Winter is officially here and with it comes another seasonal shift to our daily life. These weeks and months of the winter season are good ones to focus on building healthy homesteading skills to further long-term goals.
Everyone, of course, has different goals and priorities. I'm personally truly glad for that. I'm glad the gal I buy goat milk from has raising goats as a priority so I don't have too. She's glad that I have beekeeping as a priority so she doesn't have too. It's a give and take.
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No one can do it all, but we can all focus on what's a priority for our homes. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all healthy homesteading skills but covers some general themes that most folks on the homesteading and DIY path have in common to varying degrees:
Cooking From Scratch
I choose to eat healthy food cooked from whole, natural ingredients. Learning to cook from scratch and stretching those cooking skills helps us make sense of how best to prepare homegrown and foraged items in a way that our family will eat and enjoy.
It helps us eat according to a specific regimen if our health or philosophy requires it, without relying on expensive processed foods. Cooking from scratch helps us stretch our money too, meaning that ‘peasant' food is not only frugal but also tasty and fulfilling.
The best way to attain this skill is to find some good recipes and just work in the kitchen. These don't have to be super fancy, in fact the best meals are often simple. Just practice. The more you practice the easier it becomes, it also gets less messy with practice.
A healthy diet full of nourishing food goes a very long way in providing the energy and stamina needed to sustain the long, busy, demanding days of homesteading. Making it from scratch ensures that it is indeed healthy and frugal. Remember from scratch can be as simple or complex as time and desire allow.
Cooking & Recipe Resources Worth Checking Out:
Creating Herbal Remedies
I'm not talking about becoming a certified herbalist or anything of the sort, which would require much more than one winter season. Rather, simply take some time to learn about what herbs are growing locally or perhaps are already in the garden and how they can be used as herbal remedies in the home.
Take some time to figure out what issues are perennial problems in your home and look up herbal remedies that might help. Be willing to try and experiment to see what works and what doesn't.
Herbal Resources Worth Checking Out:
Depending on your location in the world, winter is not necessarily a good time to get the hands in the dirt. Folks in the deep south might be gardening right now but those of us in the north are probably buried in snow.
This is the time of year to catch up on gardening know-how and planning. There is no reason to re-invent the gardening wheel, take some time to read up on what other gardeners and experts have written and think about how to apply them to your own garden. Look back at last season's gardening journal and find areas that were a problem – pests, diseases, etc. and read up on how to prevent that in the coming year.
Gardening Resources Worth Checking Out:
- Grow a Good Life
- Encyclopedia of Country Living
- Rodale's Organic Gardening
- You Grow Girl
- Gardening Posts from Homespun Seasonal Living
Winter isn't necessarily a time when much food preservation is being done but it is a time when we can stock up on certain supplies. Check the thrift stores, local yard sale groups, even eBay, for deals on things like canners, dehydrators, jars, and other necessary equipment. The off-season makes them easier to find in my experience. Winter is also a great time to read up on those preservation skills and keeping notes in your homesteading journal of what to do and try when the time is right.
Food Preservation Resources Worth Checking Out:
- Simply Canning
- The Fiercely DIY Guide to Jams, Jellies, & Fruit Butters
- The National Center for Home Food Preservation
- Food in Jars
- Food Preservation Posts here on Homespun Seasonal Living
Animal Husbandry & Beekeeping
If you have space and desire, raising animals can be a very worthwhile pursuit. We don't currently raise animals on our homestead for a multitude of reasons: desire, land, time, etc. We choose instead to support local farmers and feel very comfortable with that choice. However, there's a lot to be said for fresh eggs, milk, and meat raised by one's own hands. Before taking on animals use this winter season to read up on those animals and their needed care.
If beekeeping is part of the plan, use this winter season to build hives and read up on how to care for them once they arrive on the homestead. If at all possible find a local beekeeping group and get involved now so that you can learn from experienced folks in your area. We did this and while I've read numerous books on the subject, I still find my local group to be the best source of information and education.
Animal Husbandry & Beekeeping Resources Worth Checking Out:
I'm biased, I suppose, but homesteaders live close to the land usually and as such should learn to live in harmony with the natural rhythm of the earth. Take time this winter to truly cultivate an understanding of the natural cycle of the earth in your part of world.
Use this time to start a journal of some kind and record how the season plays out. Learn to embrace seasonal foods, celebrations, and more. Use this time to gently break into the idea of living close to the earth so that when things begin to get really busy a foundation has been set and seasonal living becomes routine.
Seasonal Living Resources Worth Checking Out:
As winter sets in and the holidays pass, set your sites on the goals for the new year and the long term. Use this winter season to build healthy homesteading skills that will have you starting off on the right foot the minute the next season or opportunity lands on the homestead doorstep. Take time to read, take a class, and meet local experts now so that your knowledge base is ready for the next step.