June Ask Granny – “How do you keep on top of all the various, diverse homestead tasks?”

Dear Granny –
Your home always looks so lovely. Neat, clean and orderly indoors and out.

My question is: How do you keep on top of all the various, diverse homestead tasks? Do you use calendars, or a series of calendars – or is it all just second nature after all this time?

My question is: I struggle with keeping on top of things here on just 12 acres with far fewer animals! Try as I may, I have yet to find a ‘system’ for staying on top of everything.

A Morning's Weeding

A Morning’s Weeding

Cynthia –
Thank you for the compliment.
Actually for the most part I don’t use any type of calendar system except for animal health matters and keeping a spray schedule. I note on a calendar when calves or lambs are due to be born and when worming or vaccinations or spraying needs to been done or repeated.

My “secret” for keeping ahead and on top on things is that I’m a full-time farm wife/housewife and I no longer have children at home.

My home and farm is my entire working life.

I don’t work outside of my home and I allow nothing else to get in the way of my own “home economics”.
I get up at 4:30 am most days and put in over 75+ hours every week – more during the summer. I work much harder for myself than I would work for someone else.

“By the inch life’s a cinch. By the yard life is hard.”

At the beginning of every new week I make a list of chores or projects that need to be accomplished that week.
I prioritize my list and try to be realistic about my energy level. What I don’t get finished in a week gets rolled over to the next week’s list. I work steady until my goals are completed.

I usually work 6 days a week and spend just about every morning of my life doing 4- 6 hours of routine or heavy housework with the balance of my day spent outdoors when the weather is good.
My days are spent cooking, sewing, gardening or engaged in some type of household or farm type maintenance – painting, mowing ,livestock health & care, minor carpentry repairs or another type of upkeep.

Painting Living Room

Painting Living Room

I keep two days of the week set aside for regular housecleaning and laundry.
Every week I try to save one day for errands away from home and for unexpected occurrences – a down cow, a flooded basement, a morning migraine headache or a visit by a home repairman.
Basically I try to give a cushion for the unforeseen and the unplanned.
I try to keep one day a week for myself to do whatever I like and one or two days a month are set aside for batch baking and cooking.
Time spent online is mostly confined to the wee morning hours before the sun comes up and when I break for lunch.

“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” – Wendell Berry

Clutter is kept to a minimum inside and outside and I pick up and clean up as I go along – all day long. That means buckets, feed pans and bailing twine out of doors and dishes, coats and junk mail indoors.
Everything has a place.
I don’t allow myself the luxury of procrastination and never leave a day’s work incomplete unless I physically cannot continue without rest.

Small Kitchen Pantry

Small Kitchen Pantry

And if I run out of room or the clutter gets out of control – it’s a sign I have too much stuff – and I pitch it out or give it away.

Also I don’t ever watch TV .  And I do mean never.

You will find HOURS of increased productivity if you will give up the TV habit.
I haven’t really regularly watched or owned a working television in over 20 years. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that without a television I became a free thinking and self-reliant person.
But that’s a whole other post of its own.

Don’t forget that you are only seeing selected snippets from my life.
You see what I want you to see and not the complete truth. I too have lots of homesteading frustrations.

Junk Pile To Be Burned

Junk Pile To Be Burned

Like the big junk pile that’s been waiting to be burned for the last 3 years or the paint cans piled up in my front entrance or what the dogs have done in the mudroom -again!


  12 comments for “June Ask Granny – “How do you keep on top of all the various, diverse homestead tasks?”

  1. Sharon L. Clemens
    June 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Granny Miller,
    Thank you for your candid reply. I appreciate your advice for living life simpler but better. The fruits of your labor speak for themselves.

    • KMG
      June 3, 2013 at 8:16 am

      Thank you Sharon :-)

  2. Methane Creator
    June 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Interesting Granny. Quitting smoking has been much easier than trying to give up TV. I enjoy keeping up with World News and the Weather forecasts, but most other shows are trash now. I have to use a calendar too, as I cannot remember past dates, much less future dates unless I look at my calendars. I don’t need Valium or other Mood Altering medications, as at the end of the day, I can sit on the porch holding my cat and just enjoy listening to the breezes and bird songs. I’ll take the “inch” anyday and let the others have the “yard”.

    • KMG
      June 3, 2013 at 8:16 am

      TV is as addictive as crack cocaine. It actually alters brain function :-(

  3. Becky G.
    June 2, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    You are such an inspiration! We all know that life is not perfect for everyone, so thanks for sharing a few frustrations as well. I am one of those who does not like to idle away my time, so I am always trying to stay busy. Love your blog! Thanks for sharing!

    • KMG
      June 3, 2013 at 8:13 am

      Thank you :-)

  4. Leah Spencer
    June 3, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    I appreciate you touching on an important aspect – you no longer have children at home. Sometimes I want to despair at how others seem to get so much done, why can’t I do as much? But little children do make a big impact on the time management and ability to focus on tasks. I have an almost-3 year old, 1 year old, and I’m 5 months pregnant. I need to make energy and time allowances for child raising.

    On the other hand, you really motivated me to get my day rolling quicker. Usually, I don’t have my first load out on the line until noon, but it was done before 10 and I’ve got my second load going. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

    • KMG
      June 3, 2013 at 4:34 pm

      Leah –
      Not having children at home makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE when it comes to getting things done. You pretty much have to plan your day (or attempt to ) around their needs.
      Kids are more than a full-time job and can be an energy drain. That’s why young people have them and old people shouldn’t.
      Anything that gets accomplished beyond getting the everyday basic needs of young children met is gravy :-)
      Good luck to you!

  5. Brittany
    June 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    This inspires me so much! I am new to the homesteading world. I grew up with a soccer mom who worked full time and a full time working dad – we all lived in a comfortable house in the suburbs with mall trips and movie outings, and a garden was for our morning glories and a lawn for the dog. oh. and we had a goldfish. haha. And that was the extent of our workload. As young kids, we biked, and played outside, but as we got older I just watched more and more tv. I’m a mom to a 16 month old now and married ..and my husband and I are looking to buy property (we own a home in the suburbs now) and begin our self-sufficent lifestyle with goats, egg laying hens, a bee hive (hopefully!!) and maybe a few other animals later on. It’s overwhelming because I KNOW NOTHING about homesteading (food canning, gardening, farm-keeping…etc). but I’m determined to figure it out and give a life for our children that we didn’t have. We don’t have TV in our home, and I’m very happy about that!! :) I think my son will one day thank us! :) Thank you for keeping it real and telling it how it is! :) so inspiring! :) You work so hard! :)

    • KMG
      June 3, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Bravo for recognizing the perils of the Idiot Box. Your kids will grow up smarter and happier for it.
      Nobody is born knowing how to pressure can, grow carrots or milk a goat . You are young and have plenty of time to learn and make your dreams come true :-)
      Good luck!

  6. mary ann
    June 5, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Interesting post, but I have a question about the small kitchen pantry pic, Granny. In the picture, just behind the cabbage/saurkraut pounder thingie is another long handled tool with an offset head on it. What is it? I can’t make it out. Thanks forall your interesting reading.

    • KMG
      June 5, 2013 at 10:18 am

      Mary Ann –
      That’s an apple butter paddle. It is use for stirring apple butter in a VERY large copper kettle. The paddle is flipped like a rake in use and the holes in the paddle allow the thick apple butter to move around the kettle and not stick or scorch on the bottom. A kettle of scorched apple butter is one of life’s great homestead tragedies :-(

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