I know, I know! It’s only September. BUT you can never be too prepared, especially when you have lives depending on you. Here in north Georgia, it’s 90*+ and it feels like winter is forever away, but trust me when I tell you, it’s all down hill from here. The leaves are already starting to fall, albeit one at a time. The mornings are cooler and though it’s still hot, it’s not as unbearable. So I figured I would talk about the things we are doing now, to prepare for winter.
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Preparing For Winter Is Easy…When You Do It Early
First thing is first, go ahead and make a list of all the things you think you’ll need. Then check it against my list and maybe google some other blogs like Southern Dreams Homestead, The Homesteading RD or The Farmer’s Lamp to help give you a few more ideas. Below is simply part of my list that I think everyone could benefit from.
Firewood!-Seriously, if you haven’t started sourcing, chopping or collecting firewood, stop everything and go do it right now. Like, now. If you haven’t been able to get around to it, make the time. You still have some time to get a few cords chopped and drying if you make it a priority. Also, check around with neighbors or even different market places. You may find that someone has a tree they need cut and hauled away. Easy firewood. You can find a small electric log splitter less than $300 or even a big gas powered one for less than $1,500
I’m going to throw candles in here too. A small tea light candle can heat a small room for several hours. It can even cook food when placed in terracotta pots. So maybe having a million of these little buggers around would be a good idea too.
Pantry Restock– I go through my canning inventory sheets and check it against my shelves in the basement. I restock our pantry/ food storage room quarterly. That means that I go through and find all the things we have used or are running low on and make a run to the store. This tends to be a big haul for us and has things like toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc. But you don’t want to find out in the middle of a snow storm that you’re out of toilet paper. If you don’t have a place to store it, check out Home Depot for wire shelves or check out my post on our shelves.
Canning– The entire month of September, I am canning the last bit of the summer garden and soups. I will put up about 300qts and 200pts of soup to prepare for winter. The way I see it, if the power goes out, I can still heat soup on my wood stove. If you haven’t already, check out The Canning Diva’s cookbook. She has a ton of amazing soups. This book is my holy grail for soup season.
Coffee– If you are a coffee drinker, go ahead and can several quarts of coffee. I know, it sounds crazy, but when our power went out last year, guess who didn’t have coffee? So yea, can a couple quarts. I waterbath can my quarts for 20 minutes. Now, I can just heat it in a pot on the stove. I’ve also got a great recipe for homemade creamer too.
Extra Blankets– We have a million blankets and every year, I am tempted to throw out half of them. BUT it’s nice having the ability to close off rooms, layer up, or even insulate freezers if necessary. Not to mention if livestock needs to come inside because it’s freezing or they are injured.
Portable Battery Banks– We have a bunch of these guys around and they are really handy to have. When the power goes out and the boys last device is dead, this thing saves my sanity. Plus, we can hook it up to our kitchen radio and still have news updates and more.
Animal Feed– This isn’t just Fido’s dog food. If you have any kind of livestock, now is the time to make sure you are sourcing enough for winter. For us, that means finding enough hay to get through the winter. It also means sourcing grain, alfalfa pellets, and other miscellaneous food stuffs they need.
Animal Bedding– Don’t forget their bedding! While it doesn’t get super cold in Georgia, it does still get cold. And wet. So make sure that you’ve got some form of bedding for them. We use the deep litter method and pine shavings. The deep litter method really helps insulate them in winter and helps keep them off the cold ground. We also spread Diatomaceous Earth between layers to help keep down bugs. Again, it doesn’t get super cold here so winter Lice/Mite infestations happen. The great thing about it is we can use all that bedding as compost in the spring!
Emergency Medicines/ First Aid– This looks different from homestead to homestead, but having the ability to treat various illnesses or injuries is extremely important. I talked about the basics needed to care for goats but you also need to include yourself here. Sometimes band aids just aren’t going to cut it. You may need sutures, super glue, etc to close lacerations. Or when you’re animal suddenly develops pneumonia, having the ability to treat that without calling for a vet is a huge time and money saver.
Something to alleviate boredom– It’s true. The hustle and bustle of summer makes way for a slower winter. Maybe not 100% of the time, but more often than not, the weather keeps us inside. Extreme weather could keep us inside for days. I am a bookworm and have at least twenty books on standby waiting to be read. But my boys and Jared are not so lucky. We have games, puzzles, cards and more. They still refuse to let me read, but at least they have something to do.
Preparing For Winter
I hope this helps you start preparing for winter at least a little bit. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is a start. Only you know what you are going to need to get through the winter. And while this may be your first winter on a homestead, it’s not your first winter. So get a list going and start stocking up!
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