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I’m going to tell you a secret; I love winter on the homestead almost as much, if not more than the summertime. All of the winter homesteading activities make me feel cozy, and I’m a cozy addict.
Seriously, I love everything that comes with being cozy in my house. Slipper, warm blankets, crafting time, baking bread, and yummy scented candles are all my jam. The hygge movement is everything that makes my world go around.
Winter on the homestead doesn’t have to be blue or boring. I think it’s one of the best seasons. Yes, you still need to put on those boots and go take care of the animals, but you don’t have a massive garden to tend.
For me, that means I have a lot of extra time on my hands if you can believe I even have extra time with homeschooling, freelancing, and homesteading.
Friends, this is the time to better yourself and make plans to better your homestead. You might not have time to work on skills in the summer, but winter gives you ample time to test out new recipes, try a new craft, or draw detailed plans for your garden.
Looking for some winter homesteading activities? I got you covered.
21 Winter Homesteading Activities
1. Plan Your Garden
As soon as I put my garden to rest in the fall, I start planning my next garden. I can’t help myself; I just love gardening that much.
I look at my successes and failures from that year and consider the garden lessons I learned that year. Those help me figure out my plan for the next year.
Planning my garden takes a lot of time, but I don’t mind. It’s a task I really do enjoy. I look at what we are eating more or less of that year.
For example, we used to eat a lot of tomato sauce and we still do, but our use has dropped in the last few years. So, in my 2020 garden, I won’t include as many. We are eating more salads than before, so I want to add more greens and try to grow greens from early spring until late fall.
Use this time to plan your garden. January is a perfect time, and it leads to my next favorite winter homesteading task.
2. Order Your Seeds
Most seed companies send out their catalogs in December and January. Depending on where you live, you will start to start seeds inside between February and April, so you need to get that seed order completed sooner rather than later.
Using the garden plan I created, I order my seeds. Before I do so, I look at the seeds I saved from the previous year. This year, I know I have plenty of beans and peas seeds saved, zucchini seeds saved, and more. I do need to order some cucumber seeds because my cucumber harvest wasn’t so great this year.
Spend some money and order some seeds this winter.
3. Start Seeds Indoors
Seed starting really starts towards the end of the winter months, but that does vary based on your location. I start some of my seeds at the end of February and the rest in March.
That means I need to gather supplies and start those seeds. It’s the first major task for gardening for the year, and I won’t lie – I get seriously giddy when I start my seeds.
My husband rolls his eyes at me, but he doesn’t get my excitement. I know you do though!
4. Practice Crochet or Knitting
Crochet and knitting are my jam. I do both throughout the entire year because it’s my two favorite hobbies, but in the summer, I have less time to do so.
So, whether you know how to crochet or knit or are brand new, use this time to learn and practice. These are some of the best winter homesteading activities. Not only can these hobbies make you money and make excellent gifts, but you can create practical, yet adorable, items for yourself and loved ones.
I try to make all of my kids a hat each year, a scarf, and sometimes gloves. They’re tasks of love but I find serious enjoyment in them.
5. Dive into Other Homesteading Crafts
You wouldn’t believe all of the homesteading crafts that you can learn. Quilting, sewing, embroidering, and rug making are a few that come to mind.
Crafts aren’t just a way to use up time. These can actually make you money. If you practice and develop those skills, you can turn your crafts into a serious money-making hobby to supplement your homesteading income.
I sell my crochet and knitting projects, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sew shirts or offer seamstress services. You might learn how to make seasonal wreaths and sell them at craft fairs.
The sky is the limit, so give some a try.
6. Learn How to Make Soap
I have a confession to make.
One of my 2019 goals was to learn how to make soap, and I never completed this goal. I’m disappointed in myself, but I’m moving that goal to 2020.
So many homesteaders make their own soap. You can just make enough for your family or develop a small little side business.
7. Make DIY Candles
Making candles is another homesteading skill that could be invaluable. I’m a candle addict, so I really should learn how to make candles at home myself.
Not only do homemade candles make fantastic gifts and a practical item that you can use at home, but you can turn this into a little business.
We all need extra ways to make money on our homesteads, right? I know we do!
8. Give Herbal Remedies a Try
Now is the time to give those herbal remedies a try. We’ve tried many different herbal remedies, and I keep trying more and more.
What better time to learn about herbal remedies than in the middle of the cold and flu season? If you have kids as I do, they’re sure to give you plenty of opportunities to test your newfound herbal remedy skills.
9. Make Cleaning Products
If you make your own cleaning products, use the wintertime to create a year supply so that you don’t need to think about it later.
Oranges are on sale typically in the winter, so now is the time to let your kids binge on oranges and clementines (plus all that vitamin C to keep them healthy).
Then, let them soak in vinegar for a month or two. After that, strain out the orange peels and you’ll have plenty of cleaners. Try making a few gallons throughout the winter to be prepared for spring cleaning.
10. Cook From Scratch More
Summer is busy for me, and I have to tell you I don’t always feel like cooking from scratch.
Some days, my kids are lucky if they get frozen nuggets. I’m all about keeping it real with y’all.
In the winter, I find myself cooking from scratch more. It might be because I love soup, and summer isn’t the best time for soup. Fall and winter are soup weather, so I take to the kitchen to more.
I tend to find more recipes, bake more bread, make more cookies, and other delicious cakes for my family. Trust me, they aren’t complaining.
So, if you don’t typically cook from scratch, use this winter to start doing so.
11. Learn to Bake Bread
People always make comments about how hard it must be to bake bread.
Baking bread is like any other skill, and I consider it an easier skill than canning or gardening. With the right recipe, you can learn how to bake bread with just a few tries.
In the summer, I don’t bake as much bread. Mostly, I don’t want to heat my house up any more than I need to in the hot months. I use my bread machine more during the summer.
In the winter, adding a few extra degrees just helps to keep the house at a comfortable temperature longer without the furnace turning on often.
This year, I’m going to learn how to bake sourdough bread. It’s one of my desired 2020 skills and goals.
12. Give Fermenting a Try
Can I tell you a secret?
Fermenting is easier than canning.
Gasp! I know; you’re seriously shocked, but I’m serious. There are fewer steps when you ferment, and you don’t need to heat your entire house up with a water bath canner or a pressure canner.
Find a guide on fermenting and give it a try. You can find easy recipes to try.
13. Take a Cheesemaking Course
Do you want to learn how to make cheese? Making cheese is a fantastic winter task.
Believe it or not, making cheese is sort-of seasonal if you rely on raw milk. Cows produce more milk in the spring and summer months as the grass is more abundant. So, farmers are typically overrun with milk, and they make cheese for the winter months when the milk supply dips lower.
However, winter can be used to learn how to make cheese in preparation for the busier cheese-making season.
14. Start Canning
Canning is a necessary task for any homesteader, but it is a skill nonetheless. The first time that I made jam, it failed.
It failed the second and third time too, but I’m stubborn.
In the winter months, I can some extra jams and jellies from frozen berries. I also can chicken broths and soups. If I have anything left over from the garden that I stuck in the freezer to can later, now is the time.
15. Try Dehydrating Food
Why not make some beef jerky or try dehydrating some cinnamon apple rings.
One of our air fryers (we have three – Andrew is obsessed) has a dehydrating mode, and it works well. We’ve made batches of jerky in it, and it’s turned out well.
Dehydrating isn’t a primary source of preservation for us, but you might enjoy it. You can make dehydrated soup blends, dried fruit, jerky, and more.
16. Prepare for Beekeeping
Out of all the winter homesteading activities, I think preparing for beekeeping might be the one that I’m most nervous about this year.
Andrew and I are heavily debating and reading about beekeeping. We plan to move in 2020 – or that’s the plan if we find our dream home. (keep your fingers crossed for us!)
You might be sure that you want bees this year. Well, winter is the best time to build your hives and prepare for getting bees. Talk to local beekeepers in your area to gain as much knowledge as possible.
Beekeeping does require someone to help you, in most cases, if you really want to get it right the first time. Try to find a mentor now!
17. Plan Livestock Purchases
Maybe you don’t want bees, but you might want to purchase other livestock for your homestead this year. Use this time to plan your livestock purchases.
Purchasing livestock requires a plan. You need housing for the animal, projected feeding costs, a water solution, and so much more. This is one of the more intensive winter homesteading activities because you really need to do it correctly.
If you are interested in learning more passive water solutions for livestock, I encourage you to take a look at The One-Cow Revolution, ran by Shawn & Beth Dougherty. They are dear friends and authors of The Independent Farmstead.
Don’t dive into a livestock purchase without integrated plans, but winter is the perfect time for that!
18. Figure Out Your DIY Spring Projects
I have a list at the start of spring of tasks that we need to complete. That might be some upgrades on my chicken coop, gardening upkeep or new arches, moving fruit bushes, and so much more.
I may have a few things I want my husband to build. I don’t want to divulge too much in case he reads this!
Now is the time to decide what tasks need to be completed first and which ones can wait until later in the spring or even summer. Homesteads always have tasks that need to be completed. That’s just the way of life.
19. Learn to Play an Instrument
Self-improvement is a big thing for me. We are never too old to learn a new task or try a new skill. This winter, you might want to learn how to play an instrument.
My 10-year-old daughter is teaching me to play the piano – seriously. That’s a reversal of typical roles, but we have paid for three years of lessons (and counting) for her.
I wanted to learn how to play the piano! I’m not musical by any means, but it’s a skill that I think I might enjoy. Perhaps you feel the same way that I do!
20. Read More Books
I love to read books. I take the time to read more books in the winter. Throughout the year, I listen to dozens of audiobooks because I don’t always have time to read physical books in the middle of the gardening season.
I’m a true real crime junkie; I can’t help myself. So, this year, I have some crime novels to read while I relax at home.
Take the time to read, my friends. Read self-improvement books. Read mysteries, sci-fi, romance, or whatever interests you. Reading is so good for your soul and mind.
21. Invest in More Family Time
Last but surely not least, use your free wintertime to invest in more family time. Sometimes, we get caught up in tasks and developing skills that we forget how time moves fast for our family.
I take time to add in more movie nights, cuddle time, reading time, and board game time as a family. When the temperatures dip down low, I don’t make my kids go outside. Truth be told, if I didn’t have animals, I wouldn’t go outside myself!
Family time is invaluable friends, so this might be one of the most important winter homesteading activities of all.
Use the Winter on the Homestead
Don’t enter this season with dread. Winter should be a time of rest, reflection, recharging, and learning. Use this time on winter homesteading activities that show you how to be a better homesteader in the upcoming year.