Let me tell you, when it comes to creating a daily To Do list on the homestead, well…. Don’t. Personally, I’m a list maker. I make them for everything. Chores, books to read, groceries, ideas for blog posts. Even on down to things that made me happy that day. But when it comes to prioritizing on a homestead, keeping to a list is like trying to get ice water in Hell.
A working homestead is like a living, breathing entity. Weekly goals change daily, and daily goals change by the minute. I might get up in the morning thinking I’ll spend sometime chopping wood, only to find that the rabbits poo needs scooped and the compost needs turned and the chickens need watered and a water run needs made and… To survive on a homestead requires a lot flexibility in the day to day. Because of this, prioritizing tasks means a lot of shuffling things around as the day goes on!
Here are 9 rules to help decide what takes priority on the homestead today:
1. If there is any likelihood you could die because this chore isn’t done today, do it!
We just came across an issue that fits into this category today. Went to go outside to do morning rounds, as per usual. Then the door knob fell off! It’s bear season, and they are curious so having a door that shuts and locks is a must, especially when you need a little time to get to a gun. These are things that need to happen N-O-W.
2. If there is a good possibility of being hurt by putting off a task, don’t put that task off.
If there is a tree leaning towards your house and a windstorm blowing in tomorrow, the tree better come down today for everyone’s safety. Also, sharp points on a gate? Don’t wait until you (or your wife) get cut on it to file them down. We need to be healthy to keep up with all this work!
3. If animals might die if the chore isn’t done asap, do the damn chore.
Making sure everyone has food and water is an every day, if not twice (or thrice), a day chore. Same goes for checking in on sick critters. Another chore that keeps animals alive is cleaning up anything they could seriously harm themselves with. For example, things like spilled chemicals or left out project tools could easily turn into a tragedy.
4. Will animals be hurt if the project isn’t completed right away? Better do it.
It doesn’t matter how much you hate fixing fencing, protecting animals that provide for you should be pretty high up on on that non-existent To Do list.
5. If your future food security will be effected by not completing a chore quickly, then it better get done.
If the garden will die because the irrigation didn’t get fixed today, then the irrigation had better get fixed!
6. If the food security of your livestock could be at risk, do a rain check on another task and hop to.
Because we have a very short window for growing crops here in Alaska, we need to make sure pastures and animal gardens get planted in time. We want those fat, happy animals (and fat, happy wallets from not purchasing our feed).
7. Is your quality of life affected by not completing the task? Just do it.
Sure, water pooled around the front door isn’t going to kill you, but wet feet and muddy floors are a nuisance. Better find that leaky pipe or dig a new drainage ditch or haul in gravel for a porch pad.
8. Will your livestock’s quality of life be affected by putting off this chore? Don’t put it off!
This falls under “Is there poop right next to the food dish, or in the water bucket?” a lot here. Especially with chickens. In fact, part of homesteading for us is knowing our food comes from happy, healthy animals. Making sure they have clean pens is a must for that.
9. If you’ll be in a bad mood for the rest of the day because you didn’t get to this project, make sure you have time for it!
Yes, homesteading is hard work, but we are out here because we love it. Kyle and I are pretty good at accepting when tasks don’t get finished the day we plan on it. At the same time, there are only so many times a chore can be pushed before I’m grumpy about it! Luckily our project season has 20 hours of sunlight a day, which makes for plenty of time to get things done.
I hope this list is as helpful to you as it is to me! (See, what’d I tell you about my penchant for list making?!)