Winter Harvest on the Farm

Fresh food doesn’t get better than locally grown and in season

When my family and I first moved out to a little rural town near the far northern border of California, a driving motivation was to live as close to the land as possible and grow lots of food to the point where eventually we would not need to go to the store for groceries.  

Nine years later, and we are closer than ever to reaching that goal. 

The main staple we still go to the store for is dairy products. That is only because of a major setback we had in 2020 when a wildland fire incinerated all of the essential infrastructure we had for dairy cows. Before that happened, I was milking cows and making fresh cheese, yogurt, butter and never had to go to the store for creamer. 

‘The Girls’ Vesta & Pomona

We’ll get back to caring for Jersey cows again but for now, we are still rebounding. 

After the fire we had to replace all of the irrigation, install a new water tank and repair our well pump, but still managed to plant our farm on time in the spring. Despite a bit of a water crisis in the heat of summer, the farm produced enough to bring to the market and plenty for preservation.

Our livestock fortunately survived the ordeal and have now filled our freezer eliminating the need to purchase meat (all the vegans gasp right here). In the fall, my husband built me a little chicken coop just big enough for 6 chickens. That’s all I need if I’m not selling at the market.

6 eggs a day is more than enough…for now. 

So the amino acids portion of our diet spectrum is nearly covered…for now.

This year I’d like to start raising rabbits and I definitely will write regular updates on that process. 

I still need to go to the store for some things but mostly I try to buy major staples such as seasonings, oil and vinegar, grains and legumes, and non-food consumables in bulk from an online store. If you live in the states, I highly recommend Azure Standard. They are family owned and source high quality food and household supplies. You make an order and pick it up at a specified drop location where it comes right off the truck. Great!

In order to achieve my original goal of staying out of the grocery store, I have had to make lots of changes in the seasonality of my diet. Which makes sense, if you really think about it.

Do you really need to be eating fresh tropical fruits if you live in the northern hemisphere?

Bananas I could live without, but I’m having a hard time without avocados! 

…and that is why I’m not a total puritan. I still buy some imports such as chocolate and coffee, and when it feels right, I go for avocados and frozen blueberries. That being said, I’m about to scrutinize your shopping cart for a minute, please don’t be offended. 

I may even be preaching to the choir here, but we all are looking at this idea of making positive healthy lifestyle changes from a different perspective.

So here we go…

How much of the food in your shopping cart is processed and ready to eat from the package? I’m talking about frozen ready to microwave, in a box with a seasoning packet, direct consumption snack items like chips, energy bars, cookies and cheese puffs. You know what I’m talking about, and you know it’s not real food.

Do you read the ingredients label on food products? 

You’ll notice that most of the above-mentioned so-called foods are originating from a laboratory. I would consider eliminating anything from your diet that contains harmful additives. If you are unaware of all the toxic shit that is FDA approved, then that is something of great importance to your health to educate yourself about. I will write an entire article dedicated to the subject, but for now here are a few common ingredients that are known to be carcinogenic. 

Sodium Benzoate



High Fructose Corn Syrup 

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Back to looking at your shopping cart…

Are there any fresh vegetables or fruits in there?

What part of the world did they come from?

Are they in season where you live? 

My goal is to eat mostly fresh foods that are seasonally available in my particular neighborhood, specifically my own garden. The next best source would be from other local farmers in my town, county, state and country. If I am buying items from the store, I read the label to find out the food’s origin. The closer to home, the better. Although there are of course items only available from non-local regions. I also will look to get the best quality that I can. I see it as paying a little extra and the money goes into your overall ‘healthcare’ expense. 

At the end of the day, I do the best I can and that means sometimes the cart has some stuff in there that I would not advocate for on every trip. Also, as a side note, I do not enforce my regiment upon family members. My husband enjoys whatever he wants while respecting what I think about it and my daughter will on occasion have her way with a bag of not as terribly bad for you ‘Barbara’s Cheese Puffs’. Hey, we’ll meet in the middle.

Besides, that’s way too much work to try and control another person!

Set the example and eventually teenagers grow into adults, and they actually remember what you always said and start to recognize the truth of it! For small children, well, they are not given much of a choice. But as they grow towards maturity it’s important to let them start to make their own decisions. Believe me, I cringe when my 21-year-old calls me while he’s in the drive through, but I know he is aware of the poor quality of food choice, and he tries to eat better most of the time. 

Instead of policing my family’s eating habits, I prepare homemade meals where I know that they are getting an abundance of nourishment. Not only from the quality of ingredients but because I made the food with great care for my loved ones.

During the winter it can be challenging to get enough fresh produce in the diet. One of our main future goals for homesteading is definitely focused on food preservation, including building a root cellar. This year we stored the winter squash in a small travel trailer and so far, it has done well. 

We have had a mild winter so far with only minor snow events that accumulated up to four feet in some areas on the field. The cauliflower was preserved well until a significant freeze and snow melt, but the cabbage had no damage at all. The kale however has been eaten to the stalk by a mysterious intruder, probably a sneaky deer gaging by the amount of devastation. I guess we’re not the only hungry ones eating from the garden! 

Chard and parsley on the other hand, was left completely untouched and is producing lots of fresh greens. The carrots are perfectly good exactly where they are in the ground, and we’ve been digging them up as needed. I also planted brussels sprouts last fall, but they are still small and not ready for harvest. 

Something I’m really looking forward to is the early spring purple sprouting broccoli. We’ll see how it turns out; the snow did some damage. Next year I might have to stake them up.

Not too bad for the middle of January! It’s a work in progress.

I’m a big fan of perennials such as artichokes and asparagus, they require minimal maintenance and only one planting. Also, berries and fruit trees are always a good idea to establish on any homestead. 

Every year is an opportunity to try something different and improve your methods. 
Every year there are going to be exceedingly thriving crops and those that just never made it. 

For me, farming and gardening has been a massive learning experience that requires a lot of dedication and resilience. Also, a good helping of down and dirty exertion. 

It’s all worth it though, I am totally hooked for life! 

Here is a short video walking through the farm when all the crops are covered in snow and after the snow melts to see what food is still edible at this time of year. Check it out! 

Best of luck and may the forces of nature guide you this year in all your gardening endeavors!

Stay in touch, I’ll be updating you as the seasons progress.


It’s almost time to plant for early spring! Do you have a gardening calendar yet?

Check out my Amazon Author page where you will find all of my published books, including gardening calendars, journals, notebooks and holistic self-care planners.

Some of these books are dated for 2022 and others are left blank for you to fill out anytime.

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