Homesteading allows individuals and families to live a greener and healthier lifestyle. A self-sustainable lifestyle helps heal and replenish natural resources while providing a positive impact on the environment, but it also requires constant attention and preparation. As the summer months end and the fall weather begins to roll in, winter preparation is necessary for the future of your garden, pasture or ranch. Here are eight winter prep tips homesteaders should complete by the end of autumn:
You can add the leaves you rake up during autumn to your compost pile. You can also shred the leaves and layer your field or garden beds.
Speaking of leaves and biological detritus, mulching has a great effect on your soil and moisture retention because it keeps morning dew and water from escaping.
Mulching will also reduce the amount of weed maintenance you may end up doing after winter ends, while the process of mulching allows you to make use of perennial and evergreen plants you cannot harvest for food or fodder.
Make sure you use the proper equipment to make the best use of your time and resources. Some machinery and equipment will let you add mulching attachments that can handle branches up to 8 inches long.
One significant thing about the winter months will be the allotted resting time for your land and tools. Make sure you collect all the equipment and tools you will not, or cannot, use in the snow or rain.
During the fall and winter, you can sharpen, polish or replace work blades, attachments and other items in order to maximize their effectiveness during the planting and harvest seasons.
4. Preparing the Ground
Before the ground freezes over or hardens due to cold weather, use the time to till and turn your soil. If you have raised garden beds, you can use wood chips and other natural coverings as mulch and soil builders to preserve the soil’s fertility for spring.
When the cold sets in or the wet weather strikes, the turned soil gets preserved via ice or further moisturized from the rain.
5. Farm Animal Organization
Historically, landowners would have their shepherds or ranchers kill a certain amount of livestock at the coming of winter because there was not enough food for both the people and the animals. This practice was named culling, and is still practiced in some farms and cultures today.
These days, our ability to preserve food longer and in greater quantities has improved with technology, so culling no longer serves such an immediate purpose. Instead of diminishing your number of livestock, you can use them in different ways.
For instance, while the number of eggs you harvest from your chicken coop will diminish during winter, the animal detritus and waste can serve as fertilizer material.
6. Crafting Work
If your homestead includes a bee farm addition or you want to make use of the ash from your wood-burning heat sources, you can use these elements to make products. Wood ash, honey, herbs and other materials from your homestead can be utilized to create useful products like soap, candles and home remedies.
7. Gathering and Planning
Use the downtime winter days and nights force on you and your homestead to plan the upcoming season. Maybe you want to introduce a new crop rotation, or maybe you want your livestock to graze a new area in order to prepare it for tilling and planting. Shop around for new seeds and bulbs to expand your holdings. Perhaps one crop did not work out the way you wanted. If that’s the case, use winter to find a replacement.
8. House Prep
Overall, your land holdings will enter into a state of preservation during the winter months. Your house, on the other hand, requires a different type of preparation for the incoming elements of nature. Whether it’s rain, snow or ice, you want your home sealed, insulated and secured against the elements. Make sure your pipes are prepped against freezing, your home’s protected against drafts or mold, and your fuel sources are full and accessible.
With proper planning and execution, the winter months will be just as productive and rewarding for your fields as the springtime. Working on these various projects, or others you may find, will break the tedium of those slow winter days.
Kayla Matthews writes and blogs about healthy living and has an especially strong passion for helping others increase their mental health and happiness by improving their daily productivity and positivity. To learn more about Kayla, you can follow her on Google+, Facebook and Twitter and check out her most recent posts on Productivity Theory. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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