By Jaimie Bauer
Do you have the winter blues? I’ve been hearing some wishful comments lately centered on this theme: “Is winter over yet?”
Winter can be hard! This is my third winter living off grid and it can bring some challenges. But, at the same time, there is a lot to love about winter. I have grown to appreciate all the seasons since moving to our homestead. Living off grid has allowed me to see them so differently because I now live my life around them, just as the original homesteaders did. If you are feeling a little bit blue about the cold weather, runny noses, snow to be shoveled, and ice to scrape off of your car, maybe this will encourage you to look at winter a little differently. Here’s what I love about winter.
I love the shorter days when the sun goes down early. This could be considered a hardship for me because without electricity I can only do my work when I have good light from the sun. But instead, I look forward to the shorter days as permission to quit work early. This also means that I can put my kids to bed earlier, and what mom doesn’t love that?! They have a difficult time settling down in the long days of summer when it is still light outside and the windows are wide open to let in as much air as possible. Bedtime is so much easier during the winter and they sleep better huddled under their masses of blankets and quilts.
With the shorter days and longer evenings come more quality family time. My husband and I often have more time to spend playing with our children this time of year. Recently, my oldest son began to refer to each day of the week by its evening activity: story night, movie night—watched on our laptop powered by solar panels—music/dancing night, and calling Grandpa and Grandma night.
I look forward to winter as a very much needed and deserved season of rest. Because I live an agrarian lifestyle, I know that spring means planting, summer means tending the garden, and fall brings the very busy time of harvest and storing food for the winter. When winter comes we can relax and settle down indoors because the hard work of preparing is over.
The cold weather means that the world is our refrigerator. We have learned to function very well without refrigeration, but this time of year gives us the luxury of keeping things cold. We don’t have to use milk right away or make it into something else. We can store leftovers for a few days. I can keep a big open jar of mayonnaise without fear of it spoiling. We can even enjoy ice cream!
We love our wood fire! It brings such a warm, cozy glow to our home. It is our only source of heat and burns almost non-stop for the colder months. We look forward all year to sitting around our first fire of the season. I also cook with it, dry clothes next to it, and use it to heat water for dishes and bathing. Our need to buy propane for our gas stove is so much less this time of year.
Winter gives us a long break from bugs, snakes, and other critters. This is a big one because my family lives in the woods. We actually look forward to our first hard freeze of the season for this very reason. It is so nice to have the flies, chiggers, ticks, mosquitoes, wasps, and snakes go away for a while.
I love being indoors. Being a homesteader brings a lot of outside work, but I really am an indoor girl at heart. Winter is the time that I can indulge my indoor nature and get projects done inside. On the coldest days I love to work on crafts with my kids, buckle down with homeschooling, and do DIY projects to beautify my home.
Each season has its positives and negatives, but the special struggles of winter can sometimes keep us focused on the negative. When I’m feeling like winter will never end and I’m sick of my icy steps, frozen well pump, and cabin fever kids, I’m going to frequently remind myself of all the things I love about winter.
Jaimie is a homesteading and homeschooling mom of two boys. She enjoys cooking, organizing, and reading stories to her family by lantern light. She and her husband write articles for their website http://anamericanhomestead.com/ and make videos for their YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/AnAmericanHomestead, sharing their adventures in homesteading and off-grid living.