A Year In The Life Of Homesteading – Fall

Friday, October 1, 2010


Outside of May, October is my favorite month. It’s a signal that the busy spring and summer months, that commandeered most of our time, are coming to a close and the quiet short days of winter are not far off. Fall’s light is dusky, it hangs low in a sky that is streaked with orange and pink and purple. It sends a glow across the homestead that I can only describe as breathtaking. But, with our Indian summer climate, October also marks the start of “fire season”. Not a season we look forward to. We are vigilant in our travels and tend to our chores that prepare us for winter.

Pears harvested
Fuji apples picked
Late berries picked and frozen for winter use
Garlic and onions planted
Peas planted
Fallen raked and leaves used in compost pile
All spent vegetables pulled and fed to chickens
Winter squash and pumpkins picked
Last planting of early maturing root crops planted
Potatoes harvested, cleaned and stored
Dog’s summer coast sheared off


It seems with each passing year our weather stays warmer into the later months. I don’t know if this is global warming or not, but it sure makes homesteading a challenge. It’s warm enough to plant many kinds of vegetables, but the weather won’t hold and so I must…hold myself back from trying to sneak in one more planting of anything…hold back the gardener inside me. These are the months for replenishing the garden, a time where “garden keeping” is more important than garden planting, a time to put the garden to bed for the winter.

General garden clean-up continues
Leaves continue falling; we continue raking
Beds mulched, tilled and lightly fertilized
Berries mulched with compost or straw
Some hardy vegetables still harvested
Rain barrels cleaned and prepared for early rains (if any)
Tubs of salad greens planted and placed on patio
Winter lighting installed in chicken coop
Outdoor furniture covered and cushions stored
Dried beans picked and shelled
Vines removed from supports, shopped and composted


The garden looks lonely in December. Gone are the vibrant colors of green things growing, of fruits ripening. The cold weather allows for only a few veggies to be planted – peas, spinach and lettuce. Our winters are not frigid, not like many areas to the north, but it is cold enough to drive us indoors. These are the days we concentrate on inside projects played out in front of a warm fire. We experiment with new recipes and try our hand at dishes we’ve never tried before. And, although these activities keep us busy, we can’t help but long for new lambs in the barn, chicks in the brooder, and a garden bursting to life. The months will go by quickly – and then – we’ll be out in the sun again; reliving our routine of homestead life. And we are glad.

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