If you heed the advice in the adage, “you need to make hay while the sun shines”, you had better make sure that your tractor is up to the task during the wintertime.
The truth is, that unless you have a greenhouse or indoor garden, there isn’t a lot that you can do on the homestead in the winter other than to plan ahead for the next year and make sure that your equipment is running in tip-top shape. Here is what we are planning for in these cold, dark days of winter.
When our Northern city was recently hunkered down in the middle of a bitter cold snap, a friend asked me, “Where do you keep your chickens in the winter?” Without missing a beat, I answered, “in our freezer”.
From a productivity standpoint, our chickens this year were sub-par. I think we averaged one egg per chicken per day last year, and this year, we only got 4 eggs for 5 chickens per day. I think that one was a dud, but we didn’t take the effort to isolate them individually to pinpoint which one it was. This year, we’ve already gotten a lead on a different chicken farm, which we’ll be trying out with a co-worker of mine. I’m hoping they have some Ameraucana birds, as I’m sure Aimee would love to have blue eggs. We need to investigate and get our order in now if we want the hens to be 19 weeks (laying age) when we pick them up in the spring.
We are currently looking to extend our chicken coop to something that can house a few more chickens, as well as possibly keep some through the winter. Our municipal regulations do not allow more than one additional “structure” on the property other than a shed, so this would mean that the coop still needs to be considered moveable.
As I had mentioned in a previous post, we’re looking to get a bigger shed. One of the best tips was from Pippa, who recommended finding an old one and re-use it. I say the best, because it just so happens that there is an abandoned house on our street that has an amazing, large, well-built shed. I got all kinds of excited to appropriate this shed, but ran into a few problems: 1. The owner went bankrupt, and I’m having trouble finding someone at the bank who will legally allow me to buy just the shed; 2. the shed is larger than municipal regulations (it’s illegal); 3. there’s no way to get the shed to our backyard without cutting down some rather large trees, or my immediate neighbour’s cedar hedge.
After our July disaster, we no longer a tree overhanging our garden and it will get much more sun, I want to build cold-frames for at least half of our raised beds so that we can plant early and extend our growing season.
This is where I am currently focusing most of my backyard planning efforts. Do we want to have any future harvest parties on the deck, or are we happy to keep doing those on the lawn? Do we want to find some recycled wood for the decking, or go new? Stain vs. paint? Where to put the BBQ?
Luckily, I’ve helped my dad build a few decks, and he has a few deck design books that I can refer to. Plus there’s always Pinterest, right?
This is something that we really haven’t had to remind ourselves to prepare for, as our boys have been reminding us about this for quite some time. “When do we get to drill the holes again?” and “We each get to drill our own holes, right? And we can drink right out of the tree?”
We learned a lot about making our own maple syrup last year. We will have to get new taps, as the ones we used last year got destroyed when we pulled them out of the trees.
We’re actually already too late for this, but if you are the kind of person who orders special seeds for their garden, you should get your order in NOW! There are quite a few farms in the area, and Aimée is planning to source organic seeds from their stores.
That’s it for us. What are you getting ready for in these winter months?