If you were farming this past spring, you probably got caught up in the usual scenario—rushing around trying to check things off of the never-ending to-do list, desperately pulling weeds as they grew, moving chickens and goats from pasture to pasture as quickly as possible, etc., etc.
Well, the slow season has started. Why not make the most of it and try to figure out ways to stay sane next spring? After all, farming is something you love to do. Why not make it manageable?
Late fall and winter are good times to review the year and think up ways to improve the next growing season. If you put it off until spring, chances are you’ll be too busy keeping your head above the water to think about how to make keeping your head above the water easier.
Not all of these time-saving tips will work for every situation. You’ll have to sort through them and see what fits your family and your farm. But they are certainly worth considering:
- Set up a routine. If you already have a set time to water the garden, for example, you’ll spend much less time trying to figure out if it needs to be done. Of course, this routine should still be somewhat flexible. For instance, if it rains, you don’t need to water the garden, which will give you more time to tackle another task.
- Include a little leeway in the routine. It is almost a given that if you are in a hurry something will happen to slow you down. Cut yourself some slack to deal with the unexpected. If everything goes smoothly, use your extra time to knock some of the other items off your to-do list.
- Carry a notepad with you. Sometimes odd projects and repairs need to be addressed even though they don’t really fit into a regular routine. Write them down as they arise so that they don’t go untouched until a crisis occurs.
- Match your projects to the weather. Some projects are very weather-dependent, such as planting field crops. If you don’t get your seeds in the ground while you have time, you may never have another chance. On the other hand, you can clean out that toolshed just about any day. Save that for those rainy spells when there’s nothing time-pressing going on.
- Break large projects into small steps. When you’re faced with one of those daunting tasks, divide and conquer. Set a daily goal. If you drive in a dozen fence posts every day, the fence will eventually be built. If you weed one or two rows of vegetables every day, you will eventually catch up with the garden.
- Create a rough plan over the winter. Of course, you never really know what is going to happen until it happens, but if you have a rough plan going into the growing season, you stand a better chance of keeping up with things. Sketch out a garden map. Revisit your crop rotations. Yes, you’ll need to adjust as the year progresses, but you’ll be less likely to forget what needs to happen when.
- Prevent the crisis before it happens. Crisis prevention is generally more efficient than crisis management. As you gain experience with what needs to be done when, you will learn how to think ahead and prevent many disasters from happening. For instance, you will mulch the garden before the weeds really start to grow, thus preventing a weed crisis.
- Use time-saving tools wisely. Tools and machinery are handy to have in many situations, but they require maintenance, too. Before investing in time-saving equipment, do an honest evaluation of whether the device will save you time or cost you time. Often the answer has to do with scale. The smaller your operation, the less likely it is that special equipment will help you.
- Check your priorities. Are you serving God and others, or are you just keeping yourself busy checking off goals? When we choose to ignore our biblical priorities, things tend to get messy.
- Just do it. Procrastination is a huge time-killer, but it unfortunately seems to be something most of us do at some point in our lives. Sometimes we just need to buckle down and get the job done.
Meanwhile, take a breather and enjoy the upcoming holidays. Come spring, you’ll be all refreshed and ready to go again.