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The truth about farming

Recently my blog-friend Ohio Farmgirl reposted an excellent post entitled "the truth about farming", dedicated to her friend who had once said "evenings on your farm must be so relaxing". That post really made me smile because I could relate to everything OFG was saying and its just nice to know that I'm not the only one who has chook poo on my jeans and dirt under my fingernails!
evenings on your farm must be so relaxing
Pete and I both work full time, so our farm doesn't have to make us a living.  But at the same time, we are trying to take care of our animals and prepare our food AND go to work.  I'm not sure which one is harder!  But I do know I'd rather be doing what I do than living in the city and relying on someone else to grow everything for me.  I like to know where my food comes from, and its particularly gratifying when we have a situation like the floods of the past few years, when we were cut off from town, with not a worry in the world.

I thought you might find it useful, if you're thinking about how lovely it would be to have a small-farm yourself and grow your own food, just to let you know how much work is involved on a daily basis.  It all depends on the time of year and the number of animals living here at the time, but this is a typical day's farm work:

Before work (work starts at 7am, we leave at 6:30am)
If we are milking a cow twice daily: get up at 5am, milk cow, put milk in fridge, let chickens out to free-range.

Otherwise, get up at 5:30am and let chickens out.

Cook eggs on toast for breakfast, prepare leftover dinner to take for lunch.  Give dogs bones so they don't bark as we drive away.

After work (work finishes at 3:30pm, we get home just before 4pm)
Check on all chickens, top up food and water as required, this can be up to 6 tractors to check.  Collect eggs.

Feed cattle one scoop of grain each, check cattle water (depending which paddock they're in).

If we are milking daily, milk cow.  If we are milking once a week, separate cow from calf (and milk the next morning, usually weekend only).

Check garden for anything that needs harvesting, weeding or mulching.  Water garden.  Somehow find time to plant more seeds, check on seedlings, put worm tea on garden etc.

Throw ball for dogs.

In winter, light the woodstove.

Come inside when it gets dark.  Cook dinner from garden veges and meat out of the freezer + a few bulk pantry staples.

We had a free medical check-up at work and I was told that I don't get enough "organised exercise" (I put 2 hours/day of "farm work" on the form).  I told the doctor that I don't have time to exercise because I'm so busy walking around the farm (which by the way is rather steep) with buckets of water, grain and hay, digging in my garden and unloading firewood from the ute!  Funny that I passed the fitness test!

There are also a few things that make our life easier compared to other part-time farmers.  We both work at the same place, only 10 minutes drive from home, so we have virtually no commuting time (with previous jobs we have had up to 90 minutes of driving each way, so we appreciate the difference this makes).  We also don't have kids, and I'm sure I don't have to explain how this makes a difference to our time management!  We also don't spend much time socialising or volunteering, we have to make an effort to do that more often I think.

I'm not complaining about how much we do, for the most part it is enjoyable, kind of a hobby that keeps us occupied, and fed, at the same time.  I don't know what we would do with our time otherwise!  If you're thinking that you'd like to do something similar, I hope this will help you get an idea of the work involved.

As for relaxing..... the other day I tried to have an afternoon lie-down and between the guinea fowl squawking and Donald the bull roaring, I didn't get a minute's rest!

What's your farming truth?

If you want to know more about house cows, my eBook is available for purchase on Scribd.  Its only $4.99, and it includes lots of information about keeping a house cow in Australia.  There's more details about the eBook on my house cow eBook blog.  If you don't want to go through all the Scribd/paypal effort, just send me an email on eight.acres.liz at and I can arrange to email it to you instead.


  1. Hi Liz, We are similar to you, time management is a nightmare for us. Here is a typical week for me;
    Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; get up at 5am, make breakfast and study for an hour then feed the animals (chooks, guinea fowl, sheep, rabbit, galahs, any animal in care and dogs)then shower and on the bus to work by 7.30am.
    Work from 9am to 3pm then on the bus back home by 4.45pm.
    The afternoon chores are, clean house (wash up and sweep floor mostly), chop wood for fire (heats the water for showers) and fit in an hour's study. My daughter cooks tea then we watch a DVD while I knit, spin or sew.

    On Wednesday, Saturday and every second Friday I do all that but instead of going to work I study (bachelor of education, primary) and try to fit in some gardening or animal work.
    On Sunday we all (my partner, daughter and me) sleep in to about 7am and then try to do one major job on the farm (such as dig a new toilet pit or move the sheep fencing).
    I also go to tarot classes every second Friday, meaning I am gone for the whole day as I don't have a car and so take the school bus.
    It is hard to fit everything into life living in the bush, but it is worth it. I love the quiet few minutes in the morning when I feed the animals and check all the garden beds; there is so much peace there and all seems right with the world for that short time. I think we appreciate those moments much more because they are so few and far between.
    Living this way is not for everyone, but I love it.

  2. I often wonder what normal people do with their time. We fill our spare time with chopping wood, cooking from scratch, tending the animals and garden, working on the house extension, mowing lawns and fixing fences. Then there is the worry about not enough rain or too much rain. Its fun though and I wouldn't swap it.

  3. I'm not sure about organized exercise, could be that it isn't a natural thing. The exercise you get is probably better as it involves normal human activity. I wouldn't worry about what the doc says.

  4. Liz - Hubby and I raised 5 children on the farm, and for us it was a full time total commitment, no other source of income, (unless you count the year I day-cared two extra children for a working Mom in order to buy a new refrigerator). All our days began at 5:30, many of them ended with night chores at 9:00. Lots of hard work for us and no hired help! Funny, what the kids remember are the evenings they turned somersaults in the grass with Dad while Mom got supper in the kitchen! The kids grew up, we moved to town, and we still miss the farm. It sort of roots itself down in your soul. Hubby always said farming was a hard way to make a living, but the best way to make a life. And we still think so!

  5. My farming truth is a funny one - I don't make a good farmer, lol. This would have to be the number one reality people face when they move to the country for a lifestyle change. They learn their limitations and how difficult it is to make a living out of it.

    That's what I mean by I don't make a good farmer. I may want to be one with all my heart, but until we can turn a profit from it to make a living (whether that involves trading for similar valued goods and/or for money) we're not technically farmers.

  6. I love this post!

    Our farm is much smaller and we are never milking cows. We also do not have children.

    I usually get to work from home for my Day Job, when I'm not travelling. So I wake up, have breakfast and go to work. Then I squeeze in the chores through-out the day and at some point I finally get a shower. ;-)

  7. It sounds as though you have your routines all organized. I suppose working on the farm did not fit into an assigned box on the doctors sheet!

  8. One evening recently my parents called for a chat, after a short time talking I said I had to go because my dinner was ready. "What?!", my dad exclaimed, " we ate three hours ago." I hadn't thought about it until then but I realised our evening meal times had slowly been creeping later and later. First thing in the morning and the last few hours of daylight (and often a little bit more) are the busiest times. Its often well past dark before we even think about what's for dinner. :)

  9. "Everyday is exactly the same – and radically different" - this is our farming reality. Weekends have become an odd concept - the animals still need feeding, there are still eggs to collect, vegetables to harvest, weeds to remove, seeds to plant, bread to bake, meals to cook... We do have two days a week that are set apart - because there is even more work to do. Those are share distribution days - no weeding on those days, it's all about getting the vegetables harvested, cooled, sorted, and boxed. After that 8+ hour day, we spend 5 hours making deliveries.

  10. Just loved this post , and I love that a product of a good post is really good comments to read through too .
    It is funny when I get to work and people are talking about their 'busy' morning which is making school lunches , hanging out washing ....and I am thinking about the cows I moved and the goat I milked as well as the lunches and the washing. When you work and farm (which is work too of course) , it is like fitting two lives into one. But I wouldn't have it any other way ... though the aim is to just farm one day .
    My husband always has a chuckle at the farm stay visitor who wanted to know why he still had his work clothes on a Sunday and David's reply was , 'Unfortunately cows don't understand this 'weekend thing'.'

  11. Sounds as if you are getting lots of excellent exercise as well as very healthy food - definitely a healthy if very hardworking lifestyle! My veggies are rampaging everywhere, I struggle to find enough time to keep them under control, so full of admiration for your ability to look after livestock with full-time work too.

  12. I don't think I could get up that early. I love my sleep. It's nice that you finish work early too though. That must make it easier to get farm chores done while it's still light.
    What a funny comment about your lack of organized exercise. Does it not count if it's not in a gym?
    I'm glad you and Pete have embraced this life. I think you are doing a community service living sustainably, improving the land around you and writing your blog. We can't do everything!

  13. Great post! I loved reading about your daily farm life....not that much different then ours!


  14. People always think I get up early because we live on a farm! I just laugh...I am not a morning person :)
    Great post!
    Thanks for sharing with the HomeAcre Hop!

  15. We work off the farm too and it drastically changes the dynamic. We also have 3 littles to coordinate. It changes things, but we thing only for the better! :) Our reality is this isn't a cake walk, but I can't imagine going back to whatever it is we did with our time before we farmed. My worst day now is 100 times more productive than my best days when I was 20-25.

  16. Love, love, love your honesty here. We have a tiny 1/8 acre urban farm and I get tired with our chickens, veggies and bees in addition to our "real" full time jobs in the non-profit world. Thanks for your perspective :-) I still want our own farm someday, but stories like yours help with understanding the reality of it all just a bit more!


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