’t cook it right away, and we’d just be throwing money away on feeding those roosters if we didn’t get them in the freezer.

Some of the food we've been gleaning to feed the dogs.

Some of the food we’ve been gleaning to feed the dogs.

So, LJ started the fire (we use a big rocket stove styled cooker for our dog food) and chopped potatoes while I finished feeding the dogs. Then LJ headed off to set up her butchering area while I tended the fire and chopped up the rest of the food that needed cooked.

This style of cooker has to be tended regularly, you can’t just bank the fire and walk away, so I spent the next several hours running back and forth from house to dog yard – doing dishes and slicing oranges in the house, then adding wood to the fire and changing out what was in the stock pot as things finished cooking. LJ butchered roosters and checked the fire in between each bird.

Canning the chicken takes a lot of pressure off the already cramped freezer!

Canning the chicken takes a lot of pressure off the already cramped freezer!

We finally got the canning and the butchering done and the dog food all cooked, and had a chance to sit for a little bit before doing afternoon chores. By then there was no possibility of getting into the shop. The list of things that didn’t get done was, as usual, far greater than the list of things that did get done. We can’t focus on the “not dones” though, and just have to be happy with the “dones”. We crawled in bed early, watched a little Netflix, and crashed. Cursing the clock this morning when it said it was time to get up.

So much needs done, and it all needs done right away, that sometimes we have a hard time prioritizing the work. I joke often that we need clones of ourselves to do some of it. Or we need to quit sleeping – that would help too! We spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to lighten the load. Obvious answers like: getting rid of some of the animals, forgetting about gardening, or paying someone else to do some things get rejected every time. That would be too easy, and we are gluttons for punishment!

There are many reasons that we are so busy here right now. One of them is that when we started setting up the property, we never had any intention of a farm. Another is that once we decided to start raising animals, we went crazy and got too many too quickly. This is why we are having to play catchup with building coops, cages, pens, and shelters. We also try to do as much ourselves as we possibly can. We could pay to have the horses’ feet done, but we really can’t afford to. We could buy a building to make a new coop too, but again, no money.

We are trying to find ways to make our work more efficient – changing fences so we can use the quad and trailer to haul things, building coops that are easier to clean. Until we can finish these projects, we’ll always be behind and tired, I suppose. Perhaps we will be tired even when these things are done. So why do it? I occasionally ask myself this question, and others certainly ask it of us. We love having the animals – we love growing our own food – we love being self-sufficient! To do this – to live this way – it requires a lot of commitment in time and energy, and yet the reward is far greater than any paycheck can be. We provide for ourselves, we know where our food comes from, we know how to store that food, and how to care for our animals.

In our 40’s, we felt like we were all out of adventures. Homesteading is our new adventure. It’s a whole new batch of things to learn! I think we will probably always be tired, always be struggling to get the work done; we’ll never have enough money. But we’ll be fulfilled. And that’s everything we need,

A view worth stopping to admire!

A view worth stopping to admire!

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