Ready or not, fall is here and winter isn’t too far behind! It’s the perfect time to prepare your homestead for the upcoming winter and changing weather.
Here’s the deal: winter is cold. I hate being cold. Like, I really hate it. But, winter does mean that I get a break from the summer chores. Like watering the garden and the berries and the pasture and the potted plants…. soooo much watering! And mowing the lawn. Although, let’s face it: that’s what the goats are for. Without the summer chores, I might even have time to cook a hot meal and clean the house! I love summer, but I’m ready to say “adios”! I’m really starting to understand this whole “seasonal living” thing and finally learning how to enjoy all the seasons.
But, before I can curl up by the wood stove, we have to get our one-acre homestead prepared for winter.
Each year, I write out a giant list of everything we need to accomplish before the ground freezes and the snow falls. Without fail, I forget several important items, only to realize it a bit too late. Or, I end up losing the list or throwing it away because it’s scrawled on the back of a junk-mail envelope. Sigh….
I decided I would get a bit more organized this year and make a formal list that can be kept in my Homestead Management Binder (get your free copy here!). That way, I can make notes and refer back to the list each Fall. And, of course, I’m sharing my Homestead Winter Prep List with you guys ’cause y’all are my peeps.
Speaking of “peeps”, the list has chickens on it.
There are actually two Homestead Winter Prep Checklists for you! The first list already has some basic winter prep items on it. This is a great list to get you started! But, since every homestead is different, I also made a blank checklist that you can use to create a list that is customized to your homestead!
High fives all around for being organized and on top of our shiz this winter!
How We Prepare for Winter on the Zenstead:
I split our homestead winter prep into three categories: Home, animals, and yard & garden. Here’s a quick overview of what we do to prepare for winter on our little homestead:
Preparing our Home for Winter:
Our number one priority in preparing our home for winter is ensuring our heat source. Since our home is heated with a wood stove, we make sure we have a sufficient amount of firewood chopped and stacked. The wood stove is cleaned and we make sure it’s in good condition. We are lucky this year to have our wood cut, but we still need to move it into our new hay barn. We also sharpen our axes and hatchets.
We try to seal and insulate our windows and doors as much as possible (it’s an old home and nothing is square!). There are sunshades outside our windows on the south-side to help keep our home cool during summer since we don’t have air conditioning. In the winter, we roll the shades up to catch as much sunlight as possible to passively heat the house. We also prepare our for the winter weather by making sure we have our winter coats, gloves, boots, headlamps and other necessary items ready. We organize these necessities by the back door for easy access. I try a new system each year to hopefully prevent the inevitable mess caused by the wet and muddy winter clothes layers. I’ll let you know once I find one that works!
Preparing our Yard & Garden for Winter:
Putting the garden to bed is a big priority! We follow the no-till method, so we don’t have to do too much with our garden. I simply cut the annual veggie plants at the soil line. This helps to ensure we aren’t disrupting the environment of the soil. I compost everything except nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc). This helps to reduce the risk of soil-born diseases and fungus. I’m also very careful to remove any fallen tomatoes to further reduce the risk. The garden gets a healthy layer of compost and mulch. Our mulch is mostly comprised of leaves, animal droppings, spent shavings and wasted alfalfa. Goats are notorious hay wasters! Luckily, alfalfa is great for the garden, so nothing is wasted!
Then there is the yard work, which involves having the sprinkler system shut off and storing away items like pots, BBQ’s, lawn chairs and other yard items. We rake and compost the leaves that have fallen on the lawn, but we leave the rest of the leaves to serve as protection for plants, insects and animals during the winter. I also harvest any remaining herbs and bring some of the potted herbs indoors for the winter.
Preparing our Animals for Winter:
We deep clean all the barns and coops, then put down a nice thick layer of bedding. We add to this layer throughout the winter, using the deep-litter method. The soiled bedding gets recycled to the garden where it will break down over the winter to fertilize and protect the soil. We worm and trim all our goats’ hooves in the early fall. Our vet also comes out at the end of summer to do a herd health check, fecal floats, and blood work. And, of course, Fall means breeding season! This is one chore that I am happy to have already crossed off our list for the season!
For the chickens, we do health checks and closely monitor for feather and leg mites which are more common as the weather cools. We stock up on feed and hay to be sure we have ample amounts stored for winter. So far, we have avoided moisture and rodent issues by storing our feed in rubber garbage cans. We also put out our heated waterers and make sure our extension cords are in good shape.
What about you? I’d love to hear about how you prepare your homestead for winter! Share with us in the comments below and be sure to grab your free copy of the Homestead Winter Prep Checklists!