The garden has been put to bed, the barns are stocked for winter, the wood shed is full, and so are the pantry shelves. Now what? Homestead activities for the winter months offer a restful, slower pace. It’s a time for indoor projects and family fun activities.
Our Homestead Activities for Winter
Here in the far north of Idaho, we experience all four seasons, with wintertime on the homestead often being the longest. Spring, summer and fall days tend to be outward-centered, pulling us toward tasks around the garden.
In the fall, we prepare the garden for winter and bring in the last harvest. This time presents a busy preservation season to stock the pantry for winter. Additionally, we are stocking our barn, checking that our backup heat and electrical systems are in place, and doing other tasks to winterize the homestead.
Winter makes our activity more inward-focused to accomplish more inside the home. The pace becomes slower, but there is always plenty to do.
Make Convenience Meals
Winter is a great time to learn how to can because heating the house is now welcomed. You can also freeze dry previously frozen foods to free up deep freezer space. Here are some of our favorite convenience meals to make during the longer, slower winter months.
- Canned Beef Stew
- Canned Chicken
- Freeze-Dried or Frozen Chicken Pot Pie
- Canned White Bean Chicken Chili
- Canned Bone Broth or Stock
- Tutorial For Canning Meat (Raw Pack Method)
- Canned Black Beans
- Canned Ground Beef
- Easy Freezer Meal Cooking Tips
The winter activities on the homestead are a wonderful time to let your creative juices flow (and get the kids involved). We enjoy making homemade brownie mix, DIY cookie mix in a jar, homemade edible playdough, and easy homemade sugar scrubs to have prepped and ready for holiday gift giving, a hostess gift, or to welcome a new neighbor.
Spending more time indoors can make one long for nature. Gathering with friends and family to learn how to make a Christmas garland or a handmade Christmas wreath creates lasting memories as we work together to bring a bit of nature in.
We enjoy these activities that allow us to be creative and enjoy them again to make someone else feel thought of and special.
After going through our biannual clothing swap, we usually have garments that could use mending or buttons to replace. Knowing the basics of sewing allows us to get those items stitched back together or repurposed.
Our children can hand down clothing to younger siblings, but sometimes, it needs a stitch or two.
The local thrift stores often have fabric, or sometimes you can repurpose clothing to make aprons, throw pillows or curtains. It’s another way to be creative and use what’s available.
Homemade Cleaning Supplies
Making my household cleaning supplies can be less expensive than store-bought, plus I know exactly what’s in them. Using non-toxic ingredients gives me peace of mind, knowing I’m not exposing our children or pets to unnecessary chemicals.
This homemade glass cleaner is simple enough for the kids to help make, and this homemade all-purpose cleaning powder is also a staple in my cleaning closet. Washing soda, cream of tartar, and borax are also natural, affordable household cleaners.
Stock Your Herbal Medicine Cabinet
We use herbal medicine for our family and treat our animals with herbal remedies. Winter is a great time to restock the herbal medicine cabinet with tinctures, salves, and teas. Here are some of my favorite go-to recipes I use regularly:
- DIY Elderberry Gummies (Immunity Support)
- Easy Home Remedy for Allergies (+ Hay Fever)
- Homemade Immune-Boosting Elderberry Syrup Recipe
- Homemade Antibiotic Ointment (Better Than Neosporin)
- Homemade Arnica Oil
- Homemade Arnica Salve Recipe
- Bone Healing Comfrey Compress
- Home Remedies for a Cough (For Babies, Toddlers & Adults)
- Calendula Oil Recipe
In the winter, we mainly rely on preserved vegetables, but there are winter gardening techniques that can keep fresh vegetables on the table. It’s pretty awesome to grow greens year-round, which were once only available in the spring, summer and fall.
Garden Planning & Seed Shopping
Ever wonder why all those seed catalogs come out in January? These companies know that absence makes the heart grow fonder. While we give our gardens the rest they need, we can plan our gardens and place our seed orders early for the upcoming season.
Using a garden planner is a valuable tool for marking your planting and harvesting schedule, and keeping detailed records from year to year makes all the difference in knowing what we will need to grow a year’s worth of food.
Plan Livestock Purchases
We raise a year’s worth of meat for our large family, and whether you are ordering chicks for backyard egg-laying chickens or for raising meat chickens, waiting until spring could be too late. By then, chicks are often back-ordered, not arriving until closer to early summer.
To make sure our chicks have enough time to grow and be hearty for winter (or ready for butchering in the fall), we have ordered as far as a year in advance, choosing the best delivery date for us.
Animals are one of the top priorities on our homestead, so making a solid plan well in advance for livestock purchases, arrival dates, and butchering schedules keeps everything running smoothly.
Butcher and Process Pork Products
Pigs are generally butchered in the fall, so they don’t need feeding throughout the winter. We raise Kune Kune pigs, which typically take longer to mature fully, but they provide ample fat for rendering lard (our favorite).
Catch up on Reading
Our homeschooling approach is to educate our children through homesteading. The winter months provide the opportunity to do more of a traditional study with workbooks. At the same time, the fairer weather allows them to get outside and have hands-on experience with the knowledge they have gained from their books.
Take a Vacation
Taking a vacation from the homestead can be pretty challenging. The spring, summer and fall seasons are full of outside activities and responsibilities that we must do daily, sometimes twice daily.
Winter provides fewer of these daily tasks, making it more realistic for the person who caretakes our homestead while we are away.
It’s important to take time away from your homestead and care for the people in your life and grow those relationships; children are only little for so long, people move on, and fellowship opportunities slip away with the busyness of life.
For this reason, we encourage you to take a break (even if for a short while) to rest, recover, and keep your perspective on why homesteading is important to you.
Take a Class
Winter activities are a great time to continue with your life-long learning journey. Here at Homesteading Family, we have developed several homesteading classes, including canning, baking bread from scratch, culturing milk, preserving eggs, herbal medicine, and so much more!
It’s easy to sign up for a class. Simply choose the class of your choice and receive instant access to in-depth tutorials with video instructions, printable recipe sheets, cheatsheets, and lots of bonuses!