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Keeping Your Homestead Productive This Winter

Keeping Your Homestead Productive This Winter

The chill of winter is setting in here on our mountaintop homestead, and with cool temps comes a familiar shift in our everyday activity. Spring means garden prep and determining how many chicks we want to add to the flock for the season. Summer’s primary focus is gardening, foraging, and fishing. Fall is all about the harvest, the hunt, and winter prep. Days and days of stacking wood, adding extra insulation where needed, prepping the coop and flock for winter, and ensuring all the tools we need for snow removal are in good working order.

Once the first snow falls, priorities shift. It does not, however, mean that productivity stops. The list of tasks needed to keep a homestead running is never-ending. But, work outdoors is reduced to only what has to be done, and we focus on the home part of homesteading. For us, winter is a time of togetherness, rejuvenation, and learning. Read on on for our favorite ways of keeping your homestead productive this winter.

Put Your Kitchen to Work

For us, warm weather typically means long days of working outside in the heat, and meals are an afterthought when the day is over. Our meals usually consist of simple salads, quick sandwiches, or anything we can toss on the BBQ grill.

When the days are cool, and chores are less backbreaking (except when we get foot upon foot of snow to dig out), we fire up the stove and get to cooking! Cool days are perfect for baking extra bread and nourishing soups. We use a woodstove to heat our home, and one of my favorite things to do is put a pot of soup on the woodstove to cook all day.

When we use the kitchen stove or oven, as a bonus, it provides a little extra heat for the house. When extra is made, we freeze it for meals later in the season. If you have a freeze dryer, now is the perfect time to stock up on ready-made meals to have on hand for warmer days or for days when cooking feels like a chore.

Bring the Garden Indoors

Snow on the ground does not necessarily mean that you have to stop gardening. There are a lot of plants that will thrive in a pot on a kitchen window sill. You probably won’t be able to grow enough food for a whole meal, but everything tastes better with fresh herbs. We’ve had great success growing leaf lettuce in pots on the windowsill.

Research what plants will grow and thrive in your space; you could eat fresh produce all winter! If space allows, you could invest in indoor grow lights to compensate for the lack of sun.

Winter Foraging

Spring, fall, and summer provide a bounty of forage food and medicine, but winter is not as barren as it may seem. Some of the more common winter forage items include rosehips, pine and pine nuts, dock seed, and crabapples. You can find a great list of Winter Foraging over on Practical Self Reliance. On our last trip into the high country this year, we were lucky enough to find a bunch of rosehips. These little fruits are so good for the body and the skin, and they are best harvested after a frost, so we were really excited to find them.

Learn the Art of Healing With Herbal Remedies

By now, if you follow along, you’ve probably realized that we’re pretty passionate about herbal remedies here on Byers Ranch. This is a skill I got interested in when we first started homesteading, and I used our first winter as my classroom to learn everything I could.

Thanks to Fire Cider, there were fewer colds and infections the following winter. And last year, I only got sick once. The best part is that herbal remedies are easy to get started with, and many healing ingredients already exist in most pantries. Learning how to take care of simple ailments and injuries can be incredibly fulfilling and a wonderful skill to add to the homesteading repertoire.

Beginners Guide to Stocking the Home Apothecary

Seed Shopping & Garden Planning

Winter is the perfect time to do a little summer dreaming. I spend some of winter's coldest, darkest days combing through the Baker Creek Seed Catalog (not an affiliate link; I just love them.) When you feel you just can’t take the cold anymore, that cheery catalog brightens my day with visions of what the summer could hold. By January, I’ve filled out my garden planner and placed all our seed orders. We begin starting some of our seeds indoors in February and March, and by spring, we are ready to plant!

Self-Improvement & Growth

Winter is a great time to reflect on what is working, what needs improvement, and what we want to add to our lives. I love to look at winter as a classroom. With the absence of so many of the warm weather tasks, there is free time to learn new skills and work on improving old ones. When you live on a homestead with the goal of self-sufficiency in mind, there is always something new to learn, whether it’s a new recipe or a new skill altogether.

For me, I plan to spend my winter months finally diving into sourdough. Nothing goes better with cozy soups and stews than fresh sourdough, and I’ve been dreaming of beautiful loves since we bought our home. I also plan to deepen my plant knowledge. I requested a big stack of herbal books from Santa this year to up my herbal game.

Get Crafty

Along with winter comes the holiday and gift-giving season. Since we have shifted to only giving handmade items as gifts, I love using this time to create gifts for the whole family. You can check out our list of DIY Gifts to Give here. I always like to make a few extra to have on hand as hostess gifts for holiday parties or just in case an additional person ends up on our holiday list. Another great thing to make is decor. This year, we made all of our holiday decor, most of it from items found, foraged, or harvested from our property. So when you wake up on those cold and blustery mornings thinking, “There is no way I’m going out in this!” Don’t let the day go to waste. Pull out your craft supplies and get to making.

Make it Shine

When the whole family is cooped up in the house, you’ll soon realize that you have more messes on your hands. Winter is a great time to apply some elbow grease and deep clean your home. Not only does it cut down on clutter, but it can also help improve your health by ensuring germs and bugs are cleaned away before they can get your family sick.

DIY While You Clean

Store-bought cleaning products have their place, and sometimes nothing but Lysol will do. But there is something to be said for all-natural cleaning products that you make yourself. When we first moved into our homestead, I stocked all the ingredients needed to DIY our cleaning products. Then, I got lazy. Until the day we got completely snowed in and had no laundry detergent. I almost panicked, then I remembered I had what I needed to make our own. You can find our DIY Laundry Detergent recipe here. I made a batch of this detergent, and we have never bought laundry soap again.

DIY Cleaning Products

Keeping Your Homestead Productive This Winter

Particularly when you live on a homestead, there is no end to the tasks that need doing, but winter offers a plethora of opportunities to create, learn new skills, and improve practices. Hopefully, this list has given you a few ideas for filling the winter months without losing productivity. Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite ways to stay productive during the winter? Tell us all about them in the comments below and until next time,

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Keeping Your Homestead Productive this Winter

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