Archive for November 29th, 2009

How Long Does It Take?

Sharon November 29th, 2009

For all of us, time is a difficult commodity to come by - sometimes even harder than money.  And our current situation is particularly difficult for people who are both preparing and living their ordinary lives - that is, at the same time you still have to go to work and take care of your aging parents, or get your kids to soccer practice and yourself to the coop, you also have to learn how to knit socks, build a pole barn, store lentils and milk a cow.   While you still have to drive to get to your job, since it is unbikeable, you also have to put your hours in on your bike.  While you still have to buy presents for your sister in law who is impossible to please, you also have to sew homemade gifts…  Living with feet in two worlds can be tough, and we all get protective of our time.

So I thought it might be useful to try and figure out how long it takes someone who is reasonably practiced (not extraordinarily skillful, merely practiced) to do something.  That is, if you had to do it all the time, how much of your time would you be giving up?  I take as a given that learning the new skill will take *more* time - that is, the first time you milk a cow, knit a sock or light a fire,  it will take a lot longer than the 78th time.  So this isn’t a good guide to how long you should allot for the learning process.  But assuming you can make some space for picking up the new skill, I thought this might be a useful measure of how long it takes to do a project you are going to have to do regularly if you take on a new skill set.  Maybe this will relieve someone of their fears that adding chickens or bike repairs will be untenable in their lives - or make someone who is already overextended reconsider. 

Some of these skills are not ones that I have, or that I am sufficiently practiced at to consider myself adept, so I asked a bunch of people how long it took them to do it.  So if you are thinking “hey, Sharon doesn’t have a cow…” you are right.  I’m also assuming that you are doing these chores regularly, and I’ve posted the maximum recommended interval of “regular” - by this I just mean that you are putting in your time, and not letting the work stack up.  Obviously, if you haven’t weeded your garden in a month in June, you will be spending a lot more time at it than you would have if you’d been in twice a week.

Ok, so how long does it take to:

Milk a dwarf goat by hand: 5 minutes

Milk a cow by hand: 12 minutes

Milk a goat with a manually powered hand-milker: 3 minutes

Feed and water 5 rabbits: 5 minutes, twice daily

Clean a rabbit cage: 5 minutes, once a week (if you use wire, less often and less time)

Feed and water 12 chickens: 5 minutes, twice a day (10 minutes total), including egg collection

Comb an angora bunny and collect fur: 10 minutes, every 1-2 weeks, depending on season

Shear a sheep: 15 minutes, traditionally, 25 minutes using the standing method (traditionally involves throwing the sheep on the ground)

Feed hay, grain and water 7 dwarf goats: 10 minutes, two times a day (20 total)

Butcher a chicken: 20 minutes, without any special equipment (ie, no plucker, etc…)

Butcher a turkey or goose: 30 minutes, without any special equipment

Pressure can 5 quarts of chicken broth: 90 minutes canning time (during which you can do other things as long as you are keeping an eye on stuff), 15 minutes of actual cooking, ladling, etc.. time

Cut corn off 20 ears of corn with a corn cutter: 20 minutes

Clean and chop a bushel of tomatoes: 35 minutes

Water bath can 10 pints of salsa: 15 minutes canning time (during which you can do other things), 20 minutes of prep and cooking time.

Plant a tree: About half an hour for a 3 year old, bare-root fruit tree

Plant a tree, minimalist: 5 minutes with a tree planter for forest plantings

Hoe a 20×20 garden: 35 minutes, if you’ve been keeping up with it.  If you let it go, possibly infinity.  Should be done twice a week during peak growth/rainy season.

Mulch a 20×20 garden: an hour, but you only have to do it 1-2 times per season 

Start 50 tomato plants from seed: 20 minutes to get them started, 6-8 weeks of nurturing to get them ready to go out.

Build a chicken nesting box out of scrap wood: 15 minutes

Bike a mile on reasonably even ground: 10 minutes

Walk a mile on reasonably even ground: 20 minutes

Split a cord of wood by hand with a maul: 3 days of intensive labor with lots of breaks, 2 weeks of regular afternoon exercise for a reasonably healthy person.

Split a cord of wood with a splitter: 2 hours

Build a garden shed with one handy person: 2-4 days of intensive work, or longer, spread out.

Knit two socks: 1 day of intensive knitting, with reasonable breaks, about a week of regular afternoon knitting for a fairly simple pattern.

Patch a pair of jeans: 10 minutes, if no elaborate sewing is required.

Clean out a 12×10 barn after a winter of manure build up - An afternoon

Build a 4×6 raised bed: If all materials available, 45 minutes.

Make 5lbs of sauerkraut: 30 minutes of chopping and packing, 2-3 weeks of fermenting, but you don’t have to pay attention to it much ;-) .

Dehydrate apricots - 12-30 hours depending on climate, humidity and dehydrator.  20 minutes of chopping to get them ready.

Make a pair of pajama pants: 1/2 hour with a sewing machine, 4-5 hours by hand.

Quilt a quilt: 1 long afternoon with many helpers, 2 weeks of regular work alone by hand, 1 afternoon with sewing machine.

Tie a quilt: 1 afternoon.

Press a gallon of cider with a cider press: 5 minutes

Cook a turkey dinner for 25: 7 hours

Pick a 30 foot row of cherry tomatoes: 1 hour, allowing for eating time

Pick 2 quarts of raspberries: 1/2 hour

Make an herbal tincture: 15 minutes of prep time, 4-6 weeks of maceration

Load 100 bales of hay into a barn: 2 hours, with two people.

Make fresh goat cheese: 45 minutes

Wash a load of laundry by hand - 3-4 hours soaking time, 20 minutes actual washing (assuming you can do it outside and don’t have wring).  40 minutes with wringing.

Sharpen a hoe: 3 minutes

Homeschool a child - Varies enormously, probably an average of 2 hours of attentive learning (not “schooling” in the formal sense) per day - same no matter how many kids you have, at least up to 4 ;-) .

Build a community: Some work is never done - but it is a lot of fun!

Anyone want to add some more?