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I am the primary caretaker around here and I have been dealing with thyroid issues off and on for 10 years. I say off and on because I went through surgery and a long time to get stabilized and then finally after years of suffering, I was finally beginning to feel human. That is until this past winter, I started not feeling so good again. To make a long story short, I am now being bounced around from doctor to doctor with each of them contradicting each other, nobody running a complete panel, etc. etc. I don't know at this point when I will get better. I am exhausted and at the point of not really being able to function. I am struggling. Some days I do really good to get everybody fed. I am trying to not make any rash decisions and get rid of all the livestock, because it took me years to get where I am now. So, I am trying to look at ways to make everything as efficient as possible and easy. If anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them because I thought I was already pretty efficient around here. I trying to make things even more efficient. Anything that has worked for you guys?
 

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GENTLE HUGS!

I will come back and share what little I know: I have the same problem.

Are you still working off of the homestead?

Right now I need to get my younger child who is at the library. When I get back I will turn on the heat in the oven (the meat is in and waiting) and I also need to boil the water for the stovetop stuffing that we will have with it. Also I have cut up a melon.

Notice, to start with, that everything I have named can be prepared in fits and starts, because I can only work in fits and starts.

Later!

I will check in probably before dinner.
 

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Ok I went through the same thing and basically still am.

Years ago we sold all our Animals I hated it. Down to Rabbits and Chickens now. I suggested today to my wife getting Goats and Hogs she said no because I'm in Hospital at least once a year and she don't want the extra.

We sold our Farm I regretted it from the start now in some ways my wife is but we have a nicer place now so not so bad.

Just a matter of saying what can everyone handle and do I really need to do this?

big rockpile
 

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OK, I am back!

One big thing was to do as much of the vital things in the morning as I can, because I honestly have no idea if I am going to tire early in the day or not.

I set a time for the chickens. They WILL be seen to by 10 AM! I can see to them earlier but no later! (That also means that I will not wimp out before they are fed and watered.)

When I feed the chickens I give them a lot of extra layer pellets. I try to have 2-3 days worth of feed-preferably 3- because sometimes i just wimp out. For water my 5 chickens have a water dish that is 2 1/2 feet across: I think it used to hold a tub of sweet feed for horses? At least I once saw something like that holding sweet feed! It is about 6+ inches deep and my birds will NOT run out of water! I try to dump and refill in once a week, and sometimes I just fill it with the garden hose.

The garden hose is left laying across my yard, and there is a splitter on it. I can turn the water on as I leave the house and the sprinkler in the garden comes on or I can throw it another way and the water comes on near the hen house so it takes just a couple of minutes standing there to fill it.

cats have an automatic feeder downstairs, so it does not matter if it gets checked every day or every other day or whatever. That means the cats are just FINE if I take a sick day or wimp out. The pets water dish is in the bathroom, because I cannot help but see if they have water and it only takes a minute to fill it at the bathroom sink. I dislike having the water dish in the bathroom but it works better than anything else i have tried!

The garden. Well I got woven greenhouse flooring to cover the garden and I punched holes every 3 feet for plants. I picked a plastic grocery bag full of cucumbers this afternoon.

My son. He works for me for minimum wage and he has no choice in the matter. I insist on him giving us 5 hours a week, though major projects may run over. We need his strong young arms for things like carrying baskets of clothes up and down the stairs, bringing in groceries and taking care of them because my legs get so tired in the stores, cleaning the family bathroom, and so forth. I ask more of him than I ever wanted to, he NEEDS to practice driving and hand out more job applications and such to help him get his independance, but I need him also. So instead of hiring a cleaning lady one morning a week i hire my son for one hour a day.

Food. Food and the kitchens are BIGGIES and it is not unusual for me use my son to catch me up! It does help that I now know a lot of easy things to fix.

MAIN COURSES.

I always have instant meals like ham for my off days, and I always try to have instant meal items available
Baked meat or grilled meat on the gas grill
Hamburger helper, either bought or made (It is just meat, noodles, and sauce. )
Ham.
Canned meat over rice or toast or potatos.
spagetti
Pre-shaped hamburger patties.
Drop them on the gas grill, season, turn it on. There is no pan!

VEGETABLES!

veggie sticks from the garden. I make enough for 2 meals at a time because it is easier.
Frozen peas in the microwave
A bag of salad
Cole slaw: (I slice some cabbage and add italian dressing)

STARCHES!

Stovetop stuffing.
Rice from the rice cooker
home made bread (so what if I do not knead much. I mix the dough with a spoon and I drop it into a pan that has been sprayed with that non-stick spray and when it is raised I just bake it. Nobody has even noticed the difference.)
refrigerator biscuits
potatos
sweet potatos

DESSERTS!
Cake from a mix
Ice cream

DISHES!!!!!!!!!
Do not collect them in the sink while you are cooking drop them in the dishwasher while you are cooking. Or at least every few minutes while you are cooking.

Though personally I do a main course- break- another dish- break and so forth, and the dishes get put in as the spirit moves me while I work

LIVESTOCK!

I have none other than poultry. If I did I think that I would want one of those big round bales of hay put out for the animals, because a tractor is used to move them. I would want a HONKIN big waterer and hoses laid out 24/7 so I would not have to drag them around, When I mow I mow along side the hose, move it a few inches, and then mow where it was.

Cleaning poo. I do not know what your barn set up is or your equipment set up, but they are now making snow plow attachments for lawn tractors and I bet you could scrape up the mess and shove it to where it would do no harm

Lastly. Sometimes the silliest little things affect us sickies. My bug a boo is heat and I have learned to take it VERY! seriously or all of a sudden I feel ill and cannot walk. That cured me of trying to tough it out. I usually do my outside work early. It is very common for me to work early in the garden, bag up any vegetable i have picked, do the chickens, and then carry the bags back to the house. I am carefull to only touch the plastic bag, NEVER the vegetables, after I have done the chickens!!!!!!!I take the bag in, wash up, take the veggies out, and throw the bag away because my dirty hands have touched it.
 

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I'm not sure of your setup but maybe bagging your feed for your animals and keep it in a metal trash can that is kept in a wagon so you can pull it to where you need to feed them. Maybe have all your feed in one location so you can sit and portion out the feed and have it ready when you need it. Leave the hose laying where you need it with either a nozzle that you can turn off or a splitter to add another hose to go to another location if needed.
Take a folding lawn chair with you so if you need to sit and rest while feeding/watering your animals you can sit comfortably and still get them fed/watered.

As far as cooking goes I sit at the kitchen table and do my prep work, peeling directly into the trash can, chopping/dicing and putting the ingredients into a large pan to transfer to my cooking vessel once everything is prepped. A crockpot is a good idea for simple one pot meals that you can get started early in the morning when you have the most energy. A pressure cooker is also a huge time saver for making quick tasty meals when you are tired and running low on energy. I like to bake many rolls/biscuits then wrap and freeze them to pull out as needed to go with weeknight meals.

Can you hire in help to deal with cleaning up after the animals? If not then with the chickens try the deep litter method if your setup will allow it. That way you don't have the continually clean out the coop and you'll save yourself some energy there. If you do an evening feeding try to set up what you need in the morning so you can just dump and go on to the next animal. When you're worn out creating short cuts like that will be a life saver.

Maybe you could tell us a bit about what/how many animals you have and your set up to give us an idea of other tips we might have for you.
 

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We have 3 barns. The closest one to the house houses the goats, the chickens and any baby rabbits that are in grow out cages. I deep bed the chicken coop, mostly in the winter because even with deep bedding in the summer it gets to smelling. Or maybe it is just me as I am really sensitive to smells. The middle barn/shed houses a colony of rabbits. The far barn houses the horses and another colony of rabbits. I keep the feed for the horses in the horse barn, the rabbit and goat feed in the goat barn. Normally we keep the winter hay in the goat barn, but it is a chore toting that much hay everywhere everyday. Usually in the mornings I have to make two trips from the goat barn to the big barn. I can hay the rabbits once a day since they are in colonies and only have to make one trip in the evenings. I am thinking of stacking hay in each colony, but am wondering if the bottom bales will get nasty or if they will go through it too fast. i was thinking I could take out one of the hidey holes and replace it with a hidey hole of two bales with several more stacked on top. I am also thinking of getting one of those big automatic waterers that you see for dogs to hold enough water for the rabbits. Right now they have to be watered twice a day. I am also wondering if a small metal garbage can holding the feed in that colony would work and then the feed would be right there also. I am trying to find space in the horse barn to store hay for the horses because they are the main reason that I have to make so many trips. The garden is a mess and I finally gave up and gave out and let the goats in the garden to clean up everything. Now, I have to put all the plants stems in the compost. I try to work in the mornings because that is when I have the most energy, but truly I only have an hour or so before I have to get to schoolwork with the girls. Meals are a real chore, mainly because I have no appetite. It is hard to figure out something to cook when you don't want to eat. The kids help out a lot with the housework, but there is still mommy stuff to do. I am an avid follower of flylady and I think that has helped. I am not quite able anymore to do all of the detail cleaning, but at least the house is not chaotic. Instead of a room a week, I am probably down to two rooms a month. I figure that is better than nothing. Hubby helps, but he works a lot...at least 3 double shifts a week. I hate asking him to do too much. I usually muddle through until lunch and then I am done. I think prepping supper in the mornings will help. I just have to remember to do that...brain fog...really bad brain fog. I sat down one day and made a list of things to do around here to get everything ready for winter and am slowly working on it. I might have it done by spring. Hubby is putting up all the wood by himself mostly, with the girls doing all the stacking. The pastures are a mess. The tractor stopped running this past spring and because of all my extra medical expenses right now we haven't been able to get it fixed. Moving the goats from pasture to pasture is a chore because nothing was ever conveniently done and there is always a lot of walking to get them from point A to point B. They also don't listen to anyone else, so if the girls go out to get them and bring them back to the barn they take off running over the the neighbors to eat her plum tree. We did cut down the herd from 9 goats to 6 this summer and are trying to decide if we can cut down again. We are left with my best producing does and my buck. But then again I am wondering what I am going to do with all that milk. I don't have the energy to make much cheese. I am just thankful we didn't get pigs this year. I would be in tears at the thought of processing hogs anytime soon. Thanks everyone for the suggestions and keep them coming.
 

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I don't know if this would help with the goats but my girls have 2 small paddocks with a feed bunker in each. Both have a gate into the pasture. They are locked up at night in the night paddock because of our wild animal situation here.
Anyway the routine is that in the morning, I take their feed and put it into the day paddock . The goats watch me doing this and are waiting at the night paddock gate shoving to be positioned to be first through when I get there.
So I then open the night paddock gate, the goats rush out and into the day paddock to be first to get to the hay. BTW the day paddock has a gate too so I can shut them up if I need to do something with them but normally it's just left open for them to go in and out. Both paddocks are relatively small. After they hotfoot it to the food, I shut the gate to the night paddock. I can then clean it without goats under foot.
In the evening I reverse the procedure. For some reason, the girls watch me from the day paddock but they rush the gate into the night paddock when I open it to be first at that feeder.
The issue with the girls is not that they are starving but that they can't stand that someone should get to a goodie before them so they move themselves from place to place as I open gates.
I made arrangements like this as a point where I was pretty weak and could get knocked over easily. This allowed me to move the girls with being in a position to have them push me around. I came to love gates and probably have more per acre than anyone I ever knew. At least two per field so I wouldn't have to walk out of the most direct path. When I think of it, one field has 5 gates.
I have tools hanging around so as to be convenient to where I need them. I have a push broom, a trough scrub brush, a dust pan with small broom and some leads hanging on the shed wall outside the small people gate at each paddock so I can grab them as I walk in. I needed this because at one point the effort to walk back to get something I forgot would defeat me. An old mail box can be attached to hold small things out of the weather where I need them.
I have a two wheeled garden cart (my favorite is an EZ Haul) because a wheelbarrow takes more energy to balance. It has a baling twine loop on the handle so I can attach a small bucket with a snap to carry things like syringes or hoof trimmers with me and not have to make a seperate trip for them.
 

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Are the girls old enough to help prep your evening meal in the morning before starting school? Maybe having a list of simple to prepare meals that they can choose from would help make choosing a meal easier for you. Let them take turns choosing that night's meal and help getting everything prepped and into the crockpot/oven/pots & pans. Simple things like peeling and cutting potatoes and placing them in a pot of water that is set on the stove until it's time to cook them will help cut down your evening meal chore. Same idea with a vegetable side dish, put it in a pot and set it on the stove until you're ready to cook it. You could even have them help you prep things like onions, peppers, celery by slicing & dicing them then storing them in the fridge/freezer to be used for meal prep during the week. Make it part of your schooling curriculum calling it "Home Economics".

I'm not familiar with raising rabbits but could you place a pallet in a hidey hole to stack your hay bales on so the bottom layer doesn't go bad before you use it? If you don't have room in the barns how about storing the extra hay for the week on a pallet just outside of the barn where it's needed. You could cover the pallet with a tarp to protect it from the elements then once a week refill the pallet as needed.

I can definitely relate to your health issues, I had my thyroid removed about ten years ago. Focus mainly on the most important things that MUST get done and don't worry about the rest, you'll be able to catch up once you are feeling better.
 

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I have an idea about moving the goats, do you have a tape recorder or a way to record your voice? Maybe if you recorded yourself directing the goats to where you want them to go and have the girls use the recording while moving them, they won't try to run away. Another idea is to have you just stand by the goat barn so they see you while being moved and they'll be more apt to go to where you are while the girls go do the walking to retrieve them for you. Just a couple of ideas that might make it easier for all of you to move the goats. ;)
 

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I see this:

Automatic waterer.
A cart hitched to a riding mower to move feed
A v-shaped hay feeder for the rabbits. They used to have these made of bars byt the feed gets in the fur so it fell out of favor: I would figure this out OR something similar so you only give hay every couple of days.
Get that garbage can for feed so you do not have to move so much feed so often!

It takes longer to move feed by using a lawn mower to pull a cart but if you attend to efficiency you will cut the work almost in half because, for example, you will not be watering rabbits twice a day. And pulling feed in a cart is physially easier so you tire more slowly.
Mechanize if you haven't. Monthly payments for a riding mower and art are cheaper than hiring a house keeper. I MUCH prefered doing things by hand, but my kids deserved more than an exhausted Mom every day when they came home from school. An exhausted Mom some of the time is fair but not all of the time.

Lastly you are backwards with your meals. Decide on dinner before you eat breakfast and set things out to thaw. Meal planning comes first so that food does not sound boring and so that things are organized when the morning outside work is done.

NOTHING helped me more than planning meals in the AM!
 

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Whisperwindkat, can you put something delicious in the spot where you want the goats to go BEFORE they are allowed out? There was a lady who owned horses that did that 4 days out of 5, so that the horses never knew if a treat was waiting or not and so they all ran to see. Perhaps a thin line of feed so that one goat could not hog it all?

Speaking of feed, WhereIWant to, as soon as the goats had moved to the new pen I would set the evening feeding into the pen you will want them to move to so that in the evening when you are worn out you only need to open the gate? But that is just me. I am often too tired at the end of the day to be doing much.
 

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Whisperwindkat, can you put something delicious in the spot where you want the goats to go BEFORE they are allowed out? There was a lady who owned horses that did that 4 days out of 5, so that the horses never knew if a treat was waiting or not and so they all ran to see. Perhaps a thin line of feed so that one goat could not hog it all?

Speaking of feed, WhereIWant to, as soon as the goats had moved to the new pen I would set the evening feeding into the pen you will want them to move to so that in the evening when you are worn out you only need to open the gate? But that is just me. I am often too tired at the end of the day to be doing much.
I used to do that- get everything set up in the morning but I got lazy when I started feeling better so mostly don't anymore.
 

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So my goal this week is to get big waterers for the rabbit colonies. Will also start prepping meals in the morning. I also added vacuuming to the little one's chore list. She is delighted! The goats are still a pain. We changed our herd dynamics this summer by getting rid of our herd queen. The new herd queen is a pain in the neck. I put a collar on her the other day because if you don't catch her before she goes out the gate to move to the front pasture then she is gone....over the back fence to the neighbors. The rest of the herd follows her. She has always been a pain and I forgot how much because of the electric fence. Now the controller is no longer working and we just don't have the money to replace it right now. She is starting to climb fences again. We have got to get a new controller again! Without heavy electricity there is no fence that will hold this goat! Anyway, back to getting things easier on me. During the winter I feed some bagged hay along with regular hay bales. So I picked up two rubbermaid containers and rigged them on a pulley system in the barn aisleway. They each hold a whole bag of hay and so I can lower them, let the goats eat on them awhile and then raise them back up when they have had enough. Don't know how long the hay will last. I might go through more than I usually do, but at least I don't have to dig the hay out of the bag. It is packed in there pretty tight. I also cut a pallet in half and will use that to stack hay on in the middle rabbit colony so that there is a tunnel through the middle, but the hay itself is off the bedding/floor of the colony. This hay should last for a good while, give the buns someplace cozy and warm and keep the hay for them right at hand. I am also building a hay feeder for that colony so maybe there will be less waste by them scratching it all around and just picking at it. So that is where I am at right now. Still trying to look at anything else that I can do and trying to get most of the garden closed up for the winter. I will only be planting a small area with winter greens this year that will be easier to maintain and keep. Thanks, everyone. Kat
 
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