Sunday, November 24, 2013

Homesteading with the Weather In Mind

     This week found us facing heavy rains and dropping temperatures. Weather like this finds us bundling up and hunkering down as the wind howls around us. Freezing weather, just like extreme heat, makes milking and gardening quite a challenge left only to the homesteader with deep convictions. The past few mornings have challenged my devotion as my fingers freeze and my plants wither.
      Whether laying out a garden or planning how many chickens to keep, considerations have to be made for extreme weather conditions. The garden needs to fit the season and be planted in time for a reasonable harvest before the weather shift occurs. Knowing my area's weather patterns helps me determine when and how to plant- but it never prepares me for the heartbreak that comes when those plants succumb to the elements. I tend to be a jump in feet first homesteader- planning big and building bigger. This means- I grieve the 80 tomatoes that withered in this summer's 117 degree day or froze in the first winter frost. It took me years to learn you can't fight nature, you have to work with it. These days I plant winter crops that will endure frosts and limit anything I will have to cover or loose- same goes for summer heat.
      Most adult animals are sturdy enough to handle a warm bed/windbreak with freedom to wander about during the sunny hours. Shady areas with plenty of water access relieves the stress during extremely hot days. Texas weather offers only rare occasion to need heat lamps or warming blankets with our goats/poultry. Breeding is worked around the extreme weather possibilities to ensure babies are old enough to regulate body temp and endure with minimal assistance.
       The lesson I have learned, the hard way, is to work within the reasonable limits of your capabilities and know the weather patterns for your area. It isn't reasonable to have more animals than my barn houses or larger crops than I can cover or water. Keeping in tune with the climate around me offers the best guidance to our homestead plans.