How a Cleaning Schedule Saved My Sanity

I hate cleaning. It is the bane of my existence. Well, that’s a lie. Folding laundry is. However, after a hectic week, the last thing I want to do was spend my entire Saturday cleaning. At that point, the weekend is never anything to look forward to, for me. Especially with a husband who works a lot of crazy odd hours.

I get overwhelmed easily, so I knew I needed to figure this out. So what’s a busy Mom to do? I turned to Pinterest. I searched ‘cleaning hacks’ and scoured through everything. I came across a cleaning schedule and I thought, this sounds so simple! Now I know these schedules aren’t anything new, but sire were to me. I just needed to make it work for me and my home.

So I split my home up into sections and declared them the missions of the day. One day I’ll mop/scrub the dining room floor. While I’m down there I’ll make sure the baseboards are clean. I’ll clean and dust the coffee bar as well.

The shower is extremely intimidating for me, so I’ll also divide that into sections and I will scrub one every day. I also included wiping down the vanity and toilet bowl (because you know, boys), into my nightly routine.

The next day I’ll mop/scrub the kitchen and of course the baseboards, because those are ALWAYS dirty in the kitchen. While I’m in there I will give the sink a good scrub down and wipe down cabinets and appliances. So on and so forth, with whatever room is chosen that day.

On days where I’m mopping the entry way or the hallway I’ll choose a bedroom to also do a thorough cleaning. So I’ll pick up the floor, vacuum, wash sheets and dust.

Then of course there are things that I do daily, like dishes/cleaning the counter and sweeping. If you’re familiar with this blog, you know I live in the country and everything, I mean everything gets trotted inside. So sweeping is a must. Also the nightly routine I mentioned above. Furthermore, there are things that I do as needed, like laundry.

Cleaning an entire house is extremely daunting, but when you split it up and chip away at it each day, it becomes doable. Now my system isn’t perfect, but it works for me and everything gets a thorough cleaning every week. Sounds pretty good to me.

What hacks do you have to make life a little more simple?

Winterizing

There’s a lot to do, to ensure everyone’s survival, before winter comes. (Cue Game of Thrones music) we will be overwintering 38 chickens and possibly goats. We also have some things to do to make sure we are comfortable this winter as well.

We will be putting up plastic around the mobile coops and adding some perches. We will also be cleaning our static coop and applying a deep mulch. We did this last year and it seemed to do well. Soon we will have to start taking waters inside, on a nightly basis, so they don’t freeze.

We have a lot of wood to chop! We don’t heat our home solely on wood, but we will instal a wood stove as supplemental, for when the power goes out. Last winter we had some storms where it knocked out the power and we went without heat for a couple days. This can be potentially dangerous, so we will be remedying that.

Another thing I like to do is meal prep a little bit. In the winter, I do not enjoy cooking. I’d much rather be bundled up on the couch. So what I’ll be doing for the next month or so it doubling recipes and freezing them for future use. This is helpful because it will just be a matter of thawing and warming.

pot pies cooling before I add the crust on top. These will go in the freezer for a quick meal.

Winter isn’t my favorite time of year, but there are things that can be done to make it more bearable. What are the things you like to do before winter?

Season Wrap Up

We didn’t grow a whole lot this year, not just due to lack of planning, but lack of confidence. We just didn’t think we could do it. When I say season wrap up, I mostly mean the broiler chickens. So far we have had some great successes and it has really added confidence to what we are doing.


The chickens are getting so big, so fast and we may be butchering a couple weeks earlier than planned. Other than a couple setbacks and remedies, they have been a smashing success. The chicken tractors have worked fairly well other than the wheels aren’t working as well as they should. This makes them hard to pull around the yard. We also have had to add some hose to soften the chain for pulling. The chain is really rough on the hands, especially first thing in the morning. We also had to put wire over the waterer. We found this out through an unfortunate experience of a chicken jumping inside.

I’ve pretty much given up on my garden that I planted directed in the ground. It’s very slow going. I hope I can get something out of it, but it is doubtful, since our first frost date is fast approaching (5-10 days from now). My garden box is great, as I’ve said before. I have what seems to be an endless supply of salad greens. This is weirdly exciting, because I haven’t had to buy any at the grocery store in quite some time.


In order to finish wrapping up the season we have a ton of wood to chop and we will certainly need a plucker, because I don’t think I could handle hand plucking those chickens. We’ve accomplished so much in such a short period of time and still have potential to grow more with the help of low tunnels, which I think we will experiment with. We’ve gained the confidence to plan for the future and what things we will try next year.

Homesteading Isn’t Free and Our Halfway Mark

You may have all of this food growing all around you, and you can go out and grab it whenever you want, but it’s definitely not free. There is this common misconception, mostly around non homesteaders, but also a few people actually doing it, that it’s all free. It’s not.

There are start up costs and they are extremely expensive. Even if you use things you have laying around, you’ve paid for it once at some point. Not to mention the time spent. It’s grueling work and if you haven’t done it, you’ll never know.

I’ve had people come to me in the past asking for free stuff. Mostly eggs and produce, because that’s what I have, but also when I tell them what we are looking into getting they ask if they can have some. My suggestion to you would be to just say no.

Just say, no. I know it’s hard to say. And I’m not saying don’t help those in need. My goal is to expose as many people as I can, to homesteading, and encourage them to do it on their own. Exposure involves showing people what you’re doing and showing how rewarding it is. I think that most people who get into this lifestyle are very giving people, but if you’re not careful, people will wring you dry and take advantage.

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We’re 8 weeks into growing as much as we can in the space we have. It’s not large, because this was more on a whim. My raised bed is doing fantastic, because we strategically layered and amended the soil as we filled the box. My plants that are in ground aren’t doing so hot. I think part has to do with the soil being compacted and deficient. The other part probably has to do with the fact that we haven’t had rain in a long time.

 

We are just over half way into our 100 days of growing and I’m feeling the burnout. You know the feeling when you work so hard and you get halfway there and realize, you’re only halfway there. :/ That’s where I am. It doesn’t help that my in ground plants are doing so poorly, and that’s where we planted most of our food.

Death on the Homestead

I’m not an expert and I’ll never pretend to be. Is anyone really an expert? Probably not, but the truth is I am a complete novice. I’ve had experience with chickens for 4, almost 5 years. Until now I have absolutely never lost one. Not one. Key words: until now.

We ordered chickens online through a big company. We selected a rare breed straight run. We wanted variety and a rooster. It seemed like the best route. Upon receiving our shipment we lost 4 almost right off the bat. More got sick, but we took measures to save them. Even as chicks, until then we had never lost one.

Fast forward to recently. The rest reached maturity and everything seemed to be going well. Until one day one of the roosters we had started acting funny. This is where observation comes in handy. We noticed almost immediately something was wrong. He was still walking around and eating, so we chalked it up to him not feeling well. There were no other symptoms, that we could see, other than he was acting weird. A few days later we put him out of his misery.

Now fast forward to now. We had one of our hens start to act funny and sluggish. I had been running errands all day and I can’t help but think that if I had been home, I would have caught it sooner. She was acting similar to that one rooster, only it seemed to be progressing a lot faster. I took her out and tried to nurse her to health. At this point I think she was too far gone. I held her and pet her. I tried giving her water.

Looking back now, I blame myself. Though maybe I shouldn’t. I can’t help but think, if I could have caught it faster. Gotten her out of there sooner. Force fed her water. Massaged her crop. Taken more drastic measures, she would have made it. She was just too weak to make it through the night.

Life and death happens on the homestead and a lot of homesteaders will tell you, you should get used to it, because it just happens. But, does it mean I should accept it? Because I don’t. This loss was harder for than the rest. I’m sure the bigger the animal the harder the loss. I fear it will only get worse for me.

Predators, Pests and Broody Hen Fails

Upon studying up before starting anything, I research it to death. The experts say that the biggest predators you will face, will be your own pets. Boy oh boy are they right!

Don’t get me wrong, our dogs do a great job spreading their smell and deterring other predators, but I don’t think we will ever be able to squash their prey drive. Sure we have a lot more acclimating to do, but dogs are dogs and everything likes chicken.

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Our cat is a fantastic mouser. We frequently get “presents” at our doorstep. He would never do anything to a full grown chicken. I know this because he’s been inside the coop and immediately regretted it, trying to get out and whining. But, any chance he can get at baby chick, he will take it. He is vicious.

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Laying in my cabbage patch.

He is one of my biggest pests as well. So many times I’ve chased the cat out of the garden bed, trying to dig in them. He’s ruined quite a few plants. The dogs too, think they own the place and trample my plants all the time. Some training will help with this I’m sure. This whole thing is new to them too, after all.

We do our best to keep the chickens safe and so far we haven’t lost any, but a few have endured a bite on their tail feathers when they managed to escape their enclosure. We acclimate our animals as much as we can. They usually join us on our chores and see us handle them. Maybe in time everyone can just get along and stop laying in my garden.

Now on to my broody fails. Based on behaviors, we had suspicions that our broody hens were no longer broody. So we kicked the broilers they adopted “out of the nest”. One of them protested shortly afterwards, so we put that broiler back and she was happy again. The other seemed content, so we turned her coop, so she could see the others she was next to. Chickens are flock animals and don’t like being alone. She was happy.

The problem we have run into, is long term housing. We don’t want to keep them in the mini coops, because we want them to have more space to stretch their legs. We attempted to integrate one back with the laying flock and it was a major fail. Our rooster saw her as an impostor and chased her everywhere. I can’t get too mad, he’s only doing his job.

So we kept them in the mini coops. Well, we were correct in thinking the brooding instinct was now over, because they both payed today. One of the hens was acting kind of funny afterwards. I watched her and saw she was tearing up grass and throwing it over her shoulder and into her back. So I thought maybe I’d leave the egg in there and see what happens.

I come back an hour later to find that the eggs was gone! I searched and found a trampled shell. She had eaten it. In our experience, when this behavior begins, it doesn’t stop. They pecked the egg and got a reward of the yolk. Chances are she’ll do it again. This makes me so sad.

I’m not completely sure how we will move forward. On one hand, she’s a wonderful mom. This is our second time she has gone broody and the first time she hatched chicks all on her own. On the other hand, she ate the egg and will likely do it again. This means, she may never be a good broody either. I really don’t want to cull her.

Just an Experiment

Farming/homesteading is 95% observation. I spend a lot of my time just sitting and watching my animals or doing “barn checks”. After morning chores, there isn’t a whole lot of time spent doing physical labor. I’m sure as our homestead grows, I’ll have more chores to do, but I think 95% of the time will be spent watching.

Farming is just a giant science experiment. Figuring out what works, what doesn’t and what needs work or a whole new approach. The biggest part of science experiments are observations. Your observation determines everything.

Things I am seeing in my homestead include my chicken broilers are consuming WAY more food than I expected and calculated for. My costs are rising rapidly. They seem to be going through 40 lbs a week! We were feeding them organic non-gmo feed and expenses were skyrocketing.

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Learning the water bucket.

I always want to feed my family the best, but there is a point where I have to draw the line. This week we have switched to conventional feed until we can figure out a better way. We have been researching local feed mills that provide non-gmo feed for reasonable prices. We have found one “locally”, but is still an hour away. I may need to start rationing as well.

Another observation is that I need to have my soil tested. I’ve never done this, but I think it will be important information. You see, in the front of my house I planted out squash starts and they completely died. So I counted my losses and moved on. I planted other seeds in their place and waited. A lot of my seeds are doing well, but my brassicas are just not germinating. Now this could be as simple as theft from scavenger animals, or my soil needs some amendments. My vote is soil because the ones that I have seen germinate are still there.

The seeds that I started in my raised bed out back, are doing amazing! I have already started harvesting salad greens and soon radishes. I don’t have to bend to weed and I could add the compost directly to the soil while we filled the box. This may be my preferred method to growing things.

Observation is key to a successful experiment. I can now determine problematic behaviors among my chickens because I know what is normal. I know what things need to change or be remedied to fix my problem. If I don’t know, I’m pretty handy with google 😉  Can I officially call myself a scientist now?