Solutions for Self-Reliance

How Much Time Does Self-Reliance Take?


How much time does it take to be self-reliant? I don’t know, but I’m finding out. For the past two weeks I’ve been keeping track of a few tasks around the homestead (using Toggl) to see how much time it takes.

I do this because I’m a firm believer in not spending more time than absolutely necessary to provide myself with the essentials of life, such as good food, clean water, clean clothes and a warm shelter to protect me from the cold and from bad guys lurking in the dark.

Knowing how much time you actually spend on these tasks is important if you want to improve and free up more time for pondering the big questions in life (or whatever you fancy doing with your free time).

Specifically, as a start I’ve been keeping track of only three tasks. Two of them are related to heating the house, and they are 1) handling and transporting firewood and 2) starting and maintaining the fire. The third task is taking care of my egg-laying chickens.

Time logs have been stacking up, and I can tell you with certainty that in the past week I spent:

  • 29.5 minutes taking care of the chickens (only 2 hens and a rooster, but baby chickens are coming soon!)
  • 27 minutes on handling firewood
  • 1 hour and 31 minutes on starting and maintaining the fire

Not surprisingly, this data has made me start to think about how I can optimize the fire maintenance so I can spend less time on keeping the house warm and more time in the company of my loved ones.

Mass-producing tinder before winter instead of chopping it up by hand before every fire is a start, that should cut my fire maintenance by half.

Of course, there’s a lot more to self-reliance than keeping the house warm and taking care of the chickens.

Soon, I’ll have a lot more tasks on my plate that will be interesting to track. For example, I’m just about to start putting the first seeds in the soil, and over the next year I’ll start with the establishment of an agroforestry “food forest” system here at the homestead.

Some of the things I’ll be tracking are:

  • planting and maintaining the garden
  • annual maintenance of the fruit trees
  • cutting down and processing trees for firewood
  • take care of the bees and harvesting the honey
  • …and so on

Particularly with food production it will be interesting to see how much time I put in versus how much calories and nutrition (and income) I get out of it.

The goal is of course to get a lot more energy out of a system than you put in, and my initial experience with time tracking tells me that it can be a helpful aid in my self-reliance efforts.

Stay tuned for more, and if you want to follow along in my time tracking experiment make sure you’re signed up to the Walden Labs email list.

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