We’re just entering yet another “season,” and it’s got me thinking a lot about how much I love how many “seasons” there are in homesteading. I know they exist in other ways of living, and we all share the four basics (summer, fall, winter, spring), even if they may look different in different parts of the world, but there’s something very different about it when you’re living with the seasons. And our faith complements that flow really well, as we have the incorporation of the liturgical year into our lives as well.
For instance. Just last week, I finished “butchering season.” Now, it’s possible I’ll still be doing more butchering this year. If any of the boys or Scott would shoot a deer, I’ll have work ahead of me. But this week we just wrapped up? That was for farm animals. The deer would be during deer gun hunting season. (Yes, I need to be specific in that, because there’s bow season, duck season, and many other types of hunting seasons. Deer gun hunting is the most common in Wisconsin, and it happens for about a week, right around Thanksgiving.) I also enjoy maple syrup season and planting season, among other things.
We’ve also got the season of Advent coming up in about two weeks! I’m really looking forward to that this year. Of course, American society recognizes the time, generally from about Thanksgiving to the New Year as “holiday season,” and December 21st marks the first day of winter. However, the weather has shifted here in Wisconsin, and yesterday (at least by us), we got our first real snow. The weather is likely to fluctuate for another week or two between the 30s and 40s for daytime temps, but that first snow that sticks all day, that’s what a lot of us feel like is the beginning of winter. The kids played outside a good chunk of the day and were able to make snowmen and snowballs and small fort walls.
With the end of butchering season, I’m essentially at the end of canning season. I’m still going to make some more tomato sauce, and I’ll be making some more broth very soon, but on the whole, I’m done canning. There are no more bushels of tomatoes coming in the house, no more baskets full of carrots or turnips or beans. The herbs are done (or just about, if the snow didn’t kill them), and a sense of rest has washed over the house. Those challenging months I was struggling with for awhile have turned into easier days. Winter isn’t just a season of snow, it’s a season of rest.
In the past year, we’ve been making much more of an effort to celebrate the liturgical year at home and not just in church. We’ve been learning about different Saints and their feast days and celebrating ones that have added meaning to us. Part of that was celebrating Martinmas, which traditionally, marked the end of the harvest and butchering season and the beginning of hunting and wood cutting. A perfect transition between two very distinct times in our life. Winter may not start for over a month, but the winter mindset definitely is.
In the Yard
But our lives are not all feasting and fun and church. There’s lots of work to be done around the house and around the yard. Less work needs to be done around the yard these days. We won’t be mowing any more lawn after the snow we got yesterday, there are fewer animals to tend to, and the gardens are even cleaned up!
Recently, we acquired a tiller for the tractor (or, at least the part-time use of one), and in under an hour, I had all of the big planting areas tilled up! Scott started tilling the area over by the barn a week or two ago, but he ran out of daylight. Nov. 7th was a gorgeous day, but Scott was busy prepping for hunting, so I decided to do the tilling myself. I tilled the garlic bed (after I moved the boarders out of the way), then the main garden, and then I finished up over by the barn.
It felt like it took ages to till the garden in spring when I needed to work the manure into the beds. I used my brothers mid-size walk-behind tiller for that, and I had to make three passes on each bed in the main garden. We’re probably talking 20-30 minutes per bed. In maybe about 3-5 minutes (depending on how slowly I drove), I had a whole bed done with the tractor. I’m hoping to get more compost or manure added to these beds in spring, and I would till that in, too. What I really loved about the tiller, aside from the speed, was that I didn’t have to pull any plant remnants out of the beds. Tomato vines, sunflower stalks, the remains of cabbage roots… it all got chopped and worked into the beds, too.
The one big outdoor project that we were doing this year is probably on hold until next spring, though that may depend on the weather and our schedule in the next week. Scott has been working on the new building for some of the equipment when there has been a bit of spare time (which hasn’t been much). He got the posts in the ground, added some braces and a few of the structural side boards, and started marking and trimming the uprights to the right height.
He worked with a friend on it for a day a couple of weeks ago, and they were able to come up with a plan for how to do the rest of the structure. Now it’s a matter of time and weather, and a little bit of money. It would have been nice to get this finished before winter, but I guess we’ll just tarp the equipment for the winter, and pick it back up in the spring. We’re both just glad that we started to finally work on it. This is something we’ve been discussing doing for years!
Home Sweet Home
Indoors, things have been feeling much less chaotic as we enter this season of rest. I’ve been able to work on getting things back in order in the house. It’s always a challenge to keep things clean any time of year, but the house feels like it explodes this time of year with all the indoor play the kids do. In spring and fall, it’s often dirt and mud that are a problem. Summer is the least messy, but the house is the most neglected, so it’s the deeper things that become chaotic, like the overall organization.
It’s generally more superficial in the winter. Yes, very messy, but easily cleaned up. We deep cleaned a few rooms of the house, and I have a few more to go (namely the basement and my sewing room and bedroom), but the one thing that I really need to get done ASAP is to sort through all of our clothing. I did the winter outdoor gear change up already, but it’s time to tackle clothing.
Our school routine has begun to settle in nicely. The kids gave me a run for my money for a couple of weeks there, but they stopped grousing and started cooperating, and remembered that they generally like doing their bookwork. We’re trying to do more projects and crafts again as we spend more of our time indoors, but I would really like to plan out a few things to do with them. One that I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time is have the kids make some quilts that we’ll donate to crisis centers. It’d be really nice to do that before Christmas, but we’ll just have to see how things pan out and how busy we are.
For me, winter is a season for sewing and crafting, and I’m really looking forward to spending time in those hobbies once again! I’ve been doing more sewing recently, and it feels so good! We finished a dress that Adeline started awhile ago, and I made another dress for myself, and started a skirt, too. I’d really like to change up my wardrobe to something “simpler” but that’s going to take some work and planning to be as effective as possible.
Of course, this is all the background stuff that we have been working on beside the butchering and final rounds of canning and prep for deer hunting. If we’ve been bad about keeping in touch recently, I apologize. There’s been a lot on our minds! I hope you are doing well as we get ready to head into another season!
Love and Blessings~ Danielle