The leaves have changed, fluttered from the sky, and now coat the forest and garden floor with a thick layer of organic mulch. Winter is here. For many, this means little more than bundling up, celebrating the holidays, and mulling over seed catalogs picking out new experiments for next year’s spring garden. But while these are wonderful things, there are many winter chores and homestead activities that can still be accomplished. From splitting wood for the wood burning stove to winter gardening pursuits, inspiration and opportunity abounds in the winter landscape.
Yet while there are many winter chores to be done, remember to take the time and enjoy the season with friends and family. The great thing about winter chores is that they are not usually too pressing, and can be easily budgeted into our schedules.
It isn’t wise to try and tackle winter activities around the homestead like you would your summer gardening chores. Especially around the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, daylight is at a premium and winter is traditionally the time of resting. Instead of compiling long to do lists of winter home maintenance or DIY projects in the cold, plan for plenty of time to contemplate both your life, and your land.
Winter is an excellent time to follow one of permaculture’s most useful tools. Observation.
Observe the rising and setting locations of the low winter sun, watch the long shadows, and maybe plan the perfect location for your new winter garden beds. The forests are easier to enter and navigate in winter, and are great places to look for patterns and enjoy nature.
Winter homesteading offers both challenges and opportunities, but remember that this is the time of year to recharge and relax to get ready for the ramping up of spring soon to come, and to reflect on the seasons that have passed.