Spring Checklist

The first day of spring in 2015 is March 20–that’s only a few days away Friends. Is everything on your spring check list nearly checked off?  I’ve got a bit to do yet.

If you are a homesteader, then you understand what seasonal living is.  You live around the weather and the cycle of nature.

If you aren’t a homesteader, let me review for you.  A winter check-list is the easiest to understand.  We understand that when the snow is on the ground, you better have your garden harvested and all your firewood home.  If you don’t get these things done, your produce is spoiled and you can’t heat your house in the winter.

A seasonal check-list is comprised of all the things that must be done before the season begins.  A spring check-list is a bit different than a winter check-list, however.

A winter check-list is comprised of things we can no longer do once the ground freezes and all the snow piles in.  But a spring check-list for our family is comprised of all the things we are challenged to find time for once spring hits since spring is crazy-busy on the farm.

 

Here are the things I’ll be struggling to get done before time simply doesn’t permit me the opportunity to:

Sewing

This is the biggest list I have by far.  I have all winter to make the things we need for the winter and spring.  But there are things we will need in summer and fall that I won’t have time to work on, so it’s important that I look ahead and have them done now.

Since I have a semi-large family, I just don’t have the time to make everything for everyone.  I spend the first part of the winter seeing what gets handed to us or traded for.  The things I know won’t be handed to us (like underclothes), I just go ahead and make.  By spring, most of the basics are covered for everyone.

The things I do have to get done by spring are the things I anticipate we may need through next fall.  These include:  church attire, something suitable for everyone to wear to a funeral and to a wedding, feminine pads (at least 10 new ones setting aside for each female), 10 new cloth diapers if I’m expecting that year,  10+ pairs of training pants if I expect to potty train that year, birthday gifts, baby clothes for baby showers, and any costumes the kids will want to wear to parties.

This is also a time to sew patches on pants that need put away for the next kid, sew on buttons, fix zippers, and mend blankets before putting them away.  I like for everything to already be fixed when I get it out in the fall.

 

Bartering

Some of the blessings God gave our humble family farm were sand-pits, gravel-pits, and cinder pits around the volcanoes.  These are what we barter with most, this time of year.  We are trading these for the thousands of pounds of seed we will need to plant all our fields this year.

We also have a neighbor who is a huge potato seed seller.  My husband works the equipment for him just before spring hits (shipping out all the potato seeds to all the potato farmers), and they supply us all year with all the potatoes we can eat and a small stipend.

Because my husband is also a diesel mechanic, he is busy during the winter fixing the local farmers’ tractors and equipment and doing welding projects. These are more open-ended barters.  Later in the year when we need something, he will call those farmers in return and negotiate a fair trade at that time.  Some will decide to negotiate a payment, while others might lend us equipment if ours breaks, or labor, or a different payment.

Once the Farmer starts spring planting, he isn’t available to do any extra projects, so this must be done now.  The same thing can be said of any sewing I do for other people.  If it doesn’t get done now, it won’t get done until next winter.

Homemade supplies

This list is harder to gauge.  If I run out of something in the winter, I can whip up a batch.  In the summer, it’s really stressful for me to have to stop summer activities to make some of these things.  Near the end of winter, I need to go through my supply and ask myself, “Do I have enough of this to get my family comfortably through the fall?”  If it looks like I’ll be short, or even on the “close” end, I’ll make more.

Here’s what I’m inspecting:  dishwasher tablets , toilet tablets, soap bars, body soap, laundry soap, fabric softener, and candles.

Home Maintenance

We don’t spend much time inside once the weather is nice, except for our homeschool lessons.  This makes it easier not to be bothered with looking at unfinished projects inside.  All the same, it is nice to have the paint touched up on a wall, or have our water filter changed.

As far as outside projects, we are looking at making sure fences are tight and fixed of any holes, the dinner bell is cleaned out of any of last year’s wasps’ nests, and any maintenance that looks like it might need done at anytime before fall gets done now.  When we’re unsure, we just do it.

One of the bigger projects we’d like to get done in early spring is digging a new root cellar.  I’d really like one that is attached to the house.  I’m not overly excited at the thought of walking a couple hundred feet in the cold, deep snow each time I want something out of it (although it does make the harvest itself easier. )  For now, the ground is still frozen a foot down, so we’ll have to wait til the last minute to do this one.

Our greenhouse burned down four years ago, and we’re hoping to see if we can save it and rebuild the greenhouse this year so I can use it.  Finances are tight, so we’ll have to be creative.

Shopping

We only shop 3-4 times a year.  Since going to the grocery store means packing up the entire family in the Suburban and driving 60 miles there and 60 miles back, it takes an entire day to do this.

I’m not going to lie…None of us like shopping, and trips often make us grumpy.

The best way to keep us in high spirits is to make sure it’s done before the busy work of the growing season.

We’ll make sure to have coffee, oils, and any clothing and shoes we may need for the year here so we don’t have to negotiate a shopping day in the summer or fall.

What things on the homestead need to get done before we all transition into spring?  I've got a check-list here of what we're frantically working toward getting done before the ground thaws.

Yes, that’s quite the list.  But when it’s done, it’s done.  I realize we can still have a couple more months of snow, but I’m looking forward to spring and the new life it brings.

What’s on your spring check-list?

18 Comments

  1. Oh, but doesn’t it feel so good to check those things off of your list?! So satisfying! I love staying busy too. Enjoy tackling those lists!

  2. Wow what a list you have to keep you busy, but I suspect you don’t need a list to be busy. I really like the clothing and sewing ideas that you carry out before spring, they are great ideas. I like to stay inside during the winter and hope to get more school done and other jobs around the house. During summer the weather is just too nice for the children to be inside for too long and when the months of cold and damp set in they need to stay dry and warm indoors. Thanks for sharing these great ideas. Blessings to you dear friend.

    • The winter definitely has a heavier load as far as school work. When it’s warm enough, we like to do a lot of snow-shoeing, sledding, and other winter outdoor fun.
      In the summer we have a super light school load. Since it still gets into the 50s at night during the summer, we open everything at night, close it all when we get up (4 or 5 a.m.) and then work outside most of the day. During the “hot” of the day, we go inside and do our school work and naps until the evening brings cool again and then we are back out at it.
      Ah… the life of a farmer…
      Thanks for coming by Terri. I know you must have a crazy list going right now too as you finish your harvest and prepare for you winter.
      Blessings,

  3. Our round trip to town is about an hour, and I still don’t like to make the drive! We keep a fairly good stock to keep our trips into town to a minimum, but nothing like the rarity with which you go! I do like the idea of having seasonal checklists beings that I am a notorious list maker. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration,
    Lisa

    • It wasn’t so bad when I worked an hour away. I still didn’t like the trip, but since I was already “in town,” I’d do the shopping after work one day on the way home about once a month (without all my “helpers”). Now that I’m used to being home…I’ll pass on those long trips 🙂 . It sounds like we have a lot in common.
      Blessings,

  4. I am sort of glad we have a longer growing season but I must admit I am looking forward to winter and all the inside jobs I can get done. Now with the aquaponics going outside work will be more but that’s ok as it will be under plastic so will be dry and hopefully a bit warmer. That is what we do in the summer, open up at night and then close down, some days we just sit inside it is that hot and uncomfortable. Blessings xxx

    • Oh and I meant to ask “you have a suburban”. We nearly bought one of them years ago, but there aren’t a lot of them around and it was out of our price range at the time, because they are an imported vehicle, but we did dream a bit. Blessings

      • We bought the shell and then my husband built the engine. We wouldn’t have gotten one otherwise. They are gas guzzlers big-time. But we only use it to make trips to town when we have to fit everyone. It seats 9 people, and has a ton of room in the back for supplies/groceries.

  5. Wow, shopping only 4 times a year. One must be very organized to pull that off (very inspiring!). I enjoyed reading your lists and agree, if it isn’t done before the harvest, life gets very tough… Thank you for sharing!

    • Since we are farmers by trade, I have to get it all done before we start planting, actually. Most of our fields have hand-lines that we have to move twice a day. Just keeping up with the watering takes a few hours every day. We try to be organized, but just in-case we aren’t–use it up, wear it out, or make do 🙂 . Thanks for coming by JES.

  6. Isn’t it amazing how much can be accomplished in those dark winter days? Growing up, we too only went to town (about an hour & a half drive one way) every so often. We would get looks when we rolled up to the check out counter with 3 grocery carts, etc:) The real work starts when you get home and have to put it all away.
    Great post ~ all so true.

  7. Hey I have another question. If you only shop 3 to 4 times a year, are you able to store all your garden produce to last that long. I suppose my question is do you eat fresh or canned produce during the year and what stays good in your cool cellar??? Blessings xxx

    • Yes we try to store a year’s worth from the garden and foraging. Most of our food comes from these two sources. Our top priority is what can go in the root cellar, since some things can be stored for a year if done right and it stays cold enough. Potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage, beets, eggs, (for a year) and apples & melons (for a couple months only) can be stored in the cold cellar. Nuts can go in there too, but usually I run out of room and they go in the pantry with the green tomatoes.
      I try to can as much as possible after that. Peas, beans, corn applesauce, pie fillings, jams, flavored butters, pickles, tomato sauces, pastes, juices, powdered tomatoes & pumpkin. Since I never have enough time, then I dehydrate after that. My last resort is to freeze. We have a large freezer for meat, one for produce and one for milk & other dairy. Sounds like a lot but it goes fast with my growing family. This year we buried a box of carrots in our sand pit and that lasted a couple months (we ate them pretty quick).
      Grains can be kept in large garbage bins (clean & with tight lids) until we use them.
      We have what’s called Amazon Prime here. There are certain groceries I can order to be delivered each month (creamer, toilet paper, vitamins) with free shipping. The prices change day by day, but it’s still cheaper than the 120 mile round trip we would make going shopping. So many people out here use it that they have a delivery driver that will bring them to us. I highly recommend it to anyone who is disciplined with spending but doesn’t want to shop.
      If you have time this fall, (spring for you?) I’ll show you how it gets done around here 🙂 . I can’t keep up with everything on this site, but I try to get a good chunk of it in.
      Did I miss anything? I’m very interested in how you store all yours because I don’t think it gets cold enough there to have a cold cellar (yes?).
      Blessings,

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