So, it’s January 2nd of the new year and I’m sitting here looking at a long involved ‘To Do’ list. It details all the steps required to build the farm-based business for the year ahead while also putting the passing year to bed. You know, things like taxes and budgets, rebuilding the crop rotation plan, microgreen maintenance, and managing the winter farm shares.
The hardest part is the darkness. I’m an early-riser. I’ve been up since 5am, it is now 5 to 7 and STILL no sign of sunlight out my office window. On the back side of the day, it still gets dark around 4:30. We can close up the chicken coop by 6pm and settle in for a long evening of…what exactly? If you’re an outdoor worker and there is this much cold and darkness, filling the hours productively can be a bit of a challenge.
So, here’s my recommendation for making it to President’s Day if you’ve chosen a homesteading life!
Read and Write
Sounds obvious, right?
Sure, go ahead and fill some days with reading that won’t tax your weary mind in December. Guilty pleasures like the J.D. Robb series of futuristic-suspense novels, or one of these 10 Pulp Novels listed as noteworthy by Mashable.
Then, get down to it. You want to know things, and you actually do know things. Take the down time and go deeper into your interest by reading and writing. This year, I’ve signed up for a genealogy course as a complement to studying micro-farming techniques and four-season farming guides. In past years I’ve taken basic online Spanish language courses, studied Irish-American history, and tried to teach myself the tin whistle (didn’t go so well…).
I think the key here is focus. Instead of going a mile wide and an inch deep into a scatter shot of topics, go an inch wide and a mile deep…then, write about it! Write in your journal, in a Facebook note, on your website if you have one. There’s nothing like consolidating new learning like writing about it.
After working so hard with my body from March through November, it is tempting to sit from December through February. My recommendation: DON’T DO IT! Not only is it just bad for the body, it’s bad for the heart and mind, too. I think depression of the spirit is linked to that depression your butt makes in your favorite chair.
I always get new sneakers in December and I walk, walk, walk. Last year I got myself a new, snazzy camera, too. So, now I have a quiet companion on my walks to help break the monotony. I have also taken out a 3-month membership at the local gym in winters past. The problem with a gym membership is the drive to get there. Seems like such a waste to me, so now I use that time being active longer by just walking. We homesteaders live in some pretty breath-taking environments. Go enjoy them!
Be Alone and Quiet with Intention
Meditation? Contemplation? Yes, do them.
Not sure how to start building the capacity to enjoy your own company or exploring your interior life? Youtube is an amazing and free resource to start a daily practice in peaceful, quiet, solitude. My favorites are:
· The Soundstrue channel. This is a catch-all of various personal practices that can help you explore until you find a routine that meets your personal preferences.
· The Headspace channel. Explore basic meditation techniques without springing for their paid membership.
· The Joseph Campbell Foundation channel. Here you can explore the Power of Myth with the master himself!
· And, finally, music…I prefer the work of R. Carlos Nakai, but search anything from classical to new age and you’ll find something that meets your need.
This is my 8th winter on our homestead in Harpers Ferry, WV. Since 2009 I have been teaching myself food preservation techniques that help me get the most out of our seasonal harvests. Basic hot water bath canning, fermentation, basic kitchen techniques…do these things while you have the time. You’ll never have the time to teach yourself new skills while working a 12 or 15 hour day in your market garden. Check out this list of books to get you stated!
Let’s Stay Connected!
Thanks for visiting this blog! Let’s stay connected by any or all of these links! Also, leave a comment or email me at stonyridgefarmwv (at) gmail (dot) com to spin a conversational thread about any topic here, or additional recommendations you might have.
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So, see you around and Happy New Year!