Being that I’ve just begun seriously attempting to homestead, here in town – I’ve been doing a lot of thinking as to just exactly what I’m supposed to do now that it’s cold, there’s snow everywhere, and I can’t garden.
I don’t have the space for indoor gardening, whatsoever – and I have no livestock.
So besides reading and learning, and reading some more…what am I supposed to do until the snow melts and I can get a spade in the ground? It’s not even technically winter yet, and I’m already a little sad that I have so long to wait to really get my hands dirty.
So here’s a rudimentary list of some of the things I’m hoping will make the time pass this Winter, and will (fingers crossed) help keep the cabin fever at bay!
I want to sketch out (to scale) my yard, and plan out my garden beds. Do I want to plant right in the ground, or do I want to do raised beds? Do I want it all together in one spot, or do I want to break it up in different parts of the yard based on sun/shade/grade? Will I have some in pots as well? What herbs will I grow? What vegetables do I want to grow? How much of them do I want to grow? How am I going to preserve and store them for next Winter? How am I going to incorporate flower gardens into the mix? I want everything I plant, flowers included, to have multiple purposes. …Oh, and find the best source for organic seeds, and start ordering!!
Scope Out My Surroundings:
Okay, I know that probably involves at least SOME outdoor time, but I’m going to save it for the milder days. I want to scope out the wilder areas of town – trails, wooded parks, etc. – where foraging might be possible. Find out where the right kind of pines grow to get the big pine nuts and save thousands (okay, not thousands because honestly I’ve only ever bought pine nuts once, they’re so fricken expensive!)…learn to harvest my own. Find out what other wild things grow around here that I can forage for and cook up for the fam!
Explore My Town:
So I’ve been living in this area for over 4 years, but never really explored this specific town since I only really worked here before. I would drive here, put in a day’s work, maybe do some banking, go home. Other than the immediate areas around where I’m working, I haven’t really explored all of the good things this town has to offer. I want to know what my resources are – small towns are great for little shops, and these little shops usually have little treasures if you’re willing to take a peak inside! Google is my best friend, and while browsing the other day, I found out we’ve got this little health/natural food/products place right near where I live – and they just so happen to carry things like cocoa butter and Shea butter…both things I’m going to need for some of the homemade natural products I want to try and make…skipping ahead…
Make My Own Products:
Although I want to eventually be able to make all of the products my family uses, I’m going to take baby steps in this direction and try to really master one or two things before I attempt new ones. One thing I love, is Blistex medicated lip balm…I don’t love that I don’t know all that’s in it. I want to make my own using natural products like beeswax, coconut oil, and essential oils. I also want to learn how to make a basic liquid castille soap base because it seems to be the main ingredient in a lot of homemade products, such as laundry and dish detergents, shampoo, and body wash. I’d like to go one step further and MAKE my own castille bars to start it with. …I’ll start with the lip balm I think.
Learn To Scratch:
I know, that one sounds a little funny. But I’ve truly got an itch… to learn to do a lot more scratch cooking! I know how to make bread, but I never make it (laziness)…that needs to change. I don’t use mixes for cakes and pastries, but I barely bake anymore (not really good for us anyway!)…but I want to learn the bigger stuff. Like making my own pasta, and churning my own butter, and making my own cheese, and steeping my own vanilla (and possibly extras for gifts!) and other extracts. My next purchases (if Santa doesn’t bring them first) are going to be a manual pasta machine, and a mason jar butter churner. (I really should set up an affiliate account with Amazon before attaching links, but this is just to show what I want to get!)
Go Paper Free:
Just in the kitchen for now… stop buying paper towels (the hard part will be weaning off Hubby) and start using cloth napkins, towels, and rags instead. Save the trees man!! I know, they can go in the compost (but do you really want the bleach and chemicals in there?) – but the amount of water and energy needed to make just one roll is insane! (Same with toilet paper, but that’s for another post!) …my first stop will be Hubby’s t-shirt drawer for all his old stained work shirts – they’ll make the perfect rags. Next stop will the the thrift stores – find the biggest bath towels I can find and cut them up in small hand towel sized pieces, sew up the frayed edges and voila…paper-free-towels and napkins. Our place is too small to host dinner parties, so more formal cloth napkins are wasted on us.
Start Getting Healthy:
I know that’s not really “homestead related” in the broad sense, but I stop and think about it, it actually is! If I’m going be a land owner – if I’m going to tend to acres of gardens and animals, I need to be in my best possible form. I can’t be bent over gasping for breath if a goat gets loose and I have to chase it around the yard, or if I have to make multiple trips back and forth for a multitude of reasons. I can’t be worrying about my health when I have so many other things to think about. So right now, BEFORE the land and the animals, is when that needs to happen. And that’s the part of my life where I procrastinate the most. Letting myself go is the worst thing I’ve ever done for myself, and for my family. And I need to remedy that while I’m still young enough to.
I’ll probably think of a million other things I want to do, but in the spirit of my new-found will to be organized, I’m going to try my best to just stick to the list above…and to master it all, perfect it all…and best myself at every turn.
Here goes….bring on the snow!