As the days begin to shorten, and the air begins to cool, we find the need begin preparing for the cold to the bone effects that accompany the pending winter weather. Here in Zone 5a, we have a very seasonal pattern, which means, winters are cold, there is often snow, and our outdoor activities take a bit of a turn. If you haven't already, it is time to get ready.
Here on our homestead this means a whole pile of changes. I am going to break them into two main categories and do my best to briefly detail what we do in our general winter weather preps.
The first main category we will tackle is the yard and garden. Everything that we use during summer needs to find its winter home and those items that we will continue to use for various chores need to find a consistent place to be so they are easily accessed all winter long. Beds need cleaned up, etc. Let's look at the list.
Deal with the Water Issues:
Let's Build Soil:
Get Some Pruning Done:
Get the Animals Set and Ready:
I have spoken to some degree already on this blog about our animal system, but for a concise version, let's explore this. Winter marks the transition into winter housing. All summer long, our hens and rabbits have been in their summer quarters with ample access to fresh air, fresh produce, fresh weeds, sunshine and shade. But those structures are far more exposed than I want to be when I take care of them, so every year when the cold weather begins to creep in, we move them into winter housing. For us, winter housing is an old greenhouse that was here when we bought the place. Over the years it has evolved and now includes a number of rabbit cages, some nest boxes for the hens, and a very deep open floor. We fill this opening with straw, paper shreds, leaves and grass clippings, old hay, etc. when fall hits and move the chickens and rabbits into this space for the winter. Food, and water will both be available in here as well as outside in their small winter run, but when it gets really cold and snowy, they basically stay inside. They love digging through all this deep bedding all winter long. It is well ventilated and this system has worked very well over the years. I can feed and care for them in a sheltered position. There are lights which makes my work easier when necessary. There is power to run their heated watering pans. It is just so much easier than leaving them outside would be. And, as an added bonus, since it is a greenhouse, they are nice and warm on sunny winter days, taking advantage of some thermal gain.
Start Planning for Next Year:
As you can see, just getting the yard transitioned over into winter weather mode can be a significant chore. In part two, we will look at getting the people living systems ready for the cold winter weather coming our way. Are you ready for the winter weather yet? What do your plans include as you prep for winter weather?