Winter Is Coming
The change of seasons is a physical reminder to prepare our environment and our energy for what is coming next. Living on an acreage the change of season comes with physical effort. There are tasks you should perform to take care of your property. I am much better at taking care of the external world than I am at taking care of myself. So, I often align the external activities as reminders of self-care.
Prepare garden and flower beds
This activity requires some planning ahead for northern areas. Consider the following.
Which summer bulbs need to be pulled up and stored
What crops do you want to plant for the winter
Which bulbs do you need to plant for spring
Pull up and store summer bulbs
Many of the bulbs you have enjoyed through the spring and summer months will not make it through the freezing ground temperatures that come with winter. These bulbs need to be dug up, cleaned, and then dried for 2-3 weeks. Store all bulbs you would like to replant indoors until spring.
Plant winter crops
This is an enjoyable time to plant crops that can withstand cold temperatures. Some farmers and homesteaders use this as a time to plant driller radishes that can help provide a food source for livestock while also aerating and putting nutrients back into the soil. This is also a time to plant kale, collards, garlic, and carrots.
Plant bulbs for the spring
In the fall plants go on sale at your local nursery. This is a wonderful time to take advantage of the sales and get perennials, trees, and shrubs in the ground. You can also take advantage of the warmer days to replace those summer bulbs with the flowers you would like to come up in spring.
This time of year, is all about letting go, accepting what is coming, and planning for tomorrow. While I make my plan for my garden and flower beds, I take some time to journal. I reflect on the year to that point. I ask myself what has gone well and what has not. I start to plan for what I need to change or continue as the end of the year approaches. And I plan for where I want to be when the temperatures are warm again. Over the year this has become a seasonal ritual for me. Taking the time to reflect through journaling as I plan for each seasonal change. If I can plan for my garden, I can plan for me.
Taking care of the soil
During the winter months it is common to have frost heaving. This happens as the temperatures fluctuate between freezing and thawing. This frequent change can cause plants to be pushed up out of the soil. To support your plants through this time, place about compost or another form of organic mulch back into the soil. This will help insulate your plants from the drastic changes in temperature.
Just like the plants the winter months thrust frequent changes upon us. Temperatures change. Holidays come. Family and friends gather. There is an increase in rich and sugary food. And the calendars fill and adjust rapidly. While I am mulching to prepare the soil, I let my mind think through all the upcoming activities to come. I then come in and start to make notes for my calendar, which grounds me. Knowing what is coming and having a visual calendar that shows the various events allows me to insulate myself from the drastic change that comes with busyness.
Prune and wrap trees
Before the temperatures get too cold, fall is a suitable time to prune your trees. While many people do this in the spring, you can get this task done during the cool fall days. This is also a suitable time to wrap the trunk of any young trees to protect them from sun scald. Sun scald happens when the cells in the trunk expand during the sunny warmer days but then freeze at night as the temperatures drop. You want to remember to remove wraps in the spring to make sure you avoid infestations and disease.
The fall prune and purge. This is when I ask myself about the people, activities, and things that are not serving who I am and what I want to be. I find that through the year I acquire things that need to be thrown out or given away, but I just had not made the decision yet. I find myself committed to activities that do not support the direction I am headed. I may be spending time with people that are draining my energy rather than feeding into it. These are some tough topics to be real about. But I have found that being honest with myself to prune and purge the relationships, commitments, and possessions that no longer serve me can be incredibly healing. It then allows me to wrap myself in things that will support my future growth.
Clean, store, and prepare tools
Pull up the soaker hoses, blow out the sprinkler system, clean all tools and get everything in a safe storage place. If you skip this step the tools, you need will not work well or may even need to be replaced in the spring. If you are not the person that puts tools away after each use, this is a good time to make sure everything is tucked away and protected from the harsh weather changes. I even plan by moving the lawn mowers to the back of the garage and pulling the snow blowers to the front.
As I prepare my tools and equipment for what will be needed in the coming months, I think through what items I will need for holiday season. I plan many things for my family which include meals, clothes, pictures, parties, etc. I go back to the visual calendar I created and make a list of what items I will need to buy to have on hand through the end of year. This has prevented me from doing the last-minute panic when one of my dear children lets me know he has a strings concert where he needs to be in in dress cloths with a tie that very evening while eating his dinner.
Inspect the roof of all buildings
Look for cracks, lose or missing shingles, or weakening points. Take the time to make sure everything is in good condition and sealed up. As snow and ice melt the water can get into any weak or open areas, freeze, and then melt causing leaks and even holes. While on the roof clean the gutters. Freezing material in the gutter can create ice damns on your roof pushing water and back in under the shingles. This will also lead to leaks and holes.
We have talked about personal reflections and self-care activities. Working on the cracks and weak spots on the roof can act as a reminder to check in with your family about what is and isn’t working for them. As the freezing weather approaches these are the people you could be locked in with for days and days upon end. If life has been moving too quickly to have a meaningful conversation with them, take this as a reminder. There have been times I was working hard on something for my dear husband only to find out it was not even something he wanted to do anymore. I have found times where I had an activity on the family calendar for something one of my dear children no longer enjoyed. If it has been a while since you checked in with those you love, do it now.
Stock up on winter gear
This is something we do as a family as the seasons change. Living in North America there are times where you leave in the morning and the temperatures are freezing but when you come home it is in the mid-sixties. Layers are important. We pull out all our fall and winter gear and go through what does and does not fit. We make a list of who needs what. I have found that many stores have items available two to three months ahead of the season. By doing our inventory this allows us to take advantage of sales and exclusive deals. I often like to have two of everything. We keep a set that can be used while we are working on our property and another set that is acceptable to be seen in public once we leave country roads.
Clean the inside of the house
I know it is more common for people to talk about spring cleaning, but I find the autumn clean to be just as important. You are going to be spending more time in your home during these months. There are more layers of cold weather clothing that pile up. There is more gunk that will be tracked in. Do a deep clean of the house and even rearrange furniture to give the house a fresh feel and look. Create spots where people can be together and places where people can have alone time. This will make those long winter months easier for everyone.
My mind is clearer while I am working out of doors. I am more open and see the bigger picture. Using these winter preparation tasks as physical reminders to take care of myself and some of those things that may have gone overlooked with my family. I use these tasks to shift my energy in preparation for the coming season.