We live in Michigan where the lake effect snow can bring in several feet of the white stuff and temperatures often dip below zero. But you won’t hear me complaining.
Don’t get me wrong, I love our life on the farm. Even that hardest days like bringing in the hay crop in 95 degree weather, or cleaning out the winter muck build up, or even the worst days when we loose a beloved animal, I’m still thankful for the life that Zach and I have built.
But winter…winter can be a nice break from the hot, busy days of summer.
By late autumn, most of the large, labor intensive jobs like haying, laying new fence, or building new buildings have been wrapped up for the year. The hardest outdoor jobs in winter are feeding the wood burning furnace and bringing water out to the animals by the bucket.
But for the most-part, the long dark evenings are welcomed. We cozy up in the farmhouse with cups of tea and I work on knitting projects, sewing, reading, drawing, spinning or playing my violin. Things that I love to do, but often feel guilty about participating in when the weather is nice and there’s so much to do outside.
Zach likes to blacksmith in the winter as the heat of the forge isn’t stifling in the cold weather. He also likes to do woodworking or leather work.
We often have friends and family over on the weekends for group dinners and game nights. Something we look forward to as we often can’t participate in summer get-togethers with the family.
Winter can be the homesteader’s vacation, but there are still things you can do to further your farm business.
- Learn a new craft/skill
Do you raise fiber animals? Perhaps take a class on a new spinning technique. Do you raise dairy goats? Learn to make soap or perfect that aged cheese. Perhaps you’d like to learn to do something like blacksmithing that has nothing to do with farming, but would be an off season skill that could generate products to sell.
Do you already know a skill? Set up classes in the winter (if it’s an indoor type skill) to generate winter income. Teach knitting, spinning, soap making, canning classes or even web design. Use this time to record how-to videos and upload them to You-Tube or Patreon. These can be money makers through advertising, donations and monetizing videos.
- Up your Online Game
Work on your website, blog or social media pages. Winter is the perfect times to get your website looking stellar before the coming busy season. Take some computer classes if need be, organize and edit farm-related photos, design your logo…etc.
Write blogs, write “about us” pages, write that cookbook or how-to book that you’ve always wanted to write. Share your homesteading lives and share your knowledge via the written word.
5. Set up an online store
Etsy is my favorite but you can incorporate something into your own website. There are programs through Wix or Ecwid that make things pretty easy. Start listing products, experiment with product photos and perfect your listing descriptions.
Plan your coming year, price lumber for future building projects, order seeds and gardening tools, find breeders who expect the birth of livestock in the spring. Contact bee keepers and place your hive orders. You can also find good deals on off-season equipment. Collect as many resources as you can to make the spring smooth and productive.
7. Do indoor home repairs
Often, the inside of the farmhouse is neglected in the summer as we are busy making the outdoors work for us. Winter is a great time to fix those leaky sinks, paint a room, install a water softener or organize your home office. Getting these things done when you have extra time will take the stress of when your seasonal business is in full swing.
We haven’t taken a summer vacation since we bought our farm in 2009. Instead we tend to take small weekend trips in the fall. There’s a sweet spot when it’s late enough in the season where most of the summer projects are finished up, but not so late that the tourist activities have been closed down for the year. We have the luxury of not having any school-age children, so that might be an issue for your family, but it’s a great time to travel. Many times the hotel rates are better and the activities are less crowded.
We almost always incorporate some sort of farm-related activity into our travels. For example, we just took a long weekend trip to the Ohio National Poultry Show. The experience has refreshed my enthusiasm for raising chickens and I’m excited about the coming year!
You can read about our trip to the ONPS over at our sister site Community Chickens!
You’ve earned it. Read a book, binge watch your favorite Netflix show. Sometimes a well deserved rest can make you even more enthusiastic towards starting the coming season and your business ventures.