When we lived in Minnesota we had a saying that went, "There' s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing." Here in Missouri where the weather is not as intense, it is quite gloomy and with ice/rain/snow/melt cycle we have here, it stays quite wet. Wet means muddy conditions and mud on a farm makes everything more difficult.
Mentally winter is difficult for farmers and homesteaders also because of the longer hours of darkness combined with being cooped up in our house more often. That takes a toll on us solar-powered people!
For us winter is a time for feeding our minds and making plans for the coming seasons. It is a time of rest, well, rest as much as a farmer ever can rest! It's a time of reading more books, planning gardens, starting seeds and planning our goat breeding for the coming spring. So many things to look forward to.
Here are 5 things we farmers/homesteaders do during the winter months, perhaps some of these ideas will help you be creative when stuck inside with dreary weather!
This is the time of year we do the most reading. We aren't fans of fiction because we know there is so much more we need to learn; our days are short so we have little time for fiction! So we spend our time on books that help us improve upon the previous year. Everything from gardening and preserving food, to goat husbandry, our shelves are filled with books and our evenings are filled with reading and studying. We delight in all we learn each winter.
HERE ARE A FEW BOOKS WE RECOMMEND:
Here is a list of books that have blessed us in the past and in some cases, for many years as we've read them again and again.
Elliot Coleman - The Four Season Harvest
Joel Salatin - Folks, This Ain't Normal and You Can Farm
Micheal Pollan - Food Inc.
You can get this in book form or watch the free movie which can both be found on Amazon and/or Youtube. This is a must read/see for everyone, but be warned, you'll never look at your food the same again.
Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions
The best book in our kitchen for the last 10 years is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.
Why do we love this book? You read, get recipes and learn all at the same time.
This book is a well-researched, thought-provoking guide to traditional foods and contains a startling message: Animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the diet, necessary for normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels.
Suzanne Ashworth Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners We appreciated the great detail and research that went into this book. If you want to learn to save your own seeds, you won't find anything more robust than this book.
2. Up Your Online Game
Winter is when we spend the most time working on our website, blog and other online social media marketing ideas. Winter is a great time to study and learn more, take an online class or just practice your skills on building websites or studying the websites of others in a similar field.
Plan your coming year, price materials for future building projects, order seeds and gardening tools, look for farmers who may have the livestock you need in the coming spring. This time of year is when the most reservations start to come in for our dairy goats who will be due to kid in May. Getting on the lists early to get the best stock with breeders is important. In winter you can many times find good deals on off-season equipment. Getting all you need collected now will make the spring time efforts smoother and more productive.
This is also the time of year we are ordering seeds and planning our garden rotations. Many online tools help with this job but the planning must happen early. We already have seeds started in our basement growing room by January and the seedlings will be ready for the greenhouse in March.
3. Do Home Repairs (Indoor)
Life on a farm or homestead (in our experience) means the inside of the house takes a backseat to all things outdoors. Once winter hits and the outside work slows, it is a great time to take care of all the indoor home repairs that have built up. In addition, we have become winter-clean-out people instead of "spring cleaning." It gives us a refreshed feeling in the middle of winter, to have a more organized home.
4. Take A Trip
We haven't taken a summer trip (for more than a day or two) since moving to the farm! But in the winter, it affords us a time to get away. Conferences, weekend trips or if it is in the budget, a longer vacation to a warmer place. A good farm sitter is easier to find in the winter months as well.
It may sound silly and simple perhaps, but this is so important to us now that we have learned how hard it is to work all summer on a farm! It takes considerable time to truly relax after a summer filled with gardens, harvest, customers, thousands of chickens, processing, cleaning, mowing, birthing goats... and the list goes on.
This is also the time of year we enjoy all the fruits of our labor over the summer and fall. Canned beef soups, canned chicken broth and other preserved foods now go into our daily meals. Elderberry syrup which we preserved over the summer also comes out into our daily diet to help fight against the cold and flu seasons. We now greatly enjoy the things we worked so hard to put up for the winter! God gives us seasons and we really need them here on the farm/homestead. Without a winter to rest and rejuvenate, we would burn out quickly. Use each season to the fullest and rest as needed.
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. - Genesis 8:22