What are you doing today?

"What are you doing today" or "What did you do today?"

I get asked those two questions quite often and knowing that it's really just a conversation starter, I usually reply by saying, "Not much" or "Oh, just all the usual things."

So, what exactly is "not much" or "all the usual things"?

Well, every morning and every evening, seven days a week, the cows have to be milked and the animals have to be fed. When you have dairy cows, you can't ever sleep in because they need to be milked on a schedule. This also means if we do anything away from the farm, we have to leave after the morning milking and arrive home before the evening milking. Milking takes us anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes per milking. There are always variables like how many cows are in milk at any given time, how bad the stables happen to be and how much manure we need to shovel, whether we run into any complications that need our immediate attention, and how cooperative the cows are being. Currently we are milking five cows with one of them being a new heifer that is learning the ropes. We do not have a fancy milking parlor where we can milk multiple cows at the same time, so we milk them one at a time. When the bucket gets full, we stop and pour the milk into milk totes. In addition to the cows being milked and fed, we have to feed the calves, goats and chickens. When I do the milking/feeding by myself, it takes me approximately 1.5 hours per milking. When Mike helps me, it takes about 45-60 minutes. So, at a minimum, I am spending at least two hours a day in the barnyard. (Working with the animals is my favorite time of the whole day)

After each milking, I then need to strain the milk and pour it into the glass jars. After this task is finished, the milker needs to be washed and sterilized. This process usually takes me a total of about 20-30 minutes per milking.

Monday through Thursday between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm are my "pick up days" for my share members. During this time, I greet folks who are coming to pick up their milk, take their empty jars and exchange them for jars of raw, creamline, Jersey milk. I then take all of those clean jars and wash and sterilize them to get them ready to be used again.

While waiting on share members to arrive, I spend the time that I have available mid day to use up some of the excess milk that we have. On any give day you might find me making butter, sour cream, or various types of cheese. Depending on what type of cheese I am making, the process can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 4 hours. (Just to give you an idea of how much milk goes through my kitchen, we are averaging about 12 gallons a day right now. 12 gallons of milk x 7 days a week equals 84 gallons of milk that has to be processed, sent out to share members or made in to cheese. I also use some of it to clabber and feed to my hens.)

When I get an abundance of cheese or butter I also spend this time vacuum sealing them so that they can be frozen for long term storage.

This is also the time of day when I clean house, do laundry and bake bread and desserts from scratch. Most days I prep my evening meal knowing if I don't, that it will be eight o'clock before I have everything finished and we are able to eat. (In the summer we often do not eat until nine or ten o'clock.) Most folks do not realize, unless they also prepare their meals using something other than processed "food", just how time consuming it can be to prepare food from scratch.

Mid day is also my "down time" when I try to update my blog and post on the Face Book page that I created to promote the farm through a social networking site. While I very much enjoy writing it does take time and effort to come up with (hopefully) interesting and relevant posts.

This is my "basic" schedule in the winter months with Friday and Saturday being my days to run errands and catch up on things outside the house. Sunday, in addition to the daily chores, we also attend church and try to find the time to go out to eat and go for a ride, visit an antique store, or do something fun for a few hours before heading back home to milk.

That is my basic winter schedule. Spring, Summer and Fall bring in addition to the above schedule planting the garden and opening the produce stand at least four days a week. During the summer anytime I am not outside working in the garden, I am in the kitchen canning and freezing fruit and produce.

So there you have it................what I am actually doing when I say I am doing "nothing"!


WeldrBrat said...

I'm gonna make sure to keep a link to this specific post! Not only do you give me inspiration. I'm hoping others in our family will take time to read what you've just shared and gain more understanding. I just might be able to get some of our family to understand - maybe. Maybe. LOL Thanks for sharing!!!

Deb said...

LOL yeah, I say that all the time too, but while I am not as busy as you are, I do keep busy...especially lately, and it's just a lot of little things usually that take up my time. Things I don't really think about much, but that have to be done. I could do better...but somehow the time slips by and I find I still have things I could have done, but am out of time. Probably why I'll never be a wonderful housekeeper, the dusting gets put on the back burner cause there are other more important (and even more fun) things to do...least to me. LOL