December 1, 2022

Our Agrarian Year: Season of the Hearth

Interesting reading
Or at least that's what Eric Sloane calls winter in his The Seasons of America Past. For those who live close to the land, it seems an appropriate nickname. Or, at least it sounds more charming than "the thankfully not-so-much-to-do season." Winter is the dormant season of most living things; often too cold, wet, and dismal with less to do outside. Staying inside near the woodstove just goes with the season. 

Of course, our southern winters aren't as cold as those in northern climes. People tease me about saying the 20s F is cold, to which I always respond, "but it's relative. 20°F (-6°C) is a 70-80 degree difference from our typical summer temps. Of course it feels cold to us Southerns!" And I get to tease them back when they complain about 80°F (26°C) being so unbearably sweltering. We're thrilled with summer temperatures that low!

So, what's on the winter project list? Seasonal chores revolve around keeping the critters watered, fed, and protected from drafts, and keeping the fire wood and kindling boxes full. But weather permitting, we still like to be outside.

Outdoor Projects

Indoor Projects
  • We still have two rooms to finish on the inside. While neither is specifically on our radar for finishing, both have become catch-all rooms and are in need of a good purge. That is something I plan to do this winter. 
  • Mending 
  • Freezer canning (jams, jellies, bone broth, etc.)
  • Personal learning. I'm not sure when Helen Atthowe's permaculture garden master course will be ready, but in the meantime, I want to resume where I left off in my photography course, which I set aside when the tomatoes, figs, and pears were overwhelming last summer.

Not a long list and nothing pressing, which is good. It's nice not to be so busy, plus it leaves room for whatever might pop up. 


Mama Pea said...

"Season of the Hearth!" I love the sound of that. We've not had any really cold weather yet this year but have had the early snows which remind us just how much time plowing, shoveling and trudging through the white stuff takes in our daylight hours. Makes the season of the hearth all the more precious and enjoyable!

SmartAlex said...

Hey I live in NY and 20F is still pretty cold! Our typical daytime temp in the winter is the low 30s and maybe high 20s overnight. When it gets into the twenties on a regular basis we start to whimper and teens is cause for actual complaining. I would never survive the Dakotas or upper midwest.

SmartAlex said...

Also, that book sounds like a good read. Much like Ben Logan's The Land Remembers which is one of my favorites.

daisy g said...

The winter slow down is most welcome. Of course, there is always a project, but the ebb and flow of living with the seasons is so comforting.
We love living where there are four seasons.

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, people often talk about taking a vacation from homesteading, but it's actually built into the seasonal year! Of course, the daily chores are always there, but there's comfort in a familiar routine.

Alex, I grew up in northern Illinois and I don't miss the winters! No matter where we live, I think it takes a certain kind of person to truly love cold weather. :)

And thank you for the mention of Ben Logan's book! I'm always on the look-out for a good read. To that, I'll say that all of Eric Sloane's books are interesting and informative. Really good reads, all.

Daisy, me too! Although the characteristics of our four seasons is different where I live now versus where I grew up. Slowing down is always welcome.

Ed said...

My winter list changed last week and now physical therapy tops the list. But I hope, once able, to do a basement purge with my MIL overseas until spring and also empty out the farmhouse of items that I want to keep in the family. Beyond that, I have a stack of photos, knick knacks and assorted things already brought up from the farmhouse that I need to sort, scan and organize in some form other than the large plastic totes sitting to my right as I type this. If I get time and some warm weather, I also have several wood projects to do in the unheated garage.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, I think a great garage purge is in order this Winter (we need it - badly) as well as some internal purging inside as well. Our yard got quite beat up by the Summer heat this year, so I need to come up with something else that will 1) Work for us; 2) Be dog resistant (to damage), and 3) Drouth resistant, as the other option is putting in a sprinkler system, which sound more expensive to me.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

And thanks, as always, for the book recommendation (as if I needed an excuse..).

PioneerPreppy said...

20's are still cold and the further South the more humid you generally are so it feels colder. I used to say I always felt colder in Missouri than I ever did in South Dakota. The cold and the short days really put a dent in my motivations until February too when hope for warmth begins to kindle once again.

Leigh said...

Ed, yes, that was extremely unfortunate! I hope you respond quickly to the PT. It does sound like you've got a good to-do list for the season. One that will leave you feeling productive!

TB, purges are always tough to get started on, but really necessary!

Dealing with heat and drought in the garden is always tough. I'm hoping the swale we put in last year will make a difference next summer.

All of Eric Sloane's books are great! It's interesting to take a peek into how things used to be.

PP, humidity really takes cold to a chilling level. People come south and think, 'I'm in the south where it never gets cold!' Wrong! LOL it's not always what the thermometer says, but how dam it feels that makes it uncomfortable.

Henny Penny said...

Love you post! "Staying inside near the woodstove" sounds good, doesn't it? It was 24 degrees here this morning (in NC). Enjoyed reading your "to do" too. Always lots to be done.

Leigh said...

Henny, thanks! Yes, always lots to do (and we're in a mild enough climate to do a lot of it!). It's nice to function at a slower pace, though, and being able to pick and choose rather than focus on the need of the moment (usually food to be picked and preserved!)

Debby Riddle said...

I love Eric Sloane! I love how he digs into the past and hasn't let it be overlooked. I always remember how he was once asked to judge a Christmas decorating contest in the neighborhood and ignored everyone's efforts and instead chose a well-situated farmhouse with a stately pine tree covered with snow.
Lots of sorting and organizing going on here. I've been quilting little things and hope to embark on some rag rug weaving soon.

Leigh said...

Debby, I'd not read that about Eric Sloane, I love it!

Glad to finding time for textiles. That's a part of my life I've been away from for too long.