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…”
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.
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!
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.