March 18, 2011

The Routine Of It

I have several changes coming up which have me thinking about my homestead routine. With baby goats on the way, milking will mean a big change in my daily schedule, not only with the goats, but in the kitchen, where I will need to strain and store the milk, sterilize equipment, and later turn our bounty into products we can use in the future, such as cheese and soap.

The wood cookstove too. Once we get that in, cooking will need to take fire starting and tending into account, which will change how I organize my meal prep and cooking. As I think about these things, I can't help but analyze how I use my time now. I like to think I'm an organized person with an efficient routine, but follow me around for a day and you'd quickly see that that's not necessarily the case!

I think a successful routine is due partly to organization, but that its foundation is a set of good habits. The problem with habits of course, is that new ones takes diligence to develop or change. And while organization is a skill which can be learned, I can't help but wonder if there isn't a quality of personality to it.

I say that because many years ago, I was coordinator for a small food co-op (buying club), which consisted of about 12 homeschooling families. We ordered once a month, met the delivery truck at a local church, unloaded, divided up the order, paid the treasurer, cleaned up, and that was it the until next month.

Over the years though, I made some observations about people, especially when it came to the group's routine and it's needs. Problem solving for example, always seemed to dissolve the group into two camps. One was the go-with-the-flow folks, who felt that problems would just work themselves out, so why worry. These tended to be more spontaneous in nature, and felt strangled by rules. The other group wanted structure. They liked a set routine, wanted to know what to expect, and tended to address problems with rules and guidelines. These felt that otherwise, everything seemed chaotic.

I think about this from time to time, as I analyze myself and our homestead. I tend to find structure freeing, but on the other hand, I'm easily distracted because there are so many things to do. I realize that if I left the day to what I felt like doing, some things would never get done. On the other hand, I'm often caught off guard when unexpected things come up and I have to make a quick change in the day's plans. It's hard for me to switch mental gears at a moment's notice. The fine art of structure with flexibility is something that often eludes me.

For us, a detriment to developing a homestead routine is that neither Dan nor I grew up with it. This is new territory for us, so to speak. We grew up in homes with parents who were 9-to-5ers, who looked forward to weekends, vacations, and retirement. Farming and homesteading aren't like that. They require a different mindset, a different lifestyle.

We realize that we are still in an establishment phase of our homestead; that there are certain conditions that aren't routines of themselves. For example, not only has the house needed updating and repair rather badly, but we've had to clear out the overgrowth, break the ground, put up fences, prepare for and get chickens and goats, plant fruit trees, plan herb gardens, deal with septic system problems, etc. We still need to improve the pasture, fence for a pig, and a buck, get honeybees, prepare the ground for grain growing, build a greenhouse, install our water conservation systems, get a generator, etc. So many one time activities from which new routines will need to be developed.

Do you all find the same thing to be true? Do new routines come easily for you? How have you found the lifestyle adjustment? What's been easy, what's been hard? I think motivation and self-discipline are key, but I'd love to hear what you think.


Doyu Shonin said...

We're pretty flexible because we were forestry nomads, then the kids, then 9-to-fivers, now I'm retired and a homebody. And we more or less homesteaded the whole time. So we're used to reorganizing. What's new is I'm real-l-l-ly slowing dow-w-w-wn...

Alla said...

Oh my! I used to be so disiplined, everything was done on a schedule but if anything changed because of circumstances I was irritated. Now I have so many distractions in a day that I've become a person that goes with the flow. Less stress and irration that way! Probably don't get as much done but still get things done. But definitely some form of routine is needed for me.

Linda said...

Do new routines come easily for you? How have you found the lifestyle adjustment? What's been easy, what's been hard? I think motivation and self-discipline are key, but I'd love to hear what you think.

I find change hard. I don't mind it, but it's hard to get set into a new routine. I find I fall back into the old even after many months of doing something different. I start out motivated, but many times that slacks off if things don't go right and I get discouraged.

Theresa said...

Hmm, I'm pretty flexible about change but the change has to be well thought out and usually purpose driven.
I have routines and I like to keep to them, but also I build in time I guess in which I can do what my little ol heart desires. Most of my routines deal with getting everyone fed. You know as free spirited as we may or may not be, dogs, horses, goats and even the cats count on that feeding routine and they get terribly anxious if things aren't done on time

DebbieB said...

BABIES!!! Sorry, but those countdown tickers are just wonderful. I can't wait to see the kids!

Benita said...

I am a routine person. I make lists, schedules and try to stick by them as much as possible. If I didn't have these, nothing would get done. My husband, on the other hand... Well, he's an artist. Not much more to say about that. :)

Leigh said...

Risa, sounds like you're path was similar to mine. I have to admit it's the slowing down that concerns me. Not the deliberate kind, but the getting older energy kind!

Alla, I can so relate to that. It's trying to find the balance that's the challenge.

Linda, I'm finding that to be true with the switch to daylight savings. I'm used to looking at the clock to know when to let the chickens out for the morning. But that doesn't work anymore and I'm having trouble with the mental switch! Effects my entire day.

Theresa, "purpose driven." That's so true. And you're right about animals. I suppose we could look at that two ways, as either tying us down, or else giving us structure for the day that enables us to build in that free time. Which is an excellent idea BTW!

DebbieB, yes babies! I'm positive that two of my does are expecting, it's Jasmine I'm still uncertain of. I'm going to plan for it and hope for the best.

Benita, now, you're an artist too! Lists definitely do help. That's assuming:
1) I remember to look at them
2) I don't lose them. :)

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

I love structure. In my mind it lays out the plan to get things done. The Husband is the exact opposite. So when things don't get done it makes me crazy. Then I wish I could be one of those 'fly by the seat of my pants' people because it would be easier on my blood pressure and the marriage ;) I intellectually know that worrying about something doesn't help the situation, but I do it anyway. Maybe that is why I like my wine now and again.

BrokenRoadFarm said...

When we made the move from the big city to the country, it was hard to make the change to S-L-O-W D-O-W-N :-) But I am kind of stuck in the middle - I still commute to the big city twice a week and have to go-go-go. Then shift when I get home to slowing down. Wish I could just slow down all the time. Change is now a constant out here - never know what is going to work smoothly or go to heck and you have to do it over and over again until it works out. Learning to go with the flow is something I struggle with - but I think I am getting better at it!

Susan said...

I need structure because I am very easily distracted from a task. Lists are very important - without them, things do not get done. I am not as flexible as I used to be, probably because I am older and things take longer to do. However, I can usually tuck something into the routine in a matter of a week or so.
I love having livestock, because we all thrive on the same system.

Leigh said...

Jane, LOL. I know they say "opposites attract" but really it should be for a sense of balance rather than strife. I like structure too, but I don't need rigidity! Seems so hard to get the right blend.

BrokenRidgeFarm, I'm coming to believe that our internal pace is as much habit as anything else! We seem to get used to either a fast or slow life and subconsciously seem to want to stick to it. Hopefully you'll get a grip on those two gears soon!

Susan, you sound like me. My list pretty much seems to become my structure for the day. I'm hoping that eventually we'll develop seasonal routines, for the daily routines to be based on. So true about animals. They are a very natural example of the need for routine because they expect and demand it from us *she says as the goats are hollering because it's time to be fed.* :)

NancyDe said...

I like a routine, but with four kids, a full time teaching job, and trying to get my small farm off the ground, I am constantly having to change my vector... So I am a weird combination of worrywart and list maker (many things on the lists get rolled over to the next list, sadly). In fact, I make three lists everyday: home, farm, work.

Anonymous said...

I seems to switch gears a lot. I'm a homebody that has to have certain things done through out the day and if they don't get done it bugs me. I don't like getting up in the morning and walking into yesterdays mess. I feel like it puts me behind for what chores I have to do that day.
But there's certain things I have NO problem putting off. Those things are usually the ones that involve going to town or painting anything :)
PS Love the due date tickers!

Renee Nefe said...

i'm a go with the flow kinda other than the waking up early part, I could deal...I'm a night owl. although I do find that my nights are ending much earlier now days.

Chanan, Rachael and Hope said...

I love Looking at your journal, I am so envious of the organization and categories that you have there. I can't imagine that you have any trouble at all. I use both of your sites for perfect references. I would love to have a journal site exactly the way you have yours. How did you go about lining it up that way? I have a blog I am not able to do what you have done on yours.
We just started homesteading and we are just like you. WE have NO experience! So just ordering and then looking thru my seed packets makes me feel like I want to quit. I am overwhelmed to say the least! I have companion planting that I am trying to think about and organize.Then I wonder how each plant likes their soil recipe. I want to raise and eat my own chickens. That sounds way to easy YET way to hard when it comes to sustainable, NON playing around, kinda raising chickens. I want foragers only, so I need to raise food for my chickens. Etc, Etc, I wish I had some experience.
I too am afraid that I will fall back into the love for what I have been used to doing after this to has passed. BUT I push for the need to feed my family UN-monsanto NON-GMO foods! That is my biggest motivation. I want Goats as well, but that is where I am not sure if I want to commit to that schedule. I want the milk for nourishment though and feel it is very needful. I don't know if I can keep them fed. I want them to forage as well. But I have not researched Goats yet. I think that in this day and time we have to think about staying home and taking care of OURSELVES! That will take a whole new outlook on life for our generation unless you are an amish person who lives off the land and off grid with ease and has no idea about our kinda of life or our kinda bills. I have a dear Amish family working on my place right now and I CRAVE their knowledge and quit honestly their lifestyle. SIMPLE, yet they do work hard. But with a joy for the end result to be the best that it can be or they are not at peace with themselves. That is the focus of all their work! Lets do our best at all we do and prosper from the hand of our work. All the best and happy planting to harvest and beyond

Leigh said...

NancyDe, hurray for lists. Sounds like you have a very, very busy life. What a challenge! I like your idea of making different lists for the three aspects of your life.

Renee, how funny. I dislike going to town too. Fridays are usually my errand days and I love anything that puts that off! Switching gears isn't always easy. It's one of the things I'm still working on.

Renee, ah, a night owl! I confess that sometimes I have trouble going to bed. Sometimes I just can't sleep! But I do try to get up early, before the sun, so I have time for Bible study and writing before I have to go out and do chores.

Chanan, Rachael, and Hope, thank you so much! You're comment is an encouragement. My garden journal is based on one of the new Blogger design templates. I love having all those columns because it means I can keep track of a lot of things.

I'd encourage you to simply take it one step at a time. We have similar goals about feeding our animals ourselves, but realize there is a transition phase. We're working on that a little at a time. For many things, there's no perfect, and our problems and mistakes are really helpful for learning how to do or not do something in the future. I think the homesteading life can only be learned by experience, and each season and year, your experience will grow, your confidence will grow, your routine will grow, and your homestead will grow. I find that the hardest part in all of that is being patient! :)

Jen said...

We were told that our goats were at least 4 weeks off of giving birth. This morning there were two little babies in the goat house! I guess we have two weeks to sort out the milking station!

Leigh said...

Limette, that reminds me of the time a number of years ago, when I farm sat for some folks who raised Nubians. They were gone for about a week, and assured me that no goats were due to kid in their absence. Well, you guessed it, one of their does kidded with twins. :)

I've been reading that goats can be off about a week either way. Not sure how factual that is, but we're getting ready just in case!

Donna said...

I think once you have the house and property up to par you'll develop the appropriate routines around your crops and livestock in response to the season. The whole time change thing is annoying. Livestock don't care what a contraption that hangs on the wall says, they want to eat when they are hungry. Don't stress about it too much, eventually you'll find yourself in a routine.

Leigh said...

Donna, that's what I long for; a life based on a seasonal routine. It's hard to be patient sometimes and I find myself wishing we were able to have this permanent homestead when we were younger! Still I'm just thankful to not be renting anymore.