Time and I have always had a complicated relationship.
There have been seasons of my life with never enough time, seasons where I had too much time, and seasons where time seemed to expand to fit my to-do list perfectly (I like those seasons the best, by the way).
Over the years, I’ve received bunches of emails asking how I “do it all” as a homeschooling mom of 3, doTERRA leader, blogger, author, homesteader, and horsewoman, among other things.
And of course, my answer is always the same– I DON’T do it all– not even close. I’m extremely particular with what I say ‘YES’ to, I hire help with my businesses, and there are areas of my life that simply aren’t in “balance”sometimes. (P.S. I’m OK with that.)
I most definitely don’t have it all figured out, but it works. Most of the time. 😉
When I ask you, my lovely readers, what your biggest struggle is when it comes to homesteading, the one answer that pops up over and over is TIME.
Yuppers. I get it.
If you think about it, our modern lives really aren’t set up for homesteading. The original homesteaders spent ALL DAY doing these things we’re trying to cram into a few hours after working 9-5 all day. Most of us don’t have all day to play in the kitchen– it’s weekends or nothing, baby.
Thankfully most of us have washing machines and dishwashers to eliminate some of the work, but still– chickens and gardens and cooking and canning. Holy cow! Is this even possible?
I’ve written several posts over the years addressing my mindset of time management and sharing some of my overall strategies, (you can find those here and here) but today I want to dive into the uber-practical, less abstract ways we save time on a daily basis here on the Prairie Homestead. Because by far, time, not money, is my most valuable resource.
This is the nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty stuff y’all. And while I know everyone won’t be able to implement all of these methods, hopefully it’ll give you some inspiration as you create your own homesteading vision.
9 Practical Ways We Save Time On Our Homestead
1. Smother (Don’t Pull) The Weeds
I HATE WEEDING. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. It drives me insane to spend two hours on my hands and knees picking weeds from carrot rows only to barely make a dent and know there are so many other things I could be spending that time doing.
While it won’t work for every space, weed fabric or weed barrier has drastically reduced the time I have to spend weeding in many areas of our yard and garden. It’s a bit of work up front to install it, but worth every ounce of effort in the long run. (This year we are putting down weed barrier in our raised bed rows and then placing wood chips over the top.)
Heavy layers of mulch (either hay, straw, or wood chips) can also help in a similar way (either combined with weed fabric or by themselves), just be extremely careful that any organic mulch you use does not contain harmful chemicals or herbicides.
2. Build Beds
I was pleasantly surprised how much our raised beds cut down on my active gardening time last year. There was still weeding and maintenance to do, but it felt so much more contained and reasonable. Honestly, I think I spent more time than any year prior out in the garden, but it was just sitting there soaking in the beauty, rather than being stressed out by weeds. Hallelujah.
3. Drip, Drip, Drip
Confession: I totally fought Christian last year when he recommended we install a drip system and timer in our gardens. “It’s too much hassle, I’ll just do it with a sprinkler,” I argued… He wouldn’t hear of it and yeah, I’m glad he stuck to his guns. Having an automated watering system pretty much saved my life last year. OK, so maybe that’s slightly dramatic, but really– I’m convinced it played a huge role in last year being one of the best seasons I’ve ever had (because plants grow better when you actually water them– crazy, right?) We also installed a drip system in our kitchen herb garden which is equally amazing. This is one area where technology trumps the old-fashioned way for me. Sorry not sorry.
4. Self-Control is a Good Thing
Oooohh…. This is a hard one. SO HARD. My eyes are ALWAYS bigger than my larder and I like growing lots and lots of everything. However, I’ve found that growing excessive amounts of veggies not only takes more time, but also often results in waste. Of course, if you like to preserve or can you’ll want to grow a lot, but last year I maxed out how much we were able to eat or can and I found myself stressed out over figuring out what to do with the excess and who I could give it too… Not a horrible problem, but this year I’m being more intentional and opting for quality over quantity. (Because do you really need 29 baseball bat-sized zucchinis?)
5. Happy Calves, Happy Homesteader
People ask me how I’m able to always be home to milk our cow twice a day. Psshaw… I never milk twice a day! I have used the once-a-day-milking method with my dairy animals since day one and it allows me to be entirely lazy when it comes to the whole process. I love it and here’s how you can do it too.
6. Floats are Your Friend
Admittedly, water tank floats really aren’t an option when it’s 10 degrees below zero and everything is frozen solid, but it’s fabulous in the spring and summer. We have a giant water tank with a float attached and as long as it’s not freezing, we leave the hydrant on all the time. This keeps it consistently full and saves me from standing there watching the tank fill up (or wandering off to do something else and flooding the pasture. I’m good at that, too). Speaking of tanks, get a tank heater for the winter if at all possible. Ain’t nobody got time to be chopping through 12 inches of ice all day…
7. Shun Small Squares
I know not everyone can do this, but feeding large bales of hay is a HUGE time saver for us– both in the stacking and in the feeding. We feed a large bale to our cattle and horses about once per week and it saves loads of time not having to fork hay twice per day. Again, not doable in every situation, but if you can swing it, it’s amazing.
8. Batch It!
This isn’t a new concept, but yes, batch cooking ingredients and even full meals saves me loads of time. (I also shop in large quantities– you’d think I have 19 children by the way my Costco cart looks…).
A few of the things I like to make in large batches:
- Homemade Broth
- Home Canned Beans
- Ricotta Cheese
- Homemade Yogurt
- Butter (when we have fresh cream from the cow)
My friend Karrie has a fabulous freezer meal cookbook, by the way, if you are looking to expand your repertoire there.
9. Crockpot and Instapot it.
Yup, I use them both tons. Stews, soups, roast beef, and roast chickens go in the crockpot first thing in the morning so ya know, we still have supper food even if my afternoon is crazy. And while I actually don’t love the Instapot for preparing full meals (it’s too hard to tweak spices and seasonings…) I adore it for making fast batches of beans, steaming fresh eggs, cooking squash or pumpkin in a flash, or making rice or quinoa.
Can I be really transparent with you guys?
A HUGE part of the reason behind homesteading not being as big of a struggle for us anymore is that we stopped trading our hours for dollars. That happened as a result of us deciding very intentionally to build a business with doTERRA. There’s no other way to slice it– it’s the plain and simple truth, but sometimes I downplay it because people can be judgy…
Is it easy? No. Does it take time. You bet. And there are days it stresses me out. But I wouldn’t trade occasional stresses of this business for the stresses I USED to have of never having enough time or money. Nope- not for a second.
Our choice to build our doTERRA business and connect with others has provided us with the TIME and funds we need to do the things we love. It’s been the PERFECT fit for our homesteading life.
I could try to tell you that share milking our cow or building raised beds was the magic bullet for our time management, and yes, they play a part, but that’s really not the whole truth. This business is what really has made it possible.
Every time I talk about doTERRA, I get emails from folks listing out all the reasons they couldn’t do something like this. But instead of spending your time convincing yourself this wouldn’t work for you, why not take 10 minutes and make a list of the reasons it would work?
Just a thought. 😉