Homesteading in the North | The Perks of Living through the Cold

Hi Friends, lately I have been hearing a number of people mention how they couldn’t handle living in the North or having such a short growing season. Being a transplant to NY in the winter of 2014, all the way from sunny and warm Southern California, I bring this perspective from my experiences living in the Northeast in comparison to my life on the other side of the country.

Of course there are some cons to having a farm or homestead in a northern region like New York, BUT there are also some really great perks, and I wanted to shed light on that in this blog post. While there may be a list of cons, this post is not going to focus on those, it’s going to focus on three major pros, for us, and likely for you too!

Here is why I LOVE having a farm in Upstate NY:

1. Our growing season is incredibly productive

While it may be shorter than in many other regions, our mild summers mean we can grow A TON of different produce! In addition, the frost and cold winters keep the pests at bay, so there aren’t quite as many pests to deal with year round. It gives your land and animals a break to refresh and start anew. We can grow most crops annually, and some perennial crops, like apples and cherries, not only thrive due to winter frost, but in many cases, actually need a frost. As we garden here in NY, I continue to learn about new crops we can grow here. Did you know there is a hardy almond that you can grow in the Finger Lakes region? It is also a great region to grow hazelnuts!

The growing season may only be half of the year, but what you CAN grow in that 6-7 month period is truly impressive.

2. We (often) have a LONG break from the mud!

Who likes mud?! Seriously, I’ve never come across anyone who actually likes mud, although I’m sure those crazy people exist somewhere. Not only do we dislike the mud, but so do the animals. It leads to higher pests, more bacteria, and difficulty keeping hoofed animals, like horses and goats, from developing rot and abscesses. While we do struggle with mud in the spring and fall especially, the middle of winter often offers a nice, long break from the mud. As the ground freezes, so does all that nasty mud. This winter thus far has been an exception. We have had a lot of days above 30 degrees, and even into the 40s. Hopefully February and March will bring some freezing temps with them so we can enjoy our mud break. If you truly want a break from the mud every year without a doubt, I’m sure Vermont, Maine, or New Hampshire can offer you that.

3. You learn to appreciate the unexpected warmth and sunshine

Here in the Upstate NY region, due to our position next to Lake Ontario, we often experience a lot of cloudiness in the winter. Of course, it can be a major bummer. BUT, with every con, comes an associated pro. The upside of lots of cloudy days is you really learn to appreciate the sunshine. It’s like an unexpected present. I can’t even describe the happiness it brings me to wake up to a snow covered farm AND it is sunny out! The animals love it too, they often get really spunky when the sun comes out, and enjoy playing in the snow.

Not only do you appreciate a rare sunny day in the middle of winter, but you also learn to embrace seasonal living, and get excited for each new season to arrive. When I lived in California, I never lived seasonally. I only really thought of the year in terms of Holidays or birthdays. Now, I think of the year in terms of winter, spring, summer, and fall, looking forward to what each season offers us.

What are the reasons YOU love living, farming, or homesteading in the Northeast? There are so many more I could share, but I want to hear from you now. Comment below and let me know.

That’s all for now friends.

All my best,

Jenn

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