Learn practical time-management tips on becoming a homesteader and how to get everything done in a day without wasting time or getting distracted with Anne Briggs of Anne of All Trades. She also shares her homesteading journey from Taiwan to Seattle, and now settled in Nashville, TN.
In today's Pioneering Today Podcast (episode #290) Anne of All Trades is sharing about her adventures in blacksmithing, raising baby goats, gardening, and canning and preserving. Amidst boatloads of helpful practical advice, she shares how the phrase, “don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle” has helped her on her journey.
Anne, known as Anne of All Trades, is a farmer, builder, and educator intent on preserving disappearing life skills. 10 years ago, with very little prior knowledge of homesteading or building things, she set out on a journey to become more involved in every aspect of her life, to get out of the tech industry, to leave the city, and to encourage folks to join her in the pursuit of something better.
Now she and her husband Adam live on acreage in Nashville, TN where she’s raising and selling dairy, beef, eggs, and building heirloom quality furniture.
When we’re not in the middle of a pandemic, Anne travels the country teaching about all kinds of things from regenerative farming to woodworking to building small businesses to growing a social media following. She’s currently building a school on their farm in TN where she’ll do more of the same both in-person and online.
In this episode:
- How Anne has learned new trade skills over the past 10 years by not only teaching herself but seeking out others to help her learn.
- What it's like living in the age of the internet where everything looks picture perfect.
- How the phrase, “Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle.” has helped Anne's journey.
- How to take little steps to accomplish the big thing you want to do.
- Why you should NEVER start your homestead with goats (and a few VERY funny stories from both Anne and Melissa).
- Anne answers the question, “What methods have you found to be most helpful in managing your time so you can do the things you want to do on the homestead while also working full time?”
- How to save minutes of time each day to add up to hours of extra time each year.
- How the “Pomodoros Technique” can help you save hours of time on the homestead.
- Anne shares tips for keeping the distraction of her phone at bay, plus practical tools for getting tasks done on time.
To connect with Anne you can visit her at the following places:
- On her website, Anne of All Trades
- On her other website, The School of All Trades
- On YouTube
- On Instagram
- On Facebook
Melissa Norris: Hey Pioneers. Welcome to episode number 290. Look at us getting close to 300. Well, today's episode is a really fun one, and I'm really excited for you to listen to it. I got some great tips and I know you will too. And we are centering around finding time for what is important and time management hacks to make homesteading while working full-time more realistic. So I think you are really going to enjoy quite a few of these hacks and tips. In fact, as I was doing this interview, you'll hear where I had my own little aha moment and found a way to use what she was sharing with us. Well, almost right then and there, I would say I had to get off of the recording the podcast in order to go and implement it. But I'm really excited because I feel like this episode gives us some really good tactical tips and all of us, we all have the same 24 hours in the day, but there are people who seem like they get a lot more done in those 24 hours. And it all comes down to how we manage our time.
Melissa Norris: So I'm always looking for ways to improve my own productivity and my own time management. And I think you're really going to enjoy those tips. But you're really going to enjoy today's guest and we shared some really fun and some entertaining takeaways and stories too, that I think you'll just laugh right along with us. And that is one of the reasons that I really liked today's guest. And it is Anne. You may know her from online as Anne of All Trades. And if not, then you are in for a treat. She's a farmer, builder, and educator who's on tent on preserving disappearing life skills. What's really awesome about Anne's story, which she'll dive into and I'm going to cut to the interview here in just a moment, but 10 years ago, she had very little prior knowledge of homesteading or building things.
Melissa Norris: So she's very much self-taught, but she's really jumped in with both feet and managed to do a ton in that amount of time. And one of the things that I really enjoy about her as I first started following her actually on Instagram, I found her on Instagram. I'm not even sure how I think somebody, I follow must have shared something of hers and then I found her feed and I'm like, "Oh, this girl looks really fun." And so I started following her and through her daily stories, the thing that I really enjoyed was her bubbliness. Just her pure joy. She just always seems happy and positive. And even when she's sharing some hard things, she still looks for the good, and I really like that. I want more of that in my life and in the people that I'm around and obviously in my feed, even on social media.
Melissa Norris: And so one night, you'll hear the story. I shared something and Anne and I started messaging back and forth on Instagram and became instant best friends. And I'm like, "Okay, I am enjoying her this much, then I know my listeners on the Pioneering Today podcast will as well." And so I'm super excited to introduce you to Anne. So her and her husband now live in Nashville, which I'm bemoaning the fact a little bit because they only moved to Nashville a year ago. And prior to that, I don't know how we didn't meet beforehand and actually lived in the Pacific Northwest, not too far away from me. But I do also believe in God's timing and we were meant to meet later on which she already lives in Tennessee. But I want to get you straight into these tips. I think you're really going to enjoy them and I can't wait to hear which ones were like little aha moments for you and to see what happens when you put them into action.
Melissa Norris: As always, for any of the stuff that Anne and I talking about for different links or that type of things, or for the transcript of the episode, the written blog post, you can go to melissaknorris.com/290. Not the letters, the numbers 290, because this is episode number 290. So melissaknorris.com/290. Okay. Without further ado, let's get into this episode. I am so excited to visit with Anne who is known as Anne of All Trades today on the podcast. So Anne, welcome to the Pioneering Today podcast.
Anne: Thank you so much for having me. I love that we finally get to sit down and have this talk after our little budding romance that's been happening online.
Melissa Norris: Yes. So you guys, it's really funny. I was stocking Anne on Instagram and following her stories and I probably had followed your stories, I will say for like a month. And one of the things that struck me in your stories is you exude this joy, even when things are going hard, which you show that part too, but you just had this aura of joy and I'm like, "I don't really like this girl." And so you had posted a picture of your baby goats, which how does it get any cuter than baby goats? I don't know. And I showed it to my husband. You had the goats in the totes and I showed it to my husband and it is the first time I swear the man has never been like an immediate hard no. It wasn't a guess, but it wasn't a hard, no. And I'm like, "Ooh." I shared it to my stories and I'm like, "Hey, it wasn't a hard, no." And you responded back and then we just started messaging and I want to say we messaged back and forth for like two hours.
Melissa Norris: It was one of those meant to be friendships and so ever since then, I've been so excited to get to talk to you, even though yes, we are doing this virtually on Zoom, but I'm super excited to talk to you because I want to find out more about your story. And I think that listeners will find it very interesting and fascinating and get lots of tips too. So for those who have not had the pleasure of meeting you yet or seeing your stuff, give me a little bit of your background, like the 10 years ago, picture where your journey started to now.
Anne: Perfect. Okay. So I moved from Taipei Taiwan to Seattle Washington about 10 years ago. And that was the first time in my life that I'd ever had a garage or a yard that could actually be utilized or used. And I always said that I was never going to live in America, but my husband lived in Seattle and he convinced me to come back and I was like, "Okay, well I'm here for this season, I'm going to utilize this garage because I've always wanted to have a garage like my grandpa had that had all the tools to fix or to do anything that you could imagine. You could just do it in there and then I wanted to use the backyard of the house, which we were living in the middle of Seattle. So it was not a huge yard or anything, but urban farming is pretty popular there.
Anne: So I was like, "I'm going to get rabbits and chickens. I'm going to dig up the backyard. I'm going to plant some fruit trees and we're just going to go all in here and I'm going to be able to do all the things that I never could." My parents were missionaries, so we traveled the world and we couldn't have pets or anything else because we were constantly on the move. So that's when that all started. I accidentally created an Instagram account and I accidentally shared my first few posts that turns out other people could see. I thought it was a photo editing app and I was making like a little collage, but I pretty much instantly realized like, "If people are seeing this and people are interacting with it, then this is going to be an incredible tool to connect me to other people who have similar interests." Because after college or whatever else, I think it's really hard for adults to meet people just because of the way that our society is structured now.
Anne: And I was like, "Well, this is going to be my chance to meet people that have common interests. As I grow in this journey, I want to be able to share what I learned along the way." I've been doing that pretty much ever since on Instagram and my interests are very varied and very wide. You never know what you're actually going to see on my page, whether it's blacksmithing or woodworking or gardening or canning and preserving or taking care of baby goats or who knows, fixing a ATV that I traded my neighbor a pack of course, for whatever. It's all there. I started in that backyard but having the opportunity to buy a three and a half acre farm, it's right outside Seattle. And then we moved actually last year on January 1st to Nashville area. We now have much larger acreage and now I'm doing beef cattle, and I got a dairy cow this year.
Anne: I still raise Nigerian Dwarf goats and chickens and all the things. And then we have a garden and try to live as sustainably as possible, but also try to barter with our neighbors as much as possible as well so that we can really have a very community centered way of providing for all of our needs. So yeah, I mean, that's a very long winded way of saying all that stuff, but I'm also building a craft school where we can learn disappearing life skills as well.
Melissa Norris: All those things are very near and dear to my heart and I love them. And actually for encapsulating 10 years, you did a pretty good job. So prior to that, because you said you grew up as a missionary, you didn't come from a background of growing up of knowing how to have a garden, knowing how to raise dairy animals or beef animals or doing canning, preserving, the homesteading skills that we think of when we think of homesteading. So in 10 years you went from not knowing that to doing a lot of things actually, as well as the woodworking and some mechanicing from what you shared, right?
Anne: Yeah. It's a blessing and a curse, but I'm a very short attention span, but an ability to dive extremely deep very quickly into things. And so that's really helped me along the way because yeah, I didn't grow up with... It's funny. My first pet of my entire life was my husband's sisters gave me a kitten for my birthday after I'd started this whole homesteading journey. And that was my first animal that I ever had and they gave it to me as a joke because I hated cats. So I'd never had a pet before and so going from having a pet to having 80 animals is a big jump even within that time period. But even though I didn't grow up with all of this stuff, I think it is important to mention, I guess, that I grew up adjacent to a lot of it because my grandpa grew up in the great depression and he was very much a do it yourself, or never called the repairman in his life, fixed everything. That's the garage full of tools that he had.
Anne: And then because actually my brother is allergic to basically living, so we had to make everything from scratch cooking wise, growing up on to make sure that there weren't any ingredients that he was allergic to plus we had no money. I grew up seeing all of these things happen, but not knowing necessarily how to do them all myself.
Melissa Norris: Okay. There's a lot of similarities there, even though you were saying your grandpa and that that was my dad. He did almost all of his own mechanicing. In fact, he's so funny because even to this day, he refuses to buy new vehicles because he does not have any electronic as far as computer skills. And he's like, "These new fangled vehicles." He's like, "Something goes out on that dumb computer part of them and I just can't fix them." So all of those vehicles are really old because he can still work on them and fix them. So anyways, I see a lot of correlation between your grandpa and my dad and that aspect of us growing up.
Anne: Oh, absolutely. And I will actually echo your dad a thousand times. I didn't grow up knowing anything. I had never even changed my own oil until probably five years ago. But I mean, I think really necessity becomes the mother of all invention because we have not had any money at our disposal, basically my entire life. And so when I was a kid, I really wanted a go-kart and if I was going to have a go-kart, I had to like find some trash and then build it. And I tried. I tried very, very hard, but I never was successful. But then one of the first projects that I did when I got my garage and started to get tools was I built my first go-kart and that was really fun.
Anne: But that go-cart then led to other things and I'm actually now working on an 1953 Chevy truck, but I refused to buy anything that's less than 20 years old because if an electronic part or computer part or something like those problems are not diagnosable to someone like me. Because yeah, it's an electronic thing. With my '53 Chevy, if something's wrong, I can physically see that there is a problem and I can then fix it.
Melissa Norris: Yes. My dad is the same way. I can change oil, but that is pretty much the only thing that I know how to do mechanical wise. So I will be very upfront on that. But yeah, he's right there with you. He loves the older vehicles. What I think is really amazing though, is you have really developed a lot of skillsets and even skillsets within the homesteading. Like you said, you've been doing blacksmithing and the woodworking and even the mechanicing, which I think are all homestead skills. The ability to be able to fix or to build what you have or what you need. But that's a lot that you've packed into those 10 years. So how is it that you've been able to do so much?
Anne: Well, this is a funny thing about the internet. I think people look on and see what I'm doing. And actually, I get asked that question all the time. Like, "How is it that you do all the things that you do?" And really I would actually counter that with a funny little thing, is that actually my greatest life struggle, my entire life has been time management. And so I have always lived under a very heavy cloud of shame and guilt about all the things that I should be doing or should be doing more efficiently or should be doing quicker or better or whatever it is. So when people say that to me, it always strikes me as a little funny because I'm like, "But I'm not even doing enough."
Anne: But here's the funny thing about that. We're now in the age of the internet, we get to see a picture, perfect version every time we open our phones of what things should look like or whatever else. And I think one of the most helpful things that I've learned along the way is something that another creator says. She says, "Never compare your beginning to someone else's middle." And that's been really helpful for me because what I've actually learned over the last 10 years is that each one of these homesteading skills, it is a skill in and of itself.
Anne: If you've never baked bread before, then to suddenly try to bake your own bread and grow all your own food and can preserve and get goats and milk them and make cheese and build all your own furniture and fix your car when it's broken and have chickens and all of those things that you see as that middle, that is impossible and you're setting yourself up for so much failure and so much heartbreak and so much frustration if you're trying to start right there. Really, I think what the key to me being able to do as much as I have is that I've been incrementally adding to whatever I'm doing from the beginning. So I started out, like I said, I didn't grow up with this stuff, but I was adjacent to it.
Anne: So I already knew how to bake bread from scratch and how to cook with what we had, because we didn't have any money. And like when I was eight, my parents were both working full-time and so I started taking on all of the cooking duties. So I learned a lot. A lot of the things that are those basic skills that seem like they're super time consuming and super capacity stealing and all those things, I learned how to do those already when I was pretty young. Even when I started gardening and woodworking and all those things, it was adding those things onto what I already knew incrementally, not all at once.
Anne: And so now I think people look at something like baking bread and if you've only baked bread, a couple of times, it's going to take you a half an afternoon to do that. And so you're looking at me baking bread and assuming that it's also taking me that long, but I've baked so much bread at this point that if I start with flour and water, I have a loaf in the oven within eight or nine minutes. And then I have a half an hour in the kitchen while it's baking to do 10 other meal prep things while I'm in there. And so really the thing about doing so much is actually just learning how to take things slow, giving yourself grace and patience, and incrementally adding to each skill as it becomes automatic.
Melissa Norris: Yes. Oh my goodness. I completely agree with you because I look back on my own journey and it was about 10 years ago that I really got serious about cooking from scratch. And I mean, like making my own bone broth and doing sourdough instead of store bought yeast. So I do still use some store bought yeast. I have some things that I really use sourdough and some with yeast. But when I first started that I could not imagine looking at what I cook and what I do now back then. It was just so overwhelming but now it's just part of that. Like you said, it's just part of that daily routine and you figure out your own routines and what works and you can do it much faster. You're a lot more efficient at it because of that time of practice.
Melissa Norris: But a lot of that, like you said, it's incremental and it's not going to happen right off the bat. It's that building thing, which I think is really important. And a lot of us, even myself, like now when I want to look like I am aged cheeses, like doing those aged cheeses and needing to get oppressed and all of that, I really want to do it, but I don't have the experience in it and it feels overwhelming.
Melissa Norris: I look at Instagram, for example, or even YouTube and people who are doing these beautiful, like waxed age cheeses that have all the beautiful mold on them and all these different intricacies in these cheesecakes, in these cheeseburgers and I'm like, "I want it so bad," but then I'm like, "I don't have the time to do that." Which is not true. That is not true. I do if I want to make the time for it, but because it's not part of my normal routine, like making yogurt and kefir and all the other things, it feels like there's no way I can fit that in.
Anne: Yeah. Well, and then here's the next real piece of it. You just gave me the best sequitur ever. It's not even a sequitur. I do this all the time and then my business partner makes fun of me. He's like, "You're making up words. It's a non-sequitur if it doesn't follow, but it's not a sequitur if it does follow." Anyway, whatever. The other real key to all of this is to then start with whatever you've got, because then you can incrementally add to it. We were talking right before this started and you were talking about some of the other cheeses that you've made and you're going to the grocery store and you're doing some soft cheeses and things like that. That's how you get to doing the hard cheeses, because right now it seems like a big deal to do a hard cheese.
Anne: And I'll tell you, I've made like some hard cheeses and other things like that. It's just like the first time I made more beer cheese, it took nine hours. When do we ever have nine hours to just be like, "I'm going to make some cheese for nine hours."
Melissa Norris: Amen.
Anne: Yeah, that's seriously such a joke, but like I started it and then it ended up taking nine hours. And then I was up till 4:00 AM finishing all the rest of the things that I was supposed to do that day, because it ended up taking nine hours, not just like the hour that it should have taken if I knew what I was doing. But that's a huge part of the process is that right now you have to use what you have available to do the small version of the big thing that you see. So you're taking little steps every day towards the big thing that you want to do.
Melissa Norris: That is so key. And I tend to be a person who likes to... I like the finished product and I like to jump in with the after, but there's always the before in that messy metal. And I think it's really easy for us to forget or want to that part, but it's really where most of our life is spent honestly.
Anne: Yeah. It really is. I have really, really struggled with that exact same thing. I probably spent at least probably the later half of my 20s and the 30, 31, really, really frustrated all the time. Frustrated with myself and frustrated about the slow progress and just diving right into that comparison game and it really crippled me. But when I started to realize, "Hey, it's not just you, it's everyone." And some people have natural proclivities to pick things up quicker or whatever else. And I'm very good at some things naturally that other people aren't and vice versa. That life happens in the messy middle. I love that phrase that you just said. But the real life happens and the real learning happens in that messy middle.
Anne: When I got my first dairy goat six years ago, I did not know any of the things that I now talk about with fluidity, like it's a whole second language that I've learned. I chased that thing around and got rug burns on my knees because I didn't even know that you were supposed to tie it up and... I just thought it would stand there and let me milk it. I had never even milked a goat before, but I thought it would be a good idea to get a milk goat.
Melissa Norris: We have very similar personalities. I love that. You're a doer and I love that. I think it's a really good skill for home sitters to have. Now it can get people in trouble, but I think you have to have some times that thing where it just like, "I'm going to do this. I'm going to jump in and I'm going to learn as I go."
Anne: Yeah. 100%. I think that that's pretty characteristic of people that are actually homesteading instead of the people that are still dreaming about homesteading is the fact that they're just willing to jump in. I have so much unsolicited advice for people, anyone who wants to just have someone yell at them, I will be happy to do that for you.
Melissa Norris: In the most kind way possible.
Anne: Because I have your best interest in heart. I have struggled so much. I mean, I always use goats as an example. Goats are the natural next step. You've had chickens, you have a little bit of property, you've started baking your own bread, you have your own like little raised bed. It's like the natural thing, at least the homesteading world tells you is then to get goats. Goats should never be your first choice, ever, ever, ever. Once you get to know who goats are and how to manage them and everything like that, then you can build a setup. But I think almost everyone gets their first farm property. They have a suggestion of a formal fence, like a whisper of a piece of wood that's like termite holding hands. And they're like, "Oh my gosh, I can finally get livestock. I'm going to do it." And then their goats are out on the highway three minutes later, which has never happened to me. That happened to me like my first five years of having goats. But anyway, I [crosstalk 00:24:02].
Melissa Norris: No, this is funny because, I was raised with beef cattle. That was actually the only livestock that we had growing up and I did help my dad. I was with him every single night when we were feeding. That's why I learned how to drive an old Ford stick shift truck when I was eight years old and could hardly put the clutch all the way in because I had to drive while he was feeding off the back. And the herd was about 100 to 129 head of cattle at that time. So it took us a good couple hours. I mean, at least an hour of feeding time every night in the winter. But I was the only child, even though I'm one of 10 siblings, I have seven older half siblings. They were all out of the house by the time I came along and then my younger brothers were born when I was 11 and then 16. So during that part, I was the only kid left at home that was old enough to help.
Melissa Norris: So I had a lot of experience, which I will say, helping your parents raise cattle is different than you raising cattle. There wasn't a lot of knowledge I had, but it's still different when you're the one solely in charge. But the funny thing is we got some goats. They were not dairy goats. They were older goats then we got them to help clear our property when we purchased our property, which was family property, but we did purchase it and it was undeveloped. There was a ton... Like if you live in the Pacific Northwest, we have blackberries like no other. And they are not native, which is why they are actually so invasive. I believe they originated in Oregon. I cannot remember the guy who brought them here. Anyways, I talk about [crosstalk 00:25:33]
Anne: Were they Himalayan blackberries.
Melissa Norris: Yes.
Anne: I remember them well, our time in Washington. I don't miss them.
Melissa Norris: No. They are horrible things. They are actually classified as noxious weed. That's how bad they are. However, we got these two goats from my husband's cousin and they were older male goats and we were going to get them to help clear the brush, which was mainly these Blackberry binds because we'd heard goats were great for that. So we get these two goats. And like I said, I have cattle experience. I have no goat experience. And I'm so glad that you say you should not start with them because I didn't start with them. They were our second piece of livestock, but the goats and I did not get along at all. They would get out. There was the one male goat and my husband thought I was exaggerating until he actually hid behind the corner and watched every time I would approach this male goat, he would raise up on his hind feet and try to strike at me with his front hooves.
Melissa Norris: And he was taller than me because he was a big goat when he was up on his hind feet. So anyways, I did not have any fond feelings for this goat. And we had just bought this property. We did everything ourselves. I mean, scraped together and I'd finally gotten enough money to go buy a few plants to plant alongside of our driveway, which I got some azaleas and rhododendrons because I was investing in perennials so that they would come back every year.
Anne: Oh, no.
Melissa Norris: Yeah, you know where this is going. So not only did we have this goat on a chain staked out, it might not have been a chain, but like a stakeout inside a fenced pasture. So he's double contained. He got out and he ate every single rhododendron and azalea plant I had just planted and though they are supposed to be toxic to goats, which I will tell you in the heat of the moment, I was like, "I hope you die right now." I was so mad. No, he was completely fine. He just had diarrhea for like a week straight, but he was fine. He was fine. I was not fine. And neither were my husband's ears by the time I got done throwing, crying, screaming, at the same time on the phone, telling him what the goat had done. So I agree with you. Goats are not probably the place I would recommend starting either.
Anne: Yeah. That's a horrible story and I had a very similar experience with all the first fruit trees that I planted. And it was again, scraped together, like the bottom of the barrel to get these things. I was working full-time and had just been working weeks to prepare the ground. Didn't have a tractor, did all this stuff. Spent $500, put it all into blueberries and fruit trees and perennials that I was so excited about my homestead. Put them in, goats got out, decimated it all. And I was just like, "Ooh, yeah."
Melissa Norris: But you do still have goats. So for all of you here who are goat lovers and are wondering where on earth or you're up in arms, I do not have goats again yet, but Anne does. So there is a happy ending to the whole goat side stories we've been sharing.
Anne: Oh, totally. There absolutely is because really it is. Joel Salatin talks about this a lot. He talks about with any livestock that you try to make do something that it's not intended to do, it's going to revolt. And so he talks about it with the pigness of pigs and the chickeness of chickens, but it's like, whatever instincts or qualities are in-bred into them, not bred into them. Those are the ones that you want to exploit and you want to use to your benefit on the farm. And so when you learn what those things are and also how to outsmart them in their naughtiness, then goats are wonderful. Now that I have a really good setup both for my milking setup and for my kidding and in my barn and also how I contain them and how I protect them when they're grazing in the pasture. All of that stuff. I now know enough about goats to have it all set up really, really well and it's actually such a joy to have them now.
Anne: But I had a goat that ate the wiring out of our car and swallowed multiple, not just one multiple bungee cords, like the metal and everything. And I so much worry and concern over this dumb animals and I was like, what are you doing? Every gate that I had secured with bungee cord, then the bungee cord got eaten and the gate got opened and then something that destroyed over and over and over again.
Melissa Norris: So I have to ask now, what is your gate method that works with the goats or when you have them out in the pasture, what type of fencing? What's been the switch?
Anne: Yes. So now I use electric netting and I do have the huge benefit of having more land so that they always have a quote-unquote job to do. We do rotational grazing, so they're always moving, but we have this super steep hillside on our property. So they have access to the kinds of things that they really want to eat. I now move them. I have livestock guardian dogs, so I moved them with the dogs and we have a very specific routine. We do it at the same time. I use hog panels in the barn. Anywhere that they are there's hog panels reinforced with wood. It is Fort Knox. There is no jumping, there's no climbing, nothing is going to be able to escape out of that. And then for the gates, I have these cool two-way latches where you have to pick up one side of the latch and push the gate open. And those things work fantastic.
Melissa Norris: Okay. That right there is gold for knowing what works fencing wise for the lovely goats, because they can be lovely, like you shared. Another thing that I wanted to ask you, because I get asked this quite a bit too, but I'm curious to see if what your experience has been is the same as mine or not. And it's a question that actually listeners have sent in a lot of the podcast. So guys, you're going to love this question. But what methods have you found to be most helpful in managing your time so that you can do the things that you want to do on the homestead while also working full-time? Because I think a lot of what we see on social media and maybe not, maybe it's just the social media I see.
Melissa Norris: I mean, I know we all probably follow different people, but a lot of larger homestead people that I see, a lot of them the homesteading is their full-time job and sharing that on social media is part of it. But for those that want to enter into this lifestyle and are also working a full-time job, which I did until just two years ago, it's a little bit different in the way that you have to do things or at least the way I found that I had to do things because I wasn't home on the homestead. So what have been some things that you found really helpful and still being able to homestead while working?
Anne: That's a fantastic question because even now, even though I'm technically full-time doing this stuff, I have a business outside of my homesteading stuff that takes like 60 to 80 hours a week of my time. That is not even remotely homesteading related. I am here on the farm, which helps. But this has been the case for the last couple of years and before that I was working outside the home full-time and so probably honestly the best advice that I can give for learning time management, things like that is to use some patience and self-control. I'm literally laughing as I say this, because neither one of those things are things that I'm good at, but with that, it is so important to build good systems and good infrastructures on your farm before your homestead, before you enter into that thing.
Anne: So sometimes that doesn't really work. But let me expand upon this. We just talked about goats. Like I said, so many people just get land and then immediately get goats and then suffer the consequences of that for years on end. If you can start with a little bit smaller, like start with chickens and learn how chickens work and with that, you can learn some really good routine things like how to get up early in the morning and do that and even efficiency things like where is it that you can keep the feed that is going to make it so you don't have to walk across the whole farm to get a scoop of feed and then walk it over to the chicken coop. How are you going to deal with water? Is there an automatic water that you could use? Is there an automatic [inaudible 00:34:24] that you can use?
Anne: Is there a way that you can keep your eggs clean? All of those things are little things that you, like we were talking about earlier incrementally learn and then add to. And so really with farming or literally anything that you're trying to be more efficient at, the best way that you can build good habits is to observe what you're doing. To be aware of what you're doing and to be constantly looking for ways that you can improve it or make it more efficient. So permaculture farming, one of the principles that I love the most is that it's like instead of doing 10 hours of work for 10 minutes of thought, you want to take 10 hours of thought about how you can make every minute of your work work for you.
Anne: And so there's a whole nother podcast episode on even just any of this, but really if you build good systems that serve you on your farm to make things easier, if you are always looking for ways that you can cut out wasted time or wasted trips. If there's ways that you can batch your tasks, so like maybe you have chickens and then you want to get goats. Could you put your goats right next to where you have your chickens and then when you go out to take care of your chickens, you can also do all the things that you need for your goats. Or if you just have chickens and you want to have a garden, could you put your garden right next to the chicken coop so that all of these tasks can be batched together so that everywhere that you walk... You can put things in your way so that when you are walking that way you can pick up the tools that you need and you're not having to make all these extra trips and all these things.
Anne: And this even goes back to what we were talking about earlier with cooking or meal prep or anything. It's like you start and your entire project is baking bread, but then once baking bread is automatic, once you figured out where you can keep the flour and the yeast so that you can do all those things really, really quickly, then you can, while you're in there also make chicken stock and also whoop up a batch of cheese and also make some soup for your meal prep or whatever. The more that you can learn to layer these things and to make everything as efficient as possible, the more that you're able to add in. Another permaculture thing is that, if you're going to do a little bit, why not do a little bit more, that can serve you for longer?
Anne: So you and I are both making content for the internet. So another way to look at this is it's like passive income. When you're making a YouTube video, is there a way that you could film a little bit more to make a online course that people could download and you could sell that long-term so that you only have to make that piece of content one time, but it's going to serve you forever. I look at everything in my life from my Sunday meal prep, to my woodworking projects, to my farm. I think about everything with that. Or like how I do add laundry. Every single thing that I do in life, I'm constantly taking notes about what I'm doing and I carry around a physical timer with me.
Anne: I'm a super nerd that way. I'm always trying to beat my time or to figure out how I can, hey, I feed the animals every day and I also have to open my mail every day. I'm always looking for scissors when I'm opening the mail. So why don't I just put my mail right by my feed bags, where there's always scissors so that I can do both things at the same time and then I'll get it done every day. So the more things that you can make more efficient, the systems that you can build, having good infrastructure and set up is really honestly, how you end up stacking more and more onto your plate. I'll give one more, really quick example of this.
Anne: I love to do this when we're talking specifically to farmers, because you've had livestock before, how many times have you had to spend 15 minutes filling up a bucket of water that then you have to carry somewhere? So I, on our old homestead didn't have any outdoor faucets anywhere except for right by the house. So every day I would spend 15 minutes filling up five gallon water buckets and taking them down on my animals. Well, after one year of 15 minute tasks repeated again and again, and again, that's 91 hours of time. And so in farm life, everything feels like an emergency all the time.
Anne: So it's really hard to stop what you're doing and prioritize doing something that feels like a big project that's going to take time away. But if you start to learn to look ahead a little bit and be like, "Okay, I have to do this for 15 minutes every single day. What if I were to stop right now and spend four hours doing something that's going to save me 91 hours? Or what if I stop right now and pay someone for four hours to do something that's going to save me 91 hours ultimately?" If you can start looking at the things that you want to do and the goals that you have for your life and for your farm, that's how it gets done. I have 80 animals now and if we exclude the milking of the ridiculous amount of goats that I have right now, if we exclude that, almost everyday, I can finish all my chores in 15 minutes or less.
Melissa Norris: That is really impressive. That is super good. What's so funny is as you were just sharing this, I was thinking back and how you have to be open. I think sometimes at least I'm speaking for myself. Obviously, I'm speaking for myself, that sounded stupid, but you know what I mean is you get in a rut. You get in the way that you've always done things. And so what you're really saying is look at the way you're doing things and see where you can change it. And I've done this multiple times in my kitchen where we've actually remodeled or I just redone. Went through and decluttered and took out things that I really wasn't using, but also changed the position. I used to have my spatulas and I wooden spoons and everything across the kitchen next to the sink, instead of where the stove is. I was just silly.
Melissa Norris: Just because I'd always had them in that drawer when we first moved in, I would spend time, every time I needed a wooden spoon and it sounds like, "Oh gosh." What was it? Three or four steps? I mean, like 10 seconds to go get it, but it adds up. And so it was removing just everything in the kitchen so that it was in really easy reach of the space or the station that I would need it in or would use it in the most. It was moving the knives next to the stove instead of having them over at a different area of the kitchen. Little things like that. But when you were talking as right now, as I was thinking, we have an outside faucet out by our pump house, which is where the cows get watered at.
Melissa Norris: It's close to the pigs as well as... well, My chicken coops are movable. We use movable chicken coops and so they're usually within somewhat of a distance. However, we have this really skinny hose because our big hose that can put a lot of water through it at once, finally after the 15 years we've lived here, got a crack in it and I haven't replaced it yet. Why? Why not go and replace it? Take the time to go buy the big capacity hose because the little silly hose we have hooked up now, I'm not kidding you, takes 10 minutes to fill the cow's water trough because I don't have it on an automatic filler timer. And so I'll turn it on while I'm taking care of the chickens and everything else.
Melissa Norris: So I'm not literally standing there for 10 minutes, but sometimes I'm done with the chickens and I'm still waiting for the water to fill up. So when you were saying I'm like, "Melissa, go get a new big hose like duh." So that is my duh moment that I just sold as you were talking, because it forced me to think about, "Oh, what is my routine with the animals right now?"
Anne: Well, even that though there is one other layer of that that does complicate this. I say 91 hours of my time now is worth me paying a plumber to come and put in a new water line for me or whatever. But back then, there was no way I was going to be able to afford to hire a plumber to come out and do it. And I'll be honest actually now I refuse to pay a plumber because I'm like, "I'm not paying someone $95 an hour to do something that is so easy to do myself because now I know." I now have done enough plumbing jobs that I know that I can do it quickly and efficiently, and it's not going to become a whole thing.
Anne: Just even being able to stop and thinking about that, you can go and buy a new hose but if your homestead is just getting off the ground and you have no money, it is so hard to know or to give yourself permission to even justify costs like buying a new hose. I think that's how those habits become permanent because it's like, "Well, I can't..." You were telling me it takes a long time to drive into town. I can't even justify the four hours that it would take to go get that hose much less. What if that hose costs like $100 or something, I just don't have that money. And there are so many things like that in homesteading that you're constantly like, "Well, it's going to be this cost or this cost. I can't afford to do this. But I could afford to do this."
Anne: Ultimately, it is such a balancing act to learn what you can and can't prioritize because yeah, maybe it is that right now where you're at in your financial journey, you can't afford to buy a new hose and that you just have to spend those 91 hours moving that bucket, but what you could do is every day, see about like what's three cents that I could save today that I could put towards that hose or like whatever else. And so thinking about everything in ways that like maybe buying a new hose or maybe putting in a line is too much or too big right now, but what's something that you could do today that gets you one step closer to solving that problem?
Melissa Norris: I really liked that. And I have to say that as a principal that we have used, because when we first moved here, well like I said, it was property. We cleared it ourselves, we had to put in the well and the septic. And then we have a manufactured home, which is a fancy way of saying a double-wide because we couldn't afford the mortgage for a stick-built home. We actually got bids and had custom house plans, which I still dream about those houseplants, but it wasn't something that we could afford. And so we got a loan and did that.
Melissa Norris: We tried to do as much of the work as possible, but even with making improvements, which is where I'm going with this, making improvements like we don't have a garage and we would love to have like a barn and a garage with a shop so that we could work on more things and have room for tools so that we could become more self-sufficient and all that type of stuff. But we didn't have money to put those in and so we did what we could afford at the time, but just like you're saying, and even the small things. I think it's really important me using the vegetable scraps, the onion skins. I would've thrown onion skins away or put them in the compost. I didn't realize...
Anne: Please tell me you're about to talk about stock.
Melissa Norris: Oh, babe. Yes. That's where I'm going.
Melissa Norris: Yes, because I didn't know that the onion skins have a lot of nutrition in them. They give gorgeous color. I didn't know that you could save all of those little things. The ends of your carrots, nobody uses the ends of the carrots. Well, very few people use the end of their carrot I should say. When you are chopping up carrots to put into soup or the rough ends of the celery or the stacky part of the celery, we don't put those usually in what we're cooking, but all of those little things now I save and I just put in a big old freezer bag. And when that freezer bag is full up and I've got all of the vegetable stuff that is just ordinance that would have maybe went to the livestock now that we have livestock or the compost pile.
Melissa Norris: But in my early years, I would've just throw it away. I didn't even do a compost pile back then. But now I've got... and this is again, one of those time saving things. So now when I go to make stock, I just pull out my bag of frozen what nots. It's already small. It's all ready to go. I dump it in my pot. I dump in the bones or the carcass if it's a couple of roasted chickens we're doing and the chicken feet throwing in there, pour the water over it and away we go. It's literally two minutes of time for me to get a thing of stock or bone broth going. But when I look at how much that stuff is in the store now, Oh my goodness. But I think that's an important thing is to look like, "Okay, this is what I'm saving now. So the money that I used to spend buying broth and stock, I need to take that and be conscious of it and put it into a fund or put it into savings, or make notes of this."
Melissa Norris: Because otherwise the money that you are saving by doing these tasks, you will just spend on other things if you're not consciously putting it into a savings account or into a fund or saving for something specific, which I love, like you said. Actually being like, 'This is what I'm saving this money for." When you have it even cemented in your mind, or maybe within your banking account, like you're actually putting it into a fund that's labeled new hose or new water line or whatever. It makes it different than if you're just doing it and you're like, "Oh, well I think I'm saving money." But you're not being really conscious with it. At least it has for me.
Anne: Yeah. Well, what you're talking about, Joel Salatin, he talks about it as slippage. And slippage can happen with your time or with your money or anything really. It's just those unnoticed small things. And I mean, ultimately this is the ultimate answer to what you were asking earlier about how do I have time to do all the things that I do is that... I mean, and the funny thing is there's still so much slippage in my life. I am actively always looking for it and trying to identify it and point it out and be sure that it's not happening. That helps me to be a way better saver. It helps me to be a better employer. It helps me to be a better farmer.
Anne: But also, it opens up so much opportunity for me to be able to have finances to do the things that I want to do, and also to have the time to do the things that I want to do. But I love so much that you said that thing about the onion skins and the stock. There is slippage in every area. Even the most productive, efficient people in the world can find more time for things that are actually important. I loved what you said earlier about the cheese making. You're like, "I don't have time, but actually I could make time if it was really important." That's honestly true about anything, but I think a lot of people look at all that stuff and they're like, "It's got to be a huge sacrifice. If I want to start a business, that means I'm going to spend less time with my kids. Actually, probably it doesn't mean that at all. There's so many things you can do.
Anne: But again, it's like things that you're incrementally adding in your life, not all kinds of things that you're trying to do at once, but just being conscious. I actually keep notes. I have a little notebook that I carry around with me almost all the time and I have a pen handy at all times so that I can write things down, which helps me not forget things. Helps me to be more intentional about making sure things get done. It's also things like, "Oh my gosh, if I were to move this over here, it would save me 10 steps. If I were to do things in this order, instead of this order, I would be able to save 10 minutes." And that's really where you're going to find the time to be able to do the things that you need to do.
Anne: Because again, that's how you get things like chore time with 80 animals down to 15 minutes. If I'm not careful, I could easily, easily spend four hours doing that 15 minutes of work because there's baby goats involved. I could just stop and pat them. I could take pictures on my phone, which reminds me, I need to send an email, which if you give aa ass a cookie, then he needs a glass of milk. And then there you go, have your days gone. And ultimately being really conscious of how you're spending your time, what you're doing, how you can be more efficient is all going to be, what gets you there.
Melissa Norris: I love it. I actually liked that you carry a timer. What is that? Is that called the... I'm probably going to butcher this. I think it's called the podoroma effect. That however much time you give a task is how much time you will spend doing it. So if you give yourself a lot of time, that's how long it will take. If you give yourself a little bit of time, then that's how long it will take. I think hopefully got that right.
Anne: Yeah, Pomodoros.
Melissa Norris: There we go. Yeah, I knew I had it wrong, but you knew what I was referencing. That's always helpful.
Anne: Yeah. No, absolutely. That is so, so true. People who are last minute people, I mean, I am more efficient, 15 minutes before something is quote-unquote due than I am in the 15 hours before it. It just is what it is. So I've built that emergency setting, which by the way, it has not been good for my blood pressure. So not fully recommending this, but in smaller ways I've built that urgency into my life for most things that I do so that I have those cutoffs and you eventually, ultimately you have to be okay with not doing the perfect version or your imagined perfect version of whatever you're doing for a period of time, until you can build up to whatever that perfect version looks like.
Melissa Norris: Yeah. I completely agree. Well, I now need to get a timer to carry with me because I don't even know how many minutes it takes me. And I'm like, "If you don't know how long it takes you, then you can't really get better because you don't have anything to measure it on." So I need to go get myself a timer. I needed to get myself a birthday gift anyways. So now I know what I know what I [crosstalk 00:52:02].
Anne: Well, I will say if you have an iota more self-control than I do you could probably just use the timer that's on your phone and the notepad that's on your phone because generally speaking, we have both of those things with us at all times. And then you're not carrying around another thing and then it's not like, "Oh, well I forgot my timer. So I can't time what I'm doing today." But the thing is that I almost physically can not pick up my phone without then doing something else that then leads me to something else and then it's been five hours.
Melissa Norris: That's my problem. Honestly. That is my problem.
Anne: Okay, cool. We'll then get a timer and get a notebook and leave your phone in the other room.
Melissa Norris: I need that.
Anne: Here's some more unsolicited advice. And I'm like, literally we're probably so far over time right now. I should have set a timer for this podcast. Oops.
Melissa Norris: We're good.
Anne: If phone things are the reason that you have slippage in your life, there's some huge things that I've done with phone stuff. First being aware. So your phone, I'm sure that this exists on non iPhones too, but iPhones can give you a weekly screen report of like how many hours you were on your phone each day and what you were doing while you're doing that. So that could be really helpful, but if you don't have any self-control, there's an app called Freedom that will set a timer on apps so that you can only spend a certain amount of time each day doing those.
Anne: You there's lots of other things too, but there's also if you can use your phone or your timer you mentioned the Pomodoro thing. There's an awesome technique that you can do where you spend 25 minute chunks with five minute breaks. So if you could set a timer on your phone for 25 minutes and then say that you're going to do exactly this for 25 minutes, not get distracted, not do anything, but reward yourself with five minutes of phone time at the end of it. You can actually accomplish a whole lot because that time period there adds in that urgency and that emergency feeling that we were talking about earlier. There's also other time management tools.
Anne: I had a hard time showing up where I needed to show up for a little while. My business partner, Josh showed me this app that has a QR code scanner that your phone will not shut off a very, very loud and annoying noise until you've scanned this code. So I would put that code where I was supposed to be at a certain time. So to get out to milk the goats at 5:00 in the morning, even when it's cold, you put the QR code in the barn and then if you're cozy in bed and the sun has already risen your phone, won't stop making this horrible noise until you get down to the barn and scan the QR code.
Anne: That's a little bit more extreme for people that literally have zero self control. Hello, you're talking to one. Another thing is like keeping your phone in the other room while you're sleeping and using an old fashioned alarm clock so that you don't wake up and scroll or go to bed in school. There's so many things, but yes.
Melissa Norris: Okay. The QR code one in the screaming, that one I find fascinating. I am not a morning person by nature at all. I do not like to get up early and so if I'm going to get up early, I will actually do where I have the old fashioned rings and barks back and forth with that little like hammer that hits things.
Anne: Yes, love it.
Melissa Norris: And I have to put it on the other side of the room so that I physically had to get out of bed to turn it off. Otherwise I will just knock it off the dresser and hit snooze and almost do it reflexively and not even realize it and just go right back to sleep. So that QR code one is very interesting. I have not heard of that before, but that has some potential.
Anne: I forget what it's called right now. I should have come more prepared, but I also didn't think I would be giving you so much unsolicited advice about your phone. But the funny thing for me it's not getting up early. I actually wake up like at four or five o'clock in the morning. No problem at all. It's actually just like the existential dread of like, what's going to happen that day. I struggle with anxiety and depression, which is part of why I had to get out of Washington. But literally that was a big part of it. So actually, I know that the way that I start spiraling is by sitting there and thinking about all the things that have to happen and building that up in my mind and knowing that that's going to be such a huge challenge and all that stuff.
Anne: And then suddenly it's been four hours and I feel horrible and I then have to talk to myself into not being able to do it. So actually that was really helpful not to wake up, but to literally get the heck out of the house and get to doing what does make me feel good which even as naughty and awful as goats can be, it always makes me feel good to have all that stuff done and to know that everyone's well taken care of. And it's 7:00 AM and you have already accomplished so much as opposed to it being 10:00 AM and you're still laying there.
Melissa Norris: Yes, no. I love it. These were also really good tips. I think we could go on for a very long time, but for the sake of listeners, for you and I, if you have any final words or where is the best spot for people to connect with you because they definitely want to keep in touch and see all of your lovely goat antics, which is a lot of fun, as well as your guardian dogs. I've really enjoyed actually a lot of your sharing of your guardian dogs as well.
Anne: Well, and we have the beef cattle that just arrived too, which is very exciting for lots of reasons. But mostly the biggest reason is that they take... Basically you check and make sure that they have water and then you move their fence every three days. And that's literally all of the care that they take. It's the most amazing animal ever. I can't believe I didn't do beef cattle my whole life.
Melissa Norris: Okay. This is my thing, people always say, "Start with chickens." And I understand it. They are small. You can start with chickens without having lots of acreage, because if you have beef cattle, you need definitely more space than a backyard. However, as far as the level of care, beef cattle are the easiest. Like no joke. They are by far the most passive form of livestock, I feel, that one can have.
Anne: Oh yeah. And my dairy cow, which is how I got into the beef cows. Because I was like, "Oh my gosh, if this cow is this way, how amazing would it be to have more cows?" But yeah, my dairy cow is like six months, a year. Literally, all she has to do is like stay alive. But then six months a year I have the most loyal, well-trained kind beast of a loving companion that you could possibly have. And so, yeah. I am a huge fan of cows and they're super intimidating because they're so big, but I mean, literally, except for like I said before, about the goats, like milking aside, even with the dairy cow, it literally takes less time to take care of my dairy cow than chickens. I guess that's my parting thought. But if you do want to find me or what I'm doing, you can find me pretty much anywhere on the internet by looking up Anne of All Trades. Instagram is where you can find daily content and a lot more farming stuff there very specifically, because it's so easy to share what daily life is like there.
Anne: I have a YouTube channel as well, Anne of All Trades, and I'm really passionate about teaching stuff and that's actually what has led me to starting a temporarily online school that will then also be a physical school as soon as we get the building built here in Tennessee as well. So you can find that anneofalltrades.com or schoolofalltrades.com and there we have all kinds of things. Basically, we're just trying to teach disappearing life skills to people who want to get more out of their lives. And so whether it's baking bread or carving spoons or learning how to deal with livestock or using raw milk. Anything that would have been done 100 years ago.
Anne: Dang it. Here we are again, I heard you say one time that you wish you were born 100 years ago. And I've always said, literally my whole life I've said I was born in the wrong century. I shouldn't be doing this. And then I was like, "Oh my gosh, we are soulmates." And here we are now. The half hour long podcast we've been talking for like three hours.
Melissa Norris: We have, but it has been a joy and yes, I always felt like I am an old soul in a modern world and I was born a century too late. Laura Ingalls Wilder and I, we would have been besties. I just know it.
Anne: Yup. Buzzing buddies.
Melissa Norris: Yes. Well, Anne thank you so much. And guys, I hope you really enjoyed this interview. We will have to talk again soon, very shortly.
Anne: Yes, absolutely. Thanks so much for having me.
Melissa Norris: Well, my friends, I hope that you enjoyed that episode as much as I did and you got some great takeaways for being more productive with your time and some of those hacks at home. And I wanted to share for our verse of the week. I don't always do a verse of the week. You've probably noticed this for my long time listeners. I don't always do a verse of the week when it's not a solo episode, when it's an episode where I'm interviewing someone else. But as I was recording this intro and outro for you to accompany this episode, I really wanted to share this verse with you because if you are in the United States, it seems that we're going through a lot of still even now upheaval, shall we say. If you're watching the news or social media, different things like that. And one of the things that has really been helpful to me, and not only in regards to social media or political differences, but really even when dealing with difficult situations and/or difficult people in my personal life is to remember this verse.
Melissa Norris: It really helps to keep things in perspective. So the verse I'm sharing with you is Ephesians 6:12. And this is the King James Version. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Because so often when I see people say things via typing on a keyboard or in person or on video, or whatever your context is that it's happening. And in this day and age, a lot of it may be virtually. It can be really easy to let our emotions jump in and we can have anger, disbelief or hurt. And I'm not saying that someone's hurting you, that you're not going to have those feelings. But it can be really easy to let those emotions come in and completely damage a relationship and sometimes even sever it.
Melissa Norris: And sometimes there are relationships that we need to step away from. So I'm not saying this is like a blanket statement, but in a lot of cases, if we just remember that it's not that person that we are battling against, it is against the enemy who, if you are a Christian, which I obviously am, I'm sharing this with you, then that is Satan or the devil. However you want to say that one. But he is behind all of the strife and all of the hardness and all of the bad things in this world and all of the inflammatory statements, or just any of those things that seem to really cut us and are hurtful and are not good. He is behind them. And so we're not really truly wrestling with that person. We need to remember that the force behind it, it's not them, it's the enemy. And for me, that means praying for the covering of the blood of Christ and standing strong in him and for Jesus to give me wisdom on how to deal with the situation and to do spiritual warfare via prayer and not via my mouth against the person or with my fingertips typing away on the keyboard, which can be a lot harder to do than it sounds when I'm sharing it here with you.
Melissa Norris: But I've really, as I've been dealing with my own emotions over certain things that have happened in the past couple of weeks and I'm sure will continue to happen just as human nature is, this verse has really been pressed upon my heart and one that keeps coming up. And so I felt if it's a verse that's really serving me well, then someone else who's listening may need to hear it. And I hope that it brings you some perspective and also some peace as well. So thank you so much for listening to this episode. I know it was a longer one, but I hope that you find it very helpful and I can't wait to be back here with you again next week. So blessings and Mason jars for now.
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