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! How much of your time is spent homesteading?  RSS feed

 
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Hi guys!

As I'm in the stage of dreaming/planning/doing all the math on buying land and starting a semi-self sufficient homestead a question that keeps popping up is "how much time is spent in providing for oneself and one's family?

So the base question is: "How much time on average do you spend per day building/maintaining your homestead and it's gardens to provide food for your family?". Additional relevant information would be how big the homestead is, what animals you keep and what the chores involve.

I'm personally potentially looking at 105.000 sqft, including farmhouse/barns/... The properties I am looking at all have a liveable house and barns on them. I will need to work on the gardens, and the house/barns will need a little work to start with, but a full renovation within the first 5-10 years (as much as I like the 60's, I don't want to live in them). I'm looking at keeping poultry, potentially some sheep and a pig. I want a small orchard, and a no-till fruit/veg garden to feed a family of 5. I am very aware of the fact that I will most likely only be able to provide, say, 70% of our menu. I'll also need to buy diesel, clothing, equipment,... as I'm a horrible dieselfarmer

Some friends/family are certain this farmstead-idea will keep me busy 14hrs/day, leaving little to no time for anything else. Most online research on the other hand doesn't seem to agree with them... This is highly relevant for me as I hope to homeschool my kids, potentially look after my elderly parents on the property and will need to do at least some work to sustain us financially.

Discuss away!
 
steward
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First off, welcome to Permies Ben!  Secondly, the definitive answer to your question is "It depends"

A huge part of the equation is how "set up" the homestead is when you buy it.  If you're building a house, it's more than a full time job for a long time.  If there's a house that you don't need to mess with but you need to build out buildings and gardens, it's a full time job for a year or so.  This depends greatly upon how pretty/durable/cheap you want it.  As with most building projects, you can have it fast, cheap and good but you can only pick two.

If the structures and systems are in place, homesteading can be as hard or easy as you make it.  Providing ALL your food is a much different job than providing 70%.  There are diminishing rewards or exponential effort related to getting that last few percent.

My homestead is still in the system construction phase.  If I ignore that part, I spend about 5-10 minutes a day on 19 chickens plus about 8 hours of work during the year for bigger chicken maintenance activities.  Our 60x120' garden takes about an hour a day on average during the growing season to plant, water partially by hand, weed and harvest.  Food processing is harder to estimate because it varies depending on how and what you process.  We can some, dry some, freeze some and butcher some roosters and a deer each year.  All our food processing probably consumes 15 days a year.  We heat with wood.  Cutting, hauling, splitting, stacking and moving 4 cords of wood a year probably takes 10 days.

Our homestead consists of 1.5 acres of actively managed land, 19 chickens, 1 cat, no kids, a big annual garden and a baby food forest.
 
master pollinator
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I just went through my records, and I have kept careful records since 2008, and I average about 1100 hours a year engaged in some sort of farming. I would say my situation just about mimics yours in that I was always building onto my house and barns, growing my flock, with chickens and sheep.

I was trying to achieve full-time farm status, and did achieve that after 8 years.

I do not think your friends are really right in that you will work 14 hours per day farming; I never did, but will say a lot of my activities did stop. For instance woodworking, suddenly building a new fence was more important than making a cradle. And snowmobiling...why that is in the middle of lambing season. To that end, if I was on my snowmobile, I wanted to be home due to lambs being born, and yet if I was home, I felt bad my $14,000 snowmobile was sitting when we had snow on the ground. So..I sold my snowmobile!

But that is really it; when you are doing something you love, with the people you love, time really does not matter.

I was able to retire at age 42, pretty crazy, but I am hardly bored. I am sick now (cancer), but I still stay busy farming. But those are solid numbers: between 900-1100 hrs a year...
 
pollinator
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Building a house and keeping a house clean are two very different questions.
Similarly building a vegetable/nut/fruit/animal operation and just maintaining it are two very different things.

Your friend are correct in saying that it is going to take alot of labor/time/money to get it up and running.
But once it is up and running it will take less time.
10min in the morning and 10minutes in afternoon per animal type.
Harvesting egg will take very little time per day or per week. maybe 5minutes extra a day or 35minutes extra a week
Harvesting chicken (7chickens per week, at least 3hrs, if you have a meal plan just season and parcel them out for the day too)
Harvesting fish 15minutes per week
Harvesting milk 10minutes per day
Honey I would call a twice a year visit, each will be a whole day thing for 3 bee hives

When it comes to vegetables, herbs, mushroom and tubers/squash.
About 5minutes per type to harvest and about 10 minutes per type to maintain/replant/etc

When it comes to nut and fruit trees and berries. Maintenance of weed/spraying/limb training/observation is 10 minutes for each group.
Harvesting, by which I mean just picking/collecting is about 15min for each type each day.

But then there is processing and storing (dehydrating, canning, fermenting, jam/sugar reduction, etc) This is hard to guesstimate.
I think that solar dehydrators can be very very good if you build enough before you start harvesting.
It works for vegetables/herbs/spices/mushroom/fruits/nuts/etc. Vacuum sealing afterwards might be a good idea
Fermenting is another good one, I personally prefer it  over canning but canning is good too.
You are going to have very busy September weekends if you are storing for the winter+spring.

As to how you will get your land to start producing all of these produce.
1) Soil Carbon
2) Soil Life
3) Earthworks/Irrigation/Water
4) Pest Management

For carbon you can grow corn/covercrop or import compost/woodchip/straw/biochar
For soil life, you can spray "compost" tea (water kefir+milk kefir+koji+worm compost+healthy native soil)
For pest management, spray the above monthly, polyculture, careful cultivar selection, fertile soil, etc
For irrigation/water/earthworks it is very site specific but slow natural rainfall, and use drip irrigation if possible.




 
master pollinator
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In the past few years I've been trying to find the "least work" versions of the things I want to do.  So for vegetable gardening I'm practicing a modified version of Biointensive, which takes very little space.  Less space/more intensive gardening means less watering and weeding.  Though I'm currently without chickens, my next chicken coop/run will have a composting area, because I don't want to spend the time and effort turning compost when chickens enjoy that activity much more than I do.  I'm working on some food forest areas because in the long run those will take the least work of all.

I'm only on the homestead for half the week these days, the other half is spent in town taking care of my dad who has Alzheimer's.  But when I'm home I try to spend four hours or more per day working outdoors on the new permaculture homestead design.  A lot of what I did in the first years here was poorly thought out, with lots of time wasted.  So now I recommend anyone starting out do a lot of research first into what other people are doing successfully and try to come up with a total design for the land.  I've learned that putting everything as close to the house as practical is part of good design because it can save a lot of walking and carrying, and things are less likely to be neglected.

The hardest aspect of starting over from a bad design is deconstructing the parts that don't work or need improvement.
 
S Bengi
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I 2nd that bio-intensive idea. With compost imports even just tiny amounts of worm compost once the level of carbon in your soil is closer to 20%. Lots of hand tools. Doing starts inside, and irrigation pipe and handtools, a walk behind tractor lots. Read up on 4 season farmer eliot cole.

Taking a PDC or reading a PDC book or two would be a very very good investment.
 
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Location: Zone 4b Ontario, Canada
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Hi Ben.

I love to support those who want "out" of the system, and do not profess to be an expert, I can only relate from my own experience, and believe that being truthful is important, it saddens me to see people quite before the rewards come.  So, if the following doesn't resonates with you, or any one else reading this post, that's OK, to each their own.  

My first question is; where is the land you're looking at?  The grow zone, climate, weather, and terrain all figure into the equation of time and effort you must put in.
Second question;  are you the sole laborer providing for 5?  That's also part of the equation.  Are they at all the outdoorsy types, and do they have heavy "Creature comfort" needs/wants?

Here's my schedule, daily, no matter what the season or weather:  

Morning house chores;  feed massive guardian dog and nine barn cats.  Their food is all homemade, a 3 gallon pot will last on average 2.5 days feeding twice a day.  That 3 gallon pot takes about 2 hours cooking time, each time.  From October to April the wood cook stove is used not just for cooking but hot water and heat.  So bringing the firewood is essential.  Here I go through 9 face cord (3 bush cord) per season.

Barn chores;  80 chickens, 12 dairy goats, and 3 horses, hand milk, feed and water.  Alone in winter takes me 1 hour twice daily, summer 40 minutes twice daily.  When helpers are around barn chores are cut to about 20 minutes per person (4 persons).

Growing season (from prep to harvest):  Between morning house chores and barn chores, I spend 2 hours in the morning in any one of three gardens, the again in late afternoon.  

Most days, after lunch, I have a nap,... because I can.

In the beginning my days were in the "teens"of  hours per day, clearing, building, raising kids, laundry, cooking, mucking, birthing animals, caring for injured animals, making repairs, gardening, fencing, harvesting, butchering, firewood, and on and on,.....Plan intelligently, start small and build on the initial design from year to year, get the family involved, and the time you spend transitioning into homesteading will rejuvenate you, not kill you.  It is a lifestyle after all, and now for me, the days flow effortlessly.  It's truly a Zen thing going on.

If you have no previous experience homesteading, and/or adequate skills, it will be harsh to begin with.  But Mother Nature will take you in hand (we are at Her mercy after all) and show you how to listen to the way of it.  She will mold you, forge you, and hone you.  This process takes about 7 years, it will either make or brake you.  At times it can be heart breaking, frustrating, demoralizing, but the many rewards along the way, and in the end, are all so worth the effort.

I've been at this for 2 decades +, and would live no other way.  

Cheers!  K
 
Kate Michaud
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Totally agree with S Bengi, a PDC course would definitely be an asset.

Cheers!  K
 
pollinator
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My garden which provided fresh vegetables but not potatoes/grain for 6 people over the growing season (us and four others who bought from us) took me around 15 minutes per day to look after, in early spring with bed preparation weeding sowing etc etc it was closer to 2 hours per day. Growing food for 5 will not take too much time but preparing and preserving food for 5 will take a lot of time when you are also busy with other things.
Our 8 chickens took less than 10 minutes per day, filling food and water and removing eggs (once daily) every month they took another 30minutes for a coop clean.
Cooking takes a lot longer from homegrown veggies as they are dirtier and you have to collect and prepare them totally from scratch, I would say an extra 10 minutes per meal.
Our ducks (between 4 and 30) took between 10 and 20 minutes a day depending on whether their pond needed emptying and refilling. Slaughtering them we found we could do one every 30minutes if we plucked/drew them and one in 5 minutes if I just extracted the breasts, legs and liver.
Building maintenance is ongoing but in general most jobs take an hour at most, except whitewashing which takes all day, but at least only has to be done once a year.
Getting and stacking firewood for the year takes between 10 and 100 hours each year, depending on if it is bought as 1m logs or as split wood. Each day cleaning, lighting and fetching firewood takes 10 minutes. and with our old furnace it has to be fed every hour so another 2minutes each hour.
Dog food takes us about 2 hours every 3 months (we feed raw and use the pluck from a local abattoir)

I have found that it's not a question of 14 hours a day, but wishing you had 40 hours one day and then having 4 days where it's only 10minutes each
 
pollinator
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So I just bought my new homestead, and here's how it's working so far(I also have a full time day job, a 10-month old baby, and serve at my church, so my time is somewhat limited.)

Weekdays
15 minutes a day in evening before sun goes down for weeding, trimming, planting, moving things, watering - whatever needs to be done that day.

.5 to 1 hour inside for renovating house(bought a fixer-upper)

Weekends
3-4 hours each day, either before or after lunch for bigger projects both inside and out.

Once the majority of the house is finished and it's summer time, I hope to downgrade to an hour a day laboring/experimenting in the garden/food forest/livestock.
Then maybe an extra hour a week(average) preserving food(fermenting, canning, smoking, dehydrating, etc.) and cooking/baking...and maybe 2-3 hours a month foraging/fishing/hunting.
 
Travis Johnson
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Dustin Rhodes wrote:So I just bought my new homestead, and here's how it's working so far(I also have a full time day job, a 10-month old baby, and serve at my church, so my time is somewhat limited.)

Weekdays
15 minutes a day in evening before sun goes down for weeding, trimming, planting, moving things, watering - whatever needs to be done that day.

.5 to 1 hour inside for renovating house(bought a fixer-upper)

Weekends
3-4 hours each day, either before or after lunch for bigger projects both inside and out.

Once the majority of the house is finished and it's summer time, I hope to downgrade to an hour a day laboring/experimenting in the garden/food forest/livestock.
Then maybe an extra hour a week(average) preserving food(fermenting, canning, smoking, dehydrating, etc.) and cooking/baking...and maybe 2-3 hours a month foraging/fishing/hunting.




I wished I lived closer to you as I would help you out as best I could. You seem like such a hard worker, and great guy. I remember the days of really struggling to get everything done that needed to get done! I am about as far away as two people can get though. If I ever get out your way, I am going to Shadow Mountain Community Church for at least one service!
 
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I only work seven days a week, daylight. I always take the eighth day off. I've only done that for the last 45 yrs, so that's not too long. Maybe I'll slow down a bit in a few years when I hit my mid-70's. The only problem with my "schedule" is that I like June a whole lot better then December. The daylight hours of mid-winter are just too short. Fortunately, we really like being self-reliant and self-sufficient. So it's all fun and all good. I do recommend having lots of babies, they grow up to be really helpful, …although our latest kid was born last Thanksgiving, so it'll be a bit until he's really a help.


Jim

www.stonegardenfarm.com
www.ohiofarmmuseum.com
www.johnbrownohio.com
 
Dustin Rhodes
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Thanks for the Pie, Travis!

Shadow Mountain is doing great things, and Pastor Jeremiah is truly inspirational - if you do ever come out to visit, PM me and we can meet up; I'll show you my little half-acre plot and all the goodness I'm trying to eke out of it!

Jim - Yes, I also plan on having more worker babies; my first has already pulled his first weed!(just for fun right now, but later he'll learn how to do more eventually)
 
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A few caveats for our place, but I'll share our experience - we don't provide 70% of our own food - not even close.  However, we do eat a lot that we have produced, and trade some of our produce and eggs for other things.  If I were guessing, I'd say we produce 100% of our late-summer and fall veggies, 50% of our veggies through the winter, almost none of our fruit (yet - the trees are still young), and 100% of our eggs.  We don't currently produce any of our own dairy or meat.   We also don't own a tractor, so things like lawnmowing, fencing, and snow removal take us a lot longer than if we'd had one.  

We moved here 8 years ago, with a couple of cats and a couple of dogs.  We've got 10 acres with a run-down house that was vacant and untended for quite a while (more than 5 years) before we bought it.  The house was solid, but needed some immediate repairs, and the yard and outbuildings were a mess.  There were no fences when we moved in, and the barn was not usable, so we converted a large granary into a barn of sorts.  

Our first year here, we grew a massive garden, and also got three more cats (for the barn), 50 chickens, two alpacas, and 4 goats, one of which was in milk at the time.  We grew over 500 lbs of potatoes, and similar amounts of carrots, beets, and squash, much of which we donated to the food bank, because we had no idea how to preserve it.  I also wore myself out trying to preserve a years' worth of tomato sauce while working around a full time job, learning how to milk goats, and dealing with the learning curve on chickens, alpacas, septic tanks, and cisterns.  In retrospect, I'm surprised we didn't give up and move back to town.  Oh, and I discovered I was pregnant shortly before chicken butchering day.  That sucked.  I still don't cope well with that wet feather smell.

So, that first year, while dealing with the learning curve on 1) chickens, 2) goats, 3) alpacas, 4) gardening, 5) orchard planting and management, 6) farm systems (septic tanks, water pumps, fencing, etc), 7) home renovations, 8) food preservation, and 9) local culture.  I'd say I was putting in about 60 hours/week (around a full time job and commute), and my husband was putting in 90+ hours/week.  I don't recommend it.  We ended up selling the goats and alpacas, and my husband has now instituted a rule that I am not allowed to introduce more than one new species per year, though he's a little more flexible on the flora than the fauna - I think I snuck in three new veggie species last year.  

Now, eight years in, having gotten past the learning curves on most of the big stuff, we probably put in about 20 minutes a day in winter (livestock and pet management, plus some planning), and maybe a couple-few hours a day during the growing season, much of which is in hand-watering new trees during dry spells, as well as putting up the summer produce (beans, raspberries, etc).  There is always the big planting push which takes all of our attention for a couple of weekends in the spring, and the big harvest push, which takes up a few weekends in the fall.  

We normally grow 600-700 onions, 200-300 (+) pounds of potatoes, 80-100 winter squashes, 40 pounds of carrots, about 30 pounds of beets, an unknown amount of green beans, but enough to feed 4 people a generous serving every day or every second day from when they start until the frost gets them, plus a bunch for the freezer, enough tomatoes for fresh eating for four people, zucchini out the wazoo (when we have enough for the freezer, we start feeding it to the chickens), 20 + pounds of parsnips, and various soft fruit (raspberries, strawberries, currants, etc).  There are also the miscellaneous things like asparagus, rhubarb, chard, sunflowers, and such that are nice during their season, but don't really produce a large amount of our diet.  We also get a lot of eggs, but there is a glut in the spring and summer, and few in the winter.   I make all of our own jelly and jam, mostly from foraged berries and crabapples.  We still buy a lot - all of our grains, dairy, and meat, most of our legumes, fruit, and some vegetables in the winter (particularly brassicas, as we struggle to grow these, and I love cabbage).  We also buy feed additives for the chickens, and food for the other pets (cats and dogs).

The upshot of this is that it is hard to predict how much time you will put in on any one thing, but I can say with some certainty that it will be at least three times as much as you expect for the first year or two you do something you haven't done before, and that each species of animal counts separately, as do the garden and orchard, as well as preserving.  If you haven't dealt with rural life before, add in more time for learning household systems (septic, for instance, or wells, or wood heat), as well as adjusting to rural life, where things can be very different from the city in many aspects, from how you shop (possibly infrequently, if you live far from town) to how you socialize.  Once you are over the initial learning curves for each thing, it really gets a lot easier, and the amount of time things take drops dramatically.  

If every person in your family is 100% on board, you'd still be better off to start with just the orchard, the chickens, and a garden that is about 1/10th as big as you think you want, at most.  Once you have those things down pat, think about adding in the larger livestock; it will save you a lot of heartache.  That is assuming you're not commuting very far to your job, and that any homeschooling takes up a small part of your day.  To be honest, with home renos, a job, and homeschooling, I would consider just planting the orchard and a very small garden for the first year.  

However, hindsight is 20/20, and if I had it to do all over again, there's a fair chance I would still bite off way more than I could chew.  It's hard to overcome the enthusiasm, and the sense that I want ALL OF THE THINGS, RIGHT NOW,  especially after a couple of decades of dreaming about moving to the country.

Good luck to you :)
 
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if i am awake...and even in my dreams i am building, maintaining and planning my homestead and gardens to provide not only for our physical needs, but because we are hermits and because our place is where our hearts are, also emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs..marty, not so much so, he stays busy just trying to keep up with me...I LOVE TO WORK

as far as homeschooling goes...been there done that...on a homestead...and that is more about you and the kiddos...i am also a certified teacher, who as of last year, chose not to teach anymore, but to devote what is left of my life to my mother, granddaughters, my best friend, and homesteading...homeschooling your children can be an amazing thing....or it can be a total disaster...for me it was amazing...but our boys were very disciplined...and content...and self motivated....i used abeka curriculum and did 3 grade levels at a whack...which meant work...but, most curriculums (abeka being my favorite) now have most of the prep work done for you...i incorporated farm (homestead) life into EVERY aspect of daily learning goals!!! EVERYTHING on a homestead is a TEACHABLE MOMENT!!! riding horses out to the far end of the pasture (physical education) finding a spider and catching him in a jar leads to a perfect lesson in so many areas...finding the history of that spider...the science of that spider....the math of how one spider makes many and the averages of how many baby spiders will live...the english of writing a short story on whatever is of most interest to them...take the little feller back out to his natural environment yepp....there ya go...two new words to add to the vocabulary list...and have them journal their feelings for another writing project or draw a picture of whatever they want (reference to spiders) as an art project...never too much reflection or application in education...LOL...watch a video together at bedtime with a bowl of firecooked popcorn to snack on...may i suggest...you got it...charlottes web...if only it were so easy...for us it truly seemed to be...but, ya gotta, i think, think like that...i keep getting reminded that for one reason or another that it wouldn't be that easy for everyone...i suppose it depends on what your definition of easy is....it is EASY for me to sleep 4 hours a day...get up...anticipate and plan my day (very flexibly) have everyone's breakfast cooked and ready for serving, and be ready to hit the ground running when the sun breaks over the mountains...work my rear off all day...coming in for lunch (usually a sandwich or leftovers) back out i go...for another afternoon round of WHATEVER i need and want to do...then cooking and serving dinner...then settling in with a glass of wine (homemade--began as well a science experiment  and after everyone speaks their last word of the day is MY TIME and i just smile in amazement of what did and didnt get done...that is EASY FOR ME....being STUCK in this cabin with all day to do nothing but type on this crazy laptop...while it rains for 5 straight days on this mountain IS NOT--killing me!!!

giving me lots of time with my precious mom, who lives on the homestead with me and marty (she has alzheimers...diagnosed 10 yrs ago...so we are pretty far into that...each moment is precious..and you guessed it...lol...i take her out there with me quite often...i also hire a sitter to come 3 days a week to give me a break from the hardships we face there...now, thats pretty tough...cause again...it requires me to be cabbed up inside of the cabin a lot...and i prefer life outdoors...even i have limits...that is a weakness of mine for sure...so, i have learned to work around that...maybe some of this will help you...i hope so...financially...thats a tough one....always worked out for me...their daddy died, and things changed for us...but it was nothing for me to load up my three boys and go mow some yards, rake some leaves...clean and package quail, etc....my dad had a farm and my kids were speaking spanish, working all day all season long and driving a farm truck and tractor by the time they were 12 yrs old...pretty much financially (except for household living expenses) they carried their own weight from then on...with me contributing to their spontaneous moments of frivolous spending very little...(they thank me for that now, and have done remarkably well for themselves---BY THEMSELVES....well...i did do for them what could...just they helped so much with that...willingly...they wanted to go to public school when they got in jr high...so, i got my teaching certificate and off we went...LOL...where and what i had to resort to till they were out and started on their own  was nice to have a little paycheck coming in...but, really, i found i was way worse off than when we all stayed home financially and in, looking back, every other way... (that is a whole other topic!) when ya have more, you spend more...i kept a monthly budget...i am absolutely certain that you have to be OCD about that one...know what is coming at ya...be prepared for ANYTHING, willing to do EVERYTHING, and NEVER never ever quit!  and ya might as well smile...if you start this, it' gonna be a ride...awwww...but, i LOVE rides!!! buckle up  14 hour days don't touch it!

 
pollinator
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Location: Southern Finland zone 5
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Here are my estimates for the farm work we do.

By farm work I mean anything related to gardening or animals. I don't mean cooking, cleaning the house or taking care of the children. Those activities take a lot of time too. But they'd have to be done anyway, no matter where one lives.

In our case the amount of farm work varies quite considerably depending on the time of the year. May and August are super busy. I couldn't take any other work then. On the other hand, I have plenty of time for work projects in the winter. There's four months every year when we don't do much anything farm-related, just heat the house and the barn, feed the animals and do some cleaning up.
The summer season is short in Finland and most of the work happens in the summer months.

The numbers below do not include maintaining and constructing buildings. That is a lot of work. Old buildings are constantly in need of repairs.
They also do not include setting or repairing fences (another time consuming activity in the summer).
Numbers are total numbers, not per person.

April, June, July, October: 6-9 hours a day
May (spring sowings) and August (food storing): 12 hours a day
November, December, January, February: 1-2 hours a day
March (indoor seeding starts) 4-6 hours a day

We currently have:
3 dairy goats (only one in milk)
20 chickens
2 miniature pigs (pets/ composters)
10 bee hives
5000 sqft garden with veggies and berries and two small greenhouses
a small orchard

We grow or gather from the wild:
a portion of our dairy products (aiming for all)
all of our eggs
all of our vegetables
all of our potatoes
all of our berries
all of our mushrooms
all of our honey
all of our basil, thyme, garlic, oregano
most of our hay for the goats

We buy:
some milk, butter and cheese
all of our meat except chicken (we don't eat much meat)
all of our fish
sugar, spices
all of our grain & breakfast cereals
some spices
some fruit in the winter
all of our vegetable oil
raisins, cocoa, coffee, tea, chocolate
special treats for kids like birthday party candy & pop corn, etc.
chicken food
some hay
bedding


We sell:
vegetables, garlic, honey, eggs

I'm sure I forgot to mention something, but I hope this rough estimate helps
 
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A few caveats for our place, but I'll share our experience - we don't provide 70% of our own food - not even close.  However, we do eat a lot that we have produced, and trade some of our produce and eggs for other things.



This is a very healthy way to look at it. Some very good advice on here. I have been encouraged reading it. Thanks all for contributing.

The part that I would hammer is that this requires vision and delayed gratification. For vision, as many have mentioned a PDC (even online!) can help. I have done two online PDCs, never one in person. But that can give you a vision for what your place might look like. That is time, and you need to account for it. As many have said, there is a busy season and a recovery season, and I watch the videos during the down season and read on here. I would estimate I invest easily 600 hours a year on research. Easily. Each 100 hour project requires an equal amount of time preparing.

That way you will have less (but absolutely not zero!) discouraging episodes. This helps with delayed gratification. As you see the little signs of improvement, this builds hope and makes it fun. It draws the whole family into it. It draws others around you into it and builds community. And as mentioned by Kate

It is a lifestyle after all, and now for me, the days flow effortlessly.  It's truly a Zen thing going on.  

the difference between "effortless flow" and monotony is enjoyment.

My outlay
year 1- time 500 hours, money $2000 (trees and building materials, online PDC)
Produce- basically zero

year 2- time 600 hours prep, projects 400 hours, garden 400 hours divided production and storage, money $2000 (similar stuff)
Produce- 50% annual veggies, 100% potatoes, 50% meat (venison/fish)

year 3- time 600 hours prep, projects 300 hours, garden 300 hours (Back to Eden 2nd year area, almost all harvest/storage time) money 10K- bought a skid steer/fencing project
Produce- 80% annual veggies (actually traded and gave away lots- just starts coming in so fast!) limited by storage capability. Skipped rootcrops due to travel issues during harvest time. Meat 30% terrible fishing year. Berries 20%.  

year 4 projected (this year)- time 600 hours prep, projects 500 hours (fencing and clearing and equipment repair) budget $3000. Big project clearing $6000. Pond installations.  I'm assuming we will be producing around 30-40% of calories, around 80% veggies. Protein 50% and not planning on more as we buy pork and beef from a neighbor. Increased calories from squash and sweet potato. Should be at 100% eggs, but still buying ~50% of their food. Berries 50% this year likely. Got 20 peaches last year, should get enough to can this year. Mushrooms were insignificant in our diet, should be 10% of total calories. Major time commitment paying off and should for 8 years. Bee hives in.

year 5 projected- This is the year I think we jump. 5 years in! Should have grazers in this year. We are getting better at preserving produce, kids are now participants in all phases. Tree fruits should be 100% on farm with lots to barter. Hazelnuts and chestnuts starting to produce. Enough dried goumi berries for chicken winter feed. Rice paddy/duck habitat installation because we are going to be tired of sweet potato and squash. Probably can't keep up with all the berries, will use them to lure in the neighbors and infect them with permaculture. Start working on energy independence.

This emphasizes how much we saved up prior to starting this project. Big projects cost big money and pay off gradually. I expect the clearing and fencing will take 15 years to pay off in purely monetary terms. That being said, I think we should be able to produce 100% of our calories, but we don't intend to do it. We intend on producing 300% of what we need in several areas and trading locally (we have about 100 houses in walking distance). Currently my local network is only about 10 families, most have skills and unused labor time. I want to at least triple that number. My longer term goal is to actually have a barter labor organization in our neighborhood of pretty handy people so that we can decrease our overall expenses, honor system the way life has been here for centuries. Yes, they would have to get out of the house and work in the heat, but the nice thing about rural VA is that most people still remember that as a good thing. I don't need to learn metalworking or too much about diesel. I can spend my time learning about solar and soils.

To me this is a good investment. But as you can see this is either a 20 hour a week job or a passion. The attitude makes the difference.
 
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