Today's focus is on time management skills for the homestead in order to accomplish all your homesteading tasks along with your other activities. Especially if you happen to have a day job whether that's working from home, commuting, or a busy housewife with kids. No matter what scenario you find yourself in these tips will help… at least I hope they do.
I'm not innately a planner, I'm more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal where I just jump in with both feet with whatever task needs accomplishing.
But as my business has grown and I now have a blog, YouTube channel, Pioneering Today Academy, podcast, social media channels, as well as writing books and creating new courses, if I don't set aside and make the time to do the must-do tasks of the week, then I'll get behind.
I like to think of it as “meal planning” for your tasks! We all know when you have a meal plan you spend less money on groceries, waste less food, and save time each week by knowing what you're preparing and even being able to prep food in bulk ahead of time.
Speaking of spending less on groceries, having ground beef on hand is key for quick easy meals when you didn't have time to meal prep. Taco's or meatballs can quickly be thrown together.
But that means that we need to have our ground beef, to begin with. I will always advocate that raising your own … pasture-raised is the important part there, grass-fed and grass-finished beef is really important. But if you can't raise it yourself and/or you don't have a local farmer or homesteader that you can get that from, the next best option is finding a place that will deliver it straight to your door, also sources from small farms that are 100% grass-fed, and getting your ground beef from them.
But the other part is getting free 100% grass-fed ground beef. Can I get an amen? Butcher Box is doing a very special offer that new members receive two pounds of 100% grass-fed ground beef at every box for the lifetime of their membership. Once you've had 100% grass-fed, you don't ever go back. So you could get your free two pounds and every box with new members by going to Butcherbox.com/pioneeringtoday
Making a plan can sometimes seem daunting and overwhelming (and taking more time which you're already strapped for), but by planning out your days and week you'll actually accomplish your tasks faster because there's a plan.
Knowing what task comes first, second, etc, takes away the brain capacity of having to think about these things in real-time.
This post has been updated with a new podcast where I'm helping Pioneering Today Academy member Tami organize her own schedule as well as sharing some of the time-saving tips I use on a daily and weekly basis in my own home.
Below you'll find the various tips I share, as well as my weekly and daily schedule (at the time of the original podcast recording which was back in June of 2020.
Listen in below to the previously recorded Pioneering Today Podcast, Episode #261 3 Tips for Time Management & My Homestead Schedule, or check out the new podcast, Episode #337 – Time Management Skills for the Homestead – How to Structure Your Days So You Don't Fall Behind.
Must-Have Time Management Skills
Below you'll find the seven must-have time management skills when it comes to running a productive household and homestead without burnout or overwhelm.
- Know Your Current Priorities
- Make a Plan
- Use Your Resources Wisely
- Break Up Tasks
- Adjust When Necessary
- Multi-task (or not?)
- Modern-Day Homesteading Skills
Know Your Current Priorities
Have you ever met someone who truly “does it all?” I simply don't believe it's possible. I've never had a time where I felt I could give all my priorities equal attention and everything was at its best. I just don't think you can.
You're going to have seasons where some things may have a higher focus and priority. Of course, faith and family should always come first. Please don't mistake my words there. I don't mean those things should ever suffer and other things should come before them. What I'm saying is that I don't think anybody can have an actual perfect balance and that we all have seasons where we're focusing on different things.
Homesteaders are very hard-working people, but it's important to be going about our daily “to-do list” in an ongoing manner that's relaxed and organized, but still allows us to get done all of the wonderful things that we want to do when it comes to our homestead.
Make a Plan
For me, Monday-Friday has pretty set activities and pockets of time that make it easier for me to batch my time and spread out my weekly tasks in those open areas of time, rather than saving them all for one day.
When you write out a list of everything that needs to happen in a day or a week this can help you come up with a plan that fits your lifestyle and schedule. But you need to be realistic.
When I was younger, I used to make a list of all the things that needed to get done in a day, then mark off as many as I was able to accomplish. I was always left feeling defeated because I was never able to accomplish everything on my list.
One day I was sharing this with my mom who asked to see my list, after she saw all the things I was wanting to accomplish she just chuckled and told me that no one would be able to accomplish everything on my list in a day!
That made me feel better and helped me realize sometimes we need some outside perspective to re-evaluate our expectations. I needed to be more realistic with my expectations.
When I was finally realistic with what I could accomplish in a day, it helped me prioritize my tasks based on the things that were most important. Those tasks that didn't make the cut, I had to learn to be OK with not completing them.
Seeing the open areas of time throughout the day can help you slot in individual tasks that will only take a certain amount of time. Or, perhaps you realize you don't have a large enough timeframe to accomplish some of your larger tasks?
The next step is to see what tasks can be broken up into bite-sized chunks…
Break Up Tasks
I simply don't have an entire day during the week to work on a large task, so Monday-Friday is set for smaller tasks or tasks that can be broken up into blocks of time.
For example, making bone broth from scratch and canning it for the pantry is a very time-consuming task that would normally take the better part of an entire day.
However, if one day I start the process of bone broth by roasting bones, then making the broth in the instant pot the next day, putting it into the refrigerator overnight so the fat can solidify and be skimmed off, then finally on the third day I'm canning it up, that one large task has now been broken up into smaller tasks that only take a couple of hours each (most of that is hands-off time).
Another example during preservation season is canning peaches (an all-day, time-consuming task). I can make the light syrup on the first day, blanch, skin, and pit them on the second day (putting them in lemon water overnight so they don't turn brown), then finally can them up on the third day.
Splitting these tasks up into multiple days makes them seem less daunting and not so overwhelming.
In the podcast interview with Tami, something she realized when it came to making homemade bread is that, because she had a hand-powered grinder, she was always dreading the task of grinding grain.
Because of this she slowly just stopped making bread altogether. Finally, it clicked that if she purchased an electric grain mill, this task was no longer daunting and she began making her own homemade bread again.
Use Your Resources Wisely
In today's modern world we have information at our fingertips. From our smartphones to books, information is readily available on countless topics.
If you're not familiar with my book, The Family Garden Plan, let me tell you a little about it. It walks you through step by step how to determine and grow a year's worth of sustainable and healthy food.
It's not just about planning and growing your garden though. There are numerous charts that even I use yearly, one of my favorites being the Harvest and Preserving Chart.
This one chart covers how much produce you need to grow to preserve enough of the harvest to feed your family for a year.
For example, at the time I recorded this original podcast I had 25 one-year-old strawberry plants. I knew this wouldn't provide enough for my family to preserve enough strawberry jam for the year, so I knew I would need to purchase a couple of flats of strawberries.
In this instance, six to eight cups of fresh strawberries are going to give either one quart canned or two pints of frozen jam. By knowing how much you need, you'll save yourself time in not having wasted trips to purchase or obtain the necessary products or resources.
Adjust When Necessary
It's extremely important to be flexible when it comes to your schedule. Life happens all around us, a kid gets sick, an animal needs special attention, the power goes out, or a crop ripens earlier than expected and needs to get preserved before it goes bad.
If our schedules aren't flexible then we're bound to fail.
My daily and weekly schedule changes based upon the seasons. For the original podcast in this post (see my daily/weekly schedule below), it was the beginning/middle of June and we were just moving into the busy season with the garden.
For the second podcast, it's the beginning of March and I'm focused more on indoor tasks, starting seeds indoors, and we're even adding an addition to our house (which throws off many other “normal” routines).
You have to, especially with homesteading, adapt and adjust and change schedules based on the seasons (or circumstances). Sometimes it's the literal seasons, like the harvest season. Other times its different seasons in life.
I don't have really young children, like infants or toddlers, at home. My kids are in their teenage years so that definitely makes things look a little different than when they were little. I just want to preface with that.
There really is no such thing as finding the perfect balance between all the things in your life. You simply can't “do it all”. But you can find a good balance of the most important tasks.
I divide mine out into the following areas (in no particular order):
- My spiritual life – I'm a Christian, so I like to prioritize time reading the Bible and in prayer with the Lord.
- Relationships – with my husband, my children, friendships, family members, etc.
- Work/career – or however you're bringing in or saving money.
- Health and exercise – one of the easiest ways for me to get exercise is to go for a daily walk or run.
- Rest – we must prioritize adequate rest or all the other areas of our life will flounder.
Multi-Task (or not?)
There is a fine balance between modern conveniences and the homesteading lifestyle. The truth is, we live in a busier world than our grandparents did. Though they didn't actually have more hours in a day, they had fewer distractions vying for their time.
Some might say their priorities were better, too!
Multitasking can get a bad wrap for a lot of reasons. For instance, if you're trying to get five tasks done at once, every time you switch to a different task your brain actually loses focus and you lose productivity.
However, that being said, with some of the tasks that don't take a lot of brain-power or thought, they can be batched together and completed in less time.
I also really enjoy listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and music, so I'll use these things as a reward for myself while doing these tasks.
Modern-Day Homesteading Skills
There are many tasks that used to take hours to complete. Like doing laundry! But because they were such time-consuming tasks, they weren't done as often.
Figure out what tasks you need to do throughout the week to stay ahead, and not get behind.
Let's take laundry as an example. This used to take a lot of hands-on time to heat up water for the washtub, scrub the clothes, then hang them dry.
For us, on our modern homestead, we have a washing machine (praise the Lord!), but we also have many more clothes than our grandparents had.
Because there are four of us and we live on a farm, I need to do about one load of laundry a day to keep up with it. If I put it off to the weekend it gets to be too much to keep up with while also trying to accomplish other larger tasks.
So one load a day fits into my schedule and my daily routine easily and keeps up with a chore that must get done.
Same with weeding, if I just devote 30 minutes a day to weeding the garden, then I find it's easier to keep up with it all rather than saving it for the weekend where it would take up my entire day to try and get it all done.
The caveat to this method of checking chores off the list is that I have to be OK during the week that when my 30 minutes is up, I stop. For people who can't leave a task incomplete, this may be difficult, so it may take some practice.
On the weekend, specifically Sunday afternoon, I like to think about what food we'll need during the week and then prep or batch cook as much as I'm able.
In the membership, for those of you listening who are members, I have a lesson inside our Homesteading Skills course on how I do a week's worth of baking in one hour a week of hands-on time. That's a great lesson that's filled with helpful tips.
I also happen to have a similar lesson available to everyone on making easy and healthy baked goods in one hour per week here.
My Current Schedule
Let me preface this by giving some history. Up until 2018, I commuted 18 miles one way to work in a neighboring town at a pharmacy. I now work from home putting in at least 50 hours a week.
As preservation time gets rolling this time is usually reduced to about 40 hours a week, but I definitely work a full-time job. I just don't have the commute anymore.
I absolutely love and adore what I get to do now with writing books, podcasting, blogging, making YouTube videos, running the Pioneering Today Academy, creating digital courses, and teaching people all the different aspects of modern homesteading and becoming more self-sufficient.
My husband still has his day job where he works at a mill sawing guitar tops. His commute is very similar to what mine used to be where it's about 15 miles away from our home.
With all that said, here is my current weekly and daily schedule.
Monday through Friday – My kids go to school so the house is pretty quiet during the day.
7:00 AM – I'm usually get up about this time. It's a lot later than I used to get up. One of the things that I have discovered is what my natural circadian rhythm is. That is when I naturally want to fall asleep when I have my energy peaks throughout the day when I really function at my best and most productive. I've always been a bit of a night owl quite honestly.
Of course, when you have young infants or you're working a day job where you have to leave early, I didn't get to be a night owl. I would have to force myself to go to bed early thereby making myself get out of bed a lot earlier. Using technology through my sleep number bed, apps on my computer and phone, I've been able to track when I'm at my most productive times and also my sleep habits. Based on the data from those two things, I do best if I go to bed at 11 o'clock at night and get up at seven in the morning. This allows my body to get the most restful deep sleep.
Animals & Garden
I wanted to explain that because a lot of people assume that homesteading with animals that you have to get up with the rising of the sun, which isn't true at all. When I get up, the first thing is I go out and feed and water the chickens: I take the meat birds their food, the laying hens and pigs get fed and everybody gets their water checked. Then I do a walkthrough of the garden if it's not pouring down rain. If there's a break in the weather I'll do the walkthrough of the garden later in the day. When on the walkthrough I do slug patrol where I handpick slugs and snails off any of my plants and put them in a small container of soapy water so that they die and stop eating my plants!
When the garden is going it's best to be out there at least once a day, even if it's just a quick walkthrough. It's so much easier to identify when things are starting to go south, whether that's diseases starting to take hold, pests like slugs and snails, or anything like that. If I can catch something right away then I can jump on it. I have a lot better success at getting rid of the insects, pests, disease…whatever…before it fully takes hold. I really say that the best thing for your garden and success is you and being present in it.
Three or four mornings I'll also do a little bit of weeding if it needs to be done during that early morning perusal. I'll address the bugs, do a little bit of pruning on the tomatoes, and weed one row. I found by just doing a little bit like that in the morning first thing I don't have to devote a whole few hours spree on the weekend. It's my way of keeping on top of things.
Bible & Kids
After that, I come into the house and have my first cup of coffee for the day. I sit down to drink my coffee while doing my Bible reading and devotional time for myself. I've found if I do not do my Bible reading and prayer time in the morning, I don't do it later on. I may have the best intentions to do it in the afternoon or in the evening, but it just doesn't happen. So for me, I need to do that first thing in the morning after taking care of the animals.
After that, I get the kids up then go in and get dressed for the day. I don't usually eat breakfast. I have never really liked to have a big breakfast which I think personally for me goes hand in hand with not being a morning person. The kids will have breakfast but I don't. My coffee is my breakfast. Then it's on to making sure the kids are getting ready to do whatever school assignments they have for the day and making sure throughout the day that they're working on whatever they need to be.
I'll then put on a load of laundry. I do about one load a day. Since we don't have a dishwasher I'll go through the kitchen to tidy up. Dishes actually get done after supper and are on rotation between all four of us in our family. Everybody takes a turn at dish night. But what I do in the morning is put away anything that is dry and didn't get put away the night before. I'll also do any dinner prep, such as get out the meat for the evening meal or get the sourdough bread going so that it can rise all day. These tasks go pretty quickly, usually about 30 minutes max.
Begin the Workday
9:00/9:30 AM – Then I begin my workday. I'll spend about two to three hours on a combination of things:
- Customer Service
- Recording Podcasts
- Scheduling & Writing Emails
- Working on Blog Posts
- Other computer-related work
Short Break & More Household Time
12/12:30 PM – I'll eat a snack of sorts and have a second cup of coffee. I don't really eat a huge lunch, but I'll have something during my break time. Then the laundry that got washed in the morning will be dried, whether that's on the line or the dryer depends on the time of year and weather. Anything that needs to be addressed for dinner prep is done at this time too.
Afternoon – This is when I do some type of filming for YouTube videos, Facebook and Instagram stories or videos, and all of my different courses inside the Pioneering Today Academy. I also have independent courses that can be purchased without being an Academy member. Some are only available with the membership right now. Those that can be purchased are:
- Home Fruit Preservation Canning e-Course
- Home Canning with Confidence
- Homemade Bread & Baking Class
- Natural Homemade Bath & Beauty Class
- Organic Gardening Workshop
So between all of them, I am filming almost daily, at least three days out of the week. What I'm filming is what we're doing on our homestead, which already has to be done, and also what I'm teaching about. So I get to do the work on the homestead but I'm also documenting it. In doing so I have to make sure all the batteries are charged, get the film equipment set up, and then actually do it. That usually takes an hour or two in the afternoon.
Break Time, Check on Chickens, & Revisit Anything Left Undone
3:30/4:00 PM – I'll check in on the kids and help them if they need it. My daughter sometimes helps me film so that's part of her homeschooling learning to be a videographer. Also around this time, the kid's chores are complete and schoolwork gets wrapped up for the day.
Because the meat chickens are at a point where they're starting to really go through their feed and water, I'll go out around this time to make sure their water is full. If there's anything that didn't get done that needed to be done in the garden, I'll go back at this time and do that. Sometimes it's pruning, sometimes it's actually beginning to harvest things. For example, at the time of recording the podcast I needed to go out and harvest Holy Basil leaves to get those drying so that I have them for tea and tincture making later on this week or next.
Then, depending on the day, I do any dinner prep that can't be done earlier in the day.
4:30/5:00 PM – As I mentioned earlier, I am not an early morning person so I don't work out in the morning. I've tried and I don't enjoy it. I don't work out in the morning but I do work out between five and six days a week. I do it in the late afternoon.
Even though we live on a homestead where we're lifting 25 to 50-pound bags of feed at different times throughout the day, doing lots of bending and stooping, kneeling and squatting when in the garden, and moving stuff around it's really not enough for me to stay in really truly tip-top physical shape. So I work out, which I now do at home. I did teach a fitness class once a week at our local fitness center before COVID as well as attended some classes there, but usually, I do the majority of my workouts at home. It wouldn't be practical to go to the closest gym with weights and machines because it's almost an hour away from us.
Now there have been times that I didn't work out but I feel I need to do it. Here are the reasons I do it:
- I sleep a lot better. It's a deeper sleep and my breath and resting heart rate are a lot lower.
- I don't have as much stress
- Reduced anxiety
- I tend to have a better mood meaning I'm less snippy and greater patience
- I plan on living this homestead lifestyle until the good Lord takes me home. I'm 39 years old (41 now!) and obviously as I age if I don't keep my physical and strength level where it's at right now I'm going to degrade and become weaker. My father is in his 80's and he still runs his sawmill, cuts his firewood, and has a garden. That's what I want to be doing when I am 80 years old. I still want to physically be able to do all of these things on our homestead. The only way I'm going to be able to do that is if I keep myself fit.
- Minimize aging pain. I've noticed that when I don't work out, for say two weeks, I start to lose strength and decline. I'll hurt. Like my upper and mid back will ache when I'm standing. Or I'll notice weird different muscle pains here and there or joint pain. When I work out there is soreness but it's not to the point that it's debilitating. It's a good soreness.
I will do alternating days. One day I will lift using the dumbells, kettlebell, or my own body weight. I don't have a big bench system. I will do upper body one day with weights and a little bit of cardio, but mainly just weightlifting. The next day I'll do the alternate of that doing just cardio where I get my heart rate up. I usually only work out for 30 to 40 minutes so I'm not doing extremely long workouts. I prefer to hit it hard and get it over with. For me personally, because I have low thyroid and some adrenal gland issues, I can't do all cardio for five to six days a week. It tends to be too much for me.
A typical routine for me:
- Monday: Upper body with weights
- Tuesday: Cardio
- Wednesday: Lower body with weights
- Thursday: PIYO – I'm certified to teach this and is what I taught in the fitness classes. It's low impact using principles from Pilates. No weights involved. It helps improve your flexibility.
- Friday: All over body workout with weights, a little cardio.
- Saturday: Stretching with yoga moves
- Sunday: Rest day
Depending on the weather, the entire family will go for a walk while dinner is cooking. Dinner could be in the InstantPot, on the stove, or in the oven, whatever. As long as it's not something I have to stand over and be on top of, we'll go play around with the volleyball out in the yard or go for a walk.
After dinner is clean-up time. Then we go out and take the food away from the meat birds. I explain why we do this in 10 Tips on Raising Meat Birds. We also make sure to pen everyone up safe and sound. Then we'll watch a family show together or do a family game night. On Fridays, we do a family movie night.
Sometimes I go back and do another hour or so on the computer, although I'm trying to get better about this. Or, after everybody goes to bed, I'll do another hour or so on the computer if I didn't get stuff done.
I'm trying not to do that though because I have found that once I get back on the computer and working, thinking I'll only do half an hour or so, then it ends up being two to three hours.
I tend to have a really strong work ethic almost to the point of my own detriment at times. Like I said, I was putting in 60 plus hours a week over the past couple of months so I've really had to pull back and be cognizant of how much time I'm spending. That's why in the month of June I'm not doing any video training sessions. I was doing a lot of master classes or webinars during the past couple of months. But, outside of the academy, I'm not doing any for at least the month of June. I have to assess how things are for the months of July and August.
Weekends – I try to not do computer work very much. I usually still put in a couple of hours at least on Saturday though. I try to not do any on Sunday, but sometimes I do a little bit if I'm being honest.
Projects & Seasonal Activities
Weekends is when we really focus on the homestead stuff such as:
- Putting in new fences and livestock pens
- Moving livestock
- Garden time, such as putting in a new garden bed, etc.
- Preserving time, which we are starting to get into that season now. I know that I'll be transitioning to do more of this not just on the weekends but during the week here in about mid-July, August, and into September when everything is coming on.
On the weekends we try to have everything wrapped up around 7 so that we have a couple of hours every night as a family. We'll do a longer family game night, family movie nights, and if it's really nice we'll be outside. Just enjoying time together. We have a hot tub so we'll spend a little bit of time in the hot tub.
Now, when it's really hot out, July and August usually, we'll flip things. So we'll take the afternoon off and go on a picnic or something like that and then when it's cooler in the evening we'll do the preservation.
Saturday is definitely a workday for getting all the chores and projects and stuff we didn't get to during the week. It's also when we do the deep cleaning. So cleaning the bathrooms, dusting, decluttering, etc.
Then on Sunday normally we go to church. Sunday afternoons are when I do my batch prepping for the following week. That entails doing the majority of my bread baking for the week like sandwich bread, etc. I'll also do something for breakfast, like chocolate sourdough bread, a sweet bread or muffins, or homemade pop tarts. Also do any lunch prep. My husband takes lunch with him to work. I don't really prepare lunch from scratch during the workweek. Some things that I do is prepare a big salad, hard-boiled or deviled eggs. Essentially, I do big batch cooking on Sunday afternoon.
We try to not plan a lot for Sunday evening and we try to have an early dinner so that we can just relax a bit. Now, this may need to change because of special circumstances. For example, we recently got our pigs on a Monday afternoon which meant we needed to be sure to have the pigpen, electric fence, and everything ready for their arrival. So that Sunday before we made sure it was all ready and secure for them.
- The Family Garden Plan
- Pioneering Today Academy
- 10 Tips on Raising Meat Birds
- Classes and Descriptions
- Chocolate Sourdough Bread
- Homemade Pop Tarts
- Sandwich Bread
- Chocolate Zucchini Bread or Muffins
Other Posts You May Enjoy
- Avoid Overwhelm – Choosing What’s Right for Your Homestead
- 17 Self-Sufficiency Tips from the 1940’s & the Great Depression
- 13 Steps to the Simple Life Your Great-Grandparents Knew
- Pioneer Kitchen- 100-Year-Old Basic Kitchen Tools to Still Use Today
- 6 Things Our Great-Grandparents Did Better Than Us
- Homesteading for Beginners- 9 Transition Tips from City Life
- Biggest Homestead Mistakes We Made & What to Avoid
- Month by Month Decluttering Schedule
Melissa: Hey, Pioneers. Welcome to episode number 337.On today's episode, we're going to be discussing how to structure your days so that you don't fall behind. Could I get an amen? This is something that I really used to struggle with and sometimes I will still find myself coming into periods where I feel like that, but the good news is that once you recognize that I'm starting to feel overworked and overwhelmed, even though almost all homesteaders are very hard workers. Knowing how to work hard is not our problem, but we need to make sure that we're doing it in an ongoing manner that is more relaxed and organized, but still allows us to get done all of the wonderful things that we want to do when it comes to homesteading.
Melissa: Today's coaching call is with Tami and Tami says, "I need help with tasks, like grinding my own flour, making bread, cooking from scratch, doing the garden, canning." Right there, right? Those are tasks that homesteaders take on and we try to do so much in our days. How do we do so without burning out, quite honestly? If that is something that you struggle with, then you are really going to enjoy today's episode. If you missed a couple of our previous episodes, what we are doing right now is coaching calls with members of the Pioneering Today Academy. So the Pioneering Today Academy is my membership and as a member, not only do you get access to all of the courses that we have, but you also get guided monthly tasks, monthly live calls, and you get an opportunity to have these one-on-one coaching calls that we then produce and you guys get to listen to as Pioneering Today podcast listeners.
Melissa: The good news is to become a member we will be opening for new members for the first time in 2022, on March 23rd. You could get on the wait list and be notified as soon as we open the doors for new members. We will only be open for a week and then we'll be closing the doors again, because we will be moving into our next members-only challenge. So these challenges that we do inside the membership help take you from point A to point B, but it's broken down with weekly support and very manageable tasks so that, just like today's episode, you don't feel overworked and overwhelmed, but you're still accomplishing everything that you want to with your homestead and with the support of both myself, but also our amazing community of others who are wanting to live the same lifestyle. So to get on the wait list, you can go to melissaknorris.com/pta. Just PTA for Pioneering Today Academy, not for ... What? Parent Teachers Association? I didn't realize that when I was naming it.
Melissa: So you can go and do that. Also, there are quite a few things that Tami and I are discussing here that you can go and find the links to with today's episode, which is at melissaknorris.com/337, because this is episode number 337. Today's episode is brought to you by Butcher Box. One of the things that can leave us feeling overwhelmed is figuring out what to make for dinner, especially on weeknights when we've had a really busy day, and maybe we didn't have any leftovers or put anything in the Instapot or the slow cooker. Well, the good news is on nights like those, I have a few meals that I can fall back on that are quick to prepare, even if I didn't necessarily think ahead. Most of the time, those involve ground beef. I always know that I can whip up some quick tacos. We can put them on ... if we don't even have tortillas, then we can even have nacho night if we've got some tortilla chips or we can even do lettuce wraps with them, create a big taco salad.
Melissa: But I tell you what, if I have taco meat from ground beef, I can make up a lot of things. Or another quick meal that I'll do with ground beef is meatballs. Because meatballs are so much smaller, they don't have to bake for very long in the oven as compared to if I was doing something like a meatloaf and at the same time as those are baking, I could cook up some rice and then do a really quick glaze, and we have got a pretty fast meal on the table. But that means that we need to have our ground beef to begin with. I will always advocate that raising your own ... pasture-raised is the important part there, grass-fed and grass-finished beef is really important. But if you can't raise it yourself and/or you don't have a local farmer or homesteader that you can get that from, the next best option is finding a place that will deliver it straight to your door, also sources from small farms that are 100% grass-fed, and getting your ground beef from them.
Melissa: But the other part is getting free 100% grass-fed ground beef. Can I get an amen? Butcher Box is doing a very special offer that new members receive two pounds of 100% grass-fed ground beef at every box for the lifetime of their membership. I have personally had Butcher Box's ground beef and I can tell you it's the only ground beef that I've ever cooked that wasn't from our cows that was close to the same quality and taste. If you have never cooked or had good grass-fed and grass-finished beef before, one time ... I was raised on grass-fed beef. My parents always raised our own beef and my husband and I bought beef from them before we started raising our own first in our marriage. As a newlywed, I had never realized that you need to see how much ground beef you have before you butcher the next year, and don't go through it all.
Melissa: Well, we ran out of ground beef early and I bought ground beef for the very first time from the store, and when I went to cook it, I was appalled. The color, the smell. I had never seen so much liquid junk come out of meat before in my life. Now, the meat wasn't bad, it was fine, but that is the difference between store bought, grain, industrial raised meat, compared to a 100% grass-fed and grass-finished.
Melissa: So when Butcher Box sent me some of their ground beef, I was very like, "Okay, let's see what this is like." I was pleasantly surprised. Ours is a little bit deeper in color, but my kids couldn't tell the difference and I couldn't tell a difference when I was cooking it. Meaning there wasn't a bunch of weird liquid or ... I don't know how to explain the odor. It's not rancid. You can just tell the difference. Once you've had 100% grass-fed, you don't ever go back. So you could get your free two pounds and every box with new members by going to butcherbox.com/pioneeringtoday. butcherbox.com/pioneeringtoday. All right, without further ado, let's hop into this call with Tami.
Melissa: Well, Tami, welcome to the Pioneering Today podcast.
Tami: Hi. Hi, Melissa. Thank you for having me.
Melissa: Yeah. So share with us for those who are listening a little bit of a background about kind of where you are in your homestead journey and where you're struggling. Or if struggling is too strong of a word, where you really could use some help so that you can get further down the path to where you want to be.
Tami: Well, I'm trying to do things homemade and do it yourself as far as making soap and grinding wheat to make the bread and gardening and bringing in the produce and now canning, among modern day every day life where you kind of go back in history and go, "Well, they had a day for this and this, but they didn't have these distractions." I was sort of being lazy and wanting a ... How do you do it? What is your kind of template of a day of doing these kinds of things so that you're not overwhelmed and running backwards?
Melissa: Yeah. It's very common, especially with homesteading, because homesteading is so many facets of life. It's not just growing a garden. Like you're saying, it's not just growing a garden. Then it's, "How do I can and preserve this?" It's not even just baking your own homemade bread. It's going that step further, depending on where you're at in your journey, and it's like, "Okay, now I want to actually grind my own flour." So I feel like with homesteading versus a lot of other things, that we're going deeper each time and wanting to then take the ingredients ... just like with the soap, a lot of times when people start with soap making, they'll do a melt and pour where the base has already been done for you and formulated and you're just adding in your own scents or maybe some extra herbal oils, et cetera.
Melissa: But then you're like, "Okay, now I want to be able to purchase the lye and maybe use the lard from my own animals or maybe tallow if you're butchering and not even buying the oil. So it does quickly become something that can feel very overwhelming when you are trying to fit all of these things in. Like you said, most of us are trying to do more in a day. Because of the modern aspect, I feel like then our four mothers and our forefathers. On the flip side, it was their way of life. If they didn't do these things, it could be life and death. Where for most of us today, we're probably not quite at that level. If we don't do this, we're still going to be able to eat, where for some people back in the past, that wasn't a thing.
Melissa: So their motivation and their focus was a lot more targeted than we are today because we do have the fallback of being able to buy stuff from the store in most situations. So all of that is to say it's completely normal to feel overwhelmed at times just because of all that we're trying to do, but there are definite things that I have kind of found throughout the years of doing this, especially with having ... when I was driving and working a day job and I was commuting. That really helped me hone in and I find that I still use and block a lot of my day. Even though I am at home now, I've used a lot of those practices still. So for me, a typical day is during especially Monday through Thursday and really even into Friday, is I have pretty much really set things, and so being able to batch activities or using either batching by time if I can't set aside a day ...
Melissa: Like you said, back in the day, it was like one day was for doing laundry, one day was bread baking, they had all of the different things, going to market, et cetera. While I can't necessarily devote an entire day to something usually like that, I found that if I can take a time block and say, "Okay, I've got ..." It used to be when I was doing a day job, or if anybody's listening and you are still working a day job, I would look at when I would have to leave for work and obviously then when I got home, and I would be like, "Okay, I get up at this time," making sure I still get adequate sleep. "If I get up here, I know I have to leave by here. What is it that I can fit in this block and either prep ..."
Melissa: I might not have enough time in the morning to make the entire night's dinner or to bake muffins for breakfast for the week, et cetera, but I might be able to in the morning, if it's sourdough, then I can get my starter bed and get the dough ready to go through its full fermentation. So that then when I come home, it'll be ready for me to actually form the loaf and bake, for example. Sometimes I would have enough time and I'm like, "Okay, I actually have enough time here if the night before ..." So really it comes down to prepping and planning, but just for some tangible examples, especially at canning time. Because I would look and be like, "Okay the night before," if it's for peaches example and I need to peel them all, "Well, I can get them all, blanch the peels off and pitted, and then I can put them in some lemon juice and water so that they don't turn brown on me."
Melissa: I can put those in the fridge until the morning, for example. Or I could make up the syrup that I'm going to be using. I usually do a really light syrup with peaches. I don't do straight water. You can do straight water, but I found I like doing a light syrup. I feel like it just preserves their color and flavor a little bit better long term on the shelf. So I can make up the syrup the night before, so then in the morning I don't have to measure or make that up. I just have to bring it back up to temp. I just have to put it in the pot, get it at a boil and then I can can that for the day.
Melissa: Same thing, I would have the water bath counter out, filled with water, all of my jars ready to go. So in the morning, all I had to do was get them hot and turn on the canner just to save the at time. So I found any type of prep work that I can do either the morning of or the night, if I don't have time to do it during the middle of the day, which I didn't back then. I still kind of stick to that during the week. I really feel that where I used to really fail, and I think a lot of us do this, is I tend to overestimate how much can actually get done in a day or in a time. So I'll think like, "Okay, I'll make up a list. I've got all of these things that need to be done," and then by the end of the day, I maybe only got to three or four of them and I would still have maybe another four on the list and I would really beat myself up or really feel irritated with myself.
Melissa: Like, "Gosh, you just didn't get everything done." I was sharing this one day with my, my mother. I had went to Bible study, we were driving to Bible study together and I was telling her, I'm like, "Man, I just can't seem to get all this stuff done in a day," and she's like, "Well, what did you do didn't do today? What was on your list that you didn't get done? Or what did you try to do today that you didn't accomplish?" So I start listing out all of the things that I'd wanted to get done that day and then I told her, "But I only did X, Y, and Z." She just started laughing. She said, "You realized nobody could actually get all of that done in a day?" I'm like, "Oh. Really?"
Melissa: Sometimes it seems so silly. You'd think that we could see that for ourselves, but it almost takes that outside perspective or someone making you reevaluate and look at what you are trying to get done in a day, because sometimes we're just simply trying to do too much and it's not humanly possible to do all of those things in a day. Does that make sense?
Tami: Yes. Yes. Because I was hand grinding manually because I said it's going to be good exercise for the wheat and then that's been about three years and I noticed that I wasn't doing it anymore and not really doing the bread and the whole thing, because I was not looking forward to hand grinding. So I told myself, "It's okay, you can get a machine and push a button, then have it go faster. Then you can actually ... The bread is the product that you want." So I was stumbling on that and realized that I was trying to do too much and I need to have the convenience of modern day and that it's okay.
Melissa: Yes. 100%. I'm so glad that you brought that up because sometimes we kind of get caught in ideology of, "Well, this is the traditional way, and this is the best way." For all of those things, and that may be well and true, but if it's hindering us from actually doing it, then we've kind of missed the whole point. Like you said, you didn't enjoy it anymore and so you weren't actually making the bread. So there's nothing wrong with using a modern counterpoint, like an electric mill to grind your flour. I mean, my goodness you're still grinding your own flour and getting all of the beautiful health benefits of that fresh ground flour. So I think it's being very realistic and also finding ways ... when you do have something that you don't really enjoy that much, if you can find a way to enjoy it ... or really a lot of times what I do is multitasking can get a lot of a bad rap for a number of reasons.
Melissa: Really, if we're trying to sit and work and you're trying to do five different tasks at once, every time, even though you don't realize it, your brain shifts to another task, it has to refocus and you actually lose productivity and a lot of that. But that being said, I have found that ... well, I don't loathe laundry. I know some people, it's their worst chore ever. They absolutely hate it. I don't really loathe doing laundry, but it's not really my favorite thing in the world. Neither is doing dishes, but they're necessary evils because I like clean clothes and I like to have clean dishes. So what I found is I really enjoy listening to podcasts. Big surprise as this is a podcast. Or audio books. something like that. Or listening to music. Those are things that I really enjoy.
Melissa: I'm not much of a television person. So I will reward myself and be like, "Okay, well, you don't get listen to this podcast or this chapter in this audio book," or maybe your favorite playlist, whatever it is, "Until you are actually doing the laundry." So it's kind of multitasking, but it's almost more of a reward system to myself because I'm not really having to focus too hard. I'm still just doing the laundry. So I have one hand on task, even though my brain is engaged by listening to some form of media. So I found that for things that I don't super enjoy, if I can pair it with something I really do enjoy, then that makes it easier for me to stop procrastinating and get into it. So if you can find little things like that, where you can reward yourself, even if it's just something small, that can often be a way to at least stay consistent with things.
Tami: Okay. Well, thank you. That's very, very helpful. I like how you put in to try to find blocks of time that doesn't interfere with your every day, but that you can get small things accomplished to do the bigger thing that's going to take a little more of your time.
Melissa: Yeah. For me, that seems to work because usually what I found would happen is if I tried to ... or I should say tried to, but if I didn't do laundry and for the size of our family, we've got four people and we live on a farm. I really need to do one ... If I do one load of laundry every day, occasionally I'll have to do two, but if I can just do one load of laundry every day, then we're never really behind. That just keeps us up on everything. But I found that if I waited until the weekend or I went three or four days without doing laundry, oh my gosh, it's like an entire day's worth of laundry. Most of us don't have an entire day to devote to something. So for me, I found that it's too through with my laundry. It's true with weeding in the garden, even really with my baking.
Melissa: For the weeding and the garden, if I can just stay up on it and I can usually find about 15 to 20 minutes in the main part of summer, like our main growing season, I can find about 10 to 15 minutes in the morning or in the evening and go out and just kind of attack it. So then by the time the weekend rolls around, which is usually when we have more time at home, then whatever I didn't get to during the week, maybe I only have a half an hour, rather than trying to weed all of the garden beds on the weekend. I mean, it would take all day Saturday, and then you don't have time to devote to anything at else.
Melissa: So I've kind of found that for those types of tasks, I like to break them into just smaller daily things. But for meal prep and meal planning and especially my baking, I try to do where I have a batched ... usually on Sunday afternoons or early evening where I'll look at what we need for the week and as many things as possible that I can batch or get baked that I don't have to do later, or at least prepped and planned, that really helps me with the cooking from scratch and getting meals on the table. Now, you're an academy member so I don't know if you went through the lesson, but I have a lesson on that inside the academy. It's under our homesteading skills course and it is how I do a week's worth of baking in one hour a week of hands on time.
Melissa: So that's a lesson. If you haven't went through that, it's got some really helpful tips, and then for anybody listening, this is one of the few classes that I offer outside of the academy that you can actually watch for free. So we'll have a link on the blog post, if that's of interest to any of you who are listening. But it's really been a system that has worked really well for me. When I start to feel overwhelmed again, I can usually track back to I'm not implementing that like I used to, and I need to go back to that. So that can be really helpful if you haven't went through that one yet.
Tami: Okay. Thank you.
Melissa: Yeah, I don't know about for you, but I found for me and really in all aspects of my life, but I am not naturally a planner. I am much more a fly by the seat of my pants girl or a rough outline. Like, "We're going to do X, Y, Z today. Needs to get done." Or, "This is a project. We need to build a new herb garden and it needs to be done by planting time." That's kind of usually my natural tendency. I'm more like, "Let's just jump in." But I found as more and more has been added to my plate, both with the business and the podcast and the academy, and as we are homesteaders, we accomplish one task and then we want to move on to five others, we're continually adding to that.
Melissa: I've really found that if I will put in the work, make the time, it's not necessarily find the time, it's being very conscious and making the time to do some of the prep and planning, that I really cut off so much time and frustration on the implementation stage. Had I realized that much earlier, I would've saved myself a lot of grief. I just felt like I don't have the time to set aside for planning. I'm already so busy, or for prepping, not realizing how much it would actually save me time on the back end, on the implementation stage.
Tami: Yes. Just like planning out a menu. It's basically the same thing, but it's for your tasks as well.
Melissa: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It's taking that for pretty much everything task wise, which kind of seemed daunting. But when you realize... If you just do it, just trust me, just try it. For anybody who's listening, if you're more like me, because I always was like "I don't have time for that." That was really how my mindset was for a while. But then once I actually started doing it, I'm like, "Oh my goodness." Now I make the time to make sure I'm doing it just because it really is that effective.
Tami: Also, I had listened to one of your lessons about having everything in its place and how to accomplish that, and I realized that, "Oh, everything's falling out of my drawers." Anyway, it took a lot of my mental thinking away from actually accomplishing because I had everything everywhere or not a flow, or just needed to purge, so to speak, in which I recently did. Now I feel like I can concentrate just on now implementing, like what you're saying, the task at hand and putting them into smaller bits and pieces now. So that is also something that I needed to accomplish and I think that is also helping me on this journey, I think.
Melissa: Oh, good. Yeah. Because of the, like we were talking earlier, the modern homesteading aspect, because we live in a modern world, and I know for those of us who are really focused on homesteading or aspects of homesteading that we do forget that we're living in a modern world. What I mean by that is most of us do have a smartphone or a cell phone. Now, yes, we can put those in do not disturb mode and have specific times and set guidelines around that and all of that, but most of us are using computers. We are using technology and all of that and every time your phone makes a ding or every time your eye is in a room and there are things that are out of place, we don't realize that our brain is making a decision one way or the other if it needs to immediately do something with that.
Melissa: So even though your phone might give off a notification and you don't actually go over and check it or open it up and respond to whatever that is, or you walk into a room and you're like, "Yeah, there's stuff on the counter that I need to clean," you don't realize all of those are mental decisions and they actually use up our energy throughout the day, and we're only capable of making so many decisions in a day. We don't realize that all of that adds to our overwhelm. It interrupts our ability to focus, even if we're not consciously being ... we don't realize it. So for me, when I realize that, just like you're saying, anything that I can do to stop having to make so many decisions is so helpful.
Melissa: Not only being able to find things ... I don't know how many of you ... Myself, I think I've went to do a project and then you can't find the one thing and you know you have it, maybe it didn't get put back in its right spot. Maybe it actually has a spot and you're organized, you can't find it, and you spend 15 or 20 minutes looking for this thing because you can't move forward without it, where you just lost that much time. It might not happen all the time, but you start to add up those instances where you can't find something you're looking for, and/or you can't find it. So then you go and buy another thing to replace it and as soon as you buy the other thing, then you find the one that you couldn't find.
Melissa: So you've got the time of replacement and the money of replacement, and so it kind of could seem silly or overly simplistic, but it is so true. If you can keep things organized and in places, et cetera, like you're discovering, oh my gosh, it can make such a big difference.
Tami: It's made a huge difference so far.
Melissa: Good. Well, are there any other specifics or areas that you have any final questions on where you would need some advice?
Tami: Well, it would be off topic, but.
Melissa: That's fine.
Tami: Okay. I have the tar hill beans and I asked this question already about my American canner, pressure canner.
Tami: When I'm putting on the lid ... and first of all, I think I had greased it too much. I think I didn't follow ... I think I did the bottom and the top.
Tami: Then I wiped up... Anyway, when I'm trying to level and attach the top around [inaudible 00:30:00].
Melissa: The lid to the base? Okay.
Tami: Yeah, and you're tightening it, I can't seem to balance it right and steam escapes. I stop and I take it off and I just have gotten discouraged. It looks very simple. I've watched your videos, I've watched how to do it. My husband will even come in and he'll do it and it works and then I can do it. But I don't seem to have the knack. Is there a trick or something to attach that lid and tighten it down evenly around?
Melissa: Yeah. Well, one is I'm assuming that ... I know this sounds silly, but I'm assuming that your burner and your stove is level.
Melissa: I would first check and see that. Just make sure that it's level, because if it's not level, then it's going to be harder obviously for you to get it on level. If the pot itself isn't sitting level, it's going to be hard. It's going to look like the lid is not level, even if it is because the bottom of the pot is not level. So that would be an easy thing that I would check first, just to make sure that the stove top is level. I would check that and then when you're putting it on and you're setting it down that you're taking care, which I'm sure you are, to not push harder with one hand versus the other as you're actually seating it and putting it on.
Melissa: Then when you are bringing up the little wingnut screws, making sure it's always opposite pairs, and what I do is sometimes when you're starting to tighten down the wingnuts so that they're kind coming in contact with the lid and then clamping that down, sometimes when I'm tightening it, one will come in contact with the lid faster than the other. So making sure that then I stop with that one and tighten the other one until they both are just touching the top of the lid and then tightening them together at the same time so that they are pressing down evenly on that lid from all sides.
Melissa: Then making sure that it's being tightened down tight enough. I mean, you don't want to over tighten them, but I'm wondering if when your husband does it, because I have to say, my husband has better grip strength than I do and there's things that I can't get loose or tightened and I hand it to him and he is able to do, so I'm wondering if maybe he's able to tighten it just a little bit tighter and so maybe that could be part of it.
Tami: Okay. Well, thank you. I appreciate that, because I've had to ... it starts seeping out and then I'm like, "Ugh," and I don't feel like I'm undoing the whole thing and doing the whole thing. So then I end up just putting them in the fridge, which is fine, but that's not the point.
Melissa: Right. Yeah. No, 100%. When it's seeping out the steam from the side, is it a lot or just a really small amount? Does it actually feel like it's going to boil dry because so much steam is escaping?
Tami: No, but it makes me nervous. It really makes me nervous to think that it might not have enough the hot temperature. But I don't know if it's supposed to at all.
Melissa: Yeah. Next time you try it, if it does do it, hopefully it won't, hopefully with those tips you'll be able to get that down tightly, but next time it's doing it, can you take just with your phone just a little quick video of where the steam's coming out and share it with us either in the circle community or shoot me an email so I can visually really see how much is coming out?
Tami: Sure. Oh, thank you. Yes. That would be wonderful. Yeah.
Melissa: Okay. Yeah.
Tami: What I should do is just practice with some empty jars, jars just with nothing in it and just practice doing what you said.
Melissa: I mean, for a test, you could can water. I mean, I don't know that you need to, but if you need to do test runs and you're like, "Man, I would just want to test it without running any food," then you could actually can some water. Then, of course, that would be shelf stable for an emergency or something like that. But that way the jars aren't empty and you'll be able to see like, "Oh, did the jars seal right?" all of that kind of stuff. So that could be a easy test run option.
Tami: I definitely will do that. Thank you.
Melissa: Yes. Great.
Tami: That's really kind of you to offer that for me. I appreciate it.
Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. Well, Tami, thank you so much for coming on and for being a member and I'm excited because you are going to be a successful canner this year. We're going to get you through it.
Melissa: Yes. Yeah.
Tami: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me and thank you for doing this and taking the time to help all of us. It's really wonderful. Thank you so much.
Melissa: You're so welcome. I am so happy to do so.
Tami: Nice to meet you, Melissa.
Melissa: Yes, you too.
Melissa: Here we are with our verse of the week and we are still in the book Ezekiel, chapter 28, verse five. This is the amplified translation of the Bible. "By your great wisdom and by your traffic, you have increased your riches and power and your heart is proud and lifted up because of your wealth." Now, this is actually where the prophet is prophesying against the prince of Tyre. I'm actually not sure how you pronounce that. I have to confess, there are some areas in the old testament, some names as well as different cities, et cetera, that I do not know what the proper pronunciation of them is. So please forgive me if you do, and I completely butcher it. But the point of me sharing that verse is God was bringing judgment against the city.
Melissa: In fact, he completely decimated it. It was a large, grandeur city and it has become an almost uninhabited pile of ruins, even to this day. My footnotes, I love the footnotes. I love historical data and when you have footnotes that go into that, but it says, "In modern times, population of Tyre," or Tier, "Made up largely of fisherman who spread their nets on its beaches has increased to about 6,000. But the city as it was back in biblical times has never been revived N the original site has long since become obliterated." Boy, I'm having trouble pronouncing and saying words this morning. The reason that I wanted to share that verse is because the reason that God brought judgment against it wasn't because it was a rich and powerful city. The reason was that the city's heart, if a city has a heart, is that it became proud and lifted up because of its wealth.
Melissa: If you read further along in the chapter, that it was setting itself up thinking that it was wise, almost immortal, that it had done everything on its own doing and did not give any credit or thankfulness to God. So even though you and I are not a city, obviously, there is a lesson here for us, and just because someone may have money or be wealthy, and of course that's all perspective because what some people consider to be wealthy or a certain amount of money is ... depends on where you're coming from is what I'm getting at. But there's oftentimes misquoted where it says money is the root of all evil. That is not actually what the Bible says. It says the love of money is the root of all evil, not money. So just because as somebody is wealthy, doesn't mean that they're bad or that the wealth is bad or that the money is bad, but it all comes back to the heart.
Melissa: If the heart is proud and lifted up, and you begin to think that it's all come to you because of what you have done and not because the favor of the Lord, and you're not giving him praise and gratitude and thankfulness, then that's when we begin to have problems. So I shared that verse with you because it is a good reminder that whatever wealth we have, and wealth of course can be money, but it can also be other things. When I have a really phenomenal garden harvest, for example, it's important for me to not just pat myself on the back and be like, "Good job," but also to remember, and to give thanks to the Lord, and as we are harvesting that, preserving it up and then consuming that food, that I am continually giving him thanks and glory and not myself and the works of my own hands.
Melissa: Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope that you enjoy not only the interview with Tami, this whole episode as well as is the verse of the week, but that I get to see you inside the academy. Go and jump on that wait list and I will be back here with you next week, of course, for another addition of the podcast. So until then, blessings in Mason jars, my friends.
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