Brrrrr, it's COLD! ... That doesn't sound anything like what I am hearing around One Ash these days, but we know that winter will hit us eventually, and from what we are reading it's forecast to be a cold one for South Carolina. Last year, we had one of the biggest ice storms in history, and we have seen snow regularly for several years now. I know, if you live a little farther north this all sounds like child's play, but it's all relative. Getting prepared for your winter, no matter where you live, is something we all need to think about. Here are some of the things we are doing to prepare – what are you doing around your homestead to prepare for winter?
~The Wood Pile – We use a lot of wood for heating, and for the wood cook stove. This is the time of year to make sure you have plenty, get it chopped, split and stacked, and clean up the old pile. Cover it up so it's dry and aged when you are ready to use it.
~The Fireplaces – We need a place to use all that wood, so now is the time to make sure your fireplaces are cleaned out, and that the chimneys are free from creosote. Chimney sweeps often work at a lower cost in the summer when few people are thinking about keeping warm!
~The Compost Pile – It's time to make sure the pile has plenty of room, and is ready to receive the fall leaves and other yard debris. Make sure you have added only the correct items to your compost- read here to find out what can go in, and what can't.
~The Garden – In most areas our gardens are winding down, or have finished completely. We have turned the geese loose in the garden (ours is fenced all the way around), and they are enjoying the over-grown grass and remaining plants. No need to burn or toss that forage if an animal can eat it, and fertilize the garden while they enjoy!
~The Woodwork – We are working hard to get our porch repaired and painted where it has taken some wear over the summer months. A good, clean coat of paint will help protect the wood as the temperatures fluctuate in the winter.
~The Heating Source – Other than wood, we use propane to heat, and by taking advantage of our propane company's pre-buy option, we can usually save a little money, and also budget our usage much better.
~The Seeds – As your plants are winding down, it's a good idea to harvest seeds for next year. I have already gathered a lot of marigolds and zinnias, as well as basil. These seeds will stay in the freezer to keep them fresh and ready for germination next spring.
~The Windows – it's a great time to make sure all your windows are well insulated, and cleaned. This will save you energy by controlling any air leaks, and offer a clean and pretty view when you can't spend as much time outside! It's also a great time to wash your curtains, and your mini blinds.
~The Sheds – Not all of our animals use their sheds in the summer, but come winter they will want to have a place of protection. Now is the time to do a check and make any repairs necessary to your animal shelters.
~The Blankets – You probably washed all your blankets before you stored them away for the summer, but they may still smell a bit musty when you get them out. Hanging them on the line while the sun is shining bright and hot will help air out any smells and make them fresh for winter cuddling! And if you like to knit, quilt or crochet, now is a great time to start making a new blanket for winter.
~The Clothing – Every year we either grow (that's another blog I could write on struggling with weight loss!) or wear out our winter clothing. Now is a great time to find winter items cheap at thrift stores, yard sales and consignment shops. Most people aren't thinking of buying winter clothes right now, so stores are selling them at a bargain price. We just found sweatshirts and fleece jackets at a thrift store, in like-new condition for 50 cents each! This is also a perfect time to get your coats out, make sure everything is clean and fresh, and ready for that first cold day.
~The Pantry – We have all been canning like crazy to fill our pantries, but it's a good time to look for bargains at the grocery store as well. As we near the holidays, food prices generally go up, so now is the time to stock up on items that you can store away and use in the winter. And if you do get snowed or iced in, it will sure be nice to have something other than all those canned tomatoes and green beans!
~The Animal Feed – We have finally gotten the first cutting of hay around here, and it's time to start building up the reserves for winter. We will be glad that we don't have to go find hay once it's cold outside!
What are you doing to prepare for winter at your homestead?
Share your ideas in the comments section below!