Preparing for winter is a yearlong project when you live in a homestead. You need to make sure that you have all the food and supplies that you will need in order to make it to the other end.
We start preparing for winter in the winter of the previous year around here. You can never start too soon or be too prepared when the time comes. You never know when someone will break an arm, or any other disaster, that will put a complete stop on your preparation.
You will also need to make sure that you have extra of everything to account for emergencies. We had two shelves collapse in the pantry one year and we lost 72 jars of caned produce that we were depending on. We ended up having to trade some of our extra frozen meat with a neighbor in order to make up for it. Luckily, we had extra of both so that we could make it through that sizable bump in the road.
Depending on what you do, each homestead is going to have different items they need to focus on when preparing for winter. I tried to focus on the most common ones for this article, but just remember that you will need to expand this list for your family.
3 Tasks You Shouldn’t Be Ignoring In The Fall
Winterizing The Garden
Most people will just let their crops die in the fall and then deal with it in the spring. This leads to an abundance of work to do in the spring when you are trying to get your garden started as soon as you can.
I know that you are sick of garden chores by the time fall hits, but it is important to clean up the mess. Do your best to pull up the dead plants and put them in the compost pile to avoid rot and diseases. We also rake the garden flat after a season of working it so that the soil doesn’t erode as much through the winter. We also spread a layer of fertilizer so it can work its way in before we need to plant.
It is also important to store your seeds properly so they aren’t dead in the spring. Long term seed storage is a key skill to master if you want to be self-sustaining. Don’t just throw them in a Ziploc bag in the basement!
Stock Up On Hay
If you have a garden, you need to stock up on hay before it gets to cold. When the temperature drops, the price will rise and you will be sorry. Fill every available spot with hay to save money.
Your livestock relies on you to feed them, so running out is not an option. While you can probably find hay in the middle of the winter, it is harder to get and costs a premium. I have picked up hay on icy roads before and it is not an enjoyable experience, trust me!
We fill an entire hay loft and part of the garage in October every year. That takes about 200 bales of hay and will last us well into the spring. If you can store enough to last until the next second cutting, you can save even more money!
Clean Out The Barns and Pens
It is not easy to clean out your animal structures when it gets too cold! Do yourself a favor and get it out of the way in the fall before everything freezes. You will probably have to do one more major cleanup during the winter, but one less frozen cleanup is well worth it!