How to Prepare Your Homestead For Winter

November 13, 2022

Hi, I'm Paige, half of the duo behind Fairway Stables™

This website is the one I've been searching for, for years; a compilation of knowledge on all things horsemanship, including practical advice on how to start an equestrian business.

No matter your experience level with horses or homesteading, I hope this is a place you can get lost in, and learn something along the way - we welcome everyone from vets, to lifelong ranchers, trainer, to nonprofits contributing.


Categories 

Winter is coming. Though we may feel like the warm, sunny days will last a little longer, the first frost and early darkness have a way of sneaking up on you.

And if you have a homestead, your winter preparation is a bit more involved than the average home or landowner. Even if you live in an area with mild winters, you must prepare your home, garden, and animals for the changing of the seasons.

Grab a planner, get organized, and prepare for winter on your homestead.

Table of Contents

How to Prepare For Winter
Preparing Your Homestead For Winter

Preparing Your Home for Winter

Heating

For most people – homesteaders or not – the single most important aspect of winter preparations is heating. If you use electric or gas heat, your job is to simply check the furnace and turn it on.

If you have a wood stove, however, you have to check to make sure it’s in good condition and ensure you have enough firewood. Get a sufficient amount of firewood chopped and stacked, then store it in a dry place with easy access. You may want to invest in a wood storage bench that you can refill with chopped wood regularly.

Food

Preparing food for winter is extremely important with homesteading. If you try to produce as much of your own food as possible, you should begin drying and freezing food to last the long winter months.

If you choose, supplement your stock with dried goods like rice, oats, lentils, beans, and frozen meat. Then, if there’s a bad winter storm, you know you have plenty of food to get by.

Insulation

Before winter hits, do a check of your windows and doors to see if they have tight seals. Drafts can lead to a lot of cold air coming in and your heated air going out, but a little extra insulation can keep it cozy.

Passive solar heat is helpful for keeping your home warm in winter. The southern- and western-facing sides of your home will bring in some sunshine, so keep those curtains and blinds open!

Supplies

Getting your winter supplies ready is a must before the frost hits. Grab your winter coats, gloves, scarves, boots, headlamps, and any other winter supplies you need and keep them near the entry to your home.

Preparing Your Yard for Winter

The Harvest

Part of your winter food stores should come from the last of the winter harvest. Even if the first frost has hit, you can harvest medicinal roots and greens after the frost.

You should also save seeds from your crops before the frigid winter sets in. Leave some plants in your garden and let them mature, then harvest and dry the seeds for a truly self-sustaining garden in future seasons.

Fall and Winter Crops

If you live in an area with a mild winter, you may be able to grow cool-weather plants. It takes a little work, but you can grow beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, and collards in cold weather. In fact, some of these plants will grow more flavorful in the cold.

Garden Beds

Depending on the type of garden you have, you may need to take extra steps to put your garden to bed. With a no-till garden, you can leave the garden and soil undisturbed and just cut the veggies at the soil line.

Compost everything – except nightshades – to reduce the risk of soil-borne diseases and fungus. Then, give the garden a layer of compost, leaves, and mulch.

Yard and Shrubs

If you have a lawn, trees, and shrubs, they need care before winter. Instead of cleaning up all your fallen leaves, rack them into your flower and garden beds and mulch around your trees and perennial plants. This will not only feed the soil but provides protection from the harsh winter weather.

You will also need to bring in your yard furniture and supplies, including your grill, lawn chairs, patio furniture, and children’s toys. You should also turn off your sprinkler or irrigation system.

Winterize your equipment, such as the tiller, lawnmower, or tractor, by running the fluids down, having them serviced, and storing them in a covered area. You may want to add a vehicle cover for extra protection.

Preparing Animals for Winter

Feed

All of your animals should have a stockpile of feed and hay to get through winter. Even if you have access to a feed supply store, having ample extra feed ensures that you won’t be short if there’s a bad storm or moisture or rodents destroy some of your supply.

Secondly, put out your heated waterers, heated buckets, or trough heaters and make sure the cords are in good shape.

Chickens

Chickens need some extra care in winter. Deep clean your coop and put down a heavy layer of bedding. All soiled bedding can be recycled to the garden to protect and fertilize the soil.

Throughout the winter, do chicken health checks to look for mites or other parasites. Damp conditions can lead to skin conditions or frostbite, so your chickens should have regular checkups.

Goats

Goats should also have a deep cleaning and extra bedding before winter. They don’t need extra heating unless you have kids, elderly goats, or goats with a medical condition. Before winter hits, have your vet come out to check on the health of your goats.

Hooves are important to watch through winter. The snow and rain can create damp conditions that will rot hooves. Goats may be prone to respiratory conditions like pneumonia during the winter.

Rabbits

Rabbit hutches should be insulated well to hold in the heat. You can use thermal blankets to block any drafts during severe snowstorms or extra cold days, but otherwise, insulation is sufficient.

Unlike larger livestock, it’s difficult to heat rabbit water bottles. You will need to switch their water out throughout the day to avoid it freezing.

Bees

If your homestead has bees, they will need some extra care and attention leading into winter. After that, they basically care for themselves.

Each winter, take off the supers and put each hive down to one box, which will have some frames of honey. Place some pollen patties and fondant on top of the hive body in a feeder.

Then, the bees will produce winter bees that are larger and more robust to care for the queen. Their job is to keep her warm, which is why it’s best to reduce the size of the hive and the space to heat. If you’re in a really cold climate, add a hive cover.

Other Animals

If you keep other animals on your homestead, such as llamas, pigs, horses, or exotic animals like deer and quail, the basic rules still apply. Prepare for winter by cleaning out these animals’ shelter and providing adequate bedding, stocking up on feed and hay, and adding heated waterers.

Otherwise, the care of these animals comes down to preference and your climate. For example, some people prefer to blanket horses and llamas over winter, but you can leave them to grow a winter coat.

Preparing for Winter Emergencies

Unfortunately, winter can come with nasty weather and severe storms that can lead to power outages or road closures. With all your animals and yourselves to feed and care for, you should have an emergency kit.

  • A three-day supply of water for each person and animals
  • A three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Baby and pet supplies
  • Extra blankets, coats, gloves, hats, and boots
  • A first-aid kit
  • A week’s supply of medications
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • A multi-purpose tool
  • Copies of personal documents like birth certifications and medical information
  • Extra cash
  • Snow shovels and snow removal equipment
  • Sufficient heating fuel
  • Emergency kits for vehicles
  • Emergency contact information for family members
  • Battery-powered generators

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Grow and Store a Winter’s Worth of Food?

When you’re first starting out, you likely won’t be growing at the scale needed to last through winter into the next growing season. It may take a few seasons before you have enough growth and an efficient process for winter preparations.

What Food Should I Store for Winter?

Take what you can from your harvest and freeze it, dry it, can it, or preserve it. Along with the produce from your garden and local foraging, you can purchase staples like potatoes, meat, and vegetables to freeze. If you raise animals for food, have them processed for winter. Remember that you can freeze dairy products like milk, butter, and yogurt.

Is Homesteading in Winter Hard?

The hardest part of winter homesteading is feeding a wood stove and watering some of the animals. Otherwise, if you’ve prepared well, winter homesteading isn’t much different than the rest of the year.

Get Ready for Winter

Once you’ve prepared your home, yard, and animals for the incoming winter, spend time enjoying the last days of autumn with your family. Then, you have all winter to get your plans ready for spring planting and a fruitful harvest.

Mentioned in This Article

Leave a note

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

SUBMIT FORM

To inquire into legal services, consulting services, or overnight boarding availability and options, please fill out the form  or send a note directly to fairwaystables@gmail.com. 

CONTACT US

Your message has been received, and we'll be in touch very soon. 

In the meantime:

Thank you.

Read our latest blog posts

Our Most Common Questions

Visit the Shop

Follow along on Instagram at @paige.hulse

This website is solely intended for the purpose of attorney advertising, and for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, in no way establishes an attorney-client relationship. An attorney client relationship is only formed when you have hired me individually and signed an engagement agreement. No past results serve in any way as a guarantee of future results.