Keeping Your Chore Load Light
It's tempting to fill your day with farm chores, but the fact is that farming (and rural living in general) is filled with projects that have to get done, projects that happen once in a while but not every day. If you fill up your time with daily chores, you won't be able to get anything done!
This is doubly true if you have a day job, as I do (in the WAN acceleration group at Citrix Systems). There's been a big deadline crunch that's kept me from getting my newsletter out on time or even respond to email properly. But I get my daily chores done because (a) I've purposely kept a lid on how many I accept, and (b) There are limits to how much I'm willing to let things slide in a crisis.
I figure that 2-3 hours of daily chores are about all a full-time farmer can afford. For a part-time farmer, it's much less. Too many things come up that require large blocks of time -- some planned, some not. The chicken houses have to get built, escaped livestock have to be coralled, failed machinery has to be repaired -- it all takes time, and lots of it.
So keep that chore load low!
Like you, I have a part-time (fitness trainer) business, but with a 2 hour commute 4 days a week and trying to maintain of 5 acres of home, field and woods nothing would do last year but to have a quarter acre vegetable garden! I am sure you can predict the result!
After fighting the battle with last year's drought in the Carolinas, HERDS of deer, FLOCKS of crows and other wildlife, hand watering 3 days a week plus endless weeding, digging, hoeing.....well it was just easier, simpler and a lot less expensive to go to the 'Pick Your Own' farm up the road and can the stuff he had grown! I like to stay in shape, but Geez!
This year I instituted "The Plamondon Plan" and bought 8 Gold Comet 'started Pullets' (18 wks old) and they were laying within a month. I can't buy the chicks and feed them for 5 months for what he was charging. That egg money has bought the feed for themselves and 25 White Rock chicks we bought at the same time. They'll start laying in August. We have 50 more started pullets coming next week and will be in full production with 68 hens by August and 17 Cockerels in the freezer. Right now I average about 7 hours weekly on chores. It will probably be 2 hours a day in August and there after.
Your knowledgeable and pragmatic advice plus your research into pre-WW I poultry techniques has been invaluable. We have happy, healthy free range chickens (our little dinosaurs), magnificent natural raised eggs and more customers than we can supply. And a whole lot fewer insects on the farm!
We also spend about 2-3 hours a week picking Blueberries from our 30 bushes and I planted 100 more this past spring. The only work with them is at harvest time and light annual pruning in the fall and winter.
Now I just have the very best thing in farming-harvesting 'natural' eggs, Organic Blueberries-two products that most everyone loves - and my own veggies from the neighbor's farm. And Light duty!
Once the coop and furniture is finished for the new hens and the electric fencing is installed maybe I can get around to that bent tin on the barn roof!! Oh yeah and I need to fix the gate, clear that hillside and...