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31 Important Things You Should Do This Fall (Before Winter) on Your Homestead

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Fall will be here very soon. By the end of September to be exact.

So what should you be doing around your homestead this time of year?

Well, just because winter is coming doesn’t mean the work is done quite yet. As a matter of fact, today I’ll be bringing you a list of chores that need to be done around the homestead before winter finally does arrive.

So hopefully you’ll be able to utilize this fall to the best of your ability and be all ready for cold weather.

Here is what you should be working on around your homestead this fall—

1. Compost

88 Things to Compost

Now is a great time to be gathering leaves to add to your compost while also spreading the compost you already have over your garden. Here are three articles that might help you:

  1. 88 Things to Compost (and 9 Not to)
  2. How to Choose the Best Compost Bin
  3. Using Chicken Manure for Compost

2. Canning

How to Can Food

If you grew a fall garden, this season is the time to begin harvesting and preserving what you grew. And if there are some items you can’t quite grow yet then now is the time of year to purchase them and preserve those items as well. Apples are one item that comes to mind that is easy to purchase in bulk this time of year but not everyone’s orchard is able to produce what they need as of yet.

3. Take Care Of Next Year’s Seeds

Fall is a great time of year to go pick all of the dried beans off of your plants. You can store some for seed. And even use some of them in soups as well.

But you also need to go through and organize what seeds you have. Make a list of what you are planning on growing next year so you’ll be organized and ready to go when it is time to start your seeds.

4. Use This Time To Declutter…And Make Some Extra Cash

Fall is a time where you know winter is coming. The homestead doesn’t blossom and produce in the winter quite like it does during warmer months.

So take this time to clean out everything. Your home, buildings, barn, and any other area that has compiled clutter. Then anything you don’t use and you won’t use, sell it or use it to barter for items you may need. This way you’ll go into winter with less of what you don’t need and more of what you do.

Read this article if you need ideas to make extra cash on the homestead.

5. Finish Raising Meat

The fall is kind of like the last warning from winter. Or similar to summer’s way of flashing the front porch light like our mom’s used to do. And saying, “Time to hurry up and head inside.”

Well, utilize this time to finish up your meat sources. You still have time to raise one more round of meat birds and raise one more litter of rabbits before it gets too cold. Yes, you can raise rabbits in the winter but often times the harsh winter temperatures make it really hard on babies.

Raising Rabbits for Meat

6. Take Care Of Your Chicken Coop

Since we know cold weather is coming, there are certain things that need to be done around your chicken coop.

First, you’ll need to add a regular lamp on a timer to your coop. This will give the chickens the idea that their days are longer so they’ll keep on laying. However, you don't have to use a heat lamp. Your birds don’t need them, and they can be a dangerous fire hazard. They might not worth the risk.

Second, you need to add lots of deep litter to their coop. This could be straw, mulch, whatever you have on hand. And don’t forget their nesting boxes.

Finally, you’ll need to make sure that your coop is winterized. You still want some airflow but if there is just too much now would be a good time to add some plastic or even old feed bags to those spaces to help block the wind.

7. Trim The Berry Patch

Now is the time of year to trim back your berry patch. And then you’ll want to cover your plants with straw or mulch for protection over the winter. And this will also help the soil around your berries which will hopefully equate to better growth and production in future years.

8. Set-up And/ Or Repair Any Fences

If you have an area that needs a new fence, now is the time to do it. If you have a fence that needs mending, now is the time to do it.

So basically, you don’t want to wait until there is snow on the ground and your animals figure out that their fence is no good. Then you’ll not only have to chase down your livestock in the snow but also build or repair a fence. So just go ahead and get it over with now.

9. Check All Of Your Outdoor Lighting

This basically goes along with the same thinking as the fencing. If you use outdoor lighting then you’ll need to go ahead and change any lightbulbs that are out.

So that way you won’t have to climb in high places to replace a lightbulb while there are inches and inches of snow on the ground. Better to just get that over with now too.

10. Winterize Your Rabbits

Rabbits don’t require as much winterizing as chickens do. However, they still need some attention. If you have portable rabbit hutches then now is the time to move them indoors.

But if yours are stationary then now is the time to add something to their hutches to help block the wind. This can be plastic or something as simple as old feed bags.

11. Get Up Your Tomato Accessories

Did you read my article earlier this year about how to build a trellis or tomato cage? Well, if so and you built yourself one, now is the time of year to collect them all.

Then you’ll need to store them so you can use them year after year. So be sure to put them somewhere that you can easily pull them out again next year.

12. Clean Your Heating Source

If you use an alternate heating source now is the time of year to clean it. Which means if you use a fireplace then you’ll need to clean it out thoroughly as well as the chimney.

And if you use a woodstove now would be a great time to clean it up and also clean out the chimney pipe as well. Making sure these items are good to go is vital to using them safely throughout the winter months.

13. Take Care Of Your Windows And Doors

Now is the time of year you’ll need to replace any weather stripping that is worn down around your windows and doors. You will be so glad you did when the first cold snap hits.

And this will also help to keep your home well insulated and your power bills lower throughout those colder months as well.

14. Gather Firewood

Oh, how this is such a dreaded chore around my house. But we actually spent one whole day this week doing nothing but gathering firewood.

And we are always glad we did it while our woodstove is keeping us warm during cold months. But it is a chore that will work you out, that is for sure.

15. Prune

This is the time of year to prune and mulch. So you’ll need to be sure to go around and cut back all of your perennial plants.

And then go visit your fruit trees. You will want to cut them back just a little to help them out this winter. And then mulch anything and everything you feel needs it.

16. Clean Up Your Garden

So we’ve discussed getting your trellises up and placing your compost out over your garden. But now is also the time to get all of your dead plants up as well.

And this means (if you till your garden) now is the time to till it up and place any soil enriching items over it as you till it. If you practice a no-till garden, now is the time to completely clean up and cover your garden with any material you’d like to compost over the winter.

17. Garden Tool Care

Winter time is coming. Now is the time to put your garden tools away. But before you do you will want to clean them, make any repairs necessary, and store them properly.

And that way when you have cabin fever and can’t wait to get outside and dig in the dirt again next spring, you’ll be ready. And so will your tools.

18. Take Care Of Your Tractor

We have a really old tractor. But we got a whopper of a deal on it, and it runs great so we love it. However, tractors still need to be taken care of whether they are shiny and brand new. Or if they are old and antique (like mine.)

So before winter hits be sure to service your tractor. Fix any of its attachments and clean them as well. Tractors are costly and also make farm work a ton easier. So be kind to them.

19. Stock Up

You need to stock up on feed for your animals. When winter hits the price of everything goes up. Hay will become scarce and therefore ridiculously expensive. And so will grains.

So use this fall to put plenty back. Again, we’ve spent quite a few days over the past week hauling hay that we found a great deal on. And I’ll be doing that with deer corn and other supplies that I know we’ll need over the winter too.

20. Cold Frame Care

Do you use cold frames? Well, if so, now is the time of year to get them cleaned up and repaired if necessary. That way they will be ready to go come spring again.

And this is great because cold frames help to extend your grow periods. Which means you can start growing sooner and grow later as well.

21. Plant Winter Wheat

frosty-1149474_640

Since we are reverting back to a till garden next year, we will be turning our soil under. I’m considering planting winter wheat. It is a great source of feed for our animals, it helps protect the soil during the winter, and it also provides food for my family over the winter too.

But I also love it because I can till it back into the soil in the spring and it will provide nutrients for it as well. So the fall is a good time to plant it once you get your garden cleaned up and ready to roll for the next grow season.

There are also some other plants you can start growing in fall:

what-to-plant-in-fall

22. Put Away All Lawn Furniture

My husband built me a beautiful front porch this year. I’m so in love with it. I’ve enjoyed being able to sit out on it and look out over our front yard. I can see my kids playing. And at least three times a day, I see my guineas chasing bugs across the yard.

But this time of year lets me know that my front porch days are running low for this year. So it is time to put away my lawn chairs and cushions. And clean them too so they’ll be ready to go again next year.

23. Declutter Your Outdoors

I’d be dishonest if I didn’t tell you all that my yard gets cluttered. I have 3 boys and a husband that do not like putting things away. And honestly, there are days I’m so busy with everything else that I don’t have time to clean up behind them.

Well, when fall hits they all know that it is time to pick up every mess that they’ve left behind and I didn’t have time to get to. You just don’t want to leave things lying around because that is how you lose things you’ve invested in. Plus, it could be hazardous if you have a deep snow and are unaware of what is under it.

24. Build A Fire Pit

Photo by Remodelaholic

Photo by Remodelaholic

Fall is a great time to have gatherings. And they don’t all have to be indoors. You can still have a cookout over a fire pit. Set out an s’mores party table. Have a soup party table with a variety of soup. And even have a hot chocolate bar.

And of course just enjoy good friends and what we call ‘cowboy TV.’ Which basically means you sit around the fire just watching it and talking. Fall is actually one of my favorite times of the year for that reason alone.

25. Take Care Of Your Generator

If you use a generator over the winter, now is the time to have it serviced. The last thing you want is to need it over the winter and it not be in working order.

So you’ll need to start it up and make sure everything is working properly. And also make sure you have everything you need on hand in case of an emergency and would need to use it in a hurry.

26. Pull Out Winter Garments

Fall is the time to pull out everything you need for cold weather. You’ll need to pull out a warmer wardrobe. You will certainly want to do this before it gets blistering cold out.

And you’ll also want to pull out the heavy blankets and bedding. Now is a good time to get them washed and aired out. That way they’ll be ready to use when needed.

27. Winterize Your Bees

Photo by Bee Source

Photo by Bee Source

Towards the end of fall is when it will be time to winterize your bees. Some people actually put these winter wraps over their beehives.

But because we don’t have extremely cold winters in the south we just make our bees these fondant cakes and let them be. And hopefully, they’ll be in great shape come spring.

28. Move Your Clothes Line

If you live off grid or just don’t have a dryer on hand, you’ll still need to know how to dry your clothing in the winter. The good news is, if you want to dry your clothes on your outdoor line they will freeze dry.

But if you don’t feel like battling the cold then you’ll need to set-up an indoor clothes line like this. It will make your life a little easier during the cold weather.

29. Clean Your Cast Iron

I use my cast iron a lot more in the winter. Where we do have a woodstove, a lot of times if it’s going I will just use it.

However, it needs to be ready to go. So if you haven’t pulled yours out in a while, take a look at it. It might need to be cleaned. And it will probably need to be seasoned.

If you don't have a cast iron yet, you can buy one here. I love mine!

30. Get Salt Bottles Ready

You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned anything about getting electronic devices ready to keep water thawed. And to be honest, it’s because I don’t use them. It takes electricity that I’m too frugal to want to pay for.

And why use them when I have something that doesn’t cost me a dime to utilize. We save 2-liter bottles, fill them with water, and a couple of tablespoons of salt to each bottle. Then place them in our rainwater barrels and large water troughs. And it helps to keep everything thawed out.

31. Fill The Freezer

Fall is also hunting season. This is how we get a lot of our meat. We have people around us that love to hunt but don’t love meat.

So lucky us! We get their leftovers.

Then I freeze and can venison to help us get through the next year. It is important to use hunter safety and preferably find someone experienced to teach you if you don’t know how. Most states offer a hunter safety course that I would highly recommend checking into.  But hunting is an important skill. And one that will save you a lot of money.

Well, that’s it for today guys. I hope you find this list very helpful as you spend this next season getting your homestead ready for the cold months.

I’d love to hear from you guys. Do you have any other chores you do around your homestead that help get things cleaned up and ready to hunker down for the winter? If so, we’d love to hear it.

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Comments:

  1. When you clear your winter garden, leave it bare for a few weeks to let freezing temps kill off the squash bugs and other pests that like to overwinter in old garden “stuff”. (Keep your leaves, tho, b/c your ladybugs also overwinter, in the leaves, and if you toss your leaves, you toss your “ladies.”)

    But then spread a good thick layer of leaves and compost and leaves again (or your poultry & rabbit manure) back over that garden. It protects your good soil from erosion and from compaction by snow weight and rain pelting down; protects your earthworms from freezing (in fall freeze, they go deep, but a blanket of leaves gives you higher survival rates); and gets good nutrients into your soil across those winter thaws.

    Come early spring, rake back the mulch off your planned growing beds & rows, so your soil warms up enough for your transplants and seeds.

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