Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Day In The Life

A reader asked me to detail what I do in a day and how much time it takes to care for the critters. My life is really not that exciting, but I thought it might give people a good idea how much effort is involved in growing your own food and working full time.

My new job allows me to work from home, which is the greatest asset in running a small farm. I work more hours than I did at my last job, but I am not commuting so the time spent is basically a wash. I usually begin working at 6:30 am and finish up around 5 pm. Most days, I take a 1 hour lunch break to walk the goats, muck stalls, or ride. So I still average about 9.5 hours of work a day which is "high" but very necessary for this job which is both challenging and exciting.

The rest of the farm life breaks down as follows:
6:15 am - feed goats (~5 min)
6:20 am - feed horses (~10 min)
9:00 am - let chickens out (~5 min)
9:05 am - Turn horses out for day (~5 min)
Lunch - let goats out, muck stalls, collect eggs, enjoy the sunshine (1 hour)
At dark, feed goats and put in barn (~5 min)
Put up chickens, collect eggs (~5 min)
Bring in horses for dinner (~10 min)
7:30 pm - grain horses (~5 min)
8:00 pm - feed dogs raw diet (~20 min)
Before bed, blanket horses, if necessary, and put back out or top off stalls (~15 min)

This sounds more organized than it is, times always vary depending on weather or if I have meetings to attend.

So all in all, it's a little bit of time spread throughout the day which would be impossible if I worked off the farm. When we are both working together, it goes quickly, but if one of us is out of town on business, you can only do the bare minimum and still cook three meals for yourself and feed the dogs (and hamster). Organizing feed bags, stall stripping (40 min), coop cleaning (30 min) or goat barn cleaning (30 min) happens on the weekend.

The horses are easily three times the work of the chickens and goats combined, not just in time spent, but also in labor. Cleaning Brego's stall out is a major undertaking, requiring a strong back and lots of patience.

Once the goats are in milk, add 10 minutes, twice a day for milking. During the summer, add at least 1 hour a day for garden chores, with an additional 4-6 hours per weekend. Also add 2 hours a day for riding, with an additional 4 hours per weekend. Summers are crazy busy, starting before 6 am and not finishing until after 9 pm. It's good to have a lot of soups and stews prepared and canned over the winter, since we usually don't feel like cooking after being so exhausted all day.

Around the daily work, we always have projects going on which need a few hours of attention whenever we can manage it. Highlights of 2010 include:
  1. Prepping, liming and seeding 4 acres of pasture
  2. Build a 4 x 6 root cellar (meat/cheese aging cave) in basement
  3. Move a door in the garage for easier hay access
  4. Build a mud room to keep the house cleaner
  5. Replace sink in basement and possibly install a stove for cheese making
  6. Jack up the chicken coop and rebuild the foundation which is failing
  7. Reside and reroof the chicken coop
  8. Build the permanent goat paddock fence
  9. Dig up the underperforming drainage lines and replace with larger pipes across entire length of the property
  10. Plant an orchard
And that list is just the highlights, we have at least 20 more items on the list which are smaller, less exciting projects. Seeing it all written down, it does seem like a tremendous amount of work, but I guess when you enjoy it so much, it doesn't feel like it. It's all just part of my routine of life and I love it. I wouldn't trade it for anything.


Sarah said...

Interesting post. Beyond the day to day responsiblities, what about any kind of travel, visiting friends or family, that sort of thing? It must be very difficult to get away. Do you have someone who can take care of the farm for you or are you just ok with mostly staying put? To me that seems like the biggest hurdle.

B said...

You said you're life isn't exciting... I actually disagree. I would be thrilled to live your life, at least for a few days. I really love the simple pleasures of taking care of my creatures. It makes me happy to see them content and enjoying their own lives.

You're lucky that you can work from home... I can't exactly have a research laboratory in my living room, so that's just something that I'm just going to have to deal with.