Homestead Series IX—Homesteading by the Seasons


Here is your handy-dandy guide to homesteading throughout the year, including gardening and livestock care. Any additional things you may do, such as home-schooling your kids or working a day job, will take extra time each day, as will the work you do to build up your homestead in the first place—such as:

Perimeter fence

Livestock corrals

Garden fencing

Your house building/remodeling

Livestock shelters

Storage for foodstuffs, tools, etc.

Winter

Plan your garden, order or purchase seeds, feed livestock, break the ice on your water troughs, pick a nice day to replenish your woodpile from all the winter deadfall; plan your trips to town around the weather so that A) you don’t get caught in the snow/ice/rain and B) so you don’t run out of groceries and feed/hay. Check any heat lamps/heaters in your greenhouse or pump house on a daily basis, as well as fence lines.

Toward the end of winter, in addition to all the daily things mentioned above, you’ll need to fertilize your garden and check/repair the fence.

Spring

Keep doing all the aforementioned chores, and plant your seeds indoors or in your greenhouse. Plow up the garden, and till and rake it. In mid-March, start your outdoor seeds. You can probably, at this point, take “breaking ice” off your list, as well as checking those heat lamps—but still pay attention to the weather. And it’s probably time to go back to the clothesline and give your dryer a break.

As spring progresses, you’ll be weeding, watering, and tilling that garden at least 3-4 days a week. Pretty soon, you’ll be harvesting some early vegetables. And of course, each week or so will be time to plant additional crops. You’ll still be feeding your livestock and checking fences and making repairs too.

Summer

It all comes down to the weather—when it’s cold,  you work outside later in the day when it’s warmed up as much as it’s going to, and in the summer, you get an early start so you don’t die of heatstroke. When it rains, you do indoor work or run errands; when it’s dry, you’re outside.

Now’s the time to be harvesting and processing your vegetables. And by late summer, you’ll need to start getting that woodpile ready for winter.

Fall

Still working on that woodpile, and doing all the other daily chores, but the garden is winding down. You’re probably done with the weeding/watering/tilling by now, too, but it’s time to start winterizing everything. You’ll need to check those livestock shelters again, and fence lines, and cut and split more wood—yes, I say this a lot, but if you’re heating with wood, you certainly do not want to run out. Best get it done and have it ready, so you’re not outside in a blizzard.

Set up heat lamps, heat tape, tank heaters, whatever you need and use to keep your water running. You also do not want to be outside in that blizzard, trying to thaw underground water pipes. Experience speaking, here!

And you’re back to winter, the season of little sun, a lot of cold, and of course, the S-word. Long nights, short days, but you can focus now on indoor chores, a little remodeling, some deep cleaning, or any hobbies you might have to keep busy. Keeping busy is the best way to get through winter, even if eating and sleeping seem like the best idea at the time…that’s usually my go-to if I get bored, and we all know that’s just not good for you.

The longer you homestead, the easier it gets, the more of a routine you can establish. Just like wherever you live now, you have a routine, you have things you must do each day or each week. Same principle, but you do a lot more physical labor and probably a lot more outside chores.

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