A Day in the Life

Recently I saw a post on a homesteader’s blog that was a recap of her day– she called it “a day in the life post.” I found it interesting, so thought I’d do it too. This was today:

6:30-7:15 coffee and internet time. On Mondays I treat myself to 3 new (free) music downloads. Today I added 3 more tracks from the Pretenders’ 1980 debut album, an old favorite.

7:15-7:30 let the chickens out. Filled their waterer and feeders

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7:30-8:30 went to my mother’s house to change the oil in her tractor. During my chores and work this morning I was listening to an iTunes-U course on the Foundations of Modern Social Theory. These days if you want to learn political theory from a professor at Yale, you can either get yourself admitted to Yale and come up with $68,175/year, or you can download the lectures for free from Open Yale on iTunes. We live in a great time to be a nerd. Unfortunately I didn’t have a tool I needed (an socket extension) so I didn’t finish the job. Visited with my mother a bit and she gave me some more tasks for another time.

8:30-9:40 filling some gaps along the bottom of our new hoop house, with fill dirt I scooped up from a mound on another part of the farm.

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The hoop house was just erected on Thursday.  We’re excited about being able to extend our seasons. But now this old dog has to learn some new tricks. Growing inside a high tunnel is new to me.

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9:40-10:10 breakfast. I cooked sausage and gravy. We didn’t raise any pigs year, as we were concerned that we might not be able to sell all the pork we got from the 7 we raised last year. That concern turned out to be unfounded. All of the most popular cuts are long gone. Fortunately for me, we still have plenty of breakfast sausage, and since no one ever orders neck bones, we still have those too.

10:10-11:10 back to my Mother’s to change the oil in her tractor. A job that should have taken a half hour ended up eating up nearly two hours of my morning. But I got it done, and with only one busted knuckle. Other people in Keeling may have changed the oil in a tractor this morning, but I’m pretty sure I was the only one listening to a lecture about Thomas Hobbes while doing it.

11:10-11:30 cleaned and sterilized our vegetable packing station, which is a corner of our basement. After every market day we spray down and wipe off all containers and table tops with a sterilizing solution.

11:30-11:40 checked on the Chinese cabbage. It’s looking good but still not quite headed up. This Saturday is our last farmer’s market of the year and I’m not sure it will be ready in time.

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11:40-12:15 cleaning debris out of the hoop house and beginning to mark the beds. The house is 30 feet wide. My plan is to lay out 7 beds: two 2 foot wide beds on the edges and five four foot wide beds in the center, with one foot wide walkways between them, imitating what Pam Dawling describes in her book Sustainable Market Farming. I still don’t know what we’re going to plant. I’m open to suggestions.

12:15-1:30 lunch break. I cooked potatoes with onions and peppers.

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1:30-2:15 cleaned the waterer in the pasture, trimmed Fannie’s hooves, cleaned the horse’s stall and spread the manure on a garden.

Goats need their hooves trimmed at least once every six months, for the same reason we trim our fingernails and toenails. I trim our goats’ hooves in the order of their ear tag numbers. That way I make sure no one gets skipped or goes too long without a trim. It was Fannie’s turn (she being number 85). Unfortunately Fannie is one of only two goats in our herd who won’t come to me voluntarily. So I had to chase her down. I ended up with a skinned knee and she ended up with neatly trimmed hooves.

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Annie (L) and Fannie (R). That look in Fannie’s eyes means, “If you want to trim my hooves you’re going to have to catch me first.”

Some may remember me blogging about Annie and Fannie last winter. They both nearly died. Now they’re both strong and healthy, and due for their first kidding in March.

We usually compost horse manure before applying it to a garden. But this time of year, as long as nothing will be planted in the next four months, it’s OK to spread the manure directly on the garden and let it compost there.

2:15-3:00  Checked the sweet potatoes, made sugar water for the bees, checked the tatsoi.

We still have the sweet potatoes in the crates we cured them in. It’s time to spread them out on tarps in a dark corner of the basement, but I haven’t quite finished trimming the garlic that’s there now. So in the meantime I have to check them now and then to remove any that are starting to rot.

The good news is that our hive of honeybees has made it through its first year. The somewhat disappointing news is that they didn’t make enough honey this year to share any with us. As winter approaches we feed them a solution of sugar water (50% water, 50% dissolved sugar), to make sure they can use every opportunity to make honey for the winter while it’s still warm.

Our second planting of tatsoi looks good. It needs thinning but when possible I like to wait until I’m harvesting for market, so I can take the thinnings to market. Should be no problem this week.

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3:00-4:00 Worked on an “inside” project, inputting family history data into Ancestry.com. This is a project I’ve been putting off for years. It’s tedious and time-consuming, but now that things are slowing down I try to devote an hour to it every so often. I’ll finish it this winter during the quiet times.

4:00-4:05  Fed the worms and moistened their bin.

4:05-6:00 cleared along a pasture fence. This is a twice-a-year job. I have to weedeat along the bottom of the fence, pull up or chop down any saplings that are coming up, and (in today’s case) use the chainsaw to cut down a limb that was touching the fence. A lot of this work could be eliminated if we sprayed Roundup along our fence line like many folks do.

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6:00-6:30 A longtime friend of the family passed away a few days ago. He had hunting privileges on a farm once owned by my great aunt (now deceased), and now managed by me. His son and my cousin (my great aunt’s daughter) dropped by to ask about transferring those privileges to him.

6:30 Supper time. Lentil puttanesca featuring our shiitake mushrooms, which have done really well this year.

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7:00-7:45 Post-supper walk. Gathered and washed the eggs. Filled the bees’ feeder.

7:45-now Putting this post together.

So that’s it. Not a typical day, but none of them are.

It’s been an interesting experience, but I don’t think I’ll do this again. It’s too much like filling out a timesheet.