The short period of time each year where homesteader's 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 it's peak right now, in January. It's incredible, how much time can be spent getting seemingly nothing done, when at other times of the year one can spend so much time getting so much done yet never feeling like it is enough. January asks people like me, who actually like to stay busy, for creativity. Projects does not exactly present themselves but here's some of what I do on this first promising month of the year:
Connect with friends and family: The unscheduled time is a great chance, and a unique little window of time, to relish in the company of friends and family, both here on the island and away. Here at our homestead, tending the chickens is the only absolute necessity and it's easy for either me or Dennis to leave would we so desire. I'll go to Sweden, this year as all years, to visit my aging parents and friends I haven't seen in too long.
Order seeds: Since onion seeds need to be planted in February I order my seeds in early January before my trip so I'll for sure have them when it's time to plant. Ordering seeds is bittersweet – some years I've been so frazzled by the past gardening season I don't want to see another seed package in my life. This past year I was more relaxed about it all and found it was pretty pleasant to go through what I had left for seeds and pick out the varieties for this year, throwing some wild, untried cards in the mix. See Fedco for an excellent seed co-op.
Split firewood: Boy, is this a great time to split wood – not only do I stay warm doing it, but on a day with high of 8 degrees Fahrenheit, it's nice to think about an equally cold winter day in a distant future where my warming labor will reward me once again with a warming fire.
Eat pears: our pears make it to the January list of food in our cellar that's going downhill fast and preferably should be eaten. Baked pear is now a standard snack here at home, and dessert too, as is pears in salad, pears at tea break, pears to trade for coffee and pears in all ways mentioned above as a contribution to every potluck.
Make New Year Resolutions: January is a great time to summarize and evaluate the past year and stake out a direction for the coming one. Whether “resolutions” is the correct word for it or not, there are things related to the gardens I'd like to at least remember, like to not grow so many cabbages. Or leeks. To plant the cold frame in September so I can have winter greens early March and to set the vole traps ahead of time, before the little creepers chew up half my carrots. I would like to save some of my own seeds and with all these ambitions, still enjoy every day of it.
Happy New Homesteading Year everyone.
May it be a good one!
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