Thursday, January 17, 2013

Getting the Most Out of Your Winter Homestead

It may be 50 degree outside in mid-January, but winter is still here in the Northeast, and will be for months to come.  While I can hardly wait to get out there and start putting things in the ground and caring for the new little chicks coming our way, there is a quiet peace to the winter homestead that is unlike any other time of the year.  

While winter is a time of dormancy and hibernation for many, for us humans there is always work to be done: there are tools to be repaired, seeds to order, homeskills to learn, and perhaps a bit of planning and soul searching as we move into a new year.  While so much of the winter focus is on prepping and looking forward, it is easy to forget the beauty and joy to be found on your homestead in the winter.  Here are a few thoughts on enjoying your space this cold season.



Get Outside

For many of us, the best part of homesteading happens out of doors.  In the winter we are often cooped up in our homes with only the briefest visits out to care for the animals.  Take time each day to bundle up and get outside for at least a few minutes no matter what the weather is like. Visit those spots on your homestead you love in the summer: dream, plan, prune, have a bonfire, spend time with your animals, and simply notice the cold beauty of the season.


 

Take Time to Learn a New Skill

When the weather is chilly, take the opportunity to learn a new skill that you don't have time for once you're busy out of doors: learn to knit, get caught up on your sewing, make soap, bake your own bread, or pick up woodworking.  There are wonderful books, blogs, and classes you can take to help you get started learning these skills.

Reassess Your Goals for the Year and Plan

Every year I look forward to those winter nights when we sit down to order seeds, plan our garden, and decide what to add on to our homestead for the coming year.  While there can be an element of stress to making these decisions, it is usually a fun night (or series of nights).  If it isn't something you usually enjoy, make it special: order take out, open some wine, make decaf coffee, go out, dress up, or do whatever you do to make it fun. 

Read and Research

Winter is the perfect time to sit down with a book or your computer and research your projects for the coming year.  Choose books that will move you forward, and if you are looking to be re-inspired, choose books that share other peoples journeys towards self-sufficiency.  You can find some of my favorite book here at the store, but also look for copies at the library or local book store.


How do you get the most out of your homestead experience in the winter months?

12 comments:

  1. Meredith/GreenCircleGroveJanuary 17, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    Nice post! I'm dreaming of spring, too. I find the long nights are good ones for catching up on my pile of Books I've Been Meaning To Read. Thanks for sharing the good ideas! I'm going to share your post!

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    2. Thanks! I'm slowly making it through my stack of books here!

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  2. Great advice! I've been really wishing for spring lately, but this helped me realize I need to enjoy and appreciate winter on the homestead as well. We have been taking this time to plan out the rest of the year and the changes we will make outdoors and inside the house. We are in full planning mode!

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    1. We're in planning mode here too - I tend to plan too much, so I'm trying to cut back a bit!

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  3. Well, I went back to school this week so my dreaming/planning time has been diminished considerably. But I did take some time to assess what went right or wrong last year (mostly wrong) and then made a plan to pare things down to a practical level. And this weekend I'm going to spend some time poring through all the seed catalogs I've gotten lately as well as reading through the books on animal care that I have out from the library.

    I really enjoy your blog, by the way. You're a lovely writer!

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    1. Keeping things at that level are hard, especially when you know you'll have limited time. Thanks for your thoughts on the blog - you made my day.

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  4. Good morning, I am an old hen not a young chick like you gals. In the years past I raised 4 children, and did all the homesteading that you gals are doing now..From a huge garden, to milking Brown Swiss cows to milking goats, to making my own butter and cottage cheese, had my own chickens, as well as beef cows, horses,and pigs..I guess there isn't a farm critter that I haven't raised..It was a GREAT way to raise my kids. It was sometimes hard, but loved the hard work and satisfaction of doing it all..Then I went back to work..thus ending much of the gardening and such..Now I am retired and am slowly getting back into gardening and canning. Love the fresh veggies from garden..No more cows,chickens, or pigs, just a few horses as I love to trail ride..I am, however turning a bit more of my yard into gardens, and am planning to do more canning..I love your blog as it reminds me of my younger days and how much I enjoyed them..Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE retirement..and yes winter spending the time, sewing,crocheting, and my fav. reading..getting ready for the garden...Oh yes..The Internet...something we didn't have in my younger days...Life is GREAT...Keep on doing what you gals are doing..You will always cherish these memories and so will your kids..

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  5. I also love the slower pace of winter. We are able to keep a garden going all winter but it's at a much more relaxed pace than the spring/summer garden. Today we're going to get mushroom compost for the garden and orchard. We need to get our planting areas ready and some of our seeds started. We'll be planting in about 5-6 weeks.

    Have a great weekend

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  6. This is our first winter on our homestead but the weather has been very mild, so we've just kept right on going. Cool season planting kicks into gear in a few weeks so we have our seedlings started, husbie is building a fence around our garden area, and has started work on a chicken coop. We haven't really gotten much "down" time.

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  7. It's a warmer day here today - I turned the compost pile! In winter, my mind is usually racing with all the creative things I'd like to do/learn. Now especially I dream of the improvements I want to make in the barnyard come spring. I hope to collaborate with my cousin and start making some chicken-themed art. Wouldn't it be nice if we had the time, energy and talent to make all our dreams come true?

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  8. I have to admit, I am very guilty of going outside only to quickly get things done and rush back inside to warm up. But, if you take the time to linger, there is nothing else quite like the silence after a fresh layer of snow. Thanks for the reminder.

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