sheep eating grass in snow

Wintertime on the homestead

white sheep with grass hanging out of her mouth standing in snow.
Juanita chewing on some grass. Not minding the snow at all.

Here in North Alabama, you really never know what wintertime is going to bring. It could be very mild all year with only a few cold days, or we might have several winter events with a few inches of snow or even ice. When Samuel was a baby, we woke up to 5 inches of snow on Christmas day, and then a few weeks later in January we got 8 inches. It was beautiful, that’s the most snow I had ever seen here, and it actually stayed on the ground for about a week. Typically, snow will melt within a day or 2 of falling and we often have it fall but not stick.

This year we’ve had ups and downs, it was warm at Christmas and didn’t really start getting cold until January. We got 2 inches of snow around the first week of January and it’s flurried a few other times. Today it’s in the 30’s which is pretty cold for us.

Blueberry bush dormant for the winter.

With kids and animals there is ALWAYS something to do, but winters are slightly more restful without the garden growing and preserving to do. It’s the season of planning and anticipating spring. Ordering seeds and deciding what you’re going to be planting in your garden. Deciding if you need to replace your laying hens or add to them. Planning for spring lambing time. Working on indoor projects, like sewing or organizing. We’re planning to start raising meat chickens this year, so we are going to be getting a chicken tractor built soon and set up a brooding area for them. I’m really excited to be raising our own chickens for meat.

Me and Ben building the new chicken tractor for the meat chickens.

The last few years, I’ve started extra plants to sell. This year I’m planning to start a variety of herbs to grow and sell. I’ve got several different types of basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, chives and lots of others. Last year I lost many of my well-established herb plants, so this year I’m going to restart my herb garden all over again and hope to fill it out. I love herbs, I love to walk by and touch and smell them.

Herb seeds I will be starting in the spring

Ben purchased some new chicks in the fall, since some of our current laying hens are getting older. The new chicks should start laying about the time that the other chickens pick up again so we should have plethora of eggs to eat and sell soon. Hens will often stop laying for a month or two in the winter when the daylight is the shortest. Then they will start back again once the days get longer.

Chickens chilling in the shade on a sunny winter day.

The sheep seem to be enjoying the cooler weather, their hair coats are getting thicker. We brought in a ram the first of November and we’re looking forward to having new lambs around the first of April. Sheep have a gestation period of 5 months and will often have twins so your flock can double or triple pretty quickly.

Sheep foraging for grass under the snow.
Sheep grazing in the hay. I put out hay for them, but they preferred looking for the grass under the snow.

We usually plan for extra read aloud time in our homeschool during the winter. We are currently reading The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder from the little house series. It’s been very fitting for this month. I’m always amazed at how they managed to make it through that horrendous winter with only hay to burn for fuel and bread and potatoes to eat for most of it. Pa and Ma always managed to keep an upbeat attitude even though they sometimes didn’t know where their next meal was coming from. It’s a lesson to us all. We’ve also read The Best School Year ever by Barbara Robinson, which is hilarious. We had read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever but this one was new to us. For our spiritual enrichment, I’ve been reading a book by Brant Hansen called Unoffendable. It’s a great read for adults and teenagers and I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve included the amazon links below.

I’m an amazon associate and earn a small commission if you click through these links at no extra cost to you.

Samuel is trying out a new method of composting that he saw on Youtube. It’s called 18 day compost method, and involves layering all your brown and green materials and wetting them down in order to achieve the right temperature. I’m excited to see if he can get it to work.

Samuel working on his compost

Shane has been going deer hunting and we’ve all taken turns going with him, which has been fun. So far he killed one small buck. We hope to get a few more before the season is up to fill our freezer. That’s a wrap on our January. We’re going to continue to enjoy these cooler days while we look forward to the newness of spring.

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