If spring, summer and fall are the busy seasons on a farm, then winter tends to be a quiet time. With fewer outdoor projects in need of attention, youâ€™ll likely find yourself spending more time indoors, especially on cold and snowy days.
But just because youâ€™re indoors doesnâ€™t mean you canâ€™t stay busy with farming projects! The following five tasks can be accomplished indoors (if not in your house, then in a garage or toolshed). And they will help you stay productive this winter.
Sharpen Your Tools
Worn-down tools are a sign of jobs well done. But, of course, worn tools donâ€™t perform as well.
Are your pruning loppers dull from a productive summer? Blades on your lawn mower showing signs of their age? Is your pocket knife struggling to cut open hay bales?
Maybe itâ€™s time to sharpen your tools.
Sharpening cutting blades requires special skills and specific tools, such as files, a sharpening stone and/or a bench grinder. But learning a useful new skill is always enjoyable, especially if you find yourself with free time during the quiet winter months. Breathing new life into worn-down tools is a productive and satisfying way to spend the offseason.
Read more: These are the 4 sharpening tools you should have around the farm.
Organize Your Tools
During the peak of summer and autumn farming projects, organizing tools can fall by the wayside. If youâ€™re heading into winter with tools piled haphazardly on tables or scattered throughout various outbuildings, now is the time to restore order.
Start by returning tools to their proper places, whether pipe wrenches in the shed by the finicky yard hydrant or an electric drill in the barn for quick repairs. Then use hooks and pegboards to store tools visibly for easy access. Stash smaller items in drawers, or in tool boxes organized by project.
Youâ€™ll appreciate the time you spent organizing when spring rolls around and everything is exactly where you need it.
Plan Your Garden & Order Seeds
On the coldest of winter days, when even the thought of organizing a toolshed is unappealing, why not curl up in a warm room with a stack of seed catalogs by your side?
Itâ€™s hard to beat a chilly afternoon spent planning out which garden plants youâ€™ll grow once temperatures warm up.
Start by calculating how much garden space you have available. (Geometric raised beds make this easy.) Then create a map or chart putting the numbers down on paper.
Once youâ€™ve established these parameters, pour through the catalogs comparing plant varieties and prices until youâ€™ve filled up your garden space with an enticing selection of vegetables, herbs, flowers and more.
Now get your orders placed! Your careful pre-planning will help ensure you plant everything on time in the spring.
Read more: Spacing is important when building raised garden beds, so follow these tips to get it right.
Start Seedlings Indoors
Want to get an early start on the next gardening season? Ordering seeds in advance isnâ€™t the only way. You can also start growing seedlings indoors!
Itâ€™s not hard to find seed-starting kits with everything you need to give seedlings a head start before outdoor temperatures climb suitably high.
One tricky part is ensuring your seedlings get enough light. A sunny, south-facing window might be all you need if you live in a region with at least 12 hours (if not 14-16 hours) of daylight in late winter. Otherwise, you may need grow lights to make sure your seedlings start off strong.
Perform Seasonal Machinery Maintenance
If you have enough garage and/or barn space to store your farm machinery indoors, the winter months can be a perfect time to perform routine maintenance.
Whether youâ€™re changing tractor fluids or replacing broken tines on a hay rake, getting your machines in tip-top shape during the winter serves two purposes.
- One, it keeps you busy during a quiet time of year.
- Two, it preps the machines for spring and ensures ideal maintenance tasks donâ€™t get overlooked (or pushed aside) during the busy rush of spring.
With all these indoor farm tasks to tackle, winter will be over before you know it!