Winter has officially arrived.
I have been meaning to write my second post… which I will now be calling the first winter post, for quite some time. I, and many people I talk to seem to always fall into the trap of thinking that summers are always crazy busy and when winter finally makes its arrival things will slow down and we can all breathe a little. And each year it seems I and everyone else realize, that does not always work like we plan. Even with nearly three feet of snow on the ground (which fell almost a week ago), it seems like there is still always something… or many things we need to do. One might think that this would not be the case with homesteading. With three feet of snow on the ground what farm work could there be to do? Isn’t this the time to take a farming break? There are no plants to tend to and no yard work that can be done. Even before we have officially gotten our homestead “started,” we have quickly learned that these statements are absolutely FALSE. With every season comes its new set of duties to be taken care of, and winter is no exception. In fact, currently, there is lots going on down on the hippie homestead.
Here are a few tidbits:
Logan ordered all of our seeds for the upcoming growing season several weeks ago, and within the last few weeks they have already been put into dirt (yes..in January.) Some of the seeds that take longer to fruit have been planted in egg cartons inside. Logan ordered two grow lights to hang above them. Our hope is that this head start will yield us yummy homegrown fruits and veggies for a longer period of time this summer.
Another plant…or rather fungus, venture Logan has recently taken on is trying to cultivate oyster mushrooms. Our parents have been buying them from a local farmer in our home town and they are oh so delicious. However, we aren’t too sure if we will be getting anything delicious out of OUR mushrooms. Some moist dirt and darkness..how complicated could growing mushrooms be? Apparently..very. Mold and temperature are apparently the bitter enemies of the mushroom. This brings us to another homesteading lesson, which I am sure we will be taught many more times to come….not every homesteading venture will be successful. But maybe what sets us homesteaders apart from the average birds is we just keep trying.
Another project in the works is building a “seedling room” in the basement. This project will be to help all of the above projects. In this small, sectioned off room, temperature and light can be better controlled which will keep seeds, plants and fungi all much happier.
Through purchasing our homestead, we seem to have inherited a sweet horse named Dissy and her weird companion, a goat named Freak (more details on these two at a later point.) Inheriting these two actually seemed to be minimal work..until winter arrived. Unfortunately, no grass grows in the winter, which means these two need a constant supply of food provided by us. I know this seems obvious, but as a person who has NEVER owned a horse before, I now completely understand where the phrase “eats like a horse” came from. Dissy can go through 800 pounds of hay in less than two weeks. We regularly have to check to make sure they have plenty to eat. When one 800 pound bale is gone, another one needs moved in. This requires a tractor. We are extremely lucky to have a neighbor that allows us to borrow his to move their hay into their field (well….they were his animals first after all!) He also left us a warming light we can submerge in their water to keep it from freezing. Along with the hay, we frequently supplement their diet with sweet feed or alfalfa for extra nutrients, and a mineral lick is kept in their field for this purpose as well. The recent blizzard of 2016 definitely required some prep for these two. The day before the storm, I traveled some back-country West Virginia roads to get bales of hay to lay in their shelter for warmth (we had to get bales that were a manageable size so we could spread them.) We couldn’t leave our animals to freeze on the homestead!!
Aside from homesteading duties, we are learning winter is also a great time to catch up on work INSIDE the house. This can be difficult to do during the longer days of summer, when daylight is precious. We are currently in the middle of TWO bathroom renovations: one bathroom that desperately needs a fresh coat of paint (a bathroom with no windows painted DARK green..in my world, this HAD to go), and another bathroom that was a closet two weeks ago. Every project teaches you something. For example, I had no idea picking out a toilet style could be so difficult. We also have a giant wall to paint in our living room, a disaster of a pantry that needs reconfigured after the loss of some space to the new bathroom and a washing machine relocation, and a closet that needs to be created where the washing machine used to be.
Ten or twenty more things could be added to this list at any moment, but by now I think you may get the point. In life and in homesteading, there is ALWAYS something to do, even in the dull days of winter. But if really DID have nothing to do in winter…well…what would we do??