There's no better time to prepare for winter. Here are my best tips for how to prepare for winter, including every area of the homestead.
Here in the Pacific Northwest of Washington state, in the north Cascade mountain range, my husband and our two kiddos live on our modern homestead of 15 acres.
We raise our own beef cattle, pork (some years), and laying hens, and we also raise and butcher our own meat chickens.
We've got a big old vegetable garden, medicinal herb garden and a fruit tree orchard, and from our garden to our livestock we use organic practices.
So how do we make sure all these areas of the homestead are prepared and ready for the winter season? I'm sharing all my tips with you in this blog post and podcast. This is episode #364 of the Pioneering Today Podcast.
This post has been updated from a previously recorded podcast on the 12 steps to get your homestead ready for winter. You can listen to that podcast episode below, as well as the new podcast accompanying this post above.
If you're a member of the Pioneering Today Academy then this might sound familiar as this is part of what we're going through together as part of our Homestead Winter Readiness Challenge.
If you're not a member of the Pioneering Today Academy, use that link and sign up for the waitlist so you will be notified the next time we open our doors for enrollment.
Livestock and Animals
Assess Your Feed Supply
Because we raise our cattle all on grass and hay, we have to make sure we have enough hay to feed them through the winter months. I've written an entire post on how we stock up our feed supply here, so read that for more info.
But when planning your feed you need to be sure to consider extremes. For instance, this year (2022) was the coldest and wettest spring I can remember in my 41 years. Because it was so cold, our grass wasn't growing in early spring as it normally does, so we had to supplement hay for our cattle when they'd usually be on grass.
Likewise, some years the summer months are extremely dry where the grass is no longer growing toward the end of summer, forcing us to tap into our hay stores again to feed our cattle at the end of summer.
And, if you experience an extremely cold and snowy winter, the grass your cows may normally forage for might be covered in snow, so you'll need to supplement extra hay to make up for what they don't have access to. Furthermore, when it's extremely cold out, your animals will also eat more.
If you're not prepared for this ahead of time and don't have enough feed for these extremes, you may need to consider selling or butchering an extra animal or finding a last-minute hay source (which can tend to be costly).
However, if you're prepared and have enough feed, you can capitalize on these extremes and oftentimes pick up extra animals that are being liquidated from other farms that may not have enough feed to get them through the winter.
We like to buy those big marshmallow bales of haylage that are wrapped in plastic. This allows the hay to be stored out in the elements without the risk of mold or damage and also tends to be more cost-effective because it's such large quantities.
Read more (or listen to the podcast) about raising your own beef here.
Something you'll need to think about in addition to feed are the supplements you give to your livestock. For us, this includes salt.
This podcast is sponsored by Azure Standard, and I've been getting my Redmond Real Salt through them for many years. Redmond has a livestock animal salt, as well as salt that I use in the kitchen.
I just got two 25lb bags of salt and, at the time of this recording, saved $25 over purchasing them directly from the Redmond website.
If you're a new Azure Standard customer, and you make a $50 dollar purchase, you'll get an additional 10% off by using my link with code “MKN10” (this is for new customer's only through October 31, 2022).
For many years we didn't have a barn for any of our animals. However, recently we purchased a 40-acre homestead just half a mile from our home that has a barn. But know that you can definitely raise your own animals without having a barn.
There are ways to do it.
Cow's Shelter Needs
Cows are extremely resilient when it comes to harsh weather. But when raising cattle without a barn, utilize some of the natural advantages of your property.
We have some different shelter areas around our property. There's a fairly heavily wooded area where we've got evergreen trees, so our cows can get under that when there is really heavy snow or a lot of rain coming out.
We have some pasture elevation changes, so if there's a lot of wind coming, they can go down to that bottom pasture, and snuggle up right at the bottom of that bank, and then the wind goes over top of their backs. This creates a natural wind block for the cattle.
Pig Care & Shelter Needs
We have a shed for the pigs in the pigpen to get out of the weather. When the colder weather rolls around, we're usually still about four to five weeks out from butchering. But pigs aren't meant for really cold weather. Part of the problem, if they start to get cold, is they can get sick very easily, and they also eat more to keep up their body fat.
If you're planning to keep some pigs throughout the winter months, just plan for their feed needs to compensate for the colder weather, and be sure they have access to warmth to avoid illness.
For more information, read this post on raising pigs for meat.
Chicken Care & Shelter Needs
When it comes to keeping a flock of chickens through the winter months you'll have to decide whether or not to use artificial light or heat lamps to keep your chickens laying.
We do not use heat lamps for our chickens. They have got a nice, insulated coop and we choose to give our chickens a break, as we think this is the way God intended when He created them.
Furthermore, when you're not using an additional heat source, the chickens get acclimated to the colder weather one day at a time. This prevents them from having issues if the electricity goes out and all of the sudden there's no power to run their heat lamp.
This does mean that you're feeding a flock when they're not giving back as many eggs to merit the cost of feed. This is a decision you'll have to make and be OK with, or use artificial light.
Make sure to consider the weather patterns when locating your chicken coop. Our coop is mobile, so we arrange it where it will get natural sunlight during the day, but the door is facing away from the direction that the winter winds blow in. This keeps the coop warm, and prevents the cold winds from blowing through their door.
For more information, read this post on keeping backyard egg-laying chickens here.
In order to keep our beef herd going, we breed back our cows. I've got two of my cows that need to be bred back now in order for them to calve next year.
A cow's gestation period is very similar to that of a human. It's about nine months. If you breed your cows in the fall, they will have their babies early next summer.
If you're not breeding back (we don't breed or keep pigs year-round), make sure you're lined up with a breeder to get your animals from in the springtime.
Do you have a plan for your water during freezing temperatures? This is important! Water alone is a very important thing, but water during the cold months is critical.
I can supply the chickens with fresh water easily from the house or our frost-free pump (they don't drink as much).
However, I can't pack enough water to keep our cattle herd supplied when it's freezing, so we use an electric stock tank heater during the winter. This is a good time of year to make sure it's in working order, with no frayed cords (or mice chewing on the electric components over the summer), and is in a spot ready to go when the cold hits.
Put your garden to rest with a good clean-up. We like to use our chickens for this and put them to work for us!
They'll eat up all the scraps left over, and fertilize for next year at the same time.
If you don't have chickens to help, go through the garden and pull up everything that's done growing. This will include all of the warm-weather vegetables, your beans, your tomatoes, all of those things.
This is important, especially if you had anything diseased. You do not want those diseased vines or produce left to rot in your garden and to reinfect your soil for next year's crop.
Don't put these diseased plants in with your compost, though. Either burn them or put them in the garbage.
For anything that is not diseased, use the roots, stems and leaves to strengthen your soil for next year. You can turn it back into the ground to let it break down over the winter months. Alternatively, add it to the compost pile to break down for next year.
Of course you can bring in manure, straw, and leaves that are falling down. Check out this post for more garden soil prep to improve your soil for next year.
On our new homestead, we're doing a rough till on the fields and new garden areas to prevent erosion during the winter months. This will help prepare everything for next spring.
Garlic is great because you plant it in the fall and then you harvest it the next summer. If you get it in the ground in fall, it just does its thing all winter and spring, and then you get to harvest it in July.
Unless your ground is frozen solid, you can plant your garlic. You just want to make sure and put a layer of straw over it to help with drainage and give it a little insulation.
Fruit Trees & Berry Bushes
Fruit orchards and berry patches need some fall clean up as well, so don't forget about these areas!
We have to pick up any apples and other fruit that's fallen to the ground in our orchards because we struggle with apple maggots. If we don't do this clean up in the fall, our infestation will be worse the following summer.
Be sure to check out this post on pruning apple trees in winter!
This is also a great time of year for you to assess how much harvest you got off of your fruit crops. Think about your fruit trees, berry bushes, etc. This is the perfect time of year in the fall to put in some more trees or bushes, if needed.
Fall can be a great time to plant fruit trees. The trees roots will have time to grow deep before the stress of summertime.
As trees and bushes start to move into their dormancy, that can be a good time to plant them. Check out this post on planting fruit trees for more info.
Ready Your House for Winter
We use a wood stove as our primary heat source. Because we have plenty of forest on our homestead, every year we lose at least one to two trees. These trees are then turned into firewood.
We'll split and stack the wood in early summer, then rotate it into the woodshed as it's nice and dry.
We use the wood stove for cooking and as a heat source during the winter months.
Make sure that you clean your chimney out. Nobody wants a chimney fire. We usually do it a couple of times throughout the winter, but definitely at the beginning of the fire season.
- Whatever your heat source, make sure it's ready to go (cleaning, maintenance, etc.)
- Clean out the gutters, those heavy rains are a coming.
- Redo any seals on the roof around chimneys and/or vents.
Kitchen & Pantry
Make sure your pantry and larder are well stocked for winter. This time of year is busy with preservation from the garden. But don't forget all your basic pantry staples like flour, sugar and salt.
Check out this post on the must-have pantry staples for long-term storage. And this post on 129+ best preservation recipes you'll want to know about!
Fall Cleaning (It's like Spring Cleaning, but in the Fall!)
Bonus tip, do some fall cleaning!
I know a lot of people get into spring cleaning, but fall is as important around here as spring.
I like to do as much drying out on the clothesline as possible. This is the time of year I take all our curtains, throws, rugs, and quilts, and give them a good wash. They then go out on the clothesline (as long as it's not raining) before coming back into the house.
And there you have it! My tips on how to get ready for winter. I'm sure this list could go on and on, but at some point we run out of time. I'd LOVE to hear from you about what else you do to get your house and homestead ready for winter. Leave me a comment and let me know below.
More Posts You May Enjoy
- Surviving Winter Without Electricity
- Winter Vegetable Garden (Storing Vegetables in the Garden)
- Tips for Freezing Temps & Storms on the Homestead
- How to Prepare for Emergencies in Winter
- Grow Basil Indoors All Winter
- Signs To Watch For With An Expecting Cow
- Scottish Highland Cows: A Unique Cattle Breed
- 3 Tips for Garden Planning Success (During the Winter Months)
- How to Harvest & Store Potatoes (Without a Root Cellar)
Hey, pioneers. Welcome to Episode 364. Today's episode we're going to be talking about tips to get your homestead in place, prepped, and ready for fall and winter. And if you're listening to this one at first release, we are talking about fall 2022 and winter 2023. But really with homesteading, these tips are going to remain the same as we move into fall and winter every single year. So if you are listening to this years down the road, they have not changed, and will serve you very well for truthfully the rest of your life and the rest of your homesteading years.
Now, I don't know if you're able to pick it up or not, but I am a little bit hoarse right now, and the reason for that is because we are experiencing some of the absolute worst air quality due to smoke to wildfires that we have ever had Where I live. Our air quality is in the red and I'm trying to look out the window as I record this to our pasture. And if you ever watched any of my YouTube videos, or any of my live teachings around the homestead or even pictures, you'll know that we are surrounded by towering mountains, and quite a bit of forest.
And as I look outside the window right now, I can barely see the trees in my pasture, and they're maybe 50 feet from the house, and you can't see any of the mountains even the big huge Sauk Mountain that's right outside our front window completely covered, the smoke is so thick. In fact, it's even worked its way into the house and my eyes are burning at the moment. So we are not in any danger from any of the fires. They're not anywhere that close to us, but it's just the way that our weather is right now.
And because we're in such a tight valley, which is normally a beautiful thing because we have so many mountains surrounding us, but we don't have any offshore airflow right now so coming in from the ocean. And so it's really just gotten stuck and is in our little valley really, really bad. So I am looking forward to the rains of winter at the time of this recording, but let's move into today's actual episode.
One of the complexities of homesteading is it's not just putting the garden to bed for winter, or getting the garden prepped for fall, or getting your house ready for winter. We have so many different faucets when it comes to homesteading, and different things that we're doing, including livestock, just regular home food storage, the pantry, all of those things that it can sometimes feel perhaps a little bit daunting on knowing where to start or what to do.
And sometimes you just don't know what you don't know, especially if you're newer to homestead, or maybe newer to livestock, and adding those certain pieces in. So I thought this would be a fun episode. I've done some episodes like this in the past. In fact, you may wish to jump back and listen to an episode that I did several years ago that was 12 tips to get your homestead ready for winter. And we will link to the blog post that a accompanies all the episodes. You can find that at melissaknorris.com/364 because this is Episode 364, and it will take you straight to that updated post that will have all the information from that previous episode as well as this week's episode.
So I'm going to be starting with livestock because I know for a lot of homesteaders, both new and those of us who've been doing it for a very long time, myself included, we are always looking for ways to expand or improve upon what we've already been doing. So with livestock, some of you are going to be brand new and you don't have any livestock at all, but you are possibly looking at adding livestock in the next year, it's something that you're going to want to be doing.
And for others, myself included, we have had livestock for a number of years, but we are going to be enlarging our beef cattle herd now that we've got the 40-acre farm, we actually have the pasture, and the ability to do that. And we are going to be raising pigs again this spring so we'll be getting another litter of piglets, and raising those up throughout this coming year. And we actually just increased our laying hen flock and we will be doing meat chickens again next year.
So I'm not technically bringing on any new varieties of livestock next year, but we are going to be enlarging. And so this following tip is something that will serve you well if you're bringing it in new or you're planning on creating a larger herd if we're talking about cattle or what not. So, of course, it is looking at your feed. That's one of the things you want to make sure going into fall and winter is that you have ample feed. And this is something if you're a Pioneering Today Academy member, we are going through right now together as a group in one of our challenges, and it's the Homestead Winter Readiness Challenge.
So this was something we had on our live, and if you're a Pioneering Today Academy member, you've got a full audit sheet, as well as resources to download to help walk you through this, but I still want to be able to serve my podcast listeners. So you're getting a little bit of what you would get inside the academy, and things that we've been going together through as a group here on the podcast. So one of the things that we always do, and this is specifically for our hay ruminant animals, animals that eat hay, is that is we always over-buy and purchase a little bit more hay than we think we are going to need, and there's two reasons for this.
One, you never know the severity of your winter. And the more snow that's on the ground, then that means that they're not able to forage any of the standing or small amounts of grass that you may still have. So if you've got a couple feet on of snow on the ground and those temps are cold, you are going to go through a lot more hay during that time period than you would when the ground is bare, and they're able to do a little bit of picking and roughaging for things, et cetera.
So one plan that you have extra hay in case you have a severe winter or colder weather than you normally do because the colder the weather, the more those animals need to consume in order to produce body heat and to keep themselves warm. So we always over-buy on hay and it's not always so much so that we have a severe winter, but sometimes it can be a longer winter. So, for example, this past year, we had the coldest and wettest spring ever on record here, or I should say it was the coldest and wettest spring in the past 50 years, perhaps ever on record.
What that meant though is it was so cold even in May and the first parts of June that our grass was not growing. So typically you need to have some daytime highs near 50 degrees Fahrenheit or in the 50s in order for grass to actually start to grow. And we were just staying down and we weren't in snow, but we were like 30s and 40s. And so the grass was just not growing so we had to feed hay about five weeks past what we would on a normal year. So we were really grateful that we had bought extra hay last year because we ended up having to feed much further into the spring, actually even into summer almost than we normally ever do.
The other part of that is then we went to the driest, most consecutive days over 90 degrees Fahrenheit without any rainfall here, just two extremes. So we actually had to start feeding hay the end of August. And normally we will have to feed a little bit of hay the end of August, first part of September, but normally our rains kick in September, and so the grass will begin to grow again, and then we can stop feeding hay. We don't have to start heating feeding hay again until usually about the first part of November.
Well, that didn't happen this year, we still have not got our rain though. It is supposed to start this coming weekend, but it will be too late. We're already too short as far as sunlight hours and average daytime temps. Our grass will not start to grow again out in the pastures enough to feed anything until next spring at this rate. So you want to make sure that you've got more hay than you think you're going to need, but we don't buy two years worth in advance so it's kind of a fine line.
So I'm saying buy some extra, but make sure if you do buy extra and you don't end up having to use it, that that is what you feed the very first thing that following fall. Because after you've gone even close to 12 months past when it was cut and baled, you're going to be losing nutrition. The longer anything has been cut from the vine you're going to have some nutrition loss, and it's just going to solely degrade over time, quality's going to go down, et cetera.
So we generally don't feed or buy enough hay to get us through two years in a row. We try to just make sure we've got enough to get us through that full next 12 months to the next hang season or when you would have your first cutting in the summer. Now, another reason that you want to make sure you have got your feet on hand and possibly consider buying any extra, not just for the aforementioned reasons. But if you are looking to expand your herd, specifically a dairy cows or beef cattle, oftentimes you'll have people that did not buy enough hay.
So in the middle of winter, or even at the end of winter, the very first part of spring, you'll often find people that are having to liquidate because they don't have enough hay to get those animals through the winter. And what that means is you usually can get them at a cheaper price because they are really needing to move these animals, and if you've got hay, you can pick them up for usually a lot cheaper than you would get in the spring, summer, or even in the fall with those animals.
So if you plan on expanding your herd even if you don't have them yet, if you can get some hay with the hopes of keeping your eyes out, you may be able to find somebody who, like I said, is selling some stock in wintertime because they didn't get enough hay. And you'll be able to pick them up for a really good price and save yourself some money in the long run by getting them that. Of course, you have to have everything on hand.
Now, when it comes to hay, we have switched, I was trying to think back. I think I spent at least 10 years, a decade ago that we switched to haylage. And I've talked about this in the past, but haylage is really great for your cows, your cattle especially. So haylage is fermented hay, it is wrapped in plastic, so it's those big marshmallow-looking bales that you'll see, the really large ones. But you don't have to have a barn, which is a plus. We have never had prior to buying the farm that we just got, I should say the farmstead.
In the past, we never had a barn that was large enough to store hay once we got beyond about two cows, two head of cattle. And so we were either putting hay in my dad's barn, which he was very gracious to give us that space, but it also meant more work on our part. We were having to move the hay and stack it into my dad's barn. And then because it wasn't on our property, we would then have to go and get the hay all throughout the winter and then bring it to our place so it just added extra time, extra labor, et cetera.
But once we switch to the haylage bales, they can be kept outside. And because they're wrapped you'll we'll want to make sure that when they're getting loaded and unloaded at your place, go through. And if that plastic wrap has had any punctures, you're going to want to make sure that you tape that and get it sealed back up if there's any holes really well. And we just use, it's like a form of duct tape, but it's specifically for those bales. And it's like a white roll that looks like duct tape except it's white and it works really, really well. And so we always go through and make sure that there's no punctures. Usually the punctures happen at unloading even if you're using the pinchers or rolling them off by hand, it can still happen.
So that's one thing you'll want to make sure you do, but the other reason we really like the haylage is one for the storage capability. We can store a lot more without having covered areas, but the protein and the nutrition in it really has been superior to what we've got in dry hay bales, and especially bringing home Clover, our dairy cow, which was unexpected last very early spring. We got her the very first part of April. And so again, that is because we did have feed available, we were able to get her for a good deal at that time of the year whereas you would've paid a lot more had we waited until summertime.
And dairy cattle have more nutritional needs than beef cattle, but the haylage provides that. And so it was really great for her milk supply, helps her put some weight on from when we got her, and was just an all around fabulous thing. So looking at some of those different options, and if you don't have livestock yet, but you do plan on getting them next year, getting on hay lists or feed from a local farmer if at all possible, getting on those lists now, finding out who those people are is going to be serving you extremely well. Even if you don't plan on buying any feed from them this year, you can begin to see who's in your area, what they have available, what their prices are, what their practices are, et cetera, get on their lists now.
I guess I can't say that enough, so I'm going to repeat it a couple of times because it can be really hard to find farmers in your area. A lot of them if they're good have existing clientele and existing client lists. They don't always have opening for new people. So the sooner you can't get on there and get established with them, the better. And this also rings for if you are buying livestock locally. So if you don't have any and you are wanting, for example, we don't have a breeding program for pork, meaning I don't keep a sow and a boar, we just buy piglets, raise them up to butcher size, butcher them, and then we're done with them for the year.
So I don't have a breeding program. We do breed our own beef cattle, but I don't have and don't really have any intentions of that right now when it comes to our pork. So we have some different local farmers who do, and we are on their list already. I just messaged them and said, "Hey, we are wanting to do pigs again this year. How many litters do you have coming this spring? Do you have room for us?" And they said, "Yep, we absolutely do. We'll put you on the wait-list and as soon as they are born, we'll let you know, and you're on our list."
So looking ahead to that is also really important. We prefer to not buy our livestock from auctions if at all possible. Now, sometimes you can get great deals, you can get great lineage, you can get great animals at an auction. So I don't want anybody listening to this to think I am lambasting auctions and being like, "Never, ever, ever get them." However, you don't know what you're getting at the auction. You don't know if the reason they're getting rid of it is because it's a problem animal. Maybe its genetics aren't the best or if there's a reason they're culling it attitude-wise.
I'm sorry, you don't want skittish cows, you don't want fence crawlers, you don't want fence jumpers. There could be a lot of reasons, and so we have just really preferred to be able to buy when possible directly from the farm so we can go see where the animal's at, see what their stock is, see how it's been raised, what conditions is it in, the health of their herd or any of the other animals. Especially if you're bringing, for example, a cow into an existing herd, you want to make sure that that animal is not sick, that it doesn't have anything that it can transfer to the rest of your herd.
And I'll probably do an episode later on that because I realized we are quite a ways into this one, and we're still focused on the livestock part, but you want to quarantine. So what we do is when we bring a new animal into the herd like that, we always bring them in, and first put them in a corral. And the reason you do that is because oftentimes an animal's not necessarily a spooky animal, but they're coming into a new environment, it's stressful to them, and they're going to be a little bit more on edge than they would be once they've calmed down, and learned the place and it becomes familiar.
So we always bring them and put them into a round pin like a corral in round pin and feed, and water them there. They're separated from the herd, they can see the herd but they're not close to it. And that way that gives them a chance to get acclimated to calm down, but it also gives us a chance to see if they have any symptoms of anything, or if they start to get sick. And that way they're not in with our full herd and we can really evaluate them, and keep an eye on them for a while.
And then after we've had them in there for usually about seven to 14 days, just kind of depending on where they came from and how calm they seem to be, then we'll integrate them as long as they're not showing any signs of anything coughing, or gunk coming out of their eyes. Just different symptoms that you could see arise that they're not seeing like they're doing really well, as long as they seem hale and healthy, which we have always had, we've never had any issues, then we go ahead and let them loose and let them in with the rest of the herd at that point.
But when you're purchasing them from a local place and you can actually go to that farm and see the rest of their stock that they're not selling, that's really comforting when you can see that they're all healthy, as I said, conditions that they're in, that type of a thing. Because the more the worse conditions an animal is kept in, the higher likelihood that it would have some type of disease or have a stress system and likely come down with something.
One of the other things you want to make sure that you have enough on hand of besides hay is any type of supplement. And for almost, well, for definitely your cattle, I should say for a lot of your animals, that is going to be salt. Salt is something that we don't have an ability to produce here on the homestead either for ourselves or for our animals, but is very, very essential.
And our sponsor for today's podcast episode is Azure Standard. One of the items I have been getting through Azure Standard is my Redmond's Real Salt. Redmond's Real Salt has both a livestock supplement line, as well as their for human consumption line. And the 25 pound bags of salt, which is what I buy for our house and stocking up our pantry because it is the salt that I use for baking, cooking, canning, fermenting, salt-cure. It's my all-around salt for everything and salt really doesn't go bad. So I just bought 50 pounds of salt, and the 25 pound bags I bought two through Azure Standard were actually $25 cheaper than if I purchased them at the time I was purchasing them from Redmond's Real Salt website itself. And if you are a new customer to Azure Standard and place a minimum $50 order, use coupon code MKN10 at checkout. This is through October 30th and you'll get an additional 10% off.
You'll want to go through all of the feed needs, of course. For all of the animals that you have. I usually make sure that I have a couple of extra bags on hand of chicken feed for the same reason of having extra hay on hand. I know when the weather gets extremely cold that the chickens and the ducks. We have our ducks, I forgot about the duck flock there. They're going to go through more feed than they normally would and they're going to go through more feed than they would during summer and fall months. Not only because of the colder weather that can put stress on them, but because I don't have as much excess garden produce in order to help supplement, which leads us right into your fall garden tips for winter readiness.
You're going to want to do a garden cleanup. So once your first frost hits and kills all of those warm weather crops, you're going to want to go through and clean them out. Think tomatoes, your beans, we will actually go ahead and take down our bean trellis so we'll get those removed out of the garden once the first frost hits. At that point, I usually will let the chickens begin to go through the garden and they will help to clean it up. But they also at that point, I don't mind that they are helping, I should say helping to destroy things. But they are going to be destroying things and that's fine because they. One, will be eating it, but two, they're going to be pooping.
But because we won't be putting in really any crops into that garden space until next spring, then they are simply going to be adding in their manure, it will break down over the fallow months over the winter months, and then it won't be too hot, and the garden soil will be ready to go come next spring. I do over winter my potatoes, my carrots in the garden. I do still have some cabbage and some broccoli, some of those cool weather crops, kale, et cetera, that the frost is not going to damage and will keep growing.
So those sections I will usually put something around and block off so that the chickens don't get to them because they will also destroy them. They're such good little scratchers, they'll get the roots exposed, or they'll eat the leaves. And usually they're just a little bit too hard on those items so I usually let them just go in where the warm weather crops are and have been removed and work their way through that.
Now, if you had any diseases within your fruit trees, you want to make sure that you are not letting fallen fruit that is past its point of being harvestable and usable, don't just let that stay under the trees. You want to make sure that you clean that up so that you're not harboring any pests, especially any eggs or anything like that, that will then hatch out after winter is over and reinfect everything again. So definitely make sure that you are cleaning that up.
I have to go through and make sure I do this with our apples because we have apple maggots here, and a few other different pests. And so that is something I'm going to be going through getting all of those up. And then I actually will usually take those out to the cows or now the chickens will be able to loosen, they'll pick at some of them. But I generally will take that out to where the cows are and they'll go through them and eat some of them, which works out great for them and for me so that I don't have that waste area and disease coming back in.
Also in fall, this can be a really good time when it comes to the garden. We will definitely have a link in here, but ways to improve your soil. Things that cover crops, options if you want to do some sheet composting in the garden. Just different ways to make sure you are creating healthy soil for the following planting year. Getting your garlic in, fall is the time to plant your garlic.
And then the other thing I like to do is take a moment and if you didn't do it earlier in the year, and I don't always do it earlier in the year to be honest, is to go ahead and make note of what plants were where in the garden, and then outline where I'm going to be putting things as far as crop rotation goes and companion planting when I plant next year. And this is also a really good time for me to assess did, "We have enough garden space. Where there are more things that I wanted to grow? Do we need to enlarge the garden for next year's plan?" Because fall is a really good time to begin prepping beds for new garden areas next spring.
In fact, that is something that we are going to be doing down at the new property because we will be putting in a large teaching garden. So we are getting ready to announce our in-person workshop dates on the farm. And I can actually tell you the first date, it's going to be in May of 2023, and it's going to be the weekend before Memorial, which I believe is Saturday May 23rd, 2023. Oh, excuse me, No, it's May 20th. May 20th, 2023. It's Saturday, May 20th.
We are going to be doing a full on hands-on gardening workshop up here at the new farmstead, which is in Rockport, Washington. And we will be putting in a full on preserver garden. We'll be talking about varieties and ways that your plants and things that you're going to want to put in if you plan on feeding your family year-round and preserving from that garden. And we are also going to be having a special guest that is going to be talking about growing citrus and some other crops that you typically don't think you can grow up north, but ways to do that and including perennials with your fruit trees, elderberries, et cetera.
We will be going over companion planting, natural ways to repel pests, crop rotation, soil health, all of the things that go with providing your family with food. And it will be a hands-on workshop, so really excited about that. I will let you guys know as soon as we actually have the tickets up and listed because they will be smaller workshops, they will be limited to 50 people so that we can really have a small core group, be hands-on, and just keep that small intimate feeling.
So just know that's coming, but that means that we are prepping those beds now this fall, knowing that we'll be planting their next spring. So we are going to do a rough till of that because it's really compacted area, very uneven spot out in the field. So we're going to do a rough till of that so that we can get that sow turned over, get a bunch of compost and whatnot worked in, and then cover that up so that we don't have weed growth, and we don't have soil erosion, and we don't have further compacting done on it over from the snow and rainfall over the winter months. So that then comes spring, that will be ready to get planted and be really fertile healthy soil.
So fall is a great time if you plan on putting in new beds next year or wanting to to really do that assessment and get going on those. And of course, looking at your food storage, I know we are in October, but the holidays aren't very far away so I am already stacked up, and looking at what do I need for extra holiday baking that we may plan on doing? Do we have a large supply of sugar, of flour, of vanilla extract? I just released post and video not too long that go on that, on how to make your own homemade vanilla extract.
So that might be something that you want to take a peek at. As I mentioned, the salt and chocolate chips. My family loves chocolate chips and in fact when I make cinnamon rolls, they don't want raisins. We use chocolate chips. They like chocolate cinnamon rolls, not regular cinnamon rolls. I happen to raisins and cinnamon rolls, but they end up winning on that. So looking at your larder, looking at your pantry areas, making sure that you've got that. We're still putting up all of the food for winter. In fact, my pear canning tutorial, that just went up if you didn't catch that this week, we are still putting up a lot of food from the garden, getting the potatoes covered that we leave in ground for the year.
And so bringing in green tomatoes, getting the red tomatoes processed. So lots of hustle and bustle still on putting up the food from the garden. But you definitely want to do an assessment there. And make sure baking powder, baking soda, any of those items that you use for baking I like to make sure that I am stocked well ahead on those before we kind of reach that point and reach winter. Sometimes it's just because of being able to find those items. We can have harsh winters where it's harder to get to the store just if you have a lot of snowfall, or if we have any flooding that happens, that also is a weather condition that we normally deal with here though we've been so dry now it's hard to say.
So anyhow, I hope that you have enjoyed this episode. Definitely go and check out the blog posts, corresponding blog posts that'll have even more resources, and link you to different things, and make sure that you are ready to go for the winter months. I look forward to being back here with you next week, hopefully without the hoarse voice and with much clearer air quality. Until then, blessings and mason jars for now, my friends.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.