Winter is often described as a time for rest. For nature and for us. Even though we are resting, there are chores that need to get done to make sure the homestead continues to run smoothly during the winter months. Here are 20 winter homestead chores to make sure your homestead stays in tip top shape this winter.
Winter is probably one of my favourite seasons on the homestead. I love being able to enjoy the slow season knowing that I have put in a summer of hard work and prepared for the coming cold months.
It’s often a time when I decide that I might pick up a new skill or hobby. Or sometimes, it just gives me the time to finish off a project that I have been thinking about over the summer months.
But we cannot shake off our homesteading duties completely. Often there are animals that depend on us. Spring gardens that need to be considered. In an effort to keep our homestead running smoothly this winter, here are 20 winter homestead chores that you could consider adopting this season.
Animal Winter Homestead Chores
1. Check on shelters. Shelters are a vital part of keeping animals comfortable over the winter. Check on them regularly and make any repairs as needed. I always figure I wouldn’t want snow in my house, and they probably don’t want it either.
2. Give them extra bedding. It can be the difference between alive animals and not alive animals. Consider adding straw to your animal bedding over the winter. It has better insulating qualities than wood shavings, making everyone extra cozy in the winter months.
3. Get your birthing area ready. If you have animals and are expecting babies in the spring, late winter can be the perfect time to prepare for their arrival. Cleaning out your birthing area. Make sure you have plenty of extra bedding reading to go. Get any supplies you might need gathered, and keep them in a handy place.
4. Check on waterers and insulate as needed. Winter = frozen water. This is a daily chore on the homestead. We often switch our chicken waterer to a heated one in the winter. This helps keep the water defrosted on all but the coldest days of the season. On those extra cold days, we like to add a bucket over the top of the chicken waterer to help keep the main reservoir protected from the elements.
5. Install water heaters on large troughs. The big animals can be the hardest to water in the winter due to the large volume of water that they consume. If you choose to use an electric water heater, make sure it is installed before the water freezes.
6. Consider any additions that you might want to add to your animals feed to help them withstand the cold weather. That could mean mealworms for your chickens so that they are getting extra protein to help them lay eggs. Maybe come Alfalfa pellets or COB (corn, oats, barley cover in molasses) for your larger animals. Animals use more energy in the winter to keep warm, so making sure they have a high quality feed and supplements is important.
Garden Winter Homestead Chores
1. Plan your garden for next year. Winter is the perfect time to cozy up with your pen and paper to sketch out your garden plans. Don’t forget about your crop rotations as well. If you need help planning your garden crop rotation, or aren’t sure what that even is. Check out this post.
2. Order seed catalogues. Yup, winter is just the right time to make sure that you are going to get a copy of all your favourite seed catalogues. A few of my favourite are West Coast Seeds, Veseys Seeds, and The Whole Seed Catalogue.
3. Order your seeds. Once you have had a chance to go through all those amazing seed catalogues, order the seeds. I like to order mine in January, once the rush of the holiday’s is over. But I know that some company’s have sales in the fall to clear out the current year’s seed inventory. If that is a better time for you, and you love a deal (who doesn’t!) order in the fall and cross that winter chore off your list!
4. Clean seed starting equipment. It’s time to get those pots and trays ready for a new set of seeds. In order to help your plants have the best start possible give those trays and pots a wash. This can help prevent the spread of disease or pests in your plant starts. You can use hot soapy water or a mild bleach solution, the choice is yours.
5. Check on the grow lights. This time we want to make sure the grow lights are in working order. I like to take them out and plug each one in individually. That way I know that each of the ballast and bulbs are working. I also order back up bulbs so that I’m not left scrambling if one goes out after I have started my seeds.
6. Set up a growing area. If you choose to start seeds indoors, winter is a great time to get an area cleaned up and ready for your seedlings. This is especially true if the seed starting area gets taken down in the spring.
7. Order trees for spring. Spring is just the right time for planting new trees and winter is the perfect time to order them. Especially if you have your eye on a specific variety. Get that order in early so you won’t miss out.
8. Check on any protected plants. Our last garden based winter homestead chore in to make sure you are checking on any plants you have protected for the winter. Make sure the cover is still whole and actually covering the plant. Make sure that any potted plants are still protected from the elements and move them if necessary.
Homemaking Winter Homestead Chores
1. Check on firewood stores. Hopefully your firewood shed is full before the cold weather comes. But firewood is something that we always seems to being working on here at the homestead. If it’s a nice day, we tend to head out and chop and stack some more wood. It’s like a little insurance policy against the cold.
2. Complete maintenance on equipment. Hopefully you have some where out of the elements that you can work on your equipment. And if you do, winter is a great time to get all the regular maintenance done on your equipment. Oil changes, lube, air filters, or even just cleaning out the cab. Making sure everything is in good condition for when you need it next spring.
3. Plow snow. This is an ongoing winter homestead chore. But necessary. Having the snow plowed and pathways where you need them makes all the other chores just a little less work.
4. Deice pathways. We get some pretty warm, sunny days here in the winter. That means that our plowed pathways often get icy. Making sure that they are deiced helps keep everyone safe when doing chores.
The traditional way to do this is with salt. But if you have pets the salt can be really hard on their paws or even make them sick if they eat it.
One of the ways we like to keep out pathways safe for people and pets is with spruce bows. We take trimmings from spruce trees, the needles need to still be green, and lay them out on the pathways. It forms a protective layer between you and ice and reduces your chance of slipping.
5. Finish up any canning project. One way to deal with the glut of the harvest in the summer is to freeze the produce for future use. This is especially common with fruit and tomatoes. If you have any lingering in your freezer, winter is the perfect time to get them canned up and on to your shelf.
6. Deep clean the house. Yup, I said it. Forget spring cleaning, winter cleaning is where it is at. After the hussle of summer, your house is ready for some love. Winter is the perfect time to knock out those big cleaning projects that you might have been putting off. For me that looks like dusting my baseboards, cleaning the inside of my windows and detailing the beams in our house.
Other winter homesteading activities
Winter is a great time to evaluate how things went on your homestead. Take some time to make a list of any pain points that you had during the spring and summer, then come up with a game plan for how you will tackle it differently next year.
While you are at it, why not take some time to set your goals for next year? What would you like to accomplish on your homestead? Is there an animal you would like to join your farm? Maybe a new plant to try in the garden? Maybe a new building is required. What ever it is, winter is the time to start thinking about it.
Pain point, goals plans….sounds like it might be time for a budget. The slow days of winter are the time to sit down and evaluate your budget.
You could also decide to learn a new skill. Most of us end up spending more time indoors during the winter, especially if you live somewhere cold like me. All that extra time inside means it might be finally time to pick up that new hobby you have been thinking about. Baking, sewing, wood workings, tying knots, candle making, soap making are just a few of the options I’m considering this winter.
Hopefully this list has inspired you and can help keep your homestead running smoothly this winter. If you have any chores you think should be added, drop a comment below for everyone in the community to see!