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!!! Homesteading Time Saving Hacks?  RSS feed

 
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I recently estimated the hours I work on different things in my life. I'm unhappy with the number of hours I dedicate to house chores. Homesteading means you do spend a lot of time in the home, but I find it a little much, especially during season changes.  Perhaps I will notice a reduction in hours once I get at it longer and things become more rote, but right now,  I wonder if there are any hacks out there that save oogles of time. I'll share what I learned,  but please feel free to add in!

Use a floor sweeper for a quick, quiet clean up.

Use a water tight bushel basket to bus dishes from the table and soak them/prewash.

Have enough dry rack space for your meals.

All colora can usually be washed together.  It's just whites or gross things that can't.

Keep a bathroom caddy of cleaning supplies in the bathroom for quick cleaning.

Use bins for socks, underwear, and other small items instead of folding them.

When cleaning a room,  start on one end and throw the objects (that are throwable) to the general place they belong. After one pass back and forth across the room everything will be put away (unless you own a toddler).

Involve the family. The more they clean the less likely they are to make a huge mess.

Clean from top to bottom so you work with gravity. Let the crumbs fall to the floor you were already going to clean.

Use a squeegee on windows and mirrors to save on time and streaks.

Only buy easily washed, stain resistant, wrinkle proof clothes.

Wear hard labor outfits for messy jobs and nicer clothes at other times.

Use a utility belt and garden knife in the farm and garden.

Weed thistle on sight.

Weed early in spring and late in summer, even though it doesn't affect your garden plants then.

Avoid weeding by buying them with the next bed refill.

Just fertilize. Don't be skimpy. It

Overseed to prevent weeds.

Smash garlic with the broadside of a knife to get the skin off easy before mincing.

Shake skin off garlic and shallots in a large container.

Snow shovels are good at light dirt and wood chip lifting.

Push brooms rake leaves and sweep at the same time.

A 5 gallon bucket of water is handy if you have a lot of house plants.

---
What I need hacks for is easy quick spring planting in a super intense rotation, putting away laundry,  and cooking. Thanks!





 
pollinator
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I prefer one make/model of socks bought in qty. If i lose one I'll never know it. I stack them.
 
master steward
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The key for me for laundry is to do ONLY one load per day, and to do it every day. One day I wash dirty towels/washrags, the next day diapers, the next day clothes (I don't even sort by white/colors, but I like my shirts off white. I also wash clothes in COLD water, so the colors don't run).

Because I only do one load a day, it's not hard to remember to throw it in the drier sometime that day, and to fold and put it away. The few times I've ended up having 3 loads to do, it's just overwhelming!

I also try to conscript my kids. They generally like running around the house to find things to throw in the laundry, and taking them from me to put in the dryer (can't dry outside in the fall/winter/early spring). I can also usually get them to take a stack of their clothes and put in their drawer. We tend to make it a game...and if nothing else, it keeps them busy while I fold/sort.

Another helpful tip is to fold/sort the laundry next to where it goes. So, if I've got towels/rags, I plop the load on a chair next to where the towels go, and then I can stick them in as I fold them. Same thing with diapers: I plop them on a chair by the changing table and put them where they go as I fold.

I also agree with Wayne about the same color socks. I HATE that socks come in multicolor packs. If I need socks of different colors (white/brown/black to match shoes), I buy multiple sets so I have at least 3 of each so I have more matches, even if I lose a sock. I buy Darn Tough socks now, and they have a life-time gaurentee for PAIRS of socks. IN other words, if you return a damaged pair, you can get a pair in return. But you get nothing if you only have one sock. So, I buy 3-7 pairs of the same color/pattern/size so if two socks get a hole, I can mail them off while still using the other socks, and even if I lose a sock, I still have pairs that I can return when they die.

I wish I had cooking tips. The only tips I have is to have a list of dinners that are quick to make and have ingredients you always have in stock. Meal plans and homemade frozen dinners sound great, but we usually never know what we can stomach until the evening, so we want food we can cook in under 40 minutes. SOme of our go-tos are:

* Steak or fish fried in a pan. Takes like 10-15 minutes to cook, and it cooks fine from frozen, too.

* Ginger carrots. Slice carrots and put them in a pan with butter/oil and some water and honey (or sugar) and cook with the lid on for like 5 to soften them, then take the lid off for the sauce to reduce. Kids like them, and they don't take too long to cook.

* Pancakes. These take a while to fry up, but if you have all your burners filled with skillets, it doesn't take as long. There's no waiting to flip a pancake because tehre's always a pancake ready to flip!

*Scrambled Eggs! My kids love eggs, and it's fast!

*Bacon in the oven. Take about 30 minutes at 350/400. Turn on oven. Load baking tray with bacon. Put bacon in oven. Drain halfway through. Take out when it's done to your desired crispness.

*Steamed veggies. We buy frozen veggies in the winter, and in the spring/summer/fall, we just take what's outside. Throw the veggies in a pan with a few tablespoons of water and some butter and salt/pepper/powdered garlic. Put lid on pan. Let it steam until it's about as done as you want, then take the lid off!

* Fried "rice." My husband can't have starches, so the rice is very much optional in this recipe. Throw the veggies of your choice in a pan with some salt, pepper, garlic and ginger. Cook them until they're about as done. Then move veggies to the edges of the pan, exposing bare pan in the middle. Put butter/oil there. Crack eggs into the area. Stir everything until the eggs scramble around the veggies. Serve with steamed rice if you can eat it.

* Use a pressure cooker/instant pot. This cooks a soup in a whole lot less time. If using an instant pot, turn the thing on "saute" and start cooking (sear the meat, cook brown some onions, or just put the water in the pot.). Basically, it's on saute so it can start heating up while you keep chopping/harvesting/adding/finding more ingredients. Asyou get your ingredients throw them all in, even frozen uncooked meat. Once you've got everything in there, turn it off saute and put the manual for like 15-25 minutes (latter time if using a chunk of frozen meat). It'll pressurize pretty fast because most everything is heated up, and you'll get food pretty soon! The soup is HOT. So, throw ice cubes in the kids' soups so they're at their preferred luke-warm, non-scalding temps sooner. Done!
 
gardener
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I make 5-6 servings of dinner with the crock pot. One recipe I like a lot is several frozen chicken breasts, several cups of carrots, several cups of red lentils, and seasoned with a mix of garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. I add enough water to cover it all and cook on high for 4 hours. Hands on time is 10 minutes to fill the pot and then dish out the servings. Your family can eat a lot of dinner, and save the rest for lunch the next day. I package them up, eat one, toss 1 in the fridge, and the rest in the freezer. I do the same with stew meat, carrots, peas, and potatoes with some seasoning. As I pull out a dish from the fridge to eat, I move another from the freezer to the fridge so it thaws out.

I don't have any red clothing (which seems to bleed color the most), and I only use cold water to wash, so i never bother to sort the clothes, and just do a load when the basket reaches 1 load in size.

That's all that I can think of that I'm doing which might translate to homestead living time savers, good luck!
 
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Chefs trick:  Instead of mincing your garlic... put a bit of salt on the cutting board... then place the peeled garlic cloves on it and press it with the large flat of your knife. Slide the knife and garlic across the salt which grips the garlic.  Turns the garlic to paste... much better and faster than mincing.
 
pollinator
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A lot of hacks for me regard observation. For instance knowing how long it takes to do certain things. Like my chainsaw, I can cut 14 trees before gasing up. By knowing that, I can fill up when I am close to the fuel and bar oil and not have to stop and walk a long way to fill up.

My screw gun is the same way, getting an idea how much work it can do before it runs out of battery allows me to chose using it for a job, or getting an extension cord and my corded drill.

Overall I just had wasted steps. Like cleaning the house. I make piles on the kitchen table for each room that things need to be returned too. No need to make repeated trips to the 5 years old bedroom, just one pile, then have her take it back. The same for the other kids.

Firewood used to nothing but steps: Fell, limb, buck, load a trailer, haul, unload, buck into 16 inch lengths, split, pick up and load onto trailer, throw in the woodshed, pick up and store in the house, finally...BURN. No more. I fell, then hoovering the wood over my dump body with my log loader, buck so it falls into the body. Then I dump outside the woodshed and push it in. Then I haul it into the house, then I burn. It went from 14 steps to 4. BIG DIFFERENCE.

Building fence is the same way. It is not building the fence that is tough, it is all the walking! Reduce steps, and build as you go, and things are easier.
 
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I plan many things to save time and effort.
The best tip when building with ladders
= wear a tool belt
= don't drop tools
= always carry something on a trip anywhere
= have a trailer or bin for rubbish and put things in immediately they are rubbish
On my property I have a couple of boxes in the back of my ute.
When I spot rubbish or items I an collecting IE Empty bottles are used as fill
I pop them into the specific box and empty it when ever I am passing the spot they are being used or dumped.
 
Amit Enventres
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Travis,  that's an excellent point! Systems analysis for streamlining includes step reduction as well as doing those steps the easiest way, or avoiding the task entirely.
It seems like an oxymoron since homesteading we choose to do a lot of otherwise out-sourced tasks, but I don't do it because I want to do the tasks persay, I just don't like how they are done or how much they cost when out- sourced.

I heard that you can just use garment bags in the wash to keep clothes sorted. With 3 people it wasn't so bad, but now with 4 I think I will try it. Additionally, we have a laundry chute. That saves a step. However, we currently spend a lot of time tossing hard laundry baskets around to get them back to the basement. I think switching to things we can throw down the laundry chute would help get the bins back down faster.

Speaking of step reduction, we're getting rid of carpet. Not just does that mean no vacuum, and less gross, but it also means I can sweep large items in the correct direction or up enmass rather than hand picking up.

Here's a random food hack: icecream+milk in a tall coffee cup + a few pumps up and down with a whisk makes a milk shake. No need to dirty the blender.

Another one is my immersion blender fits in a canning jar (wide mouth or store metal) so I can turn beans to cindensed bean soup or chickpeas to humus without dirtying much.

Back to efficiency of steps: I always leave a vegetable cutting board and knife out ready for use. Same with the rolling pin. Nothing on them is going to result in food poisoning, so I don't bother cycling them through the sink and cupboard.

 
Amit Enventres
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John,  good point! When I clean around the house I end up walking back and forth with rubbish. If I carry a bag with me I'd save time. Maybe I can carry one for each kid/ adult too to merge in Travis's suggestion.
 
Travis Johnson
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There was a guy on YouTube that had a channel dedicated to Lean Farming. He seemed like a great guy and had some good points, but took things a bit too far. It actually got to the point where he was breaking down steps to the point of pointing them out took more time then just doing them. He did a video on brushing his teeth and it just got kind of absurd. But when he was talking about hay or wool, he had some strong points.

A lot of time saving hacks for homesteading are hard to calculate though. I just spent about 4 hours putting hay around my tiny house to help insulate the fieldstone foundation from cold infiltrating in. It is 4 hours spent, but how much time will that save from thawing frozen pipes? From repairing busted pipes from frozen pipes? From loading the stove a few extra times a day? From having to harvest more firewood to get through winter? The point is, often the little stuff really adds up to time savings. But when a person works a real job, and there is only weekends, holidays and vacations to devote to homesteading where the tasks seem unending, it is morally debilitating.

I no longer have time restraints, but when I did, I would do a list. I would jot down everything I wanted to get done (say a days time) then write down how much time I would feel it would take to do each task. Lets say something would take me an hour to do, and I had an hour before lunch, I would knock out that job, then take on the 3 hour job after lunch. That really was using my time well, but often times, without a list I forgot I had that 1 hour job to do.
 
Mark Tudor
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Good point about lists Travis, I've used a dry erase board before to keep track of to-do items where I would see them regularly, more recently using an app for that, and including if I needed any prep before starting. Then if there was a day of chores to do I could plan around that.
 
Amit Enventres
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Lists are great. Sometimes I make them just to get things out of my head so I can focus on other things or see what best would be the work flow or priorities.

Raking hay sounds like an important task that has a high return value in time savings in the case of the stone foundation. Raking hay here would have a negative return value because, besides not having a stone foundation, we have massive amounts of leaves that pile up near the house covering things we don't want covered (walkways, grass. Seedlings, low tinnels, etc.). On the other hand,  planting deciduous trees within wind reach of your house might save you on raking. Putting up netting on areas where I don't want leaves to stay and get tangled in the foliage here might save me time on raking. Very situational.

Timing is huge on homesteading efficiency. Weeding when the weeds are weak saves time in the future.  Planting when the seed is going to be the most vigorous saves time on reseeding and weeding. However, since time is limited, sometimes I need to plant in an awkward time. Or I can't properly attack the weeds when it's ideal to attack them. Then I do this complicated equation of return and value of the task. For instance, plucking thistle is a high return task.  Pulling lawn grass is a low return task. So, I might once-over the garden for high return weeds daily, but only do a sit-and-pull monthly for those with a low return rate. However, if the low return rate weeds are interfering with another high rate task, then they get high priority for removal. This sort of complicated logic drives my hubby insane because my priorities always seem to be in flux.
 
Amit Enventres
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More hacks:

A lot of early spring plants can be seeded in fall, saving you space in your spring rush.

A push broom makes a fine leaf rake and I think it's gentler on things, plus you can use it pushing and pulling.

Put a net over things annoying to leaf rake so you can just lift the net to remove the leaves. Or, use a tarp if your not talking plants.

Always make walk-through trellises a little taller than comfortable so when the vines dip down you don't feel uncomfortable.

Put the shoe rack and jackets and a chair by the door. Include a pair of slip-on shoes. Your less likely to get dirt tracked in.

Hard floors and rugs are easier to clean than carpet. You can use the broom to push the clutter side and then sweep the dirt without doing a full clean-up.

Have kid-usable tools if you have kids so they can help with the tasks, or learn to.

Keep a bucket of water and a pouring cup near house plants that need regular watering. Same thing with humidifiers.

Don't weed plants that aren't causing issues. This includes annuals at the end of the season, unless there's some aesthetic you need to keep and mulch won't do it.

Don't shovel when the ground is hard. Soften it if you have to with water.

Use a cart to move buckets of heavy things instead of brute strength, if possible. The extra energy saved can be used elsewhere.

Prep your supplies and outline the task before doing it so you don't run around looking for things. I almost always garden with a utility belt.

Research new tasks and easier ways to get them done before starting them. I so often find something better than I came up with in my own brain online.  

Wrap all bedding in the bottom sheet to carry to the laundry instead of pulling it apart one- by-one. It can be pulled apart just enough when it goes in the washer.

Have enough rags, socks, pens, and other small loosable items that you can always find one quickly.

A key finder for keys and other loosable items has helped us absent minded ones.

A lock box to our door helps us and our family get in and out without keys.  

A quick release between two often separated keys is useful.

There's a spot in our fence that's set up to be quickly opened without damaging the fence, so I can get big items in and out easier. It's screwed in on inside and tied on the other.

Orient paths so the wind blows them clean of leaves, if possible. Our front path has a slight angle toward the wind direction with no curb on the down-wind side, which gives it a nice auto-leaf blowing.












 
Travis Johnson
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It is hard to get around petroleum on the homestead because of all its uses, so these are a few hacks regarding just them:

Have plenty of fuel on hand. My back up generator is diesel powered so I have several hundred gallons in storage, that way if there is an extended power outage, I can have the house lit without having to panic about getting to the store.

I have at least 10-15 gallons of gasoline for chainsaws, lawn mowers, etc.

Bar and Chain Oil? I have not bought that in 20 years. I use spent motor oil, vegtable oil, hydraulic oil...any kind of oil. A bar is $30 for a chainsaw and will last at least 100 cord of wood. That is cheap compared to $10 per gallon bar and chain oil that still does not save your bar from wear. Don't waste your money on it.

Some oils are required. in gearboxes, they need GEAR OIL!

Still, ANY OIL is better than no oil. In a pinch, anything will do. 2 stroke mixing oil for chainsaw gas? I have used 10w-40 before.

WD-40 makes a much better CLEANER than a lubricant

Got a stuck bolt? Try acetone mixed with transmission fluid at 50/50 ratio. You will NEVER use anything else again.

Ivory soap is amazing outside of the bathroom. When I need to drive a screw in deep, I coat the threads in Ivory Soap and my screwgun sends it home.

A friend is a housemover and an 80 x 100 foot barn once moved 8 feet due to the wind alone; the barn was sitting on wooden skids on other wooden skids coated with Ivory soap.

Always check the fluids before starting a machine. I have had vandals, leaks, and surprises sometimes that would have cost me a fortune if I had not.

Full synethic oil is always worth the extra cost. It has everything that is required, and nothing that doesn't unlike mineral oil that has contaminents by its very natural make up

Because of the two reasons above, I seldom change my oil; my equipment is old and still functioning, my cars go to 250,000 miles, and I am not wasting money on oil changes. Run full sythetic oil, check it often, and keep the oil full and the engine will be sounds for years and years.

Grease is cheap, use plenty of it

Cheap grease guns are a lesson in frustration. If they are a pain to use, they are not used. That makes greasing a fitting harder later on...or fixing the worn out bushing. Buy quality grease guns.





 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:

I HATE that socks come in multicolor packs.

When the kids were young, one of them got grey socks, the other black. I knew *exactly* who to call if socks were left abandoned! We had two bins in the bedroom, "light" and "dark" and the kids knew by age 4 to sort their stuff. This had the added advantage that one kid's socks landed in each bin! I made sure that racks were "kid-height" so coats got hung and I started very early at giving them "kid-sized" responsibilities. Similarly, in the kitchen the shelves for plates/bowls/cups for everyday use are actually in a pantry closet near the kitchen table rather than over the counter where a) the kids couldn't reach and b) setting the table would potentially interfere with dinner prep.

I know that having kids generates a lot of extra laundry, but I don't buy into the "wash everything constantly" motto: socks and underwear get changed ~daily, shirts got 1-3 days depending on what the wearer's been up to, jeans can often go 5-7 days. I make loose "cover pants" that fit over top my indoor pants and they stay at the door so the dirt doesn't move so far in. That doesn't work so well in the summer, but it sure works for our wet season. Similarly, in the bathroom everyone has their own bath-towel rack so the big towels don't need to be washed as often, even though the hand towel does.

We used Rubbermaid totes for a lot of things, and I wish they hadn't been dumbed down! We use the tall ones for bringing firewood into the house, load the fire right out of them, and it keeps a lot of the tree-duff under control. I use the short ones for laundry baskets and I find they last longer. I even made a wood + hardware cloth lid for the medium height one and use it as a "chicken hospital" - it's easy to clean and is the first step - if it looks as if the chicken will recover, she will be moved to a "rehab" shelter that's bigger when I feel she needs more space.

Saving time with cooking is really hard. Making nice meals is important for social reasons as well as nutrition. My eldest son has *always* loved ice and cold things so if I was cooking frozen veggies for dinner and he was "Hungry Now", I'd give him a bowl and any that he didn't eat before I was ready to cook the rest, got added to the pot. I regularly cook what we refer to as "planned overs" - that makes it sound so much better and intentional! To make it work though, one really does have to have a plan! Sometimes that plan is to cook double and freeze the extra for a later quick meal. That's harder to do the more mouths being fed.
 
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John C Daley wrote:I plan many things to save time and effort.
= always carry something on a trip anywhere



I learned that one when waiting tables, an occupation where saving time and steps can reach a high art form. If you are going to the kitchen to get something, grab something (dirty dishes) that needs to go there anyway, and save a trip.

In conjunction with the above tip, use both hands as often as possible. If you just observe your own behavior you may be surprised how often you only carry one thing in your main hand when you could find something else to carry. For awkward-to-carry things, use your main hand to load up your off-hand first; it's easier to grab things one-handed with your main hand. If you have stairs, place a small table next to each landing to place things that need to be carried up/down the next time you are going that way.

Perform tasks 'in bulk' whenever possible, i.e. if you're cleaning a mirror, might as well do the windows as well while you're at it and have those tools out. Getting started is often the hard part and you've already managed that!

An apron can easily hold as much as an extra pair of hands.

Prepare in slow times for busy times.

Don't be afraid to ask for help; pitch in when you see others in need of help. Two can often complete a task in less than half the time. A seemingly overwhelming task often becomes much less so, simply for knowing you don't have to do it all alone.
 
Travis Johnson
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Things break!

Having a toolbox and set of basic wenches on a tractor or piece of equipment will save a lot of time when they do. I just buy cheap sets of tools at Harbor Freight or whatever because they get lost so often, but I also include clevises, bolts, nuts, washers, lynch pins, etc. This will save a lot of walking back from where things break, to the homestead, and then back out. Most of the time it is just little repairs that need to be made, but lets face it, without tools, humans are kind of useless.
 
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Great thread. To me there's is more actual wisdom in this one thread than any 10 others! <g>   And I almost missed it...

I can only add this one thing: Reduce your work load. When there is a way to do less, like living w/bare floors vs. carpets, that kind of thing. Consider and recognize what _must_ be done vs. what _may_ be done. Do the latter only as there is "free" time. Re-evaluate regularly.


Cheers
Rufus

 
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I always did mine more like this assigning one big task per day of week, then by the end of the month the whole would be done.
(x4) Monday is Wash clothes/floors/windows Day; Tuesday is Ironing/Sewing Day; Wednesday is Garden Day; Thursday is Market Day; Friday is Cleaning Day; Saturday is Baking/Meal Prep/Canning Day; and Sunday is to be a Day of Rest. )

as for laundry I always just stack each persons clothes on there beds and they put them away. if there old enough to open a drawer they can put there clothes away. and the more chores kids do the better for you and them.
theres a lot of age lists out there but this ones my favorite.
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Travis Johnson wrote: Full synethic oil is always worth the extra cost. It has everything that is required, and nothing that doesn't unlike mineral oil that has contaminants by its very natural make up

Because of the two reasons above, I seldom change my oil; my equipment is old and still functioning, my cars go to 250,000 miles, and I am not wasting money on oil changes. Run full synthetic oil, check it often, and keep the oil full and the engine will be sounds for years and years.



Yes, true synthetic oil is a great thing. I have done oil analysis after 25,000 miles and it indicated the oil was still good. Note that most Mobil 1 is no longer full synthetic, only their most expensive version is. Travis, do you change the filter on your vehicles or just keep adding oil as needed? No oil changes in 250,000 miles sounds brilliant if true.
 
Jerry McIntire
Posts: 128
Location: Coastal temperate deciduous forest (Boston) - zone 6b - 44" rain/year
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solar tiny house trees
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This one deserves its own thread! Thanks

"Don't shovel when the ground is hard. Soften it if you have to with water."
 
pollinator
Posts: 202
Location: Galicia, Spain
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I always take a full jar of petrol/ oil mix with me when strimming so I dont gave to go back to refuel.  Stops me from using the excuse for a tea break which jyst prolongs the task. I always walk the dogs past the village rubbish bins and take any rubbish with me to save taking it out later. I get my hysband to bring me tea in bed so I can browse permies before getting up to walk the pooches. That's my fav time saver!
 
Whose rules are you playing by? This tiny ad doesn't respect those rules:
Self-Sufficiency in MO -- 10 acres of Eden, looking for a renter who can utilize and appreciate it.
https://permies.com/t/95939/Sufficiency-MO-acres-Eden-renter
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