Seasons on the Homestead: Winter

Homestead Winter

It’s the start of a new year and the messy middle of one of the strongest seasons we’ve come to appreciate around these parts: Winter.

No doubt you’ve read about, or possibly even heard about, the post-Christmas blizzard event that leveled me humble in so many ways. As they say here, “Uffda.”

Winter is a natural season of slowing down and rest. There are far fewer hours of daylight during winter. The sun peeks above the horizon around 8:00 am and slips below it again by 5:00 pm. The wind and cold can outright take one’s breath away, so indoor projects take precedence this time of year.

What I had planned to get done this winter, though, remains undone as of yet. I’ve got bags of summer’s rhubarb in my freezer from which I intend to make jelly and syrup, but just haven’t gotten to. I’ve also got bags of tomatoes from our garden in the freezer, begging to be turned into sauce, which I haven’t found the chance to do.

I’ve got knitting projects longing to be put on the needles, beef broth waiting to be simmered and canned, pinto beans tired of resting in their dry state and hoping for a home in a jar in the cupboard.

While spring is a long way off for us up here, it won’t be too long before I’ll be starting seeds indoors to get a jump start on our short growing season. But I can’t think of that just yet. It’s still winter, and I’ve got to keep that front of mind.

Despite being bitter cold outside, I am thankful for the winter season. I’m thankful for a few months to squeeze in extra snuggles with the kids, read books by the fire, and savor an extra cup of hot chocolate.

And while the season merits a time of pause and planning, there is still plenty of work to be done.

With Christmas behind us and no hosting on the calendar for awhile, I know I’ve got eight or nine weeks before things really start to pick up again on the homestead.

February, being the shortest month of the year, feels like the longest month of winter for us. I’ve no doubt I’ll be warming up the house intentionally with boiling the rhubarb into jelly, extra bread baking, and ladling piping hot broth for soups or stews.

As the temperatures drop somewhere below dangerous, I’ll be filling sheets of paper with garden plot layouts. I’ll be inventorying which seeds we have already on hand to plant this year, and which we’ll need to order. It helps that seed catalog pages are bright and colorful, while the view from my window for now is only filled with varying shades of white.

I’ll be reading through cookbooks and canning recipes to determine different ways I can store the bounty we grow this summer, or search for ways to prepare what we already have put by to enjoy through these remaining cold months of winter.

I’ll be knitting hats and mittens a size bigger so they’re ready to use for next year and I’m not scrambling to knit useful winter wear the very day we need it.

I’ll be reading books on business and professional growth, personal development, parenting, finances, faith, and whatever else I can page through by the lamp light of evening.

I have lots to do, but I won’t beat myself up for what doesn’t get done. There are snuggles to be had and stories to be read aloud and crafts to clean up after and laundry loads to finish. There are new things to try and learn and master and old things to spruce up and revamp.

Winter on the homestead is a harsh season, but a blessed one. There is plenty to do, but there are plenty more reasons to be thankful for it all.

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