Fall on the homestead is the final preparation season for the year. This time, we prepare the outside to move inside until spring. This fall homestead checklist will help you to be efficient as you prepare for winter.
Fall on the Homestead: the Season of Preparation
Oftentimes, spring is well known for being a busy time of preparation for the summer growing season. It’s arguably one of the most exciting times of year when the homestead comes to life again.
I’d like to invite you to dedicate that same level of excitement towards preparing in the fall for the slow down that this season brings.
Production season is exciting for obvious reasons. Production brings abundance, expansion, and growth.
Fall might not be as obviously exciting to you as things begin to die back, enter dormancy, and literally cool down. However, the slowing down this season offers can help to revive your tired spirit for the following year. You don’t have to love the cold to enjoy this quieter time, either.
The work you do now, will set you up for a much more productive year ahead.
Fall Homestead Checklist: In the Garden
In the fall, gardening changes form. If you have been preparing for fall and growing a fall crop garden, you’ll extend the garden work and harvest a bit longer, but soon enough it will be time for the garden to go to bed.
You could just close things up and forget about them until spring, but preparing in the fall for the winter and spring ahead, will make things much more efficient and successful. You might even put your animals to work helping you!
Clean Up the Garden
You might have less motivation in the fall to tend to your garden after a busy growing season. However, doing the work now, will save a ton of time during the busy spring season. Spend your clean-up time now, so that you can focus on the actual growing come spring.
We even let our ducks, chickens, and goats into the garden to help clean things up once we have removed the plants we want to keep them out of (tomatoes and potatoes usually).
Remove Spent Garden Plants
Leaving them in the garden can set yourself up for plant diseases and unsavory critters in your growing space early in spring.
For most of your plants, cutting them at the base will allow the root systems to compost in place. Doing so gives aeration to your soil as well as added nutrients for next year.
Dispose of the Spent Garden Plants
Dispose of the healthy plants by composting them, or feeding them to pigs or chickens or some for cows even. Make sure they are safe plants for your animals to eat before tossing them in, though.
Check out my post on feeding chickens for extra tips on what plants are and aren’t safe for them, before tossing them in.
Avoid putting disease carriers like blight covered tomato plants into your compost as these can leave traces behind in your soil.
Instead, opt for a fall bonfire to get rid of these.
Remove Growing Extenders
Remove growing extenders where applicable like low tunnels and row covers to protect them during harsh winter weather. Taking the time to store them carefully now, will extend their life and your investment!
Clean Up Unwanted Items In the Garden
Taking care of weeds, trash and forgotten tools is a lot harder when you aren’t motivated by impending harvests. However, it’s arguably more important to do this now!
Getting rid of potential weed seeds in the fall, when they are beginning to fall to the soil, will keep your weed problem away a little longer in the spring.
During spring planting, the last thing you want to do is spend your precious time weeding, instead of planting your food crops. Take care of the weeds now, to avoid early germination of their seeds come spring.
Clean up the tools and trash now to give you a clean slate for the spring time. That way, you won’t have to dig through snow and mud to find your favorite hand shovel when you need it.
Ask me how I know!
Amend the Garden
Fall might be busy, but spring is much busier! Take the time now to amend your garden beds.
Source your compost and amend the beds in the fall, instead of in the spring.
Not only is this more time efficient, but it will give your compost extra time to spread its nutrients into the soil.
Also, it will give it extra time to break down if it’s still too “hot” for your plants.
Again… ask me how I know!
We purchase our compost from a great organic source. It’s affordable as far as compost goes, and it’s organic. However if we use it in the spring, it’s not quite broken down enough for sensitive seedlings.
Amending garden beds in the fall gives everything time to meld together to make nutrient rich beds in the spring.
Fall Homestead Checklist: Preparing the Animals
No Fall homestead checklist is complete without considering the critters. Food, shelter, and extra supplies can make for a much more peaceful slow season for you.
Stock Up on Animal Feed & Hay
Don’t be like us our first year with ruminants, get your hay now! It’s more affordable, more available, and provides food security for your animals all winter long. We slacked on this majorly our first year and it was an unbelievable headache all winter. We vowed to never be so unorganized again!
Another way to prepare for the winter season, is to stock up on a few extra bags of food for your pets and farm animals. There’s nothing worse than patting yourself on the back after getting stuck inside with inclement weather for having good food storage, only to realize you’re out of chicken food!
We try to keep one bag of each on hand at all times for these kinds of situations. You’ll want to get some tightened down storage to keep mice and critters out, but it’s well worth having when you need it!
Most animals are equipped to handle harsh weather better than your average house pet, however, you want to be sure their amenities are adequately prepared. Check the roof and siding on your shelter structures.
In addition to shelter, having adequate bedding on hand is also important. We don’t keep our animals in shelters year round and instead opt for mobile shelters. However, during weeks that we have below zero temps, we like to bring everyone in where we can on warm bedding with additional shelter.
These cold snaps often happen suddenly without much warning, so we try to keep bedding on hand for these occasions so that we aren’t scrambling when the time comes to use it.
Fall is a great time to make sure your fencing is in good working order before winter hits.
If you use stationary fencing, check for any broken or weak lines that might fall prey to a heavy winter snow. It’s better to fix it during warmer weather than have the animals get out during a freezing snow storm!
Fall Homestead Checklist: Heating with Firewood
Heating with wood is an economical way to save on your winter energy bill. However, in order to reap these benefits, you have to do some prep work.
Storing your firewood is an important part of heating your house with it. You also need to make sure that you have enough firewood to get you through the late fall, winter, and early spring. Procuring your firewood usually happens the year before to ensure that it is sufficiently seasoned, but you still have to take care of it once you have it.
We live in Ohio and need about 1 cord every month. Considering that we need to heat up the house from around October through April, sometimes May, we like to have about 5 cords to be sure we have enough.
Cover your Firewood
If you haven’t already gotten your wood covered, taking care of that in the Fall is a good time to do it. During the spring and summer, water dries more quickly in the sun. In the fall and winter, the weaker sun doesn’t dry wood as quickly. Also, water can freeze around you firewood, making it almost useless when you need it.
Prepare your Firewood Tools
Whether you use a canvas bag or a wood cart, make sure that everything is where you need it for when you need it. There is nothing worse than not being able to find your tools when you need them! Get the cart out, pump up the tires, or make sure the bag you’re using doesn’t have a broken strap or isn’t lost out in your wood pile! Get them ready and know where to find them.
Be sure to check your wood stove tools as well. Make sure none of them have broken handles or missing parts. If you need to, get new ones to have ready for fire season!
Wood Stove Maintenance
When you use a wood stove, it’s important to make sure that it’s well maintained. Clean out any debris from last year with a fireplace shovel and even a shop vac. Check to make sure that the internal mechanisms are in good working order.
Consider hiring a chimney sweep, or get a chimney brush to do it! Either way, cleaning your chimney and fire box for your wood stove is an important step towards safety and efficiency.
Fall Homestead Checklist: Power Security
Our Winters can be harsh with high winds, snow, and cold temperatures. Each winter since we’ve lived on our homestead, we’ve experienced at least 24 hour power outages. We do have a wood stove to heat the house, however, without power, our freezers, fridge, lights, and phones are useless.
Purchase a Generator
Consider investing in a generator to at least power essential appliances. It doesn’t need to be a giant, expensive, whole-house generator. Simply decide which appliances would be necessary in an outage, and choose your unit based on those needs.
Stock Up on Fuel
Once you have a generator, you’ll also need to think about fuel. Strive to have enough fuel on hand to power your generator when you need it. Stock up in the Fall, and replace it as you use it throughout the Winter. You don’t want to be caught without it!
In order to run your appliances using the generator, you need a way to connect the appliances to it. If you aren’t going to hook up to your homes entire grid, you’ll need extension cords to reach the generator. You’ll want to purchase or find these ahead of time so you aren’t scrambling around in the dark to find them, or worse, have to go buy some during an outage!
Fall Homestead Checklist: Getting Organized
Now that you know what to get done this Fall, you have to get to doing it!
Sometimes, getting organized can be a large obstacle for getting started.
Fortunately for you, I’ve put together a FREE printable Fall Homestead Checklist guide with all the information listed here, plus space for your own tasks, and a planner sheet to help you nail down when you want to get each task done.
If you’re interested in grabbing the FREE printable Fall Homestead Checklist resources, enter your email below to get it sent straight to your inbox!