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?


38 Responses to “How Long Does It Take?”

  1. et says:

    What about the “befores & afters”?

    For example: Milk a dwarf goat by hand: 5 minutes
    but… getting your milking equipment ready, going to the barn, and cleaning up after all take time. Add caring for goats and milk processing, too.

    Same with wood splitting- a cord of wood split on the ground isn’t going to do you much good it you don’t stack and cover it.

    These little interludes can really take a lot of time and sap energy.

  2. The Mom says:

    Just keep swimming.

  3. Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife says:

    Bake two loaves of no-knead multigrain bread: 20 minutes of hands-on time, (including cleanup) plus about 20 hours of leave-it-alone-to-do-its-thing time (including rising, baking, and cooling).

  4. risa stephanie bear says:

    Our most time-intensive thing, apart from the wood and the no-till garden, harvest, preservation building maintenance, etc. etc. … is changing out the water in the five kiddie pools we use as duck ponds. Seems like about four to five precious hours a week right there.

    I have acquired a 1-horse electric pump and a foot valve, garden-hose threaded, to move this water onto the opposite hillside without carrying, as it is quite “rich” and we’d like to grow some grains over there later, but I think I’ve already done something to the impeller, and will be devoting one to five hours to investigating its innards …

  5. Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife says:

    Oh, and it takes me exactly the same amount of time to care for 4 hens as it apparently takes Sharon to care for 12. Animal husbandry can “scale” if your zoning codes allow for it, giving you a better return for your time.

  6. kathy says:

    Time to build a root cellar: 2 days if you have all the stuff on hand. Then time to preserve pototoes, carrots, turnips, onions, and leeks, 1 minute to bring them to the basement. I do have to check from time to time to pull out any vegetables that are getting questionable. It is the easiest way to preserve food.

    Time to have friends over for soup and bread: who cares. It feels the soul.

  7. Barbara says:

    Ack Sharon!!! I must be the world’s slowest knitter. I’ve been working on a pair of socks for weeks! LOL!

  8. Sharon says:

    Barbara - I’ve been working on one for *months* - but that’s not because I’m slow, that’s because I never have time to knit ;-) . But when I’ve got the tiem… so don’t worry about it!

    ET, you are correct, of course, but I can’t include everything. Getting milking equipment ready isn’t a terribly tough job - we just include it with the dishes, so I don’t separate it out, except the sterilizing. That takes a few minutes for each piece (could be faster if we had a bigger container to do it in), but all you have to do is drop one in and take one out.

    But yes, of course it all takes additional time.


  9. Fern says:

    I have never been able to patch jeans anywhere near that quickly. I can’t figure out how I’d do it by machine, and pushing a needle thru’ multiple layers of heavy denim takes me FOREVER. Am I doing something wrong?

    Also, it takes an infinite amount of time to pick a pint of raspberries, allowing for eating, for none ever make it into the pint container.

    Frondly, Fern

  10. Sharon says:

    Hi Fern - Well, yes, I do know what you mean on the raspberries. I’m talking about just sewing a patch on the inside of a knee, or doing a whole knee replacement a la Amy Dacyzyn, not trying to repair the actual rent perfectly, if that helps.

    I find a heavy needle and a heavy thimble to be useful on denim, but I never really want to do more than one at a time ;-) .


  11. mnfn says:

    I think you also need to factor in the type of time needed - for us, making feta cheese is a whole day activity, but it is mostly in bursts of less than five minutes spread out over several hours. This means that cheese making time is also preserving time/laundry time/gardening time etc.

    Hang a load of laundry on the line - 10 minutes
    Take in a load of laundry (off the line and fold) - 10 minutes

  12. Ann says:

    Time for making lists of things needed to be done, where they will be done, what else can be done there, too. Time for delegating tasks and negotiating. Time for balancing costs. Time for thinking about problems with a poorly functioning system. Time for cleaning up accidental spills. I guess those needs are what makes me look like I’m slower than the above standards. Then again, maybe I’m just slow.

  13. Erika says:

    Found out another great “time saver,” provided all the supplies are immediately available! I made about 2 oz of lotion (a small baby food jar full), in less time than it would have taken me to pick out a jar of lotion at the store (no counting drive/checkout/parking/etc. time). That either says something about how easy it is to make lotion, or about how long it takes me to pick out lotion! (Actual time involved - about 15 minutes, which would have been the same for a batch 10-12 times the size too.)


  14. Brad K. says:


    I assume, “Make a raised bed” is a raised garden bed, not a sleeping place for people. For one - I recommend a few inches longer than 6 feet, ’cause my feet hang over the end of most mattresses. And if it is just making the bed, it doesn’t take me 15 minutes to strip the bed and tuck in the clean sheets.

  15. Apple Jack Creek says:

    I’ll weigh in on the sheep shearing: with manual shears (the ones that look like really big scissors), sheep in a headgate (i.e. standing) - about an hour per sheep assuming you’re trying hard to keep the wool for spinning (which, of course you are, since otherwise why have sheep? :D ).

    In this hour, you are also sorting the wool, so the ‘skirting’ time is included in the hour, and it can be done by one person alone (unless the sheep gets irritable, then sometimes it is advantageous to have a child stand there and feed the ornery beast some pellets to keep it occupied).

    Oh, and for milking (cow) start to finish: I rinse the milk bucket before I go out, get a light (there’s a light in the barn, but it’s not quite enough), get the pellets in the feeder, get the cow in the stanchion, milk, come back inside, pour the milk through the filter into the jars, and rinse all the equipment in about … oh, 20 minutes, give or take 5. Since I do this before heading off for that ‘day job’ you talked about, I have to know how much time to allow for the before-and-after bits. :)

    Feeding 12 sheep & 2 cows their hay (i.e. forking it from bales into feeders): about 15 minutes once a day, plus two additional 5 minute ‘is everyone okay and do I need to add a bit more hay’ checks. Unless you are 13 years old and dragging your feet, then it can take twice that. :)

    Mucking out the barn after the winter: ours is about 20×20 and it takes about the same time Sharon posted, an afternoon, best done with two or three people (one to pitch, two to haul to the compost pile).

    Living in both worlds, the day to day stuff isn’t too bad: daily chores don’t really take all that long, honestly, and because my son is homeschooled he is able to do them during the day while I go off to that money earning job - this is a huge benefit, as for more than half the year, I leave in the dark and come home in the dark, and chores take way longer when flashlights are involved.

    The challenge is the infrastructure creation - the big projects that take up every weekend (you can’t do them weeknights, you’re worn out). Fencing (ohhh how I long for the day when the perimiter fencing is finished!), fixing gates, building feeders, that kind of thing. Once that is in place, there is seasonal maintenance, to be sure, but at least it’s not constant big projects every weekend all spring, summer and fall.

    Take home message: if you are faced with two properties and you like them both, take the one with more of the outdoor infrastructure in place. You won’t regret that! :)

  16. e4 says:

    Wow, I never came close to 12 minutes milking our cow. It was more like 30-40 minutes. I don’t know if it was her high capacity udders or if I’m just a very slow milker.

    But oddly enough, when I was drying her off and her capacity was down, the milking didn’t take any less time. It just didn’t flow as quickly.

    YMMV I guess.

  17. Tickmeister says:

    I split a quarter cord of ash this afternoon in about 20 minutes. It depends entirely on what kind of wood and how much you know about splitting wood. A cord of straight ash or walnut will take a couple of hours by hand, a cord of green elm will take the rest of your life. Everything else falls in between. I cut about 20 cords of wood per year and I sold my power splitter years ago because it was too much trouble and didn’t save much time.

    A wise person once told me “If what you are doing is hard, you don’t know how to do it.”

  18. Sharon says:

    Re:cow - I asked two of my dairy farmer neighbors how long it took them to milk one cow by hand. Perhaps the fact that they have 30+ cows apiece and have been doing this for 40 and 60 years respectively may have led to me underestimating the time ;-) . Sheep shearing - again, I asked my neighborhood professional and my neighbor with sheep (who pastures them at our property) both of whom have been doing it a long time. So perhaps a competent amateur should allow more time.

    Re: prep time, mistakes, etc… I guess I’m not sure how to count that. For example, this morning, I sterilized our milking equipment - while also supervising the kids getting dressed, making oatmeal and washing dishes. I tend to assume that once you are reasonably facile at dealing with this stuff, a lot of the little stuff just gets bunched in with all the other little stuff ;-) .


  19. Charles Rouse says:

    I do a lot of carpentry - sometimes with power tools, sometimes without. The times are based on the tools I have, and everything is assembled with joinery (mortise & tenon, dadoes and rabbets)

    Build a bookshelf with power tools (excluding finishing): 2 hours

    Build the same bookshelf without power tools: 8 hours

    Build a fold out step-stool with power tools - 1 hour

    Build the same step stool without power tools - 6 hours

  20. Coleen says:

    In MY experience/IMHO:

    Milk a NUBIAN goat by hand: 5-8 minutes (1-2 x/day) This does not include clean up, straining milk etc which takes another 10 minutes at least

    Milk a cow by hand: MY COW takes 45 minutes - and I am known as a very fast milker with strong hands -(3 gal/milking on 3 teats twice a day- Swiss Brown Jersey mix) plus 15 minutes clean up. After doing this for 3 weeks my hands were so sore and swollen I almost couldn’t move them so now I cheat - I know this is not a long-term solution. With a 1 cow (2 goat) milker, 7 minutes start to finish milking plus 20 minutes clean up. Have since switched to morning milking with extra calves on her.

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

    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

    Weave a 36″ x 48″ blanket on a loom: 24-30 hours assuming you have all the materials, this includes warping and finishing, if you make mistakes in the warp or weft (as I do) and have to go back and fix them, more like 40-50.

    Prune a semi-dwarf apple tree that has been pruned before 20-40 minutes depending on how much you have to move the ladder. An old tree that needs to be retrained, 2 hours.

    Harness a draft horse for driving/plowing, etc. 10 minutes assuming they want to be caught.

    Make wine (approximate): 20 minutes collecting elderberries, hour cleaning them, 1st fermentation approximately 10 days, changing containers 10 minutes, second fermentation approximately 4 days each of the days stirring 1 minute, bottling 20 minutes, aging 6 months plus

    Make yogurt/kefir: besides milking the goat or cow, 10 minutes pasturizing (doesn’t have to be done but makes a better medium for good bacteria and therefore a better product), 20 minutes cooling to correct temperatures, 3 minutes innoculating and putting up to culture, 4-12 hours in a warm area to make the finished product, 2 minutes to pull the starter for the next batch

    A life-time to read about, learn, and make this life-style efficient, but its worth it.

  21. Birdie says:

    I make my living doing custom sewing, and in the past, have worked in a factory doing production sewing. I’m known for my speed and accuracy as well as ability to price jobs fairly and well. The 1/2 of time for the pajama pants is significantly underestimated.

    Work space set up for each sewing job(assuming that you do not have a dedicated sewing area and cutting table): 10 minutes

    Checking/Measuring/Adjusting the pattern for size and length: 10-15 minutes

    Laying out pattern/pinning in place for optimal fabric use (no waste): 5 minutes
    Cutting fabric: 5 minutes
    Pinning pieces: 3 minutes
    Sewing main seams: 5 minutes
    Pressing seams open with hot iron: 2 minutes

    Next most important step that extends the life of the garment and comfort of the wearer-

    Serging (if you have a serger) all of the raw seam allowances: 5 minutes OR
    Trimming raw edges and ZigZag overcast stitch on a domestic sewing machine (significantly slower): 10 to 12 minutes

    Turning the elastic casing with clean finished drawstring opening: 5 minutes
    Inserting elastic and drawstring: 5 minutes
    Edge stitiching elastic and wastband (prevents the elastic from rolling and twisting with wear and washing): 5 minutes
    Clean finish hems: 5 minutes

    If pockets are desired: add an additional 30 minutes to the final total for cutting/sewing

    Work space clean up and break down: 10 minutes
    Total time: roughly 75 minutes without pockets
    or 1 hr 45 with pockets.

    The key is not how fast one can slap clothing together but how efficiently one can sew a study longwearing comfortable garment.

    People forget that the invention of the sewing machine is one of mankind’s most significant advances along with the printing press, jacquard loom (led to the development of the computer). The sewing machine makes production of good wearable low cost/ minimal time investiment possible.

    Before the invention of the sewing machine in the early part of the 1800′s, garment production (for everyone except the wealthy) was reliant upon whatever skills and available time houshold members possessed to set aside for garment sewing and repair. People were, for the most part poorly clothed, and had garments that did not protect them well enough for prtection against the elements.

    Hand sewing was laborious and time intensive taking it toll on the eyes and hands of the mostly female makers over the years.

  22. et says:

    I shear our sheep. By now I have sheared over 50 times so I am getting the hang of it.

    I shear, deworm and trim hooves in 35 minutes. Faster is riskier for self and sheep. Shears are sharp and sheep can kick and be ticklish. Why rush? The time you “save” can be very costly.

    Also, you have to factor how many you can do at this rate. 6 sheep times 35 minutes each should take 3 1/2 hours. But I find that its better not to do it all at once. Working with animals and sharp implements when tired is not a good idea.

  23. Laurie in MN says:

    Thank you!! I am also a custom seamstress, and I thought the 1/2 hour time was also fairly understated. Of course, I figured an hour or so, but I do believe your estimate is more accurate. I might be tempted to just 4 thread serge the pants together, tho’. And if you DON’T cut a separate inseam and outseam, that significantly cuts down on sewing time. It does preclude inseam pockets, though. ;)

    The best way I’ve found to patch jeans is to use a good machine set on a medium zig-zag. You put a patch cut to slightly larger than the worn spot on the inside — I usually cut mine with my pinking shears so that they don’t ravel so badly and don’t need to be finished any other way. Stitch around the outside edge a couple of times. Stitch back and forth over the worn spot to weld it to the patch. You can cut away any totally loose hanging threads if you like to make it cleaner looking. This works really well for crotch or inner leg or crease of the bottom sort of worn areas. I’m BAD at knees — they do NOT fit well onto my machine, so I’m tempted to do them by hand. You *can* open up the side seam that is only stitched together once (usually the outside seam), patch the knee by machine, and then stitch up the side seam again, but that does take a little longer. Depending on how trashed the knees are, I am tempted to use the denim for other things. Including more patches. :D

  24. Sharon says:

    Laurie and Birdie - Thanks for the correction. Again, this came from a neighbor of mine who is a pro (I can make pajama pants, but I don’t like to sew, and do it considerably more slowly). I should have specified “without pockets,” as that was the parameter. At my request, she left out set up and breakdown time, simply because you might not want to assume that you were only doing one job - just as I left out sterilization time for milking equipment. But I’ll tell her you thought her estimate was low. I don’t think she makes low quality clothing, or was suggesting it, though.


  25. Sharon says:

    I’m finding the differences in people’s experiences absolutely fascinating - thanks so much, everyone!


  26. Lynne says:

    Um, other than the walking and biking there is not a single thing on this list that I could do that fast. I admit to a lot of day dreaming and whatnot but holy! The secret is out to how Sharon gets so much done in a day.


  27. Laurie in MN says:

    re the pajama pants. If your neighbor uses a rotary cutter, it may take her less time. Like, significantly less than using shears. It also takes less time per pair of pants if you batch them — make a number of the same thing at the same time, even if they are not the same size. You can get into assembly line mode that way. I was just questioning the 1/2 hour overall time — I can probably sew a pair of pants that fast, depending on how I’m doing casing and hems, but I can’t do the sizing/cutting in that amount of time. Not even if I’ve done them before. The “one size fits many, not custom sized” harem pants I make for dancers have a time line of about two hours from cut to finish, including casings and elastic in both the waist band and the ankles. But I’m rather, um, “detail oriented” and not only press my casings but pin them before stitching them.

    Believe me, I’m sure she turns out a *fabulous* piece of clothing — those of us who make our own are usually picky about construction. But we are also prone to underestimate how long it takes unless we’ve actually clocked it. :)

    Having canned my first batches of tomato sauce this summer/fall, I am impressed with your estimate for cleaning/chopping a bushel of tomatoes. Gives me hope for my future!!

  28. Laurie in MN says:

    Sewing time also depends on how fast your machine is. I have a good mid-range home model Bernina which I merrily abuse. On an easy, mostly straight project like pajama pants, I can floor that thing and wish for a few more stitches per second. Anyone with an industrial machine can go even faster. They are limited as to what they can do — Birdie, please correct me if I am wrong on that — but can do the basics really fast and really well. Sergers are also faster than most home machines, and if your neighbor has one that does 4 or 5 thread stitching, she may be just serging the seams together, which is totally legit. Most ready made clothing is made that way these days, with a few exceptions of course. (I can’t imagine putting a regular stand collar on that way, or cuffs, but a lot of the rest of the shirt might be.)

  29. Sharon says:

    Two points about my speed - I am fairly fast at many things, but not very precise, which is why I don’t sew that well. I hate measuring and making things line up neatly. I wish in many cases that I had more patience for really precise work. I do not turn out the beautiful and elegant stuff that other people make, whether in prose, knitting or sewing.

    Second, I should also observe that this afternoon, I’ve been cutting up the same 15 quinces for three straight hours - because every single time I take out a knife I hear “Mooooooooooom!” So let us just say that because I technically *can* do many of these things quickly does not in fact mean that I actually do ;-) .


  30. Claire says:

    Regarding the elderberry wine, my DH and I made up 3 gallons of it this year. I didn’t time it well, but the process took us longer than it did Colleen (that may have been related to the size of our efforts versus hers).

    Here’s Colleen’s estimates:
    Make wine (approximate): 20 minutes collecting elderberries, hour cleaning them, 1st fermentation approximately 10 days, changing containers 10 minutes, second fermentation approximately 4 days each of the days stirring 1 minute, bottling 20 minutes, aging 6 months plus

    Elderberries don’t all ripen at the same time. The best estimate I can offer for what we did this year is about 10-15 total person-hours to harvest about 9 pounds of elderberries, spread out over three weeks. As berries were harvested, they were put in containers and frozen till my DH had time to make the wine, a couple months later.

    To begin the wine-making process, my DH rinsed the berries and ran them through a food mill, about 1-2 hours, I think. Then he cleaned the fermentation vessel; boiled the mix of water, elderberries, and sugar to kill whatever yeast was already there; and poured all that into the clean fermentation vessel. Maybe 1-3 hours, but he could read while the mixture boiled. Then he let it sit overnight to cool enough to pitch the yeast. Pitching the yeast - 5 minutes, the next day. Stirring the fermenting mix every day during the primary fermentation, a couple of minutes each day for a couple of weeks. Then cleaning another vessel for the secondary fermentation and transferring the wine, maybe another 1-2 hours. It’s still in secondary fermentation; my DH usually lets that go on for a few months. Later on he’ll clean bottles to receive the wine and transfer it to them, another 1-2 hours of work. After that, no more hands-on work while the wine ages.

  31. sealander says:

    For looking after 10 chickens, with broody bantams and chicks in separate enclosure, and rooster confined at night, it takes me around 5 minutes before work in the morning, 15-20 minutes in the evening. And say 30 minutes cleaning out the shed and runs on the weekends.
    Usually I’m picking whatever I need from the garden for dinner while I’m out there.
    I could cut that time down but you’ve got to allow for some time playing with the livestock and feeding dandelions to your favorites ;)

  32. Cindy says:

    Having just single-handedly butchered eight turkeys, I would say 40 minutes at top speed for a smallish turkey, up to one hour for our largest- dressed out at 35 pounds and I wanted it to look really nice for someone’s table. 20 minutes is optimistic even for a chicken.(including catching it and cleaning everything up)

  33. David King says:

    How long to write a 500 word blog post? I can get 500 words per half hour, if I warm to the subject - longer if I am uninspired or I actually have to check facts. :-)

    How long to first draft a chapter in a book? Depends on the book - I have finished Nation and I’m half way through Independence Days, I’d like your answer, Sharon. I have two books in the oven, one of them is coming along swimmingly because it’s about gardening in the land of no frosts - a rough draft chapter is about four hours, once a month. I’ve got two more chapters to go and then I get to find out how long second drafts take!

    Anyway - this is really useful data! I love it and thanks for this post! I loved the dissection of the seamstresses as to equipment/styles and the time each involved. Having proven absolute incompetence at knitting, in order to contribute to that part of our lives, I am contemplating sewing. I actually sewed a few things as a child - showed some promise.


  34. Sharon says:

    Hi David - That’s a good question. A lot of it depends on how inspired I am - I write best when I’m excited or mad ;-) . If a book chapter could be pushed out on pure annoyance-related adrenaline, I think I could do one in a day, although it would need considerable editing afterwards. More realistically, probably a week of intermittent writing, given that I don’t write full time.

    I can do 500 words in 20 minutes, again, if I am energized or inspired. Some days it takes me all day to do as much ;-) .


  35. Lynda says:

    Sharon, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned living with your feet in two worlds at once. The biggest challenge, I think, is taking the time to plan your activities and organize your time to fit them all in. In addition to all of the things that have been mentioned are meal planning and preparation, garden planning, and involvement in activities that help the community become more sustainable. If you’re still living in a world where you have a job outside the home 30 or more hours a week, balancing all of this becomes difficult. And if you’re also trying to cultivate a new career that can be managed from home … yikes!

    I’m in awe of everyone here-sewing, butchering turkeys, milking goats! Wow!Kudos to everyone!

    So far, I’m working as a newspaper editor and trying to expand a freelance writing career. (I write for Hobby Farm Home and Urban Farm magazines.) ~8 hours per assignment. Haven’t had time to cultivate more than those two opportunities yet.

    My husband and I built a chicken coop this summer and fall (HOURS!) and built a big run for them (lots more hours). Neither of us had ever designed or built a thing before. The project started in mid-July and finally finished in mid-October!

    Then we acquired 8 pullets, and I’m still in learning mode about them. (So far, fairly easy. 10 minutes a day to collect eggs, refresh the outdoor waterers, and prepare goodies for the ladies in the morning when I let them out; and 20-30 minutes twice a week to clean the droppings board, refresh food and water, spot-scoop and refresh the litter.)

    We have a big garden, and our goal is to grow and preserve as much of our own food as possible. During garden season, I probably spend 6-8 hours a week in the garden. We’re still learning about how much to grow and what to do with it.

    I’m president of a localization/sustainability group I started in my town. (3+hours/week.)

    I’m a beginning knitter, working on prayer shawls. (They go slowly for me.)

    I’m also grandma to 5 kids, and have them frequently for overnights. (There goes the weekend!)

    Not complaining about any of it. Just acknowledging that the skill-building effort is no small challenge.

  36. Claire says:

    OK, I ground wheat and baked two loaves of bread today and timed it. Here’s the result.

    Grinding 5 cups of hard white winter wheat in a grain mill, human arm powered: 45 minutes. It’s easiest to run it through the mill twice. First time through, cracking the grains, takes about 15 minutes. Then run it through again to grind finely for bread, 30 minutes. Makes about 6 cups of flour. This would be about right for one loaf in a 9x5x3 bread pan, including the flour on the surface you knead on, but I made two loaves today and used white flour for the rest.

    Mixing, kneading for two loaves of bread: about 45 minutes or so. It would be less if I hadn’t made it in two separate batches so I had to mix and knead twice, but I find it hard to separate one large mass of dough into two equal-sized masses for the bread pans.

    The only remaining hands-on time totals about 10 minutes to punch down each dough mass twice and grease and fill the bread pans. You can do other things while the loaves rise and bake; I’ve been doing computer work.

  37. Sonja Meray says:

    Excellent post! I completely consent along with you.

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