There is a set of jobs around the farm that we call "routine work". These jobs include chores and basic planting and cultivating in the garden. There are some other things included in routine work, but it basically involves all the work that must be done repeatedly throughout the season on a daily or weekly cadence. Even things like the weekly accounting are in that category.
Routine work is the work that will keep the farm running. IT won't advance the farm or improve the farm or take the farm to the next level, but it will keep it ticking.
One of our main objectives this season is to get ALL routine work done on time for the entire season. Technically the goal states that we are trying to get 15 weeks in a row of routine work done perfectly on time. But I know that if we can achieve 15 weeks in a row on schedule, we'll be on top of things and the rest of the season will take care of itself.
In past seasons we have always struggled to keep on top of things during the late spring /early summer rush when weeds are crazy and planting is in full swing and harvest is starting to come on line. A LOT happens during those weeks in May and June, and staying on top of everything is a challenge. Usually something slips off schedule by just a bit. Of course, falling behind on the routine work means things start to snowball and everyone knows that a stitch in time saves nine. If you miss that timely stitch, you've got eight extra stitches later. And that is the case for almost everything in farming because we're dealing with dynamic and living things--the weeds keep growing if you don't deal with them. The plants get root bound if they are not planted on schedule. Things must be done on time or they just get worse.
We typically fall a bit behind schedule on SOMETHING during the May/June rush and then spend the rest of the summer hustling to catch back up.
Well this year we're determined to address that issue and we took some serious steps to make sure the routine work is kept entirely on time during this hectic season.
The whole team is on board for this goal and we've really focused our sights on achieving it. We have a clear distinction of what is routine and what is not. We have a clear deadline for what "timely" or "on time" means. We know what we have to do with all the other work to make sure it doesn't get in the way. We even have records from last year that give us information on how many hours of routine work we can expect during every week of THIS season. So we're taking this goal seriously and we all know what we need to do.
We also all know how much better things will run if we keep THIS category of work caught up.
Oh and we're not allowed to work longer hours just to achieve the goal. We're maintaining a very strict M-F 8-5 work week. No long days. No weekends.
So far we've stayed on track, but the next 8 or so weeks will be the real test with the beginning of June being the most challenging. If we can keep on track through July we should be able to finish the year fine.
What this goal essentially amounts to is discipline and focus with very clear priorities.
On the farm there is always an unending to-do list. And during the spring and early summer there is a tremendous amount of change and growth happening everywhere. Everything is happening at once and everything feels important.
And to be fair, that is not just a farm problem. Most people these days live very busy lives with a lot going on. Probably more then is healthy. And when everything feels urgent it can be difficult to remember or know what is MOST important. What comes first.
Often in those situations, it is difficult to stay focused on the basics. Its hard to make the small, constantly repeating things trump everything else. It seems so innocuous to let them slide for just a day or two. The big things seem like they'll really make a big difference. The little things won't hurt to slide...afterall, they're little.
But you have to stay vigilant. The truth is, maintenance and regular upkeep have a profound impact.
And that's true for almost everything. Work, relationships, faith, habits....
New beginnings are so exciting. But staying faithful to the simple thing is profound.
Every season since we started farming we have gotten a little bit better about staying on top of things. Each year we would fall off schedule a little bit less and a little bit later. Every year we get better.
But this is the year we won't waste any time doing stitches 2-9. We'll just do one stitch because we're going to do it on time. And that will free up a ton of time!
Ask me how its going in July...
Machine maintenance means fewer breakdowns when deadlines are looming.