Homesteading in the mountains can be inconvenient, dangerous, challenging and lots of hard work.
This is part three in a series of articles on how I made the transition to off grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable techniques practiced for thousands of years. Currently I’m entering the first winter of full-time off grid living at my mountain homestead after completing the construction of my small house.
The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts for our area “Winter will be cooler and rainier than normal, with above-normal snowfall." To quote a popular television show “Winter is coming." Prepare for winter with this checklist and weatherization ideas.
A few tweaks in the process may make all the difference in whether a colony survives the winter.
The time to be thinking about eating local food is in January, when you plan your garden, not in August and September, as you harvest and preserve. Fall and winter crops should be planted in June - but it is not too late to think about next year.
We put a lot of thought into being prepared for mountain winters and it requires a lot of work to be fully prepared.
Learn the correct method for safely making home canned pumpkin and winter squash. A few jars of ready-to-use canned pumpkin on your pantry shelf can save time when you want to bake a pumpkin pie, simmer a squash soup, or make any other favorite recipe calling for pumpkin puree.
Hoop houses have proven themselves to be invaluable for extending the gardening season in both spring and fall. But I didn’t expect to get even more use out of mine during our frequent and unpredictable hail storms!
It may be springtime in many parts of the country, but some are still buried under the final remains of a snowy winter. Learn how to start a fire atop hardpack snow.
The sun is shining, the breeze is starting to warm, but there's still three feet of snow outside. It's driving you crazy — why can't spring get here now? Well, you're not the only one because those chickens have cabin fever too!
Wintering pigs outside is both fun and rewarding, if you plan accordingly. The most important aspect for pigs wintering outside is that they have adequate shelter and protection from the weather and cold. Water and proper forage, even during cold months, are also important.
After a month and a half of subzero temps, even 20 degrees Fahrenheit feels warm.
Our Facebook fans gave us feedback on how to keep livestock water from freezing when the weather gets cold. Read their innovative tips to keep your own water warm.
The short period of time each year where homesteaders and summer-business owners like us get to freely bask in open-ended unscheduled time is as short as it is sweet, and it reaches its peak right now in January.
Birds are survivors. Learn about different adaptations birds have to thrive during the dark, cold winter days. And, what you can do to support winter bird survival in your backyard.
What's going on with the hives, new developments in the Down-East Bee Lady's life, latest bee school news, etc.
Why pay high prices at the grocery store when growing herbs outdoors is achievable all winter long?
There are many reasons to save seed. Why should you learn how to save seed?
Originally founded as a homestead in 1980 by Jack Gray and Mary Jo Wade, Winter Green Farm has grown to become a successful biodynamic farm in Oregon’s southern Willamette Valley. This profile of Winter Green Farm has been excerpted from "Planting A Future: Profiles from Oregon’s New Farm Movement."
A beekeeper, acting as the Guardian, discovers a hive that appears to have been frozen in early spring and then sees it come back to life before his very eyes. This beekeeping short story may surprise you, too.
Low tunnels are easy structures to build to protect your winter veggies. Keeping the covers on in windy conditions can be a challenge. Learn simple steps you can take to make your low tunnel covers stable, no matter what the weather brings.
The cold weather is hitting Virginia early this year and it's time to winterize!
Everything pauses during the time around the winter solstice.
Contrary to popular belief, most breeds are very well equipped to deal with the cold. But good husbandry skills will ensure very little frostbite irritation for your rooster and other large-combed chicken breeds. This blog post is about protecting your chickens' comb, but frostbite can also afflict the feet, mainly on snowy days.
A philosophical look at the coming of winter, with ideas for preserving the summer after the end-of-the-season pepper harvest.
Being a homesteader and living off the land often means being subjected to natural conditions beyond our control, sometimes predictable changes of seasons and temperatures, other times curve balls such as unseen pest pressure, hard frosts in late May or heavy snow in early November. A lifestyle where these natural circumstances is the main determining factor for what gets done when is getting increasingly rarer – humans have gained what some consider an advantage by manipulating the world into a state where we, in many ways, can remain unaffected from the forces of nature.
What you need to think about to prepare your cows, barn, feed and yourself for the cold weather.
It’s absolutely possible to be gardening in winter. You simply need to understand what to plant, when to plant it and how to maintain the best possible growing conditions in your home for indoor agriculture.
Chard is a wonderful green, chock full of vitamins. It can be eaten when small in salads. The large leaves can be harvested for steamed/cooked greens. It is a perennial that with cover can be harvested all winter.
The first killing frosts of the season change the garden-scape.
Make a winter checklist to follow in preparation for winter in the mountains.
You can be harvesting from your garden all year long, including through the winter months! It's time to plant the fall garden.
Ira shows how you can keep sowing and planting through late summer and into fall. Learn how to keep your garden producing abundantly through the cold months ahead.
The greenhouse takes shape with the help of family.
Temporary brooder setup for CSP, chicks in Gossamer Foundation's office (in February).
Tips that we have learned gardening at a high elevation.
The hoophouse on our farm is filled with greens all winter long. It’s almost hard to switch gears for summer tomatoes.
The new 15 and 25 series snow pushers from Land Pride are available in 3 popular sizes.
Two homesteaders discuss their experience with the weather applicable to their mountain homesteads in Washington and Colorado.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan Redick recounts a poignant start to lambing season on Bittersweet Heritage Farm.
Ed Essex and Bruce McElmurray compare their weather experiences living at 4,200 feet and 9750 feet elevation respectively.
Creating a micro-climate is an essential tool for your survival and homesteading skills. Making the right micro-climate for your plants specific needs will not only help them survive, but thrive as well.
Suggestions for what to have on hand - and handy - when you hear a storm is heading your way.
Hints for kidding in the very cold weather.
A would-be farmer finds chills and perspective during a long winter on the farm.
Two homesteaders from Washington and Colorado comment on their greatest weather fear in the mountains.
Life on a farm blanketed in snow.
Winter has it's challenges, but the snow-capped beauty and the adventure of living simply amongst it makes it more than worth it.
Some crops survived the cold temperatures while others died. Which ones are most reliable for winter outdoors and in the hoophouse?
Candlemas is an ancient midwinter holiday, when people would take inventory on their stock of candles, pantry food storage and hay in the barn to get the homestead through the second half of winter.
Maintaining access to a water source is one of the most important winter-time chores.
4 or 40, growing up isnt always straight up. Branches, bumpy outcroppings and the occasional low hanging fruit serve as speed bumps on the road of life.
Calculating the amount of mountain snow to actual moisture.
Our chickens aren't fond of the snow and the wind, but we found a way to let them enjoy the sunshine from the comfort of their coop!
While the snow's flying, this is a good time to plan your garden rotation, order seeds, preheat early spring garden areas, and more.
It is possible to grow fresh crops through the dark months even without a greenhouse, and even where we live, a thousand miles from the Arctic Circle, where the winter sun brings only brief and meager light.
When the temperature drops below zero Fahrenheit, you have to keep an eye on your goats.
How to keep your livestock warm and your life full on chilly winter days.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan Redick gets through winter — and goat breeding — by taking a page from her herd and sticking together.
Outside of a few rare equipment failures, we’ve never had a power outage in the past 20 years that wasn’t our own fault — usually caused by not paying attention to power use or proper battery charging. Weather failures, on the other hand, are starting to become noticeable.
Wintertime for a farmer is full of projects and planning.
A homesteader's year is over for this time. Nothing cleans the yard up as a foot of snow, and I think it's here to stay. winter on Deer Isle is great, so great I consider it something we deserve after getting through the summer, both for us as homesteaders and for us as a part of this community.
Cam learns the hard way why it's never a good idea to procrastinate about important jobs!
Stay warm, find a hobby and cull the livestock; here are some of the things we do to prepare for winter!
Each season brings its own work on a homestead. In the autumn, the garden and animals still require work, but this is also the time to put in a cistern and begin a smoke house.
It's freezing out - but that doesn't mean it's time to quit gardening. Learn how fall and winter are the key to next year's gardening success.
The December garden is still full of life, both in the beds and under cover, providing fresh ingredients for home cooked meals. Winter farmers markets and CSA's are a great way to learn what grows well in your zone.
Give your pots the protection they need when freezing temperatures arrive with a portable greenhouse. You can also bring in pepper plants for the winter and have fresh peppers indoors.
Even if you only have garden pots to work with, you can still container garden in fall and winter to grow vegetables.
Heat Holders keep in the heat in your feet.
10 easy steps to get your home prepared for winter.
The Keystone Center, in partnership with the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center, is hosting a regional food workshop called “The Traditional Winter Garden: Fresh Food From December to March.”
DIY sprouting experiment to get kids interested in growing and eating sprouts.
A short a story about our very first ice fishing and snowmobile ride.
Get a materials list and step-by-step insructions for low tunnel construction for your backyard garden.
Why and how to grow a variety of cold weather greens in most climates.
Winter biking doesn't mean spending tons of money on new cold-weather gear. Adding a few essential items to your closet can help keep you warm during cold weather biking.
How we stay busy in the winter even though we live at 4200', three miles off the road, and somewhat isolated.
Cam can't think of anywhere he'd rather be than on his own private skating rink.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce Oates sings the praises of mixed-species perennial pastures for in-between seasons—even if they don't fully alleviate the need for watching and waiting.
Car tips for prepping and survival for driving in extreme winter weather.
It is deep winter and how are your chickens doing? Here are some quick and easy tips to get them through a cold snap.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce shares 5 things to consider before starting a farmstead—not the least of which being winter.
How to make candles you can really light from the peel of Clementine oranges. A wintertime craft...just oil and an orange peel!
Tips on how to stay safe and warm during extremely cold wind chill temperatures.
On a snowy winter morning, the kitchen table becomes the grand cathedral of a home. It is the place of family, song, wood fires, community and love as we wait for spring.
A brief description of how we grow fresh vegetables in our long cold winters.
Learn details regarding winter chicken care including ventilation for a cozy chicken house, heat for baby and grown chicks, and recommended poultry books.
Tips on which birds to keep an eye out for in different weather conditions.
A snapshot of winter life living remote and off grid.
Killing frosts are arriving, but Ira's staying self-sustaining all winter, with winter-hardy greens and plenty in storage, from sweet potatoes to pickled peppers. Get inspired with ideas for kimchi and a fresh twist on winter salads, with yacon.
In this piece, author Mary Moss-Sprague discusses the simple pleasures of tasty, home-canned tomato preserves.
Learn how to de-ice slippery surfaces without harming nearby soil and plants.
Join us in fighting the threat of GMOs: California's Right to Know (Prop 37) for GMO labeling leads the nation, and the Southern Exposure lawsuit against Monsanto continues to push through the courts. Plus, fall gardening can be easier than summer!
How we live in the mountains during the winter.
Tomatoes are the gray area of canning. They're not quite acidic enough to just straight can like fruit but the right amount of added acid can keep you from having to pressure can them. Here are the basics on canning tomatoes.
Plan fall cover crops to feed back the soil and leave the bed ready for when you need to plant the main crop next year.
Come rejoice in the bounty of heirloom tomatoes - experience the flavors and choose your favorites at tomato tastings throughout the Southeast. Plus, it's time to plant fall alliums - garlic and perennial onions - and fall crops for winter storage!
It may be sweltering hot outside, but we're still busily sowing seeds at the Southern Exposure farms! Learn how to plant your bountiful fall and winter garden, with abundant harvests through Thanksgiving and beyond.
Describes a method of keeping red wiggler worms active and productive outside throughout the winter. Describes a method of sheltering and heating the worms using an active compost pile for heat and clear plastic glazing for shelter.
Nitrogen-fixing winter cover crops can save you money on fertilizer next year.
Sweet, healthy, root vegetables that love growing through the heat of summer? Learn about adding Jerusalem artichokes, yacon, and sweet potatoes to your gardens. Plus, more on the incredible health benefits of roselle (hibiscus).
An article about how we learned to double our growing season and have home grown fresh veggies almost all year long.
The mild winter has led to an earlier than usual spring growing season and plenty of surprises in the way of plants making it through the winter that normally would never survive the cold season. Here's a peek at what's growing in my spring garden.
Looking after your chickens in the winter and cutting with a solar-powered electric chainsaw.
So, you can't wait for the weather to warm up enough to get out and plant a few seeds in the ground? Well here is a list of gardening ideas and activities to keep you occupied and happy right up until the day that spring arrives!
Our typical day living in the mountains in the winter.
Winter wasn't very hard this year, well at least so far, and even if it gets more normal winter like, there's not much time left. Our bees have done well, and it looks like it might be a great summer ahead.
Clearly the NACE considers “useless” degrees to be ones in which pay is low and availability of jobs is scarce. However, shouldn’t measuring the usefulness of an education take into account the actual benefits bestowed upon the person doing the study
Host a community seed swap in honor of "National Seed Swap Day," plan to save your own seeds from the garden this year, and get inspired to cook creatively with winter vegetables.
Tips on how and where to view bald eagles.
Cam enjoys a magical walk through a winter wonderland while cutting and hauling firewood.
The good, the bad and the ugly of a nice mild winter and its effects on the homestead in 2012.
You might be surprised to read Cam extolling the virtues of television!
Receiving seed catalogs and dreaming of warmer weather and growing a garden.
We’ve been growing in unheated hoophouses for a decade now, and we can’t recommend them highly enough for commercial growers. If you have any dreams of market farming, the first thing you should buy is a hoophouse.
Progress in the straw bale and wooden cold frames, delicious Kim Chee recipes for winter harvested Chinese cabbage and winter radishes, and an update from the Lawns 2 Lettuce 4 Lunch program in Arlington, VA.
A rundown of activities you can do in the winter to improve your homestead.
Black winter storage radishes can be roasted with bright, pink radishes to create a warming vegetable side dish best served atop of bed of crunchy salad greens.
Southern Exposure celebrates Slow Food's Terra Madre Day with a fresh winter greens salad, featuring yacon, a South American root vegetable that tastes like fresh pear! Plus garden planning to have your own farm fresh food through the winter.
Potted greens are a good complement to greens in the hoop house soil.
Ira takes us on a winter garden tour of the experimental gardens at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. She describes the various experimental cold frames for winter gardening and winter starts. Includes a winter recipe for Sweet Potato Leek Soup.
The vegetables and herbs that are still available in our Southeast garden make for delicious, festive and surprisingly varied holiday fare.
If Thanksgiving weekend left you craving light, nutritious meals, try these recipes for winter-friendly salads.
What are you thankful for this season? Our editors know what they are thankful for, now let's hear from you.
It is not difficult to set up a backyard hoop house to extend your growing season. The result is abundant, delicious greens and extra months with your hands in the soil. Share information here on backyard hoop house gardening and cuisine.
That extra hour of sleep was great, but your animals may not think the same thing about that same hour.
One way to overwinter a top bar hive in a northern climate is to provide good ventilation and some insulation. Enough food is needed, and good protection from the wind is too. We'll see how it works.
It pays to spend time preparing your garden for winter. You can improve your soil, increase your harvest, decrease garden pests and make next spring's planting much easier.
The process of curing potatoes for winter storage.
The Garlic Gurus at Seeds from Italy give you the scoop on growing your own garlic. This post answers questions of when and where to grow garlic, what varieties to grow, how much to grow, where to buy garlic, and how much to plant.
In the beauty of autumn comes a time of preparation for winter. The many necessary tasks to be prepared if you are self sufficient.
Apple pie spice and quatres epices are two easy spice blends you can make yourself for fabulously fresh flavor.
Andrea Chesman, author of Recipes from the Root Cellar, shares one of her favorite winter vegetable recipes.
When getting a top bar hive ready for winter, you need to know how much honey there is...and measureing these frames is different than measuring rectangular frames.
Before winter's chill starts to compromise comfort and elevate home energy bills, there are 5 energy-saving upgrades you can complete.
It's time to start thinking of winter for your bees. They much have enough food to get through the long months when no food is coming in. It's your job to see that they do.
Firewood, the major yearly task when you heat with wood.
Firewood, the major yearly task when you heat with wood.
This posting will discuss the relationship between the current global warming trend and hurricanes, extreme winter winters and massive flooding.
The development of gluten intolerance persuaded me to investigate the possibility of an heirloom wheat flour that might not cause the gluten reaction of wheat-based products.
Cam describes the challenges of winter driving and cutting down trees.
Clean out the hive at the end of winter
Craving fresh food during the long winter months? Here are nine vegetables that you can find fresh in February--and great ways to prepare and serve them.
It’s been bitterly cold in Michigan. The big blizzard has gone through and has left us with a bunch of snow.
A few considerations before the arrival of a winter storm can help you, your family and your farm animals survive during frigid blizzard conditions.
The ground hog may be signalling an early end to winter, but today's a day to stay in with good food, an arsenal of craft projects and a warming bath.
The “One Good Chair” competition winners, announced at Winter Las Vegas Market, demonstrate that minimal materials can result in maximum comfort.
Jenna Woginrich writes about the beauty of Cold Antler Farm, a small homestead that she shares with Pig, her rabbits Benjamin and Doe and several chickens. Taking care of her animals on cold winter nights is a challenge for Woginrich, but one she gladly accepts armed with a water bottle and affection. Woginrich's modest barn provides shelter for her animals and a useful space to feel at home.
Cam shares his experiences getting lost in the woods.
When it's -30 degrees outside you can make your own snow!
Cam has been playing with and skating on thick ice lately.
There's no need to go to the grocery food in the winter if you have stored food in a root cellar, freezer or canning jars. Most of the work of preparing this food has already been done and so that winter meals are easy, nutritious and delicious.
While some can't wait for the warmer days to return and others are invigorated by the seasonal briskness, most of us have some cold-weather habit, holiday activity or winter ritual that we hold dear. Whether it's burrowing under thick piles of blankets, watching for the first snow flakes or getting a head start on garden planning, what are your favorite winter moments?
A few simple steps to make sure your tractor is ready for spring.
This post is about winterizing a colony of bees naturaly, using ideas and tips that we at BeeLanding have learned from nature.
Readers share tips and tricks for taking care of winter garden beds.
Renewable energy expert Dan Chiras shares tips for saving on energy costs by sealing leaks in your home.
Readers share their winter gardening stories.
Yes, you can keep your birdbath from freezing during the winter. Here's how.
In winter, hang aromatic herbs in your house for the smell of summer.
Get an early spinach crop with this easy gardening tip.
You can find joy and delight in the season of cold and snow.
Here's the scoop on the best way to feed birds.
You can find great reports from the field and footage of rare bird species at the American Bird Conservancy's Bird News Network. Plus, find tips for winter birding and check out highly entertaining footage of the moonwalking manakin bird.
Roasting is the best way to cook winter root vegetables, because dry heat coaxes out and concentrates flavors. Use this simple method and fool-proof tips to bring out the best in parsnips, carrots, rutabagas and other root vegetables.
Garden soil left exposed in winter is easily damaged by compaction, erosion and leaching. Use mulches or cover crops to safeguard and build your soil during the winter months.
Try doing something different this winter by growing mushrooms. It's entertaining, and it provides you with an edible treat!
Machine expert Hank Will offers advice on whether to drain the gas tanks of machines that will be idle for a while.
For many homesteaders, taking a job during the winter months to earn extra income is an appealing option. Here are some options to consider if you're looking for off-farm income.