The Slow Season

Jessica is a homesteading and homeschooling mother of seven living in northwest Ohio.  She has a passion for encouraging other mothers to grow and preserve nutritious food for their families.
 

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The bushels of produce that cluttered the kitchen floor are now neatly tucked into a rainbow of jars on the pantry shelves. Days spent weeding and harvesting will now be spent indoors by the woodstove and in the kitchen enjoying the meals we worked so hard for over the growing season.
 
Some people grow food year-round, but here in Ohio the winter months are a period of rest. They are the reward for the busyness of the other seasons.
 
Animals will still need cared for, but for the most part the work turns inward. Other months focus on the outdoors, but winter is when the inside of our home comes alive.
 
Besides allowing us more time to focus on homeschool lessons and family togetherness, winter is also the time for learning new skills and trying new things. Each year focus on a new homesteading area in which I either want to learn or improve – things that I rarely have time to do during the busier seasons.
 
In past years I decided to do things like learn how to bake gluten-free, make soap, or knit. I am still deciding what this year’s focus will be. My goal is always to try to learn an old-fashioned skill so I can one day pass that knowledge down to my children – any skill that brings us closer to our goal of self-sufficiency.
 
If you’re like me and you’re looking for ideas to work with your hands through the slower months, I thought I would share a list of things that might inspire you to expand your own homesteading skill set this winter:
 
1 – Learn a new baking skill – sourdough, gluten-free, grain-free, or focus on a specific item you want to get better at making
 
2 – Take the time to increase your recipe collection and try things from the cookbooks you have on your shelves
 
3 – Take up a hobby like sewing, knitting, crocheting, or quilting
 
4 – Dive into the art of soapmaking, and if you’re really brave, take a stab at making your own lye from your wood ash
 
5 – Try out different recipes for various homemade cleaners
 
6 – Learn to make your own shampoo, toothpaste, lip balm, lotion, and other toiletries
 
7 – Expand your home apothecary and learn the art of natural healing
 
8 – Try growing some greens indoors through sprouting or microgreens under grow lights
 
9 – Grab some mealworms from the pet store and create a mealworm farm for chicken treats
 
10 – Experiment with new methods of food preservation
11 – Take a beekeeping class or a class on any other topic to gain the knowledge you need to start raising more food next year
 
12 – Learn to make healthy, non-toxic candles
 
13 – Get your hunting license and fill your freezer. Learn to tan the hides of what you catch
 
14 – Build something to make next year better – a solar dehydrator, cold frames, a new chicken tractor, etc.
 
15 – Find some trees you can tap and learn how to harvest and make maple syrup
 
16 – Learn more about fermenting – kombucha, ginger ale, vinegar, or anything else you have been putting off 
 
17 – Play around with natural dyes and upcycling faded fabrics into something new
 
18 – Learn about weaving – textiles or baskets – and make something beautiful for your home
 
There are so many skills my ancestors possessed that I want to learn, but it’s hard to find the time to dive into the activities during the busier times of the year. Not much grows during winter, but we can definitely grow our own abilities and even include our children in the process. Making it part of homeschooling will kill two birds with one stone!
 
So, homestead mamas, I hope you will join me in setting some fun goals for the coming months!
 
 

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