Now that the sunflowers are starting to wilt, I will dry out their heads and save the seeds to plant next year. (Corey Bullock file)

Now that the sunflowers are starting to wilt, I will dry out their heads and save the seeds to plant next year. (Corey Bullock file)

Farm life: Fall tasks on the farm

Winter is coming, it’s time to get ready

Ever year around Thanksgiving we begin the task of preparing for the inevitable: winter. There is much to do around the house and property when it comes to making sure we are all set for when the cold weather arrives and the slow flies.

I thought I would share with you some of the many things that are on my to-do list over the coming weeks.

One of our main priorities is ensuring we will have a constant heat source throughout the next six months. Our house has propane heat as well as a wood stove, so we get the propane tank filled and begin the task of chopping, splitting and stacking wood.

Last year we ended up doing several runs to the backcountry for fallen and standing dead trees for our firewood, but this year a client of E’s ended up giving him several cords of perfectly dried fir and larch. We now have a massive stack of wood to deal with, but at least it’s all on the farm, cut into rounds and ready to be dealt with.

I also make sure that we do a chimney sweep of our wood stove or at the very least burn a creosote log at the beginning of the burning season. It’s also a good idea to change the filter in the furnace before we start using it regularly.

Next on the list is making sure the garden is in good shape for spring. This past weekend we bought some amazing garlic from a local farmer in Wardner. We pulled all of our sensitive plants, like tomato and zucchini, tilled the soil and gave it some compost. We then filled the empty raised beds with five varieties of garlic which will be tucked under straw and ready to be enjoyed next summer.

I also have some cold hardy crops growing in our hoop houses (mini green houses) like kale, spinach, lettuce, carrots and radish. The rest of the garden will get tilled, a layer of compost and other nutrients will be added and when it comes time to plant next spring the soil will be in good shape.

As we continue to pull plants I like to take advantage of the seeds that are available to be saved. Two that I focused on this year are sunflower seeds and nasturtium seeds because they are easy to harvest and easy to grow. You can harvest them, let them dry out, store them and use them for planting next year. It’s a fairly simple process and with something like sunflowers you can at least double, if not triple your crop. Alternatively, you can save sunflower seeds and bake them for eating.

With the final harvests of the season I try to ensure we will have a steady supply of soups, sauces and preserves for the winter. So far I have shredded and frozen zucchini, frozen tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato soup, squash soup, pickled beets, pickled beans, frozen apples and apple pie filling, salsa, apple cider, frozen herbs in oil, pesto and vegetable stock. Did I miss anything?

Once the garden is in order I make sure that all of our garden tools and accoutrement are cleaned and stored for the winter. I organize our garden shed and make sure everything is protected from the snow and cold.

While I’m in the garden shed I might as well move on to the garage since they are side by side. I like to make sure our tools, fishing gear, camping gear and camper are winterized and organized. We may still need to use some of these things over the next few weeks and months, but I like to start the cold seasons knowing that everything has a place.

Around the house I’ll put some of our summer clothes away and pull out some of the winter gear. Shorts get folded into a bin under the bed and our gloves and toques once again have a prominent place in our front room. Things like warm fuzzy socks and wool sweaters also come out from hiding.

Something I like to do in the fall is make sure all of my boots are cleaned and polished. I’ve invested in a few really good pairs of boots and before they are exposed to all of the elements I want to make sure they are protected. A good pair of boots can last you years if you put the time and effort in to keep them in good shape.

I’m sure over the next few weeks I’ll find about 100 more things that need doing, but for now it’s a good start. These are some of the things we do every year before winter in preparation for “hibernation”.

This coming long weekend we plan on taking a bit of a break from the to-do list and heading out for a hunt. I plan on spending some quality time in nature and enjoying some delicious meals. Happy Thanksgiving!