October 18, 2010

"A Day In The Slow Life"

The Mom (Heather's Homemaking), tagged me for a very interesting meme. I confess, I often dread memes, not so much for the doing, but for the tagging of others. This one is a little different though, and perhaps you all will think so too.

This meme, "A Day in the Slow Life," was started by Toni Smith over at Backyard Feast. As she put it,

I’m attempting a blog meme/hop to encourage those of us striving or transitioning to more sustainable lives to share with the world what a day in our lives looks like. So many folks out there are longing to make changes in their lives, but I think it can be hard to visualize what life might actually look like if you did things a little differently.

I should mention up front that I have two variations on the same routine, depending upon whether DH is at home or on the road. And of course, the tasks involved depend upon the time of year. But in many ways, the routine is the same. The times I give are pretty iffish, but roughly correct. So here goes...

5:15 AM - Time to get up. I usually wake up on my own, though oftentimes the cats are there to help. Mornings are chilly these days, so I grab some socks and my robe, and head to the kitchen. Katy goes straight to the back door because she likes to go out while it's still dark. Riley heads to the food bowl because he likes to eat. I head to the coffee pot and hit the switch.

5:25 AM - Both cats are let out and I head to my desk with a cup of coffee. One of the reasons I get up before sunrise, is to have time for scripture study and writing. I find my days go so much better if I take time to focus on the spiritual reality behind life as we think we know it. My studies these days are in the book of Jeremiah. As I read I am struck by the self-destructive similarities between Jeremiah's society and our own: greed, injustice, government corruption, idolatry, false dealings with one another, deliberate deceptions. I ponder how well they heeded the warnings and wonder whether or not we will heed them any better.

6:00 AM - I turn on the computer to check and answer emails. This is the time I work on my blog posts. I usually have as many in draft as there are projects going on around here. Currently one on fence progress, one on the garden, a post on the state of my pantry with summer preservation totals, a post on the seeds I've saved for this year, and oh yes, I finally nailed that sweet potato pie! Must get that recipe written as well. My other writing project is a book that I can't imagine ever having the time to actually write.

7:20 AM - As usual I've spent too much time at the computer and am late letting the chickens out. I quickly make the bed, put on chore clothes, and head outside. I open the shed door, get a scoop of scratch, and head around to the chicken yard to let the chickens out. The hens want to get some scratch and His Lordship wants to get a hen. It's the same every morning. I check water buckets and go find the goats and Charlie if they're out early. I move the owl decoy to another fence post and then open the chicken gate to let the chickens out with the goats.

7:35 AM - If Dan is home we eat breakfast together in the kitchen. If he's on the road, I eat mine in front of the computer, this time reading ya'lls blogs and commenting. No wonder my keyboard is sticky.

8:05 AM - Every morning I lament not getting as earlier start on the day's projects. I check my to-do list
  • bake bread
  • thin beets, turnips, & carrots
  • finish harvesting bush bean seeds
  • mulch broccoli
  • re-pot aloe vera
  • defrost chicken bones & make stock
  • can chicken stock
  • research winter fruit tree care
  • clean out flower beds
  • pull popcorn stalks
  • finish harvesting herbs for drying
  • rake and haul leaves for mulch pile
It's an ongoing list which I don't expect to accomplish in one day. I cross off anything I finished the previous day and decide what needs to be done this morning.  If Dan is home and needs help on a project, that's what I do. Currently we are trying to finish the vacation fence project. He doesn't need me at the moment, so I start on my own tasks, in this case I go out to the fall garden. Riley usually accompanies me and eventually the goats and chickens show up in hopes that I'll toss thinnings or weeds to them over the fence. I always do.

10:32 AM - I come in for a water break. If Dan is out working, I take him a glass of water too. We chat about our progress and then I stop by the chicken coop on my way back to the house. I check water buckets and look for eggs. I do a spot check of all our critters, scan the sky for hawks, and count chickens. I count eight, so I head back to the house. Before going out to the garden again, I beat a raw egg and give it to Riley and Katy.

10:55 AM - Back to the garden. I've already hauled several wheelbarrow loads of leaves for mulch, so I use these for mulching the fall garden.

12:15 PM - Lunch. If Dan is home we eat in the kitchen and discuss how the morning went and what we'll work on in the afternoon. If it's just me, then it's lunch in front of the computer. No wonder there are crumbs in the keyboard. I check email again and do some internet research. This day I start researching winter care of our fruit trees. If I've taken photos during the morning, I upload these to the computer to make sure I got the shots I was wanting.

1:00 PM - We will need bread tomorrow so I start some yeast rising. While it rises, I do dishes. A dishwasher came with the house but I don't think it works. I've done dishes by hand for so many years that I'd feel guilty using it anyway. Since breakfast dishes are so few, I usually just rinse them and leave to do with lunch dishes. Once those are done, I use my Kitchen Aid mixer for bread dough mixing and kneading. I make enough for a loaf of bread and some hamburger rolls. While it's kneading I check on fixings for dinner. The chicken is defrosted and we still have sweet potato pie for dessert. Both the chicken and the sweet potatoes are our own. I get a pound of ground beef (local grass-fed) out of the freezer for hamburgers tomorrow.

1:30 PM - I cover the bread dough with a clean dish towel and let it take it's first rise in the mixing bowl. Then I head out to work on the fence. My project for the afternoon is to work on clipping it to the t-posts. I take my camera because I'm trying to get some good photos of this for my next fence blog post. So far these pics have mostly come out blurry.

3:10 PM - I realize I've forgotten about the bread dough so I head back to the house. I swing by the chicken house to look for more eggs and check on everybody.

3:30 PM - I've gotten the bread dough punched down, shaped, and into the bread machine. It's an old one and I've lost the paddle, so I just use it for the final rise and bake cycles. I've shaped the rolls and set them to rise before heading out to continue working on clipping the fence.

4:30 PM - I head back to the house to preheat the toaster oven for the hamburger buns. That doesn't take long and soon they're in and baking. I head out to the shed to do animal chores. These consist of feeding goats and llama their pellet concentrate, goat formula for the goats and a little sweet feed for Charlie. The chickens are expecting a big scoop of scratch too. Jasmine is the smartest goat we have and knows the routine. As soon as she sees me coming, she goes into her stall and waits. Baby always has to be coaxed into the other stall, and Surprise always pretends she doesn't know what I'm talking about. After I lead her in I secure the gate.  Separating the goats like this prevents a lot of pushing and shoving. While everyone is eating I check and fill the chicken feeder, stir the chicken litter, and look once more for eggs. I also fill the hay rack if necessary. Since this is a slow life meme, I should probably mention that the hay is our own, slow harvested with snath & scythe. The last thing I do is get fresh water for everyone.

4:50 PM - On one of my trips to fill water buckets I check on the rolls. They're done so I wash my hands and put them on a cooling rack.  I set the big oven to preheat before heading back out to finish chores. My last outside chore is to fill the bird bath.

5:05 PM - I'm back in, scrubbing some of our potatoes to bake. They go in the oven with the chicken. I'm baking leg quarters for dinner so they will take about the same amount of time. I have baby beets, carrots, and turnips from my thinning work in the garden that morning, but decide to save them for tomorrow, when I'll make roasted veggies to go with our hamburgers. I head back to the garden to pick some zucchini and oregano. I discover a few sweet peppers needing to be picked and check on the ripening progress of the tomatoes. Last year we got our first frost on Oct 16, but there's no frost warnings yet, so I have hopes that some of the tomatoes will be able to ripen on the vine. At the last minute I cut a handful of Swiss chard as well.

5:25 PM - I've got the zucchini, Swiss chard, and oregano washed, chopped and sautéing together in a pan. I check on the baking chicken and potatoes. Riley and Katy want their dinner, which consists of whatever raw meat I have available. They do have free choice commercial dry food, but I'd really like to get away from that.

6:10 PM - Dan's finally in and washed up and we can sit down to eat. Sometimes we eat in the kitchen, and sometimes in front of the TV to watch a video or DVD. We don't have a digital TV or a television service, so we watch a movie from our own collection or one I borrowed from the county library. This week it's been reruns of Andy of Mayberry. 

6:50 PM - I have to go check on the chickens before it gets dark. As soon as the cats hear me at the door, they have to come too. The chickens have put themselves to roost, so I do my final count of the day and then close everything up.

7:00 PM - We do dinner dishes and clean up the kitchen. If Dan is home, he washes and I wipe and put away.

7:25 PM - If Dan is out on the road, I wait for his evening call. His free night calling hours start at 7PM, and we will talk until 9:30 or 10. It's a time when I sometimes knit while we talk, or shell beans or seeds I'm saving. If he's home, he reads to me while I do handwork with a cat in my lap. At present we are reading Ralph Moody's Shaking The Nickel Bush. After his voice gets tired, we discuss progress, plans, and the next day.

9:30 PM - Before heading off to take a shower, I check and answer my email once more. I usually check of few blogs as well. Sometimes I leave comments to let you all know I've been there. Sometimes, for lack of time, I don't.

10:35 PM - Bedtime isn't set, but we try to not stay up too late. I almost always read a bit before turning out the light. Currently it's The Book of Eleanor: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Pamela Kaufman. I read anywhere from a couple of paragraphs to a couple of pages. I turn the lights out when I realize I'm falling asleep with the book in my hands.

That's a roughly typical day for this time of year. The projects change with the seasons and in the summer, I try to get out much earlier, to beat the sun and heat.

Now the tagging. I don't want to limit this meme, so anyone who wants to play along, please join in. Specifically however, I'm going to tag three other homesteaders:

Jo, of 14 Acres
Alla, at Mountain Valley Farms
Michelle, of A Green Acre

Content of "A Day In The Slow Life" © October 2010 by Leigh at http://my5acredream.blogspot.com/


Jo said...

Wow, you are one busy girl! I am happy to participate in your meme (it'll show you what an internet ignoramus I am to say I had to ask my hubby what a meme was), although there is now such thing as typical at our home! :)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post Leigh! So happy that Dan, the critters and you live so close to nature and harmony...it suites you all so well!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great day. I don't know about "slow" though. ;)

The Mom said...

What a wonderful post! I'm so glad you joined in. I hear you on tagging people, but you've made it quite enjoyable. We do have lots in common. Maybe someday I'll have the goats too.

Tami said...

Get out!!! I have that book on my bookshelf!!! I love historical novels of strong women. (Ihaven't read that one in a while though.

I also have:
"I,Elizabeth" and "Memoirs of Cleopatra"

I had to laugh at the sticky/crumby keyboard comment. Me too!

Mr. H. said...

I enjoyed your meme, you have a very busy "slow life" as is often the case when one strives to live a more sustainable existence.I especially liked hearing your thoughts on the book of Jeremiah and will have to read it again after hearing your perspective.

I have also been tagged to participate in this meme and hope too do so soon.

Leigh said...

Jo, I'm delighted you want to join in! I had to look up the word "meme" too at one time. I think the hardest part of this particular meme, is as you said, it's hard to find a typical day!

Pam, thank you! I know this lifestyle isn't for everybody. I think the key to happiness though, is finding a lifestyle we're suited for and not trying to live according to someone else's standards.

Evelyn, you're right about the slow. It's an odd term, that came out of the protests over "fast" food, "slow" food taking longer to prepare but far superior in many aspects. I had to follow links to the Slow Movement website to figure out how to define it. To me it means not running in the rat race, slowing down my pace, and appreciating life. Slow definitely doesn't mean not having anything to do!

Heather, this has been one meme that I don't mind tagging for. Usually I list folks I'm tagging, link to their blogs, but never leave them a comment that they've been tagged. Then they can participate or not, with no pressure. I definitely hope you can get goats someday! They're a joy.

Tami, you're kidding! I found the book at the library. I love historical fiction. I'll have to look for the other two you mention. I don't mind reading books about men, but find I can relate to the woman's perspective and interests best.

Mr H, I saw you'd been tagged and have been hoping you'd join in. Your garden is such an inspiration, I'd love to "follow" you around for a day. I'd also be interested in what you think about Jeremiah. Amazing how relevant it seems for being such an ancient book.

Anonymous said...

Leigh, what you responded was so true...bravo..you are such a wise woman and I applaud you!



Slow Life?? You are so busy, I think you need to slow down LOL.. Sounds like you are enjoying your life and working for what you really wanted to do.

Michelle said...

Now I feel like a slug, but the reality is that I can't do all I want when I'm homeschooling Brian. Thanks for showing those that don't know that the "slow life" isn't slow or un-busy, it's just doing all the things yourself (growing and making the food, especially) that so many others simply pay for - after working all day and commuting for two hours and not seeing their kids or spouses for any real connecting time. We lead the GOOD life!

Leigh said...

Pam thanks! I don't know about wise, I just hope I always have some common sense!

Bety, LOL. True, I have a lot to do, but I figure I can either be in a hurry to get them all done, or do what I can, not sweat the rest, and remember to smell the flowers along the way. :)

Michelle, that was me too, for over 10 years. I always figured homeschooling my kids was my priority though, even though it meant postponing our dream. Now we have a later start on it, and I sometimes think we could move along a little faster if we were younger, but I never, never regret the decisions we made.

Renee Nefe said...

I've never been a scheduled kind of person, so every day is different for me and a lot depends on our classes. Today we're going to our friend's house to do a co-op class. If I had been on the ball, I would have gone to the gym this morning, but instead I slept in. sigh

One day, when I grow up, I hope to have something that resembles your schedule. :D

Benita said...

The Book of Eleanor: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Pamela Kaufman - I loved that book! Having a husband who has a degree in medieval history means we have the coolest books to read. And she is one of my ancestors, so double the reading pleasure.

Gosh, your life sounds like the one I want. We don't have TV either, so we end up talking over plans or reading or some such in the evenings. The rest of my time is still stuck in an office. That's why I love my weekends and wear myself out trying to get all those projects done that I dream about the rest of the week.

Mama Pea said...

The funny thing is that when someone asks me what I do to fill my day, I have a hard time giving them an intelligent answer. All of us homesteaders/self-sufficient wannabes just keep moving all day long, often day after day. But the important thing is we're doing what we want to do for ourselves.

I complained in my blog post yesterday about time going by so fast and a wise reader commented that I must be doing things that I wanted to do; if time was dragging by it would mean I was engaged in something distasteful and unsatisfying. Good point!

What Pigs Don't Know said...

Thank you Leigh, I enjoyed this. It's interesting to read about "A day in the life..." Your relationship with your husband sounds sweet. I love that he reads to you. And talking on the phone for hours every night he's away!?!? Reminds me of the early courtship days! But you're still going strong after many years. It's awesome! -Carrie

Leigh said...

Renee, I can't say it's like this everyday. Days I do errands are totally different. Some days are inside days. Some days are just slower to get motivated. I find though, if I don't try to stick to some sore of schedule, I get practically nothing done!

Benita, how cool is that! I'd never heard of the book and now two folks commenting loved it. It's kind of nice having TV isn't it? Makes for more productive ways to spend time.

Mama Pea, it's funny you should say that. When Dan asks me what I did that day, my mind usually goes blank. I had to pay attention to the time and make notes to do this post. It was a really useful exercise though, I see that I'm more productive with my hours and minutes than I thought!

Carrie, good to hear from you. I know you and Jason have been busy. We probably never would have gotten a cell phone if Dan didn't become an over the road truck driver. Those free evening hours have been great for that.

Elisa said...

I find this so informative and inspiring! Thank you for this wonderful resource.