Boredom Free Homestead Chores

homestead choresBoth of us grew up in households where chores were the norm. It's not clear if our parents were doing it to instill some type of work ethic in us or it was simply a way to get us to do what they didn't have time or didn't want to do. No matter the reason, they definitely instilled in us to do the same for our kids, though we consciously assign various homestead chores based on ability and the ethics of doing an important job correctly.

Of course, it doesn't work so easily most days. Our kids, we've learned, tend to be grumpy first thing in the morning. To counter this unbalance of sweetness, we try and feed them first but on a small farm, that's not always the simplest action. The chickens need water and feed, the dogs need to be let out, the wood box needs to be replenished. A ten-year-old eating a bowl of cereal before chores and school can drag that out for thirty minutes if she wants to. Not in a spiteful way, but simply because eating breakfast is pretty relaxing and a great way to wake up. We understand that. With a short morning homestead chores list adding pressure to getting ready for school, the ethics lessons are coming along slowly.

Homestead Chores

Our days start at 6 in the morning. In the winter it's harder with the lack of sunlight and all, but the responsibilities can't wait. We take turns on who gets ups first and wakes the kids as well as who drives them to school. That afternoon, we swap positions and pick them up. All throughout the day we have a list of homestead chores and projects to accomplish and just because it's cold and dark in the early-winter morning it makes no difference. Everything we accomplish as a family is well worth the effort.

For the kids, it's tending to the chickens with water, feed, headcount and an egg check. Mid-January the chickens start laying again as the days are growing longer, so it's important we collect them when we can to prevent an un-brooded egg from freezing. The waterer can be frozen as well, so that needs to be freed. As it's cold outside, we do that in the kitchen sink. It's not the best scenario with little bits of poop and feathers floating around, but warm water is the only way to free the ice ring. For my part, I clean out the sink afterwards to reduce the icky-factor for everyone else. But I'm the dad, and I suppose that's my job.

Our ten-year-old is responsible for keeping the wood box filled. She has varying degrees of success, but we mollify her by reminding her we don't burn much wood in the warmer months and she can take a break for more than half of the year. We tried communicating how her task keeps us warm and cozy and is probably the most important job of the cold weather homestead chores but it didn't take. At ten, she is learning to perfect her eyeball roll and stomp. Yay.

Homesteading Daily Schedule

homesteading daily scheduleSure, we have a good long list of things to accomplish during our day. But taken in stride and on a plan makes it so much simpler. We work from home, and slipping between paycheck responsibilities and the homesteading daily schedule seems to come naturally. On some days we work side-by-side, while other days find my wife in her office and me in the living room, writing away and tending to the wood stove. I find that the space between articles where I need to stretch is a good time to bring in the midday wood, or to check the chickens or shovel some additional sand onto the driveway.

Our transfer station is only open four days a week during the winter, so Saturdays tend to be the dump run. I can entice the kids along with a promise of visiting the swap shop and it makes the trip a little more enjoyable for them. For me, sure, it's kind of a pain because I have to interrupt our homesteading daily schedule to lug heavy garbage to the dump, but spending time with the family makes up for it. Plus, there might be something at the swap shop I can use. Last week there was a hefty chair made from Malaysian acacia that I was able to bring home and break down to use in the wood shop. That was a bonus.

Spring Homestead Chores

spring homestead choresThings tend to pick up for us sometime around late April and the beginning of May. The snows are gone and the mud is slowly drying away with growing season ramping up. Spring homesteading chores shift a little to building up the garden and managing the chickens as they free range. We will be adding in two beehives this season, so weekly checks on them will become part of the to-do list. There is also a ramping up of home improvement projects, both on our own homestead and with our neighbors, most of whom are like us and burrow in place during the winter.  We are a close community and it's great to have an adult conversation again after so many months of hunkering down.

This year, we're looking at working on our family room as well as some landscaping projects. The bee hives will be placed and populated with carniolans. Our seventeen-year-old is a great hand at building brood boxes and supers, and that will come in handy as our bee yard grows. Along the lake shore we bush-whacked out the weeds last year and prepped a comfortable social area leading up to the dock. We'll put in some planting beds and shrubs, plus work at cultivating our blueberry bushes. A she-shed is in order as a much needed privacy measure, and I'm thinking of adding some extensions to the wood shop shed to cover cord firewood. The tarps simply didn't cut it for convenience. We had to remove the last night's snow before peeling back the wrap. When we put it back on, it just never sat as well as back in the fall when I thought it was a good idea.

The Fall Homestead

fall homestead
Our favorite time of year is early autumn, where we still have great fishing from the shore and can take a dip if it's not too cold. The cord wood gets delivered and between the both of us, it's my wife who really enjoys stacking it up. The fall homestead chores tend to be little more relaxed and preparatory for the most part, with building up the soon-to-be-here hives for winter and getting the meat chickens off to processing. The deep freezer is generally pretty sparse during this time, so we rotate up last year's stores to make room for the pork and poultry soon to be filling it.

One thing we definitely won't miss from our early urban homestead life is the constant leaf raking. We had two gorgeous old-growth maple trees in our yard and they would easily drop a foot of leaves if we let it build up. On the new homestead, we have only a small side yard for reasons that are beyond me. I'll mow it a few times during the year but it really does nothing but sit there. It's not as though we are on a city lot and need the curbside appeal for equity or anything.

The Fall homestead brings a little chill, and we can enjoy a hearty wood stove fire for ambiance rather than as a heating necessity. The crisp air reminds us to replenish our sand and salt pile, as well as to harvest our pumpkins, acorn and butternut squashes. The brush pile built-up over the summer is ready for burning, complete with friends, hot dogs and marshmallows. I will also take a day to clean the wood shop from top to bottom in preparation for winter, as cold weather tends to dissuade me from vacuuming up sawdust. Some tool maintenance, some lumber storage rearranging and creating a list of projects complete the season there. 

homestead chores
Homestead chores are simply a part of our life, from plowing the driveway to ensuring the chickens have access to their water each morning. Wood gets stacked, dishes are washed and beds are made. These aren't things that make us wish for a less busy life, but rather the reasons we have made the choices we have. Our lives are dictated by what we wish to accomplish and how we go about doing that. For us, it is a homestead life, no matter the season or the responsibilities attached.

We grow what we can, raise what fits our lifestyle and build and repair as the need arises. We may not be 100% self-sufficient, but we know what homestead chores we can tackle and take it from there.

We love sharing the experiences from our little New Hampshire homestead, and would love to hear your thoughts on your homestead chores and how you embrace your homesteading daily schedule. Please add to the conversation by writing your comments below.

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