How many different articles have you already ready with the name “Winter Homestead Projects”? Maybe only I have read a lot because I’m fairly ambitious. We haven’t lived in our country home even 4 months yet and its difficult to control the urges to start a hundred different projects. My wife is able to suppress this a little more than I am. Only a few weeks from Christmas I decided I was going to buy a wood furnace to install. I was gently reminded that I am already stressed about all the projects I have going already and with all the presents we still had to buy for the kids.
Since I will get the evil eye (and well deserved) if I try to start a new project right now, I thought I would at least just list the things I’ve thought of doing and could possibly do during these long Wisconsin winter months. After not finding great lists online from others of what to do during winter, I thought I would compile my own for those out there who have tons of free time for a new project.
Projects for the Winter
1. Work on hunting training with my dog. Or training in general. He is a puppy who loves to bite the children and knock the baby over. He needs help and I want to be able to use him for hunting. Yep, that’s him you see with this post.
2. Learn how to hunt. I have never shot an animal in my life. Next year will be my time. I may even try sooner if I could find an animal to shoot. In the city, squirrels basically advertised themselves by sitting on top a fence sticking their tongues out. In the country they apparently know better and only leave their foot prints.
3. Fix my chicken coop. From the day I built my A-frame chicken tractor I have been modding it. I have learned many of the ways not to build a chicken coop. As I remedy the bad parts, I look towards the day where it is complete. Someday after the hundreds of dollars spent trying to raise chickens, I might actually get an egg.
4. Plan my goats. Plan my pole barn. Plan my garden. Plan my yard. There is a lot of room here. I created a scale graph of my yard and can cut things out and play around with where I want to put things. Unfortunately I can’t turn a long skinny 7 acres into more of a square. I have lots of things I want to have on my land next year, including some meat goats. I may need a fence and plan.
5. Build or buy a bee hive. Why not just jump into that right away next season too? My wife likes the idea so that is another plus. I’ve spent some time looking at designs and started wondering what bees did in the wild before people provide plastic pre-made combs for them.
6. Work on my barbecue sauce. Someday I am going to have meat all over the place ready to smoke. Right now, I still pay the high grocery store prices for meat pumped full of grain and penicillin. When the meat starts flowing, I don’t want to be without a wonderful sauce to accompany it.
7. Install the wood furnace. I’ve always hated the cost of heating my house. Its even worse with propane. The furnace is purchased to add onto the existing furnace in my house, now I just have to figure out how to install it. Here’s to hoping the wife is nice and toasty and the propane man doesn’t know us on a first name basis.
8. As far as perfecting things, my sourdough skills need some work. I have attempted to hone my skills and build my knowledge previously without much success. I blame the pool water that came out of the faucet which seemed to kill all the yeast. Now I have water from the ground that should let things grow to their hearts content and make my teeth fall out.
9. Build a wood shed. That wood stove will need to be regularly stocked with fuel. I want the shed close to my house because the point of the furnace is to stay warm on real cold days.
10. Grow mushrooms in my basement? Nah…I’m not ready for that.
11. Build a grain mill. I have yet to find plans for a simple grain mill that doesn’t involve a pretty painted windmill sitting on a creek. I just want to figure out how to make wheat seed into flour. No paint. No lattice blades. I will even use electricity to spin a motor! I just heard a bunch of homesteaders gasp.
12. Setup my workshop. Since I moved only 4 months ago, the workshop is still a work in progress. I don’t plan to get too crazy though as this will be moving to the pole barn next year.
13. Remove all of the chicken, outhouse, bird feeder and 90’s pink decor from the house left by the previous home owner. Don’t judge us by our bathroom decorations!
14. Does anyone else buy tomatoes from the grocery store to practice canning? Seems ridiculous but I just may do it. I hate to wait until I have a load of tomatoes ready to go bad before I think about learning how its done. I plan to practice canning this winter, in case you didn’t get that.
15. Buy a kitten. This is killing two birds with one stone. Actually, we hope it doesn’t kill any of our birds but lots of mice. We are giving it to our kids for Christmas which is the second stone. We need some pest control so we thought we would put a cat to work. We will not be naming him Tom.
16. My final suggestion is research. If you are a farmer or have been on a homestead for awhile, you probably have already done all of the things on my list. I am a computer programmer who has lived the last 30 years in the city. I have a lot to learn. I will be researching animals, plants, self sustaining life styles, alternative energies, and ways to be more self reliant. It seems like fun stuff and I hope someone else can benefit as I learn too.
That is my list. Those are the winter homestead projects which will keep me more than busy. This is my first year in the country. I bet that list will change drastically next year.