Homesteading in a harsh climate? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

This is my first time in the Countryside forum. It's thrilling for me to find other like-minded folks!! My husband and I plan to start our homestead in 2002 but we have a big dilemma, where? We like where we are at now, but are unsure if it's possible in this climate. We currently live in upstate NY in an area that gets heavy lake-effect snow. We've made great friends here and found a great church, and would like to stay, but need to feel sure that it will work. The garden/orchard is our biggest area of concern. Is anyone currently (or have you ever tried) homesteading in an area that has a HEAVY snowfall, cold temps, and STRONG wind? (The wind would be pretty much year round.) My husband and I would appreciate any info. or advice.

-- Kathie D. (, January 22, 2001


My advise is look around and see if anyone else is doing what you want to do, and go talk to them. Also talk to your county extension agent about the things you would like to do. If everyone moans and groans about how horrible it is to take care of livestock in deep snow and wind, maybe not for you. If they talk about having to re- plant their orchard because it all got blown down, ditto. There's nothing like others going before you to show you the way. These could also be the same folks to help you get started and not get discouraged if you decide to go for it. At there are several regional forums where you might find folks who could give you good advise. There is also a market garden forum for folks who grow for farmer's markets. They could really give you the low-down on gardening. I've never been east of Little Rock, so I'm a little uneducated about upstate NY

-- melina b. (, January 22, 2001.

sounds like Michigan,,LOL. remember, ,people homestead in all climates, just a matter of adapting

-- Stan (, January 22, 2001.

We're in the Southern Tier of New York, near Binghamton. We don't get the amount of snow that you do up north but we get quite a bit. I've always lived in Upstate NY so I don't know any better :) The snow doesn't faze either me or the animals. Our horses are out everyday and in at night during the winter. I just throw morning hay to them in the pasture. I don't usually blanket them but if the wind is strong I'll throw a turnout on my TB mare. We have a problem with the chicken waterers freezing so I don't have them out at night, they're emptied and put in the grain room overnight. The horses and goat water doesn't freeze- they're downstairs where I was able to insulate/winterize more thoughly. We have a steady, pretty constant winds here but nothing I'd call strong continuously--probably 10-15 miles per hour or so.

I guess it really depends on you. There are extra chores, and worries living in a harsher climate but if everything else is what you want you will adapt.

Where are you up North?

Stacy Rohan---> in Windsor, NY where it's 8 degrees!

-- Stacy Rohan (, January 22, 2001.

Upper Vermont here! Got about three feet of snow on the ground right now. This is normal. My apple trees come back every year. No problem so far. I don't have my animals yet, but several of my neighbors do, and they are all fine. One lady up the road keeps chickens in a small insulated coop and hasn't lost one yet to the elements. Remember people have been living with livestock and orchards in this part of the country since the 1700s, and they've always managed to make it through to spring. Only in about the last 50 years or so have we started to believe we can't live without electricity, and insulation, and that our climates must be mild. If you are happy with your surroundings then don't let the elements dissuade you. Good luck!

-- Julie (, January 22, 2001.

Well, Saskatchewan definitely meets those criteria!!! Just do what you can -- and dump the rest. Your local extension office should be able to tell you what flies in that area, and what doesn't. Lucky you to have an orchard -- we can pretty much grow crabapples and saskatoon berries here, and not much else!!!

Good luck!!

-- Tracy (, January 22, 2001.

Never lived anywhere but the deep south. If we get 4 inches of snow at one time its considered a blizzard. Anywhere you try homesteading you will find plus and minus. We will swap you some tornados for some of your snow. Weather is usually great here but then the sky turns black, it gets muggy and look out. We have had two tornados hit us in the past 14 years. In seconds it can wipe out everything. If you like it where you are thats a big plus. You may can't raise tropical plants outside year round. but we can't grow lots of plants that enjoy cooler growning seasons. Its always a trade off.

-- David (, January 22, 2001.

Thanks everyone for the advice, info and encouragement! For Stacy - we're in Lewis County - Tug Hill area! There is land for sale here that we're checking into buying this spring. We will definitely do some research with our local extension office! We did speak to a few would-be neighbors - a plant worker and a dairy farmer - and they said "why would you want to settle here"?! Not very encouraging, but then again they don't choose to homestead. It is encouraging to know there are some homesteaders out there with 3 ft of snow on the ground that are still making it work! If we get cold feet on this area we do have a back-up plan for SC KY/N TN area but we are tired of moving (thanks to Uncle Sam) and are ready to stay put!

-- Kathie D. (, January 23, 2001.

I live under a wind farm in NE Wisconsin. Ill answer what I know if you have a specific question...

-- William in WI (, January 23, 2001.

I was just thinking that this place would be ideal for off-grid electricity via windmills or turbans. Planting several rows of windbreak trees would seriously alter the microclimate around your house and land, perhaps enabling you to grow varieties of plants not generally do-able in that area.

-- Soni (, January 23, 2001.

I have an aunt and uncle who lived in Canada, He told me they feed the cows fish over the winter, yeah, fish from the rivers, catch 'em freeze 'em on the ground, chop 'em up, feed 'em to the cows.Goes to show you can make it any where you are determined to do so. The hard winter stories made me remember.

-- Thumper (, January 24, 2001.

Hey Kathie,

Tug Hill is the snow capital of NY State! It sure is pretty up there tho.

Livestock care in the winter is a little harder but not bad. Horses, goats, cows, and sheep need more hay to keep their body temperature up. Poultry needs additional grain and added light to lay well, but all in all I don't mind it at all. The summers are long and warm enough to grow wonderful pasture and hay. The gardens do well with some careful planning. Even with the cold winter were having we've been warm and toasty just heating with an old woodstove. I do believe I'd invest in a good 4 wheel drive vehicle.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me.

Stacy Rohan

-- Stacy Rohan (, January 24, 2001.

SC KY AND TN are great! I could never live up there in that cold. Land is reasonable here and in TN. I've been searching on the net in both places. We're selling this farm and getting 20 or so acres of woods for a sawmill operation. Haven't deceided on Ky or TN just yet. I would like to go even further south if I had my way. Nashville area (within commute) sounds good, lots of jobs. Even this little bit of snow is too much for me.

Kathie D, come on down!

-- Cindy in Ky (, January 24, 2001.

Hey Kathie and Cindy, come on down! Tennessee would be proud to have you all. Although Ky. is my birth State, so I have a real soft place in my heart for the State! :) I'm originally from southeastern Ky., and hubby liked Tennessee better. Bigger mountains, I guess. Cindy, we got a dusting of the snow Saturday with a little more in the mountains, but it's all gone now. Doesn't hang around too long here. We live in the country and have no zoning laws, local people are so nice here, no state tax and we still get all 4 seasons, but the spring and fall are longer than other places. Great for gardening! Don't know much about west Tenn., Ken can help you with that area, but imagine it's just as nice.

-- Annie (, January 24, 2001.

Thumper -- I have lived in Canada for more than thirty years -- spent several of those working for the Canadian Cattlemens Association, and have NEVER heard of cattle producers feeding fish to the cattle in the winter. I think your uncle is either pretty ingenius, or pulling your leg.

-- Tracy (, January 24, 2001.

Tracy, I must admit I have never recovered from how odd it sounded, LOL-Thumper

-- Thumper (, January 26, 2001.

Hey Annie, where in TN do you live? What county. I can search on some good sites on the net. There is even a site with Topographical maps that is cool. I can see my house on it! I think it is Topozone. I would like to be where it is warmer and no zoning laws.

-- Cindy in Ky (, January 26, 2001.

I am in upstate as well. We have only been doing it a short time (4 years) but it's working out fine. I am not thrilled with the long winters but I love where I am regardless. I never put water out for my chickens once there is snow on the ground. They eat the snow and I don't get any less egg production either!! I saw plans for an insulated bucket for watering other animals that I still haven't tried yet but it sounds plausible. Good Luck. It's a great life.

-- Evelyn B. in NY (, January 27, 2001.

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