It is now officially wintertime in North America. The garden tools have long been put away, all of the growing season activities have officially wound down until next spring, and we have resolved to snuggle up with a nice hot beverage by the fireplace (or space heater, or wood-burning stove, or electric blanket …).
While resting in a warm place during this time of the year is a great thing to do to help recharge ourselves from all of our hard work, we shouldn’t just sleep through winter! This season can be a great time to re-evaluate our goals and lives, learn new things, and to increase the resilience of our homesteads, whether urban or rural.
Here are 10 great homesteading activities to do over the winter that can improve your homestead and your life throughout the rest of the year.
1. Grow some microgreens or sprouts. By growing sprouts or microgreens, we can bring back some of that vibrant fresh nutrition into our diets during the non-growing season. These baby plants are very easy to grow and require minimal equipment and ingredients.
2. Plan your garden for next year. The pause in most homesteading activities during the wintertime provides a great opportunity to evaluate what worked and what didn’t work during the past garden season, and to consider what you would like to do differently next year. What kinds of varieties would you like to grow? What could you do to improve the soil of your garden?
Winter is also a great time to send for those seed catalogs and to start dreaming about what you would like to grow next spring.
3. Learn how to ferment. Beyond the processes of fermenting beer and wine, the possibilities of fermentation are almost endless, offering an exciting world of flavor, nutrients and healing properties.
Traditionally prepared sourdough breads, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, mead, yogurt, kvass, beet kvass, kefir, water kefir, ginger beer, and homemade lacto-fermented sodas are all tasty creations that you can easily experiment with in the comfort of your own home.
4. Re-evaluate your goals and lifestyle. Are you where you’d like to be with your homestead and your personal life? The winter is a great time to consider changes that you’d like to make. Perhaps now is the time to go through things and simplify your lifestyle so that you can focus on more important things in your life.
5. Learn new skills or take a class. We should all embrace life-long learning. Learning new skills will not only make us more resilient as individuals, but it also helps us to stay personally flexible and helps to keep our brains in good shape. Always wanted to learn to knit? What about learning some handy skills to fix things around the house? Now might be the perfect time to start thinking about gaining some new skills.
6. Learn how to make herbal remedies. People have been using plants and making herbal remedies for thousands of years. In contrast, pharmaceuticals are new in the scheme of human history.
7. Get wiser: Read! The wintertime is a great opportunity to get caught up on many of those how-to books that you have wanted to read for months now.
8. Increase your home’s resilience and efficiency. Winter is a great time to consider work that you might need to have done on your home in the year ahead. In what ways can you save energy in your home? What about saving water? In what ways can you reduce waste? How can you become more prepared for an emergency?
9. Help your local critters. The winter is a very challenging time for the birds and other local creatures in our communities. Providing some food for them in bird feeders or suet feeders, or providing a heated birdbath, can go a long way in helping our feathered friends to get through the winter. Just remember to continue to feed them throughout the winter if you start feeding them. They will depend on you!
10. Connect with others and celebrate! While much of the homesteading lifestyle is serious business, life should also be about fun and connecting with others. Use some of the wintertime to focus on reconnecting with those people that you care about and to connect with others in your community.
Becoming more resilient ultimately means including others in our journeys so that we can all be resilient together. When we are stronger together, we ourselves get much further than when we try to go it alone. Besides, no one can do absolutely everything themselves (or even know how to do everything themselves). You also never know when you might need a helping hand!
Don’t forget to celebrate and have some parties!
What would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below: