Homestead Winter Projects: 7 Things to Do While Waiting for Spring

Homestead Winter Projects: 7 Things to Do While Waiting for Spring
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The wait for spring is hard! If you’re wondering how you can best use your time in the winter to prepare for the next year of homesteading, here are seven winter projects you can tackle. Some of them might already be on your radar, but others might have slipped by, ready to rear their persistent heads later in the year when you don’t have time to take them on.

(Don’t want to read all the words? This blog post is also a podcast—just press the triangle play button on the little black bar at the top of this post!)

1. Looking for winter projects? Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere!

If you’re always working from behind, you will never get ahead. And you know it’s going to be harder to get ahead inside the house when the weather warms up and you’re working your tail off outside the house.

I’m not talking about scrubbing the toilet or doing laundry. I’m referring to things that aren’t on our everyday cleaning to-do list, but we’d greatly benefit from getting done. You can, for instance:

  • go through your junk drawer,
  • repair ripped bedding,
  • go on a missing sock hunt,
  • do a paper purge,
  • reduce your stash of cardboard boxes,
  • organize your fabric/yarn stash
  • match up food storage tops and bottoms,
  • rearrange what’s stored beneath the kitchen sink,
  • what other ideas do you have?

Any little projects you’ve been walking by thinking, I’ll get to it later, work really well as winter projects. Whether it’s pulling out a tote of clothes you have stashed for your kids and seeing if they’ve grown enough to fit into them yet, or changing out that shower curtain that has the giant rip in it, winter means you’ve got time to get things done!

2. Inventory, bake, process, and menu plan

Do you know what’s in your freezer? Have you looked at the shelves in your pantry to know what you have, what you need, and what should really be used in the very near future?

Winter is the perfect time to figure out that information. Bonus—you can then use that information to make a menu plan that will help you to most effectively and efficiently use what you already have in your freezer and on your shelves.

Looking for more winter projects for the kitchen? Winter is also a great time to catch up on some baking. If you have room in your freezer and aren’t planning on butchering soon, why not bake a few batches of bread? Bread freezes well, and it’s always nice to have an extra loaf of home baked goodness that you can pull out of the freezer when you don’t have time to bake it fresh.

Waiting for spring to come to the homestead? Here are seven winter projects to keep you busy while you wait for warmer weather.

Did you stick some tomatoes in the freezer when you couldn’t keep up with how fast your garden was providing them to you?  (Jess from The 104 Homestead has a great trick for this!) Now is the perfect time to pull those tomatoes out and can some salsa or spaghetti sauce—the processing will also add humidity and heat to your house.

3. Order seeds, plan your garden

The seed catalogs arrive and homestead gardeners all breathe a collective sigh of satisfaction. This has to be one of our favorite winter projects, right?

Look through those catalogs and order your seeds—don’t forget this part! It’s fun to look and dream, but if you wait too long to order those seeds that you’re dreaming about, you run the risk of trying to order something the company has already run out of.

Make a plan for where those seeds are going to go in your garden, and while you’re at it, figure out what you still need. If you’re not starting seeds, you may still need to buy pepper or tomato plants.

Did you not have luck with the tomato cages you had last year? Do you need to replace one of your hoses? Were you going to try out some new gardening gloves? Thinking of attempting black plastic mulch?

Will your garden be bigger? Smaller? Do you need a second one? Do you need to move the one you have?

These are all things to use the free-time of winter to figure out so you can have a good plan of attack for the busy time of spring.

Waiting for spring to come to the homestead? Here are seven winter projects to keep you busy while you wait for warmer weather.

4. Those things you’ve been meaning to fix inside the house are perfect winter projects.

Y’all. Since we moved to the farm in 2011, we’ve been saying that we should really re-do the flooring in our laundry room. The linoleum is old and crumbling, and if you accidentally drop clean laundry on the floor, it has to be rewashed because it picks up all the crumbles of flooring. But do you know when we generally think about this project?

When we’re busy with 15,362 other things in the spring, summer, or fall.

Maybe you do this, too. It’s those three chipped tiles in the shower that you’ve said you’re going to replace. It’s that closet door that keeps coming off its track that you’ve been meaning to take a closer look at. It’s all those smoke detectors you decided you wanted to change out, but haven’t yet.

Walk around your house with your family members and take stock of all those fix-it projects you’ve been meaning to do, and make a plan of action to turn them into your winter projects that actually get done.

5. Plan out what needs to be done outside your house.

Disclaimer: as a Minnesota farm(ish) girl, I go outside to do chores in all sorts of winter weather. Barn chores do not wait for the temperature to rise above -43F. And the outdoor wood boiler still needs to be stocked up. But there are clearly outdoor projects that are okay to push off my homesteading plate until the temperatures are pleasantly above zero.

And you know, the snow melts.

Waiting for spring to come to the homestead? Here are seven winter projects to keep you busy while you wait for warmer weather.

Part of the frustration of winter is that it’s a hurry up and wait situation—at least where I live. You wait and wait and wait for the weather to be right for planting, and then it’s almost as if you go from 0 to 60 in about .3 seconds and everything is a rush and you’ve got more on your plate than you even know what to do with.

We’ve been saying for a couple years that we need to re-do some brooding pens/coops for our pheasants. Know when we finally think about it? When we have our third hatching of pheasants that wasn’t timed right, and we realize we could have really used those re-done brooding rooms.

We’ve also been saying we need to build a larger incubator. We’ve also been saying we need to…well, you get the picture.

So use the time you’re stuck inside the house to list and make a plan of attack for tasks that need to be addressed outside the house, so you don’t get stuck without the things you need when the time comes.

Psst! Know where a lot of these ideas will come from? Your farm journal. I mean, you are keeping one, right?

6. Workout

Remember how I mentioned that eventually, you’re going to be working your tail off outside?

Waiting for spring to come to the homestead? Here are seven winter projects to keep you busy while you wait for warmer weather.

Listen, I know that winter is the time to snuggle up under a blanket and work on your crocheting, and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take time to do that! But I’d like to point out that if you spend three to five months doing that—remember, I live in Minnesota and we have long winters—your return to the backbreaking sweaty work of spring/summer/fall homesteading is going to be painful.

We have two treadmills, an elliptical machine, and an ab machine in our basement. Total cost of all items, $25. (Seriously, ask your friends if they have workout equipment they aren’t using and want to get rid of.)

But you don’t need gym equipment to work out. There are many workout programs online that you can take part in, as well as workout videos on YouTube. Heck, even just being intentional about lugging yourself up and down your stairs a few times a day is better than sitting. all. winter. long.

As I get older, I find my main drive for staying active in the winter isn’t necessarily to fit into my favorite pair of jeans. It’s that I don’t want to be completely physically miserable when the farm wakes up and I have no choice but to run my tail off.

7. Research, fill your brain with information!

And after you’ve worked out? Take a (productive) break. This is one of the best winter projects!

There is no shame in sitting down to pump your brain full of information, especially since you know you won’t have as much time to do it in spring through fall! Here are a few homesteading related books that might tickle your fancy:

The Beeswax Workshop: How to How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms and More

by Chris Dalziel of Joybilee Farm

Homegrown Healing: From Seed to Apothecary

by Chris Dalziel of Joybilee Farm

The Beginner’s Book of Essential Oils: Learning to Use Your First 10 Essential Oils with Confidence

by Chris Dalziel of Joybilee Farm

The Do-It-Yourself Homestead

by Tessa Zundel of Homestead Lady

Smart Start Garden Planner: Your Step-by Step Guide to a Successful Season

by Megan Cain of Creative Vegetable Gardener

Super Easy Food Preserving: Quick Techniques for Fresh, Fridge and Freezer Storage

by Megan Cain of Creative Vegetable Gardener 

Chickens From Scratch: Raising Your Own Chickens From Hatch to Egg Laying and Beyond

by Janet Garman of Timber Creek Farm

50 DIY Projects for Your Chickens: Chicken Coops, Brooders, Runs, Swings, Dust Baths, and More!

by Janet Garman of Timber Creek Farm

Planning and Designing the Family Food Garden

by Isis Loran of Family Food Garden

The Homesteaders Herbal Companion: The Ultimate Guide to Growing, Preserving, and Using Herbs

by Amy Fewell of The Fewell Homestead

Creating Your Off Grid Homestead: Radical Inspiration and Practical Advice

by Teri Page of Homestead Honey

Waiting for spring to come to the homestead? Here are seven winter projects to keep you busy while you wait for warmer weather.

Don’t forget to check out podcasts as well when you’re filling your brain with homesteading information. Besides my own homesteading podcast, you should be sure to check out a few other favorites of mine:

The Modern Homesteading Podcast

Pioneering Today

Homesteady

The Survival Podcast

Winter can’t last forever, which we are grateful for! But you can clearly see that while winter is here, you’ve got quite a list of winter projects to tackle. Good luck!

Waiting for spring to come to the homestead? Here are seven winter projects to keep you busy while you wait for warmer weather.

Subscribe to my Farmish Kind of Life podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or other popular podcast players. All episodes of the podcast will also be linked under the podcast tab that you can find way at the top of this post in my menu bar.

Do you homeschool? So do we! Check out my book — The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick.

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4 thoughts on “Homestead Winter Projects: 7 Things to Do While Waiting for Spring”

    • ((That thing when Harold replies to your podcast. Ima try not to fangirl here.))

      I really enjoy YOUR podcast and am so glad that you have it. You’ve created an amazing community of listeners, and you always have great topics. You’re a fabulous resource and I always look forward to what your next episode will bring. 🙂 Thanks for listening to my itty bitty brand new podcast. It made my day. 🙂

  • You make a great point about working out during the winter. It’s something that I should really think about more seriously! I’m in Wisconsin, so I’m in the same boat with the winters. We are working on upping our game in the seed starting department. Yesterday I put a sink in the basement, and moved some shelving and lighting around so that we’re all set when we start planting soon, instead of trying to find a place to set our seed trays once we’ve started!

  • This list is perfect. I love spending some time in the winter planning out next years garden, though if I do it too early in the season I feel like spring will never hit. I will definitely be checking out some of those books, I love expanding my knowledge and winter is the perfect time to do that.

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