Monday, May 05, 2014

Making It Work....Laundry

The first part of my new series is on laundry.  With our size household, there is no shortage of it!!!  Before I begin I thought I would give a very quick summary of what this series is all about.

"Making It Work" for starters is NOT about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  It IS designed to be an encouragement to make do with what you have.  I suppose I can't be the only one who has struggled with sitting on my bottom waiting until I have all the time, or supplies I need before I begin.

 Don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for that.  For example, we plan on pulling up our carpet and painting the sub-floors.  My first rule is that we won't pull one thread up until we have all the supplies we need.  Otherwise there is a high likelihood that we will be walking around on bare sub-floors, getting splinters, for weeks to come.  For our bathroom project we *needed* to pull things up since it was a matter of getting rid of the mold as quickly as we could.  But, our bathroom has been unfinished for over a year...hence our wait on pulling up the carpet.

I can sit around waiting until everything is just perfect, which leads me to a life of inactivity (with 8 children, I am not actually sitting on my bottom, but I think you understand what I am trying to say :-)).  I have decided that it was time to 'get up' and do something about the ideas in my head.  This is how this series came about.

Laundry.  We all have it.  There are a ton of ways one can handle it.  I encourage you to find a way that will work for your family.  No one way is the *right* way.  I know my mother would just about keel over and die if she knew that I pretty much throw my laundry in the washer without sorting.  I know, a true crime!  Though, to be fair, I do have three piles.  One for diapers, one for towels and the last one for everything else.  The exception is a new article of clothing that could seep it's fresh dye into the laundry water, I would wash that separately for a few times before throwing it in with the 'everything else' pile.

This year I wanted to extend our outside laundry line.  We saved a lot of  money last year by hanging our laundry out to dry.  The biggest savings come during the spring through fall time period.  We try to make do without the AC or heat (spring or fall) which in itself saves money.  When it is time to put the AC on, we can still save some money by hanging the laundry. This way the AC unit doesn't have to work against the heat from the dryer running half the day.

We have at least three loads of laundry a day, if not four.  Our dryer, for what ever reason (we've looked into it), takes a cycle and a half to dry our clothing.  That puts each load drying for one hour and thirty minutes.  That means our dryer is running for at least four and a half hours, and sometimes 6 hours daily.  Last year I found it difficult to get all our clothing hung on the lines we had.  If I started early enough, and it wasn't too humid, with at least a slight breeze, I could get all our laundry dried on the line for the day.  If the conditions were not right, then the dryer was used for some part of the drying process.

This year I wanted to extend the lines we had available to us.  But, alas, lack of funds for new poles led me to find a way to "Making It Work".

We have trees.  Lots of them.  Not sure how conducive it will be to have our laundry in the shade for half of the drying time, but trees are what I have to work with.  I walked around our property, close to the house, to see where I could make this new line.  My new place is working, though not perfect.  There were some goats....that determined where I could put my line.

Here it is, in all it's glory :-)  I took one end, tied it to a tree, then just kept walking, stopping to wrap the rope around a smaller tree, then kept walking, until I ran out of rope.  Nothing fancy here!  After using it for a couple of weeks there is one spot that I need to wrap around a tree as there is too much slack in the line, otherwise I am very happy with how the line is working.

Here you can see the start of the line (around the large tree in the foreground), and the end of the line (tied around the T-post between the two large trees).  I found that I can not use part of the line that leads up to the T-post as the goats on the other side of the fence can reach over and pull my clothing off the line.

 Most people think that goats will eat anything.  That is not true.  However, they are like babies who put everything into their mouths!  Our two brown goats in particular love to play with the clothespins.  They pull on the laundry until the clips fly off, find them on the ground, and nibble on them.  Either that or they like to nibble on the newly hung wet laundry. One way or the other, my clean laundry finds it's way to the ground. That wouldn't be a problem if my line was strung over lush green grass.  Alas, it is not.  Again, making do with what I have, and that sometimes means I have to rewash an item or five :-)

See?  We are clearly lacking in the lush green grass!  But I do have these lovely rock formations, smack dab in the middle of my strung up laundry lines.  I have to be careful when I am hanging the laundry by the rocks because there are smaller ones that I always seem to trip over (these are not small rocks that I can pick up and throw, but large ones like the above, that are only sticking up a small amount).

And here is one of our brown goats.  We have let them into this area temporarily to munch on some of the brush.  I just have to make sure to shoo her out before I hang any laundry.

These are the extra lines I hung up last year...on our porch.  They are still there.  These are much more limited in their usefulness since I can only hang smaller items.  I can hang larger items if I lay them across multiple lines, but then I run out of room very quickly.  But, again, trying to make this work with what I have.

Brown goats in the back, and white chickens up front.  No, the chickens don't pull our laundry down, but they do come up sometimes to lay in the shade of the laundry.  And if not the chickens, then definitely the cats!

For years I have wrestled with the best way to handle the clothes pins.  We used to have a hanging bag, with multiple pockets. I made a clothes pin bag another year.  I've had miscellaneous buckets to hold the pegs. Finally, after years of trying a new 'system' for pegs I found something that works best of all....these huge pockets (seen above), that happen to be on my....

apron!  Those two, very full, pockets happen to be holding two loads worth of pegs!  This allows me to have the pegs at the ready without pulling along a hanging bag.  This also means no bending over to grab pegs from a bucket.  I had seen a tutorial for a waist apron to hold clothes pins when the light bulb over my head went on.  I have an apron with large pockets, let's see if it will work.  And it does!  Again, see what you have to make your ideas (or in this case other people's ideas) work.

How do you all handle your laundry?  What type of obstacles have you had to overcome to make a system work for your family?

A large span of lush green grass, multiple lines in the sun, would be ideal, but not all of us have that to work with.  I was just driving by a house yesterday and saw their laundry line.  At most it could hold 4 or 5 shirts on one line.  They had three, maybe four lines, for a total of possibly 20 items to dry at a time.  This wouldn't even hold one load of laundry for our family.  But, if that is all you can do, then that is one load less, possibly two, depending on your climate, to take it's turn in the dryer.

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debbie said...

Hi. My laundry system is very similar to yours. Nappies, towels, clothes. Mum and Dad's clothes may may make their way into a seperate load. Alas we're a family of 5 and have one of those clothes lines that hold 20 items and due to a privacy wall struggles to dry clothes in winter. Really need to put up another line in our very sunny coutyard but again alas no funds for poles and no trees. Well maybe next year.

The Southern Peach-Girls said...

You hang your laundry in the winter? Wow, that's great! I put a temperature limit on when we would hang laundry outside. It seemed to me that the clothing would just come in frozen instead of dry :-) I hope you can find an awesome ingenious way to rig up more line. Could you rig one up with some hooks screwed into something that already exists? Good luck to you.


Melissa French - The More With Less Mom said...

Good for you! I am a firm believer that applying a little thought to a problem first is better than running off to a store. It wasn't that long ago that families did not have enough disposable income to just buy what they wanted, and had to make do with what they had. Simple problem solving skills are a good muscle to flex. Greetings from the Homestead Barn Hop.

The Southern Peach-Girls said...

Thank you for stopping by! I grew up with just making do, and it seems to be just the way to do things :-) I am always telling my girls that we can either save money by spending some time, or we can save time by spending some money. Hands down they choose to save money and spend the time! One of life's little battles won. Ha, ha. Now on to the next 4,573 battles.


Spice of Life Mom said...

Several years ago, my husband and I were overwhelmed by our growing family and our growing laundry problem. We chose to spend some money on about 8 laundry hampers. There are three in each bathroom area--labeled colors, whites, and darks. Then there's one for towels and one for "special" things. This has revolutionized laundry in our house. Previously I would spend time sorting and piles would lie around waiting to be washed, but they were in the way and eventually picked up and mixed up before they were able to be washed. Now even the little ones know how to sort. It is so much easier!

The Southern Peach-Girls said...

That is an awesome idea! I thought about doing that in the past. I don't remember why I didn't try it out. hmmmm. I shall have to think about that! Goodness knows that anything to help make chores run more smoothly is greatly appreciated.


JES said...

Making do with what we have seems to be our motto around here too... Our clotheslines are around trees as well... The more the merrier as the laundry will get done! I use a clothespin apron for my pins too, just reach and place, very convenient! I would also add an occasional ant problem... Yes, they walk down the line and attach themselves to my clothing... I found that a piece of lambs wool attached to each end with a clothespin remedies that in case you ever run into that since yours are attached to trees too. Thank you for sharing your laundry situation. I love to hear how other homemakers do their routines. Please join us again next week on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

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