February 26, 2013 by Rex
I don't know what brought this up for me in my head this morning. But I started thinking about that mythological creature called the Winter Homesteader. You know the category if you've ever dreamed of living out on a farm. You read about them a lot.
During the winter time on a homestead or family farm. The homesteader scurries to it's liar to spend the winter and await spring. (More about the spring myth at another time.) While in hibernation, the homesteader creature sits by a warm fire with a dog at his/her feet and paruses through all the seed catalogs, sipping perfect coffee, dreaming of the growing season and what all they are going grow this next year.
This mythological creature has apparently gotten rid of all of its livestock, chopped enough wood for the entire season of cold, stock piled enough food to not have to go out and replenish and has a perfect home where nothing breaks. And, oh yes, have perfectly figured out all needs for this winter time and don't have to go into panic mode and try to find some supply they either forgot about getting or ran through it faster than they ever thought possible.
And this creature, who spends the other 9 months out of the year getting up at 5am, working all day outside in the fresh and beautiful country, and goes to bed around 11pm happily exhausted and yet excited to get up and do it again, is suppose to be content with getting up and sitting in a chair all day. Not seeing the sun come up until 8:30am and going away at 4:30 or 5pm.
The thing is… there are only so many seed catalogs you can look at. And so many varieties of carrots, basil, lettuce or tomatoes you can contemplate growing. The dogs wold rather lay on your lap. Which is cute and nice. But hard to maneuver when you need to get up to go to the bathroom and the 115 lbs Golden Retriever is sound asleep and refuses to get down to let you up and the other one is laying at your feet making it virtually impossible to stand up and move from the chair without having to do the broad jump. (And of course in my case, pulling some muscle 🙂 ).
Too many cups of coffee starts to make you QUITE antsy and your brain slowly begins to swell as you turn to yet ANOTHER page of a vegetable you've never heard of and have no idea why you would EVER what to grow it. The whole time in the back of your head you realize you still have at least half the seed packet still from last year's seeds. And then there's that little demon back there reminding you of the horrible time you had growing seeds last year and why even bother. “And dear god, PLEASE don't buy yet another another herb that you can,t get to germinate anyhow and if by some miracle of God you do get it to grow. By the time it's ready to harvest, you've forgotten what the plant even is or what it's medicinal value was that you wanted in order to grow it in the first place.
Then there's the live stock. We still have ours. And the thing is… They STILL want to eat. And if the guy you bought your hay from, that promised you 8 tons, but could only deliver on 4 tons and then you have to hunt down another source at the last minute and don't really want to pay through the nose, so you just never get around to it, because let's face it, you only have enough covered storage for 5 tons anyhow (becuase the county says your not a farmer becuase you don't have 5 acres and so you can't build a hay storage without a permit any bigger than 200 square feet.) You start to worry come end of February when your hay storage is more than halfway empty and there's still snow on the ground.
Then there's the two pigs we grow over winter. One for us and one to trade for half a steer. They don't grow very fast when you have an extremely harsh winter and they are spending most of there calories trying to stay warm (and alive) and not putting as much of it not growing!
And, of course, if you've got live stock, you've got fences to mend. Because the old saying is true: “if you ain't farming if you ain't always mending fences.”
Oh, gosh I forgot about the chickens. Since they are doing anything but eating right now it,s easy to do. 30 some odd chickens that still demand the same amount of food, if not more, during the winter, lay about 2 eggs a day. (That would be cumulative as a group not individually.
Oh and then there's all those projects around the house that the wife would like you to get done. Yes, THIS is the time of your you have to do them. BUT, all those trips out to the shop to get or cut things, you walk back in through the house with muddy work shoes… And well, you can see where this is going I think, and so we'll leave it that this is NOT in-fact the best time of year to be doing these projects.
And you SURE as heck don't want to do any outside when it's 0 degrees.
Of course this is when any susceptible pipes will decide to freeze. The hoses all freeze outside because the kids “forgot” to roll them up and so now your carrying 5 gallon buckets full of water out to the troughs, that have frozen solid. So you have to go and get devices to out in the water that cost about $18 a month in electricity for each one you have.
AHHHH… But I'm forgetting the fact of now is the time to look out over your growing areas and dream “HOW can I make them better and grow more food for ourselves?” But when everything is under a foot-and-a-half of snow you can't even SEE what your dealing with. And when you go back into your gardening notes from last year to pick up on some in the moment thoughts to remember for this time of year, you realize you were WAY too busy, and lazy, to have actually made much any notes about anything important.
And then let's not forget about the cabin fever that begins to set in, not only on this mythological being, but also on his REAL family. Who too, is starting to bounce off the walls and the only true way to sedate them is let them have electronics, which you KNOW is rotting them down to the very core of their being. But it's either that or shooting them because they are driving you nuts with how bored they tell you they are. Or maybe your lucky enough that they have friends in the neighborhood who can come over and pass along whatever nasty disease they have picked up at public school today because their parents HAD to go to work and so the kid “only has the sniffles” so they can go to school. Only those sniffles then turn out to be the Black Plague and now EVERYONE in the village gets to enjoy them because someone let there kid go to school. “Well, they didn't have a fever and they haven't been throwing up for 24 hours.” Really, DID they have a fever?
“Well, yes, but we were able to keep enough kids Tylenol in them to mask the fever so were good.”
Ah, yes, that mythological creature the Winter Homesteader. What a wonderful creature it is. If only Myth Busters could do a segment on it and put the whole thing to rest.