Sunday, November 10, 2013
Farming With Small Children (video!)
When I first started really entering into this homesteading journey I had one small child but he was old enough to stay with me and being only him I could easily keep and eye on him while I did chores or rooted around in the garden. Then number two came along and I inwardly panicked. What was I going to do? How was I going to get basic chores done let alone keep adding to the barnyard? Let's face it, kids are a huge time/attention suck. Some days just taking a pee break is precarious in this house. So how do I get chores done twice a day, every day?
First of all I will say that my kids come first. Coffee comes second. Then comes chores in the morning. I don't kill myself (at present time) to do chores at the crack of dawn. Heck, I don't get out of bed until at least 7:00. Puzzle Boy always is up before me but he plays quietly(ish) for about a half hour until I wake up enough to get out of bed. I am not a morning person, can you tell? So, after we have all had our morning sustenance, I then do chores. Some mornings I am leaving first thing to run errands or pick up my friends baby to watch him, etc. In this case I would load the kids up in the car first and then do chores while they sit safely buckled up in my preheating car. Other mornings I will put Mini on my back and just take them with me or put them in separate contained places of safety while I run out to do the bare minimum. A lot of times the later is the case and I will just save the bigger more involved chores for when they are napping or supervised with someone who is not me. Like my mom. Or the dog. Just kidding.
Set yourself up for success! Honestly, when you are farming with small children there need to be continual reality checks. Do you really have time to milk three cows? Or, would just two or three goats be more manageable? 100 chickens? Geesh, that's a lot of poop everyday! Think realistically. Start small and know your own limits about what you can handle without outside help. Currently my weekday chores take less than 10 minutes twice a day. How is that you ask with a horse, a laying flock and a meat chick flock? I set it up for success!
My horse lives outside, not in a stall and he poops outside. The most his stall needs is a sweeping of the dirt he drags in every couple weeks. Time saved: 30 minutes of poop scooping. Throwing him his hay and giving a quick check over for ailments takes about two minutes.
The laying flock and rooster need to be fed once a day and the eggs collected. I collect eggs in the morning and feed at night. I clean the laying area every other day or as needed. They take about 3-5 minutes to care for.
The meat birds, while temporary are in my current schedule and take about the same time as the laying hens. They also get cleaned every other day and this seems to work well right now. * I will be doing an update on them soon.
On the weekend when Montana Man is home I will do what big projects need to be done while he watches the kids or we work together as a family like we did this weekend while we made a larger pen for the meat chicks. I had Mini in the Ergo and PB sat on a hay bale and safely watched us from there. Really, I do like having them tag along when MM and I are doing a project because not only does it show them farm skills, it shows them mommy and daddy working together (which we do very well!). Life skills all around!
In the spring we will be adjusting to a new schedule and ways of getting things done as things pick up in the growing season. With this I need to plan carefully and stick to that plan. I have just sent my deposit for two Nigerian Dwarf goats, a milking doe and a maiden yearling doe. I will be adding milking to my morning chores! But, again, I chose an animal that requires smaller increments of time to care for. I will only need about 20 minutes to milk total including sanitation steps and milk prep. I will be milking only my lovely Scarlett next spring, but the next year I will be milking both. Organization will be my friend.
Also next spring, the greenhouse will be full of seedlings to tend and cold weather veggies. New raised gardens beds will need to be made... next year will be a busy one. And, I will probably need to enlist help from a sitter to get some of these things done. For now though, we manage. Farming with kids can be fun, rewarding and enriching for both child and parent. Just remember to know your limits and theirs, have a plan and work together as a unit.
This video was one I did for a lady in LA that approached my about being in a reality show. Nothing ever came of that and I have forgotten I even made this! But, now I see it's true purpose... to share how I got stuff done this summer.