10 Homestead Chores You Can Accomplish in 10 minutes or Less

When life gets busy, I tend to take a “triage” approach to homesteading…

As much as I’d like to be able to linger for hours in the barn every day piddling around and making sure that everything is done properly, it just doesn’t happen all of the time…

So, on the crazy days, I usually find myself running (literally…) down to the barn to make sure the animals have some sort of hay in front of them and that no one is dead or bleeding profusely… You know, the important stuff. ;)

However, while this “method” (I use the term loosely) technically gets the job done, I usually find myself with a mess at the end of the week… The nesting boxes are crusty, the barn floor is littered with manure, and it just feels… messy and disorganized.

Judging from a recent conversation on The Prairie Homestead Facebook page, it seems as though many of you can relate to this little phenomenon…

So, I’ve decided to put together a list of quick homestead chores that can be accomplished in 10 minutes or less (roughly). This list is a reminder for myself more than anyone else! ;)

Even on the busy days, I’ve decided to make an effort to pick one or two items off of this list to complete. That way, I will hopefully avoid the feeling that a bomb went off in my barnyard towards the end of the week.

10 Chores You Can Accomplish in 10 Minutes or Less

1. Fill feeders to the top. This might sound obvious, but sometimes when I see that my chicken feeder is half full, I just “leave it until later”… The problem with that, is that sometimes you forget the next day and end up with ravenous chickens… It only takes a few minutes to bring out the feed sack and top ‘er off, so just do it. ;) One less thing to worry about “tomorrow…”

Feeding large bales to our horses/cattle has simplified our feeding setup...

2. Fill water tanks to the top. Again, just like above, it’s easy to leave a half full water tank “until tomorrow.” That is, until tomorrow comes and everything is empty and everything is a mess, and you feel overwhelmed. So, I strive to top off my main water tank daily, whether it “needs” it or not. Again, this takes 10 minutes max, and only if it’s mostly empty.

3. Replenish supplement/salt/mineral feeders. Not gonna lie, this little task is the first to get pushed to the back burner during busy weeks. And then I end up with goats who want their loose mineral and baking soda, horses who are looking for their salt block, chickens who are craving their crushed eggshells, and I feel like a horrible person…

4. Scoop poop. I know this is supposed to be the most distasteful part of animal ownership, but truthfully? I kinda enjoy it. I guess I spent so many years “paying my dues” in the equine industry by cleaning stalls, that it’s just become a part of me. There is something oddly therapeutic about manual labor, and I am quite comfortable with my pitchfork and wheelbarrow, thankyouverymuch.

But, if you don’t get in some scooping time every day, you’ll end up with a mountain of manure by the end of the week, and then it probably won’t be as enjoyable. So, I *try* to spend a few minutes each day cleaning up the barn floor while the water tank fills. If I do it daily, it’s quite painless and I usually have only one wheelbarrow load, or less.

5. Freshen bedding. Now, I don’t use any bedding inside of my barn (unless we are kidding goats, then I lay down a little straw) since I generally don’t have animals locked in stalls. They mostly use the barn as a “loafing shed” when they feel like it. However, if you are using shavings or straw in your pens/stalls, it’s easier to replenish the supply a little every day, rather than waiting until it’s completely gone.

I use the deep litter method for my chickens, and it works best to toss the “litter” and add fresh (if needed) on a regular basis. Once per year, I do a deep, disinfecting clean, but otherwise, it just needs a little daily check and that’s it.

6. Add fresh bedding to nesting boxes. This is a BIG one for me… I have a bad habit of neglecting my nesting boxes, which results in dirty eggs, which I hate… However, the remedy is simple- if I just remember to add fresh shavings to my boxes daily, my eggs stay nice and clean and I don’t have to worry about washing them.

farm fresh eggs

7. Sweep. I majored in Equine Studies in college and spent a LOT of time in the college barn. My instructor was a broom FANATIC, and would literally dock your grade if you didn’t sweep the barn aisle after you were done. I guess I adopted his obsession, because now I have a “thing” for clean barn floors… Half of my barn is dirt, but the other half is concrete, and I love having it nicely swept. But, during those busy weeks, this task is low on the priority list, and things get messy fast. But I just *feel* better when it’s swept, so I try to make a point to spend a few moments with my broom when I can.

8. Weed. Ah… weeding. The single most overwhelming part of summer for me… I always start out with good intentions, but end up drowning in weeds by August. The thing about weeding is that if you do it every day, it’s no big deal… It’s when you don’t touch your garden for a week that you end up loosing the battle and having to do a weeding marathon. So this year, I plan to spend at least 10 minutes every day weeding something (the garden, a random bed, etc). I’ll let you know how that goes! ;)

Last year's garden looks lush, but there are a whole lotta weeds in this pic!

9. Check for harvest-ready veggies. Does anyone else sometimes forget to harvest stuff in their garden? Please tell me I’m not the only one… I mean, yeah, sometimes I’m so excited for something to ripen that I check it every single day, but other times I space it and end up having a “Ack! I forgot about the peas!” moment…

This year, I hope to do a daily “harvest-check” so make sure I don’t miss anything at it’s peak of ripeness.

10. Use your 10 minutes to enjoy your homestead! Here’s a novel idea– have an extra 10 minutes in your day before you have to rush out the door? Use it to take a breather outside in your garden/yard/barnyard. Yes, homesteading is a lot of work, but you must remember to enjoy what you have, or you’ll quickly become burnt out.

Yesterday, I had a minute while the water tank was filling, so I used it to give Spud, our buck goat, a good scratch on the head. I haven’t spent a lot of time “bonding” with him, and he rather enjoyed it. I walked back up to the house feeling a little more relaxed and a little more connected to my critters that day.

So, there you have it. None of these ideas are incredibly novel or earth shattering, but rather simple reminders that will hopefully help your homestead to run more smoothly this week.

Share your 10 minute homestead chores in the comments! I’d love to have some other ideas. ;)

This post was shared at: Better Mom Monday , AP Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Frugally Sustainable, Our Simple Farm

Comments

  1. Jackie Davis says:

    You’re funny. It takes me a good hour to do barn chores with the horses, stalls, rabbits, chickens and sheep and that doesn’t include salt, nest boxes or weeding. I have 3.5 acres to keep up…. 30+ critters and too many huge flower beds to count let alone the huge 100 x 50 veggie bed and greenhouse. I spend a minimum of 5 hours per day when the weather permits outside just trying to keep things neat and tidy. In freezing cold or hot and humid weather, I sometimes can’t keep up as age has crept up on me and slowed me down. Glad you can do all in 10 minutes! Even at 30 I couldn’t keep my place immaculate in that amount of time. In my spare time I keep up a community garden that feeds the poor, a city park with 1000 sq ft of flowers and 27 downtown planters that are full of flowers I raise. Wish I had your spare time.

    • Jackie,
      I think you may have missed the point of the post- I can’t do it all in 10 minutes, that’s why I made the list. Each item from this list *should* take 10 minutes or so, but I try to do a couple of these things each day on top of my regular duties. I definitely spend more than 10 minutes per day doing chores, but sometimes I don’t have time for all of the “details” (filling salt, etc) so instead of waiting until the end of the week when everything needs done, I’ve found it’s easier to accomplish one small extra task each day. Spare time is very rare around my 60+ acre homestead…

  2. I can proudly say… I’m doing these things.
    filling the feeder
    filling the watering can
    weeding the garden …I love grabbing some weeds out of my garden little by little…when they are small and not deeply rooted. The best time!
    harvesting the produce…

    When can we expect the 10 minute check list for inside~?!
    That is the problem! I don’t want to stay inside and do anything for 10 minutes… It’s almost ridiculous now.
    Loved your tips…and as always enjoyed reading.
    ~Pat

    • Bear N. Hardin says:

      Let me know when you find out! I’d rather muck out a stall, or even clean out the chicken coop, ANYDAY than do ANY amount of housework!

    • The Fly Lady at flylady.com wrote that list years ago.

  3. 1) You sound like FlyLady with her “you can do anything, 15 minutes at a time!” :-)
    2) I don’t think Jackie noticed it was ten minutes for EACH chore on your list, and you weren’t saying that took care of everything, just kept it manageable for when you have more time to do more.
    3) That big weed on the left-hand side of the picture of your adorable child picking peas looks to me like Lactuca canadensis, a wild lettuce, which I enjoyed as a salad green last spring when the leaves were young and tender. I even saved some of the seeds. L. Serriola is similar, but a bit tougher.

    • Is that what that weed is? We have a bunch of it, and I never knew if i was edible or not! :) And yes, it’s definitely 10 minutes for EACH chore… DEfinitely couldn’t do all of that in 10 minutes total! :)

    • Hurray for the Flylady comment,
      I just found this site through Pinterest and was reading this subject. I thought it was a great idea and reminded me of Flylady for the homestead. I thought I might comment that and saw your post. It is a great idea. And for those wanting the same list for the inside, they should check out Flylady. A little bit every day and zone cleaning keeps me sane……when I do it :)

  4. Okay, can you adopt us? I mean, seriously, 18 extra hands could cut each of these tasks down to two minutes, and WE WOULD LEARN SO MUCH FROM YOU!!!!

  5. Awesome! Only I don’t have chickens…..Got a bunny list? Just kidding.

    Love you pictures, so sweet!

  6. Weeding is my absolute biggest nemesis! I hate it. I wish I found it relaxing or meditative, but I just. Hate. It!

    You’re definitely not the only one who forgets to harvest sometimes – I watch obsessively as fruits/veggies appear, and then somewhere in the middle, my interest wanes I guess, and I end up with foot-long string beans with thick, nasty pods, peas in the same state, and tomatoes on the ground.

    We’re designing and building a coop for our 11 new hens maybe starting this weekend, I’m getting seeds started, trying to run the business, collect all the dead stuff from last year from the beds, getting the main garden ready for planting, taking care of my mom… it’s lucky we don’t have kids on top or else I’d never get out of bed. I don’t know how you do all you do, lady! I always stand in humble awe – and I love it. :)

    Thanks for this reminder a little every day really helps a lot in the long run – I needed it!

  7. I used to work at a racetrack and every single day we had to rake the shed row. It took considerably more time than 10 minutes to get it the way our trainer wanted it, but I can understand why she wanted it that way. We always had one of the best looking barns on site because other than the jockeys and exercise riders, we were all women! Lol

  8. Busy, busy Lady! I am just working my way into “self sufficient” living, and I think someone has stolen a whole bunch of hours from the day, LOL! After working a full-time job 5 days a week, getting home, and working on my “chicken tractor” for my VERY quickly growing flock of 12 Black Australorp chicks, busting my tail getting our first garden ready for plants, 35 foot by 55 foot of wiregrass roots to get cleaned up and ready for plants, tending to the tender shoots growing in our new greenhouse, and awaiting transplant, tending to the needs of the chicks feed water and bedding/cleanup, that is just my Daily chores. Then comes the mowing, weed eating, and maintenance of our 2.5 acres, WHEW!!! And to think that my dream, is close to what you have. I’d love to have 50 acres to tend and maintain, with associated livestock. That is when that “fulltime” job, would have to be replaced by the Homesteading, 100%. that would be the only way to gain back 10 hours of my day!!! Love the list, and appreciate all thatyou do to Maintain!!!

  9. Oh, boy. I don’t know if 10 minutes for each thing would be enough for me. The perfectionist in me would try to get the job done each time. That’s why I was never good at FlyLady. I just couldn’t leave it at 15 mins. Great post, though!

  10. Just a thought to cut down on the time needed for weeding;
    I finally got mulch on my entire gigantic flower bed and the difference in how much weeding I need to do is incredible! 10 minutes a day or less really does keep it looking good, and I don’t need to do it every single day. I recommend a product called “soil conditioner,” it’s about $4 a bag and completely worth it. We used to be able to get it by the pickup load at a farm store, but no one seems to have it available that way now.

  11. Weeding is my downfall! I just got out today for about 30 minutes and did some serious weeding. Of course the goats are currently out of baking soda and I have a stack of eggshells that need to go to the chickens too!

    • Bear N. Hardin says:

      How much do you need to crush the eggshells before feeding them back to the chickens? I’ve always been afraid it would make them start eating their eggs.

      • I crush them pretty fine- not to a powder or anything, but enough so they no longer look like an eggshell.

        • I just crush them with my hand into maybe quarter inch pieces. They used to pull the shells that were just cracked in half out of my compost bin. So I started crushing them and putting them in a dish. I’ve never had an egg eaten in the nest, just the ones I accidentally drop.

  12. Bear N. Hardin says:

    I understand, (in reference to the ‘rattlesnake killer’ part of your bio) that the larger constrictors, kingsnakes especially, will help keep your poisonous snake population down as they prey on other snakes as well as the rodents which attract them in the first place. Just a suggestion. I am originally from Louisiana so I DO understand! However, up here in Connecticut the Eastern Diamondback has been almost eradicated and I haven’t seen a copperhead in the 8 years I’ve been here. We are in a very rural/ suburban setting, (as proof, I saw a young bear in our yard 5 years ago…!) and really enjoy our wildlife, for the most part. I make sure our chickens get to a big enough size to not interest our hawks, and have an underground line for the dogs which encloses all our animals pens so they can protect them. Only thing we have problems with are moles, voles, and fisher cats! And the occasional skunk. One dog has learned his lesson, but our 1 year old Golden hasn’t encountered one yet. Keeping the peroxide handy….! Love your blogs! Have a 7 year old son, husband works out of town most of the time and only home on weekends, he grew up on a farm and pretty much hates all farm work. Unfortunately I hate all housework, but SOMEBODY has to do it!

    • I’ve heard that as well regarding the snakes. We have lots of bullsnakes around and I always leave them alone, hoping they will help keep the rattler population down. Glad you don’t have too many copperheads… Those always sound more scary that rattlesnakes to me for some reason. :)

  13. Oh wow. So glad I read this. You are not the only one who forgets to harvest veggies. This fall, I was so sad by all of the okra that went to waste. Those suckers pop up in a hurry!

  14. Love this article! I like to think of weeding as “feeding the guineas”. I have 2 coops that can’t free range and I like to throw some weeds into their runs every day. It keeps the garden neat and helps with my guilty feelings since they can’t go out and play with the chickens! lol
    ~L

  15. Sarah Payne says:

    Your list speaks directly to me! It’s an inspiration for me today! Thank you for your motovational post.
    LOVE your heeler! He’s beautiful! We have a red. He’s 7 months old, and I look forward to him being full grown like yours. I just love the breed!