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Homesteader Checklist

Life as a homesteader is busy—if you don't believe me, see how many blog posts I've written in the last 3 months (not many!). There is so much to do: care for animals, repair and build fences, cut firewood, regularly maintain farm and lawn equipment, weed gardens, plant vegetables . . . you get what I'm saying.


However, if you live in an area that experiences all four seasons, you are in luck. Just as nature naturally cycles through the seasons, you can cycle through your homesteader to-do list and knock out tasks and projects in an manageable and timely manner.



Spring

  • Prep and plant the garden. Easy to say but requires a lot of labor.


  • Install new fences once the ground is thawed. Where we live, the ground is often softest in the spring, rock-hard in the summer and fall, and frozen in the winter. If you plan to dig by hand, get it done in the spring.



  • Plant saplings. If you are looking to add extra shade to a pasture or your backyard, consider planting in the spring while the trees are still dormant. If you miss planting in the spring, you can also plant in the fall.

  • Cut firewood for winter. If you have a wood fireplace or furnace and trees on your property that need felling, the spring is a great time to chop firewood. By the time winter rolls around, the wood will be dry and seasoned.

  • Install rain barrels. For most places in the U.S., the spring is the wettest time of year. Take advantage of that and store up water for your garden to save on your water bill down the road.


Summer

  • Berry season! You'll be picking strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and grapes for hours on end. Sell them, freeze them, can them—whatever is necessary to not let them go to waste!



  • Keep up with lawn maintenance. Depending how much land you own, this can be a big time commitment.

  • Weed, water, and harvest the garden. Keeping up with a large garden is also a huge time commitment, but it's completely worth it. Fresh produce tastes so much better than anything you can buy in-store.



  • Canning anything and everything. Make strawberry jam, pepper jelly, pickles, salsa, applesauce, pasta sauce, and hundreds of other homemade goodies from what you grow on your farm.




Fall

  • Raise chickens. Our first year on the homestead, we started raising chickens in March. We used a lot of electricity running the heat lamp to keep them warm. Instead, start chicks in the late summer or fall, when heating becomes less of an issue since the outside air is still regularly above 80 degrees F (at least in the South!). By the time it gets cold, the chicks will be grown and fully-feathered, ready for the winter. If you're raising the chickens for meat, you'll also be able to butcher in cooler weather, which helps keep the smell (which can be overwhelming in the heat) to a minimum.



  • Prune trees and bushes. For many kinds of trees and decorative plants, fall is the best time to prune. This allows the plants to start fresh in the spring and will lead to healthier plants.

  • Winterize lawn equipment. Once the grass stops growing, protect your equipment by winterizing them properly. The process slightly varies depending on where you live, but typically it involves adding a fuel stabilizer to prevent engine damage from freezing. Check your owner's manuals.

  • Burn the brush pile. If you have a pile of brush lying around from stacking fallen branches during the past year, invite friends over for a bonfire. Roast some hot dogs and marshmallows for a fun (and budget-friendly) time.

  • Shop the sales. Lawn and garden items often go on sale in September and October. If you are looking to buy a new hose or lawn mower, now is the time to buy to get great discounts.

  • It's soup season! Get out that crockpot and make some warm and hearty stews. One of our favorites is incredibly simple—just mix shredded chicken with chicken broth and chopped veggies for a quick, filling, and delicious meal.



Winter

  • Catch up on equipment maintenance. Sharpen the lawnmower blades, change the oil in the tractor, and repair broken tools.

  • Clear fence lines. Have any fences with thorn bushes and scraggly trees growing along them? These can eventually damage the fence if left unattended, so take care of them when they are small and manageable. In the winter, this brush will be free of leaves, making the job of clearing them much easier.

  • Delve into woodworking projects. Planning to build a console table, floating shelves, or even an egg rack? With things outside winding down, you can afford to spend more time in the wood shop crafting that piece of furniture you've always wanted.



  • Stockpile your chest freezer with ready-bake meals. Wondering what to do with all of those frozen fruits and vegetables from your summer garden? Warm up your home and prep meals ahead of time by making casseroles and soups. Make a double batch so that you can serve half for dinner and freeze the rest for a quick meal in the future.

  • Fix those annoying things around the house. Lubricate squeaky doors, replace dead light bulbs, repair dented drywall, and repaint a drab room.

  • Deep-clean the house. If you are stuck inside due to inclement weather, clean baseboards, reorganize closets, and donate any needless clutter.

  • Get back into sewing, knitting, and other crafts. Was your summer too busy to sit down and craft. Now is the time to get everything back out and craft some new blankets and clothes for the coming year. Kill two birds with one stone and make a couple Christmas gifts while you are at it!

  • Learn a new skill. With some down time, why not learn something new and put it to use in the coming year.


While most of these tasks can be completed year-round, focusing on certain activities during each season will help your homestead run smoother.


Are there any tasks or projects around the homestead that you complete seasonally? Let us know in the comments! And if you haven't, check out our post on the first animal to add to your homestead.