Every season there is a list of things we need to do in order to be ready for the winter in the farm. Whenever we check something off the list, we are one step closer to the big freeze, a time when there isn't much to do except play in the snow, watch birds, do crafts, tell stories and read books. So far we have had beautiful fall weather, and we have had the luxury of doing our winter readiness chores on our schedule and not mother nature's. But that can change in an instant.
The squash and garlic are tucked safely in the walk-in cooler with a space heater to keep them from freezing. Check. We have many quarts of tomato sauce and pickles canned for the winter. Check. Our freezer is bursting with bags of sweet corn, broccoli and kale. Check. The pipes are drained going out to the big field. Check. We have had the last CSA harvest. Check. There is a big pile of split firewood behind the Homestead. Check. There is bird feed out at the bird blind. Check. The sheep and llamas have their hooves trimmed and are ready for the winter. Check. Orchard and blueberries safe from nibblers. Check.
Today the whole Junior High came out and we divided into stewardship groups for the morning work period. The Facilities group put fresh plastic on the greenhouse. The Animal Care group cleaned the coop and wrangled the sheep and llamas for the hoof trimmer/shearer. The Prairie group surveyed the biodiversity of the prairie restoration and planted some new native plants. The Maple Syrup/Supranature group hauled wood to get ready for next spring. The Birds and Bees group worked with Doug to wrap the hives for the winter and did a feeder watch at the Bird Blind. The Trails and Orchard group removed invasive buckthorn from the area around the treehouse. The Garden and Greenhouse group worked with me to harvest the last of the potatoes. We put all of the potatoes in feed bags to store in our neighbors' root cellar. It was over 500 pounds today - so we will be well stocked for the winter. All of these jobs were part of our preparation for the winter; it feels good to work according to the season.
There is much left to do before the ground freezes. Plastic and storm windows on the farmhouse, storm windows and plastic for the chicken coop, pull and store the rest of the carrots and beets, put the sheep and llamas into the winter pasture and put away the electric fence, store the popcorn, send out the holiday tree and basket sign-ups, mulch the rest of the garlic, seed winter rye into the potato and pumpkin patches, prep the tractors for winter, and probably more than a few other things. Each time we do one, we will inch closer to skis, crafts, books and stories. For now we are still finishing up.