I've been listening to a guy named Jon Jandai from Thailand who is a homesteader. He claims that he has more free time now that he's a homesteader than when he had a job. It got me thinking about all the people I hear from that say they work 60, 70 hours or more per week homesteading. Maybe some people can get a lot more done in the same amount of time as others. Does it just come down to priorities? Do we need to find a better balance between technology and labor? Do we just need to plan better? How much time do you spend homesteading?
I think this is a question many people ponder. To me, homesteading is a lifestyle; it's how I live my life. So to break it down into time spent, I suppose I could say, "every waking moment." I think the hinge point for most people, however, is income. If one has to have a job, then one has to divide their time.
I think the key to time is design. A well designed permaculture property will be relatively self-maintaining. Unfortunately, it's very human to make work for ourselves. A simple example from my own experience - compost and chickens. When I maintained them as two separate systems, each system required quite a bit of input from me. After I put the compost piles in the chickenyard, my work load was decreased, my chickens were happier, and the compost worked faster and with less turning.
Another example. I live in an area with hot, often droughty summers, which means a lot of work has to be put into mulching and irrigating the garden. But my husband and I have been watching Geoff LawtonPDC videos, and learning how properly placed swales can capture and retain the moisture we lose from runoff and evaporation. So we're working on a plan for swales and hugelkultur that will cut down on the current work we're doing trying to keep everything hydrated. That, in turn, will pretty much eliminate that particular work load.
Implementing a good design for one's particular property may mean time, work, and money in the beginning, but I think it will more than "pay for itself" in the long run.
I also think that "word smarter, not harder" is very evident in designing the homestead. Homesteading is hard work, no doubt. But I find it to be very rewarding. I hope everyone here can someday take the plunge to start working from home on their own land. Even if your "land" is currently an apartment balcony!
I think working outside the home at an 8 to 5 job is takes up much more time 8 to 5 on the clock. What I mean is that if you have to get to work by 8am, you're probably up at 6am in order to make the coffee, shower, iron clothes, get dressed, get the kids off to school/daycare, and then start the commute. When 5pm comes around, you have to drive to pick up the kids, get home, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up the kitchen, help the kids with homework, perhaps take the kids to their sports practice, then drive back home, get the kids bathed and into bed, and then try to have a few minutes to decompress on your own before you go to bed and do the same thing all over again the next day.
I've always advocated for new moms to really go over their budgets--incomes vs. expenses--to see if going to work outside the home was really worth their family's financial success. By not going to work outside the home, many moms can: stop buying two separate wardrobes ("work" clothes vs. "home" clothes), perhaps sell the family's second car to save on gasoline/wear and tear/insurance, cook from home (eating out is a budget killer), and quit paying for daycare (and perhaps start watching a different family's young'un for supplemental income). Of course, every family's situation is different, so everyone must decide for themselves if being a stay-at-home mom is feasible.
What I mean by all that is working from home on a homestead does indeed fill up my day, but I am not working for "the man." If I need to take a sick day, I take a sick day. If I need to stop for lunch, I'll stop for lunch. I'm working probably just as much (if not more) on my own land as I was when I worked outside the home, but I'm in charge of my time now.
The devil is in the details. What is time spent on homesteading.? Is it thinking about homesteading? Is it engaging in an activity that one would engage in if one was not homesteading? .....such as preparing a meal?
Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions. Mark Twain
I agree with much that has been posted but wanted to add that you are going to spend more time setting up your homestead than you are maintaining it. Once you've got your systems set up and your routines made, you just get into a rhythm with it. And then there are going to be seasonal fluctuations and they will vary depending on where you live. I have a lot of down time in the summer. It's too hot to go outside for most of the day, at least for me. The winters are mild here, so I can spend most of the day outside.
A lot will depend on climate, how easy the land is you're working with, how many people you need to raise food to feed, and whether your income is from homesteading or something else. Also, on what you consider constitutes "homesteading" as everyone has different ideas on that one!
And as others have said, the stage of development the homestead is at. A new homestead will need far more input than an mature established one.
There are often ways we can look at improving our workflows and systems to make things easier and quicker. But when we do what we love the work will always expand to fill the available time.
I'm only 60! That's not to old to learn to be a permie, right?
100% of my time is spent homesteading ... I had an IT career before, but the pandemic whacked that, and 2 years later, it appears that I was really "retired" and just didn't know it. Luckily, we were mortgage-free, off-grid. So, full-time homesteading it is ... day goes something like this:
- morning: up at 4:00 to 5:00am or thereabouts, coffee and planning ... lots of ideas, research, notes, and finally action ... some hours later, usually when our wolf-dog says "it's time to walk the property for security reasons (she wants to chase critters)".
- mid-morning: all systems checked (or kicked), and otherwise working well ... if not, there's another round of maintenance thrown into the schedule.
- to dinnertime: project work ... progress on one or more of a million projects; dinnertime is when "no daylight remaining" (or too tired to move).
- dinnertime: some amount of hours with the family ... dinner is always with all family members, then doing some after-dinner activity together.
- evening (after family time): more research, planning, writing.
We are at elevation, in the mountains, so it's project work during the summer building season, as when the snow starts and ground freezes, construction is mostly done for the year. More daylight in the summer, so project work runs long to use it all up.
Wife is still in her career, which survived the pandemic. Kids in homeschool. They don't start their day until hours after I'm up. I'm the only one doing homestead stuff at this time ... all others just notify me when poop buckets need emptying. Our like-minded friends are miles away on their own homesteads.
Conclusion? Need two more families *on the property* (3-family limit in our county) ...