So many of us are working our way toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. With that in mind we here at NDiN wanted to share some general guidelines of what to plan for on a monthly basis. Whether you’re a gardener, a beekeeper, a forager, or you keep animals, hopefully our monthly guides will help you plan ahead for the month. Depending on your exact climate you may find you need to adjust your schedule plus or minus two weeks or more.
Although many of the outdoor chores are completed for the year, it’s not time to slow down. Gardeners are beginning to dream up next year’s spring and summer crops and for most of us there’s always leaves to take care of. For some of us there’s even a bit of snow. As we get closer to the holiday season it’s easy to become consumed with gatherings and preparations, but it’s important to remember those seasonal aspects of every day life. Keeping ahead of the weather, taking care of outdoor animals, cooking with seasonal foods, and staying warm are key this month.
- If you store foods like squash, potatoes, and carrots for winter use be sure that you rotate for freshness. Also be sure to occasionally check for any spoiling or critter damage.
- If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check the batteries in your fire detectors.
- Check garage door for air leaks if you have an insulated unit. Also check household windows for any drafts. Catching these now can save you lots of money over the winter.
- If possible, set up a “craft/wrapping area” out of immediate view for holiday activities, possibly in a separate room. This should help keep clutter down in main areas of the house helping to keep it tidy and help reduce holiday stress.
- Trim any trees now that most of the energy has gone to the root systems of most plants. It’s also not too late to plant some trees so long as your ground is not frozen. Fruit canes can also be cut back depending on the variety.
- When outdoor gardening chores finally slow down, clean, sharpen, oil, and put up all tools for the winter.
- Clean gutters and downspouts.
- Make sure all hoses and water barrels have been drained and put up until spring.
- Clean up rotting plant materials to help keep your gardens healthy. Decomposition is great, rotting is not.
- Till chopped leaves directly into garden beds where they’ll stay warmer and decompose faster over the winter.
- Garlic and other bulbs like tulips can still be planted in zones with milder winters.
- Keep barns and other animal shelters clean to help prevent illness and discourage wild critters from nesting. Change hay often, keep tools cleaned up, and be sure to keep water free of ice.
- If you keep an area warm for animals occasionally check for fire hazards. Examine wiring on extension cords, heat lamps, and portable heaters. Keep bedding away from heat units and keep a fire extinguisher inside larger buildings.
- It may not be too late to have sheep and goats mated in your area.
- Cold weather days are best for slaughter and processing. Keep an eye on weather and plan accordingly.
- Put a light out for an extra two hours in the evening for your chickens. It will help keep their coop warm on colder evenings and promote more egg laying.
- Most animals are starting their winter cycles, including hibernation and building up of nests. You can assist your neighborhood critters with a few little tricks. Continue to feed birds; make your own suet cakes for freezing weather to help fuel up birds; offer some peanuts and corn to squirrels; leave a few piles of leaves or stones or a piece of corrugated metal for frogs and lizards to burrow in; set out water for all animals and keep it free of ice.