January 1, 2022

Our Agrarian Year: Winter Project List

By the beginning of December, the trees have shed their leaves, and shorter days and frost have ushered in the dormant season. The days start later, the pace is slower, and the chores are less pressing. Of the winter season, December is our mildest month, so we get more done outside. January and February are our coldest months, so outdoor work is more iffy. When the weather's bad we work indoors, plan, and enjoy some leisure time. 

Our current winter project list is divided into several sections: seasonal activities, one-time infrastructure projects, and research for future projects. 


  • log milling
  • wood chipping
  • garden maintenance: beds, aisles, mulch, etc.
  • fence maintenance and repair
  • freezer canning
    • frozen tomatoes ➞ tomato sauce
    • frozen figs and berries ➞ jams and jellies
    • frozen goat cream ➞ ghee

  • swales - planning and digging (getting a start, anyway)
  • forest garden - planting

Research and planning 

We have two large projects that we'd like to work on this summer. Winter is a good time to explore options, formulate specific plans, and calculate costs.
  • Finish the exterior of the house, of which only the sun room is left. We've batted around the idea of attaching a greenhouse there, but have always gotten bogged down by how far we want to go with preliminary steps. When it seems to get too complicated, we set the idea aside and move on to something else. Eventually, though, we need to finish the house! My permaculture design course with Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton discussed greenhouses (glasshouses) extensively from a permaculture perspective, i.e., not only for growing food, but also as a way to passively heat a house in a temperate climate. So, we're going to take a closer look at doing this the permaculture way and hopefully make a plan.
  • Masonry heater: to replace the wood heater in the living room.  


Since the winter season has the fewest chores and the worst weather for outdoor projects, it's a good time for hobbies and self-improvement. For me, that means learning how to use my new camera with an online camera course. I'm just a couple of lessons into it and learning a lot! Lesson notes and homework are posted on my photography blog.

So, what is everyone else doing this winter season? Projects? Planning? Taking it easy? Please share!

Winter Project List © January 2022 


Rosalea said...

Happy New year to you, Leigh and Dan...and all the critters! Looking forward to watching your progress, and very interested in the greenhouse ideas. Up here right now, just enduring some grey, very strange, mild weather and hoping for enough snow to get the snowshoes and skis out.

daisy g said...

Sounds like a doable list.

There are a few chicken run projects in the near future. I also plan to work on irrigating the front flower beds. No better time than now, with our mild winter weather. Did I just jinx myself? ;0D

Happy New Year!

Ed said...

I'm interested in learning more about your masonry heater project. I had to google it to see what it was. As for winter projects, I usually do an indoor remodel project but don't really have one on tap. Maybe some repainting? I usually try to focus on health and do some family history work.

Boud said...

Happy new year! For the first time, I'm planning on just resting, reading, jigsaws, new to my leisure, and not pushing into any new projects. I'm honoring my own need to be more dormant. I'll see how it goes!

Leigh said...

Rosalea, I wish the same to you! I reckon if one lives in ski country, wishing for snow is the order of the day!

Daisy, I hope it's doable. :) I agree this mild weather is the perfect time to try to get those outdoor projects done. If only the rain wills top, that is. :)

Ed, winter is the perfect time for those research projects. I need to get back to my genealogy studies as well. Sounds like your remodeling is getting toward the end. That's nice!

Boud, the same to you! Oh yes, dormant is very good! This ought to be the season of rest, after all. I'd forgotten about jigsaw puzzles. I used to enjoy them tremendously.

Leigh said...

Ed, I meant to mention that we'll probably get started on the masonry heater this summer. We need to make sure we won't be needing it while we have none!

John said...

Wishing you a very happy, healthy and productive New year m'dear. Sounds like you are very well organised once again but I guess that I should not be surprised.
As for myself there has been plenty of time for planning since the 'Snap' but unfortunately not much of the doing. Having said this, today (the first of the year) I have been most productive considering mu buggered clavicle. I have relocated the front porch light from above the door to the side, located brackets either side of said door ready for hanging baskets (filled with Ivy m'thinks as tis North East facing and actually made a small (very small) start upon clearing/organising the Orc's Workshop. Knackered now but happy.

Leigh said...

John, sounds like you're getting a lot accomplished! May our year continue to be as productive.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Happy New Year Leigh and Dan.

I am building my (inevitably too long) list of things I would like to do this year. That said, there are a couple of larger items on the list.

1) We need to start working more actively on what relocating to The Ranch will look like. That means making some plans here (big one, of course, is what we will do with our current house, rent or sell being the options) as well as preparing The Ranch to be moved into, which means going through more things or getting rid of things here. Ugh, it makes me hurt to think about it.

2) I would like to learn to sew more effectively this year. Ideally it would be for the manufacture of clothes for myself from patterns such as Past Times and older (19th Century) styles as well as some traditional Japanese wear.

3) More cheese, of course.

4) I am debating whether to go ahead and put in for an open membership at the local blacksmith shop. It is quite inexpensive for the year ($100) and would be a good way for me to practice.

Also, given the Winter it sounds like we are having at The Ranch, I need to perfect my firewood skills. Lots and lots of firewood to be had this year.

Retired Knitter said...

Happy (and busy) New Year to you.

Leigh said...

TB, you have excellent goals. I especially love that you are looking into a plan for moving to The Ranch. I know there would be a lot of details to work out, but it is a most worthy goal. All of your goals are quite interesting. I'm looking forward to good blogging this year!

RT, I wish the same to you!

Rain said...

Happy New Year Leigh!!! I love your goals...I've always wanted a greenhouse/glasshouse on the side of my home, maybe one day it'll happen. My growing season isn't too much longer here than it was in Quebec, so a greenhouse is a dream. My goals are more technical. I have some business ideas for my future income, these are long term projects. I'm working really hard on my YT channels and my art, this year I hope to finally launch my webstore. I'm trying to build my business for when my pension dries up in 10 years. Lots to learn. I also want to get my garden going again, bigger this year, but one step at a time! I love the idea of freezer canning! Do you freeze your tomatoes whole?

Bill said...

We use the unhurried pace of winter to catch up on household and farm projects we can't get to when the days are long. We're moving our bookshelves into what was once our son's bedroom to create a library. We're doing our pruning. We're finally getting around to fixing and painting the barn doors, etc. I'm putting in a lot more time writing and my wife is making a cookbook. It won't be long till we have Spring Fever, but for now we're just enjoying the slower pace.

Happy New Year!

Leigh said...

Bill, how great to hear from you. I'm glad to hear you're still writing! Sounds like you're being productive, even in the winter season. :)

Leigh said...

Rain, thank you! Your future income goal sounds well thought out and very doable. Good for you for thinking ahead and careful planning!

You'd probably get a lot of use from a greenhouse in your climate. I'm getting all of my design details from my Bill Mollison permaculture course.

Yes, I freeze my tomatoes whole. For sauce, I defrost and run through my Roma juicer. For whole or chunks, the skins slip off easily as the toms begin to defrost. Much easier than the boiling water dunk.

Rain said...

A Roma Juicer...very nice!!

Chris said...

Really glad to see you taking time for a creative outlet. I found I needed this, for all those times I couldn't go outside either.