Cutting Back and Refocusing

Cutting Back and Refocusing

Cutting Back

November lull – I love it or dread it depending on the moment. There’s little going on now that hunting seasons are just about over. The chickens, a duck and the turkeys have been butchered and frozen. The garden is done and the pile of topsoil moved to the edge of the high tunnel. There’s some “oh-my-gawd it’s going to snow and I haven’t cleaned up the lawn” work to do. I want to top off the firewood in the wood shed, fill the wood rack in the house, and replenish the stacks on the back porch. There’s not a lot left to do after that other than move some more firewood for next winter into the high tunnel.

I’m eager to get back to baking bread, hanging clothes to dry on a rack by the fire rather than sucking up electricity with the dryer, and writing. Cutting back doesn’t mean spare time. Cutting back means a little more sanity when we get through this process.

Hunting Seasons

Most of my time this month spent hunting. I put in more hours for deer than I did in September when I harvested my black bear. I saw a buck under one of our apple trees on the next to last day of rifle season. A good look at his antlers (four points) and a better look at his rump as he walked away from me and into the woods without there being an ethical shot was all I got. He was on the game camera early in the morning of the last day but didn’t show up during legal hunting time. Steve saw a buck he couldn’t get a shot at, a few does, and had a great encounter with a young doe on the last day.

Black powder? Apparently so as Steve bought me a muzzle loader.

4

Sitting still day after day for weeks gives a girl a lot of time to think. I think it’s time to cut down on what I do here on the homestead, and I’m starting with food, a part of homesteading I’m most passionate about. Most of our vegetables can be grown in the high tunnel. There are a few things, like bush beans, that need to be grown outside for the sake of space. The weed problem must be conquered. I spent more time picking weeds than beans this year. Next year I’ll stick to the high tunnel and leave the rest to Shannah at Mustard Seed Farm. I have a mental list of veggies to buy from her and I’m sure there are some she’ll grow we don’t yet know we need.

Poultry

We raised seven turkeys this year. One wasn’t picked up so I roasted it for Thanksgiving. That leaves an extra 31 pound turkey in the freezer. We have two 31 pounders and another somewhere around 15 pounds. We don’t have extra chickens so I started looking around for someone to raise our meat chickens. I’ll be buying pastured chickens from my sister Melissa’s friend. We’ll also buy beef from her starting the first chance I have to pick it up. Our side of pork went to the butcher on November 25 and will be back in packages in two to three weeks. Wayne and Joe and Phoenix Rising Farm raised great pigs. I’ll cure the bacon and season the sausage for a pig and a half.

We’re keeping nine chickens and eight ducks for a total of 12 or 13 egg layers. We’ve been chicken-free for only six months of the last 18 years so it’s unlikely we’ll go without chickens or ducks. I’ll be looking for someone to tend to the birds when we want to be away overnight.

Break Out the Bon Bons!

So what happens with all this free time? Bon bons, coffee and soap operas, folks. That’s my future. hahaha I can’t even. Can’t even write that with a straight face. There are other things we’ll hire out, and I’ll talk about them next year as the times come. I’ll spend the time working full time so I can finish writing a book or two. I’m cutting back on a lot of things to make time to write something more than freelance articles and this blog. I have two half-written books to finish. They might never be read by anyone but me but the writing will be finished. House renovations are underway and I’m planning on some redecorating.

Life has been crazy. I spent too many hours hunting. Next year we’ll change up what we do to try something new. Being responsible for 100% of the housework and 95% of the cooking on top of working a full time job, and on top of homesteading work for food and heat nuts. Steve’s working full time plus and tackling some big renovation projects as well as the new food plot. There’s more but you get the idea.

“I can kill myself trying to do it all and make myself miserable with half-assed work and failure, or I can hire people to do things for me.” Robin Follette, 2016. Change is good even though decisions about cutting back are hard. If everything stayed the same life would be awfully boring.

I’ll be here more often, and with more than recipes.  There’s plenty to write about when you live a life in the wild and thanks to cutting back, I have time.

7 thoughts on “Cutting Back and Refocusing

  1. I feel similarly about all the work involved in trying to be somewhat self reliant. I grew 50 meat chickens for me and my son’s family but they were processed in July. Recently, I butchered 15 rabbits and last Monday had my 6 turkeys done. Right now, I’m considering not doing so many chickens and not doing turkeys next year. I know when the sun gets higher and the days warmer, I’ll be looking at the Myer’s Poultry Farm brochure and Maine Poultry Connection FB page for chicks and poults. Is it spring without chicks in the kitchen?

    1. I will miss the chickens. I don’t mind moving tractor and fencing, scrubbing waterers and the rest of the work, it’s the time it takes to do the job as a whole well.

  2. Nice read… it reminds me of how I grew up in PA – almost everything was grown and harvested from the farm. I live such a different life now in a resort town in SC and my retreat to the woods to hunt is like going home. Thanks for stirring memories of those times.

  3. I’m with Maggie the woods are my retreat. Unfortunately once you get the deer it is a day of butchering. I also work full time, raise my own food, and have plenty of extra. I am thankful for a husband that also cooks and does the laundry. I can’t wait to read some of your projects.

    1. After spending weeks in the woods, almost daily, without seeing a deer, it’s a burden. Retreating for me is getting back to the house so I can sit down to work. Four weeks of deer season turned up one rump walking through the brush away from me. It’s a lot of time to sit and think about all the paying work and book not being written.

      1. I can feel your frustration! It is not easy to do the work of hunting.
        Many times it is romanticized, but we hunters know the reality. When you are out in the woods, you can’t believe that the woods are not filled with wildlife and that any given moment you will see that long anticipated deer walk in.

        I am enjoying your blog and look forward to reading more. Thanks, Maggie

  4. I’m with you…I’d rather cut back so that I can spend more time doing the things I enjoy doing. When it becomes too much work, it’s no longer fun…I love filling the freezer but the garden is over run with weeds and so I may just kill it for next year and support the local farmers’ market…as for firewood, I still hate doing it, but that’s not going away anytime soon. At least I can let go of the laundry (in my house you’re lucky if it’s washed and don’t ever expect it folded and put away unless they do it) and major housework. It eventually gets done, but life is short, so enjoy it! Can’t wait to read more of your blogs and I promise I’ll read your book!

Comments are closed.

Comments are closed.