LifeWinter

How we Prepare for Winter on the Homestead

Dandelion's Acre Farm

December has arrived on the Homestead. The snow hasn’t flown yet, and the next two days are predicted into the early 50’s even, but it’s coming, and we know it.

This homestead, on the tippy top of a large hill, and with few trees to provide windbreak, gets hit hard each winter. Winds are strong and prevalent, and it’s always at least 5 degrees colder up here than it is even just four miles down below, in town. It’s a tough existence in the winter, but, shhh, I kind of love it.

Winter provides a welcome break from a lot of outside farm chores and instead becomes the season of planning and dreaming around here. In addition, we go to bed earlier, make time for more down-time activities (movies, games, reading), and in general are more rested.

Once March arrives, it’s hit the ground running, so to speak, with chores and excitement galore, so we take advantage of these quieter winter months as well as we can.

December here is all about Christmas and Advent. We bake, we shop, we give, we party and we prepare our hearts as a reminder of the gift we’ve been given in the birth of Jesus.

But prior to all that, there are some things we try to get done around here before the snow flies:

-We do a last cleaning of the barn and chicken coop. Typically we follow the “deep bedding method”(mother earth news: deep litter method) during the winter, providing more warmth and protection from the elements for our animals. It may seem gross, but the manure and urine tends to drop through the litter (we use hay) to the bottom. Each week, we add fresh litter to the top keeping things nice and clean. This method makes for a HUGE clean-out job in the spring because we don’t have a tractor. We do it the old-fashioned way with pitchfork and shovel, and it takes a few days, usually. But over winter it’s a great way to keep the animals warm (and cut down on chores for us) so it works.

-We mulch the garden. This year we implemented the no-till method of gardening and it worked wonderfully. Each fall, we’ll need to mulch with our spent hay, manure, and wood chips (we get for cheap locally), and let it rest and decompose into beautiful soil ready for planting in the spring. I’m really excited about this method. More about it later.

-We trim the goat’s hooves right before it becomes consistently freezing outside. Goat’s hooves need trimmed regularly. Every 30-60 days is recommended. We generally do every 60 because our goats have access to a cement pad as well as some large-ish rocks in their pasture that keep their hooves trimmed in between. When everything freezes outside, so do those hooves. And y’all, trimming frozen hooves are akin to trimming concrete. It will have to be done mid-winter, but having to do it just once when they’re frozen, rather than twice is a big help.

-We water and mulch the blueberry bushes heavily. Once we have our fruit tree saplings planted next spring, we’ll do this for them as well.

-We mow a path down our sledding hill (priorities, man).

-I can and freeze what we’re able. Each year I get a little more done. Like anything, it’s a process, and this is one chore that I believe takes a village to get done in any vast amount. This year we did tomatoes -sauce, chopped, crushed, and soup-ed. https://dandelionsacre.com/make-fresh-tomato-sauce-easy-way/ We also did grape juice, lots of frozen kale, chopped onions and swiss chard stems (a good celery substitute)Β  bagged together and frozen. We also blanched and froze lots of broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, and eggplant.

-We hunt. Well ok, not me. Maybe one day when there aren’t little ones under foot, I’ll partake of this pastime. It makes us feel good to put healthy, lean, natural- fed food on the table. And there’s something deeply satisfying and primal about watching the men-folk of the family saunter off with guns over shoulders, into the wilds, to get meat (grunt). Disclosure: do to their busy-ness with other pursuits my guys don’t spend a TON of time hunting, usually just 4 or 5 days, which is probably why we haven’t gotten a deer in three years. Sigh.

-We stock up on coal for the coal stove. We’re lucky to have a coal shed right next to the house to be able to do this, and because our coal supplier is just three miles away, we usually just get enough for a couple weeks at a time. In our old home we had a woodstove. Man, do I miss it. There’s just something about a fire made from wood to heat your home. But I know that Joe doesn’t miss all the chopping and stacking and general hard labor that accompanies burning wood as your main fuel source, so the coal stove works just fine for him. It is nice, and it keeps the propane cost down. Someday he envisions a windmill and solar for this old place. Baby steps.

 

I’m sure I’ve left something out, but those are a few things we do to prepare for winter here on the Homestead.

What are your favorite winter prep activities?

I’ll leave you with a few pics of winter past, here on Dandelion’s Acre Farm.

 

Elizabeth

 

 

 

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16 comments

  1. Seriously, seasonal living is actually one of my goals. I love the concept of living the way most people did before the industrial revolution brought us so much “convenience” and “downtime.” Yea right. I’m with you girlfriend. Hunker down and dream during the winter.

  2. We live in Southern California, so our winter preparation is actually prepping for wildfires – defensible space around the perimeter, making sure our emergency bags are prepped for quick evacuation, etc – Your winter photos make me wistful for a true cold weather season!

  3. Having a homestead is hard work, but the ability to be self sufficient is so worth it! Keep up the good work!

  4. Sounds magical and a lot of work at the same time. Our poor chickens haven’t been producing much at all. Not sure if it’s the cold weather or not

  5. I think it’s great that you have chosen to live this way. I read recently about someone building a home that will be completely energy efficient, even had a rainwater water system. Definitely interesting in this age of high tech everything.

  6. It’s always so interesting reading how others prepare. We live in a subdivision and it seems so different for us but I do love the message of how we prepare our hearts in December. Nice post.

  7. Wow life in a farm is busy! Beautiful pictures of the landscape. Baby boy looks so sweet.

  8. Beautiful pics! I have to be honest though: I am glad we don’t have to prepare our homestead for winters like this!

  9. I love all the winter pics! I miss the snow down here in FL!

  10. Sounds like a busy life. I am a city girls so I don’t have an real chores to do.

  11. I can’t even imagine what we would do if we had that much snow! Texas shuts down if we get an inch! =) Your photos are so beautiful!

  12. I spend winter wishing grown ups got snow days, too!

  13. I love the winter pics. It makes me miss the snow!

  14. Reminds me of my childhood at my grandma’s ranch in Wyoming πŸ™‚

  15. Reminds me of my childhood on my grandma’s ranch in Wyoming πŸ™‚

  16. We live in a subdivision with only a smallish yard, but we make sure we get all of the leaves raked up, we cover our outside vents so that the heat doesn’t escape as much.

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