Winter Homesteading Chores and Skills to Perfect
Winter homesteading activities provide opportunities to learn, practice and hone valuable skills while providing nourishment through food grown on your own land. Homesteaders often speak of deepening their knowledge each year as they become better stewards of the land that gives them sustenance. While winter may seem like an unlikely time to think about planting and harvesting crops, these cold months actually offer a unique chance to prepare for spring growth cycles while also exercising important skills in animal husbandry, cheese making and preserving techniques, just scratching the surface of possibilities! Let’s delve into some key winter homesteading activities you can start today and learn how mastering these practices can benefit your life throughout the entire year.
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Cooking during those long cold winter months not only gives you something to do but it also fills your house with delicous smells and adds a little extra heat. Winter is a great time to try out some of those recipes you have been saving. Pull out those home canned goods and get to cookin’. Baking is also great during the winter, your sourdough will love you. I find that I don’t cook a lot during the summer because it is so hot so why not use those winter months to stock the freezer with quick and easy dinners for the summer.
Whip Up Some Herbal Remedies
You might want to start researching some of your favorite herbal remedies now! Whether you want to simply start diffusing your own essential oils, or you want to learn how to make salves, winter is a good time to do so. Need some ideas? Check out the XX section of our website.
Plan Next Years Garden
The key to planning next year’s garden in the winter months is to not get too ahead of yourself – and to not start too early! I try to keep detailed notes about my garden every year, both as I’m planting and caring for the garden and as I’m harvesting. That way, I know what needs to be adjusted in upcoming years. My garden planner and journal becomes my best friend during these long winter days. Start thinking about what you want to grow? Where will you grow it? Do you need to expand the garden? If you need a way to keep it all organized check out our garden planner and journal. CLICK HERE!
You’ll start receiving seed catalogs, if you’ve signed up for them, as early as January. Take advantage and begin planning (but don’t order seeds and transplants too early, or they might die or lose their viability before you can get them in the ground).
Most canning is done in the late summer and fall, but there’s nor reason why you can’t put it off until winter. There are many kinds of foods, including tomatoes and onions, that you can freeze and then can later, when you have the time, during the winter months. And just because your garden isn’t growing much doesn’t mean you have to stop preserving. Search around for things that you can’t grow and that might be in season in a different part of the country. For us this is oranges.
Build a Bee Hive
Are you looking to add a new animal to your homestead? Bees are a great addition to any homestead and great for the garden. Winter is the perfect time to start to prepare for them. Read a few books, join a FB group and start building your hives.
Make Some Homemade Cleaning Supplies
To make your own cleaning supplies, you usually only need some basic materials like towels, vinegar, castile soap, and bleach. You can create a stockpile during the winter, and then use them throughout the rest of the year. Need a recipe or a cute label for your bottles visit our website.
Deep Clean the House
Some people save the deep clean until the spring, but I find that it makes much more sense to wait until winter! Of course, you can’t throw open the windows, and beat those rugs out like you might be able to when the weather is warmer, but that’s ok. Winter is a good time to deep clean the house and get into all those long-neglected nooks and crannies.
Repot and Fertilize Indoor Plants
By the end of January I am itching to get in the garden but it is still too cold so I focus my green thumb attention to our indoor plants. Winter is a great time to repot indoor plants and give them a little fertilizer.
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Grow Some Greens
And when the gardening bug gets a little worse I will start growing some greens. This year we are trying our hand at micro greens. These kits from Back to Roots have been a great start into the world of micro greens.
Just as winter is a great time to do your own food, it’s also a superb time to dehydrate some items for next year, too. Get ahead and create a stockpile! You can dehydrate dozens of foods with a dehydrating machine or just by using your oven at the lowest possible temperature.
Practice Tying Knots
If you’re anything like me, you probably know next to nothing about tying knots! Winter is a good time to teach yourself a new skill that is invaluable on a homestead. My grandfather and dad are amazing at tying knots. They recommend this book The Ultimate Book of Everyday Knots.
If you’re ready to experience the luxury of making your own personal care products, winter is a good time to do so. Consider making your own soap – it really doesn’t take that long, and you can stockpile it for the upcoming year.
Break Out the Crock Pot
I always love experimenting with my Crockpot during the winter months. There are several tasks I save specifically for wintertime – like rendering lard in the crockpot and making soup. A Crockpot or similar kind of slow cooker is great for this!
Pre Plan and Cook Some Freezer Meals
Just as I like to spend time cooking and baking during the winter months, I also find that it’s a great time to stockpile the freezer so I don’t have to spend as much time in the kitchen when it’s hot out.
Knit or Crochet
If you enjoy knitting or crocheting – or have always wanted to learn how to do it – winter is a great time to learn. You can make anything you want, whether it’s a hat, scarf, or blanket – and you’ll have plenty of fun gifts to give away at Christmastime, too!
Get Your Homestead Organized!!
What is the Homestead Farm Planner & Management Binder?
It’s a place for you to keep all your homesteading information in one place. Write it down so you don’t forget. This binder will help you plan and manage your homestead.
Work on Your Worm Bin
Winter is also a good time to work on the vermicomposting (worm composting) bin indoors. It’s a great way to keep the composting action going when you don’t want to schlep out to the compost bin in the dead of winter. You can even keep a vermicomposting bin in your basement or a hallway closet! When done correctly, there are no odors to worry about.
Learn More about Worm Composting – HERE!
I’m a big fan of sourdough, so I like to take advantage of the winter months to bake some bread. I throw it in the freezer and I find that it lasts remarkably well until the following spring.
Our go to Soft Sourdough Sandwich Bread.
Clean and Maintain Tools
While the end of the gardening season can be hectic, it’s important that you don’t neglect the cleaning and maintenance of your tools. The key here is to make sure you do it! Believe me you will thank yourself come spring.
Practice Winter Foraging
You never know what kind of medicinal herbs and edible plants you’ll find during the winter. Take some time to research which options can be found in your area. Some common winter foraging foods include black walnuts, and tea berries.You can even hunt and trap during the winter months! Research the regulations in your area, of course, but keep in mind that many meat- and fur-bearing animals can be hunted and harvested all winter long.
Make Bone Broth
Just as I save all of my lard rendering for the winter months, so, too, do I wait on my bone broth. We butcher chickens in June, July, and August, most years, so I always have plenty of bones left to make broth come November. Usually, I cook them down in the InstantPot or Roaster, and then can the broth in a pressure canner later on.
Easy Bone Broth Recipe- HERE
You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment or know-how to make your own yogurt. You can even do it in an Instant Pot! Making yogurt is a great way to spend those long winter months.
Simple Yogurt Recipe – HERE
Winter may seem like a sleepy time on the homestead but there are still plenty of chores to do and skills to practice. By keeping busy with winter homesteading chores, you’ll be surprised at how fast the season will fly by. And when spring finally arrives, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running!
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