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Sonlit Acres

Encouraging sustainable living

Life Continues On The Homestead.

As winter approaches the work continues on the homestead, the brush-hogging for this year is finished and wood cutting continues and will right through winter. Allot of folks over the years have asked me why I cut wood in the winter. The biggest reason is that a raise most of your food homestead is a really busy place, with so much that is pressing being done there just isn't allot of time to get the wood felled, bucked, move, split and stacked. It is another very time consuming chore with the best time to gather is winter when homestead chores are at a minimum. 

Winter brings short days and most mornings we wake just before light, and the house has that crisp air that says the wood range needs to be tended, so the coals are raked and made level for wood to be added. The damper and the drafts are set for wide open to get things moving and once there is a hot flame it is run wide for an hour to help heat the chimney to help prevent the build up of creosote. This cycle also creates a very hot surface for cooking and at this point the coffee pot is placed on the stove to perc while we do chores. 

As daylight begins My youngest son Abraham and I begin the morning chores, as we head to the barn sound of crunching comes with every step as our feet hit the ground. A sure sign that the temperature is extremely cold. The first animals to bounce up out of their beds are the pigs, they greet us with the excitement that the meal is at hand. If you have ever raised pigs you know what I am talking about. The cows then get up and begins the stare, looking at you with those all so caring eyes with a look of eagerness in them. The chickens normally don't pay much attention because their feeder and waterier normally have food and water left in them. Next comes the milking if she is still in milk, this normally doesn't take more than 15 minutes.  Once milking is complete our milk cow gets a little more grain as a treat for being such a good girl and standing still as we milked. 

With milking complete the milk at that moment takes priority over everything else, it is brought in strained and poured into the cream separator. And is refrigerated as soon as we finish separating. Once the equipment is washed it's time to water the animals. 

By now it's time to sit at the table for that much wanted cup of coffee. While breakfast begins to cook.  This is the place and time we plan out the rest of the day, whether it be plowing and shoveling snow, or maybe breaking the trail in the wood lot so we can get in and cut wood. This is done on snowshoes. We many times will pack snow in a fashion that turns the area into a large lot. Once packed it is left over night to harden if the temperatures are cold enough over night is plenty of time. The next morning the routine starts over, then it's off to the woods with our saws and other tools we may or may not need. 

Soon we will bring our saws to life and allow them to warm up before putting them to work. Now you must understand that in the woods doing this kind of work in the dead of winter can be very dangerous, this is why all moves are made slow we don't jump around like you could in the summer time. The felling of the tree is calculated with great care with the use of a plumb bob.  My helper is then sent in a safe direction and distance from the tree. (Just in case.)  Once down Abraham will go to work slowly taking his time cutting off the limbs while I start bucking. Once bucked the limbs are stacked in a neat tight as possible pile that will either be burned in early spring or left for animals to live under. Normally a rabbit. The bucked wood is then loaded on a sled and towed home with our snowmobile and made into a mound outside the wood shed until spring when it will be split a staked. 

Another reason for winter wood harvest is that snowmobiles give us access to areas we can't normally get to with a tractor, and this gives use the opportunity to take wind falls as well as remedy over crowding of trees. The other advantage is snowmobiles run on top of snow, so we aren't upsetting the ground opening the door for erosion. 

It seems like we are always getting ready for winter on the homestead either this one coming or next, it doesn't seem to matter as long as winter life is provided for.

Just so folks know: There is down time in the winter months, ice fishing is a favorite activity, snowmobiling, as is hunting small game and trapping. Trapping does bring in a little extra spending money and also keeps the population of predators in check around the homestead. There is nothing worse than loosing your laying hens or other small animals to such predators as coon, fox ermine, or mink. These animals can become a huge problem to the homesteader if their population is not kept in check. And then some winter days it's nice to sit back and do some reading or an indoor hobby, even if it's to just feed the fire and watch the snow fall through the window. 

 

Abraham tries out his new chainsaw for the first time, as you can see we have had snow already.

 

This is one of several piles of firewood being staked for later pick up.

 

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