Winter is a’comin! Are you ready?
Truthfully, I never feel as though I’m 100% ready for winter. I think it’s because in the south we go from it being a million degrees outside to snow in what feels like overnight.
But somehow or another we always manage to get the key points of winter preparedness done.
Are you curious what you really need to focus on to be ready to face winter on your homestead?
Well, then come along because I’ll share my bare-bones list of what I absolutely must get complete before winter hits. Hopefully, these points will help you as you prepare for winter.
Preparing your Homestead for Winter
Here are my absolute musts for winter preparations on our homestead:
1. The Garden is Closed
I’m really particular about how our homestead looks going into winter. I have multiple reasons. The first is that I don’t want to look at an ugly unkept property all winter long. The cold days are enough to give you the blues.
But the last thing you need is to look out and see a mess that was once your garden. The second reason I insist that the garden must be cleaned up, is that it means less work for the next year and hopefully a better garden as well.
So in order to properly close out our garden, we scrape out all of the finished plants and then turn the garden under. This will allow those plants to compost.
But we also add fertilizer and other nutrient-rich items to the garden when turning it under. That way it has all winter long to compost.
Which means, I feel like I’ve given my garden all I can to put our best gardening-foot forward when the next growing season comes around.
Plus, when I look out from my back deck, I don’t look at a mess. I see a nice garden waiting to be planted when the warmth comes back.
2. Focus on the Fences
This is a big deal. If you have any livestock, you’ll want to be sure that all of the fences are mended before winter hits. The reason is you don’t want your animals being able to escape in the middle of the snow.
Nor do you want to have to fix a fence when the temperatures are frigid and you have snow up to your knees.
Yes, we do endure this kind of weather in the south too. Though it isn’t continuous like it is up north all winter, it is my luck that something always goes wrong during this time.
So that is why I try to stay ahead of the game by checking our fences and making any necessary repairs.
3. Focus on your Animals
When winter comes so do the cold temperatures. This means you’ll need to check your animals’ housing. If the coop needs repair, now is the time to do it.
Also, consider your barns and hutches during this time as well. If you have animals in hutches, then you’ll want to be sure to have wind barriers up. If your barn needs fixing, then now is a good time to do that as well.
Plus, think about their water situations as well. You can use an old tire to keep larger livestock’s water from freezing.
Or you can use these cool waterers for your smaller livestock as well.
If you plan on burning wood for your heat source (or even as a supplemental heat source), then now is your time to start thinking about how to get that wood.
So if you want to be self-sufficient, then you’ll need to find wood that you can chop down and leave out on the ground to season for safe burning.
However, if you’ve waited a little late, there is nothing wrong with buying a few truckloads of seasoned wood to burn either.
But we usually cut wood one year, stack it and allow it to season to burn for the next year, and then keep this cycle up so we always have seasoned wood.
So you’ll have to decide what routine will work best for you. Also, don’t forget to check with local lumberyards. A lot of times they will sell firewood that you can buy very cheaply by a dump truckload. Our local lumber yard sells one large scoop of firewood for $10. This is enough to fill our trailer to the brim. Definitely check around if you don’t want to chop wood.
But if you don’t burn wood, check out this resource so you can see the benefits of choosing wood to heat with this winter.
5. Insulate Your Home
Winter is no time to live in a home that is not well insulated. I’ll never forget our first winter back in the south. My husband and I were young, with a new baby, and barely had two nickels to rub together.
However, we were able to rent an old farmhouse that we loved and lived in for a year before purchasing our first homestead.
Anyway, this farmhouse had basically no insulation. We just about froze. I remember putting my baby in multiple sleep outfits at night so he wouldn’t get cold. Then my husband and I would lay in bed at night and could literally hear the wind whipping through our bedroom.
But all we had were gas logs, an Eden Pure heater, and blankets. It was so cold!
So you don’t want to experience this. Prior to winter hitting, you need to insulate your windows and doors.
Also, consider buying (or making) a door stopper that will block the cold air from coming under the doors. If you don’t have a wood stove, you may want to consider purchasing one as they put off the best heat I’ve ever felt.
So remember that insulation and proper heat sources matter when winter is coming.
6. Clean Out Your Heater
If you use wood heat for winter, prior to winter is when you need to clean out your wood stove or fireplace. You’ll want to place a high priority on this because this could be the difference in having a fire in your chimney or not.
So keep this in mind because you don’t want to have a lot of buildups and cause a house fire. Not to mention, your fireplace or wood stove won’t burn properly without proper airflow.
Again, this goes back to not only safety but also having adequate warmth during the winter months. This is a huge priority, especially if you live in colder climates.
7. Clean up, Clean up
I know I mentioned how I am very particular about having my garden cleaned up prior to winter. I feel the same way about the rest of the property too.
But don’t think I’m being weird. I feel better in a clean house and on a clean property. I just do.
Well, when winter comes it is really easy to get down in the mouth because you feel like the weather keeps you cooped indoors, or the cloudy days leave you feeling sort of glum.
So it is important to do things that make you feel better. Making sure that I can look out the window on cloudy days and see a neat property just makes me feel better. It is almost like it gives me hope that winter won’t last forever and that those warm days will be here again.
Also, if snow comes, you don’t want stuff left lying around the property because not only will your stuff become water damaged, but you could also slip on it or turn an ankle.
So these are very important reasons to make sure that your property is cleaned up prior to winter’s arrival.
8. Food Supply
This is probably the item that hangs over my head the most. If you live strictly off of your land or work a seasonal job, then you definitely need adequate food supply for yourself and your animals when winter arrives.
So it is important to take full advantage of your growing seasons to make sure that you preserve as much food as possible for you and your family.
But also be sure to store enough food for your animals as well. It will be harder for free-range animals to find enough food during the winter months so you may have to supplement.
In our case, I can a lot of food throughout the year for our family. That way we always have something to eat.
So it is very important that you make sure that everyone has plenty of food to make it through winter. Even if you have a regular job where your pay doesn’t shift, think about potential snow and ice storms that could leave you without power and bad road conditions to travel to the store for these items. It is a good idea to have enough of these items that ensure you are prepared for those conditions as well.
9. Winterize Your Equipment
Most homesteads have equipment. You could have a tiller, lawn mower, or even a tractor. It is important to winterize this equipment to protect the longevity of it.
So this doesn’t take a lot to do. You will want to run your equipment until most of the gas is gone from it. That way you don’t have fluids sitting in there all winter long.
Then you’ll want to place them in a covered area and add an additional covering to them if needed. For instance, we have a pole barn with open sides.
So often we will place a cover over our lawn mower to keep any moisture off of it. It is also a good idea to have your equipment serviced prior to putting it up for the winter.
10. Winterize Bees
I realize not every homestead has bees, but our homestead does and they are a huge part of it. My husband loves them!
So that means that along with our other animals, the bees must be cared for as well. Realize, that bees require a little extra care getting ready for winter, but then they’ll take care of themselves over the winter.
But every winter we take off the supers and put each hive down to one box. In this one hive body we will include a few frames of honey, and then place some pollen patties and fondant on top of the hive body in a feeder.
Then the bees will produce winter bees that are bigger, heartier, and live longer in order to take care of the queen. Their job is to keep her warm, and that is also why we reduce each hive down. That way they have less area to keep warm.
Also, you can add a hive cover if you live in really cold climates. For us, we don’t find it necessary for their survival. We do usually put a brick on top of the hive lid to make sure that the wind or a hungry critter doesn’t knock the top off. That is all there is to it.
Well, you now know the top 10 things I must do prior to every winter in order to properly shut down my homestead for a winter.
Hopefully, this will help you to make a top 10 list for your homestead. That way you’ll always be somewhat prepared for old man winter, whenever he decides to rear his head.
But I’d like to know, what do you do to prep your homestead for winter?
Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the space below.