December Homesteading Chores by USDA Zone

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December Homesteading Chores

 

From the blustery northern states to the sunny south, there are always chores to do on a modern homestead. Livestock will need food, water, and care on a daily basis, but many chores will depend on the season and your climate.

These chores are intended as a general guideline. Most homesteaders will need to adjust their activities according to their local climate and conditions. In the extreme northern areas, many homesteading activities may not be possible or advisable.

For information tailored to your area, consult your local  extension office.

 

December Homesteading Chores

December Homesteading Chores by USDA Zone

No matter what zone you live in, you can feed the birds, grow food indoors, and make your own gifts for the holidays in December!

This post contains affiliate links.

 

USDA Zone 1

Homesteaders in Zone 1 will have few daylight hours for outdoor activities in December. Extreme conditions should be expected.  Livestock will need a draft free barn with plenty of bedding and extra attention to keep them healthy. The extra care and feed necessary for livestock may negate the benefits of keeping them. Chickens, with their small body size and susceptibility to frostbite, won’t survive without proper housing and a heat source. Consider keeping a heavy breed of duck as they have more body fat. Homesteading activities may include raising sprouts and microgreens indoors under lights, repairing and maintaining tools, home cooking, curing meats, crafts and creating homemade gifts, tanning hides, woodworking, trapping, hunting, and splitting firewood.

Average low temperatures:
  • -60 to -55F in zone 1a
  • -55 to -50F in zone 1b
Average Frost Free Dates:
  • Average last frost in spring – June 15th
  • Average first frost in fall – July 15th

Barn Chores

  • Keep livestock well fed and protected from wind and cold
  • Check for signs of hypothermia and frostbite on livestock
  • Water should be kept ice free with proper heaters
  • Make sure barn is ventilated (but draft free) to prevent disease
  • Give poultry corn or sunflower seed for extra calories
  • Poultry may lay eggs with 14 hours of artificial light a day in their coop
  • Gather eggs often to prevent freezing
  • Keep bedding clean and dry
  • Assess feed supplies to ensure they will last through winter
  • Butcher or sell excess livestock

Garden Chores

  • Order gardening catalogs
  • Plan garden beds (be sure to rotate crops)
  • Clean and oil tools if you haven’t already
  • Grow sprouts, microgreens, herbs and houseplants under lights indoors
  • Check houseplants for scale and mites, treat if necessary
  • Transplant houseplants to larger pots
  • Houseplants do not need fertilizer until daylight hours increase
  • Check vegetables in root cellar and use up any with bad spots (or feed to livestock)


December Homesteading Chores

USDA Zone 2

Homesteaders in Zone 2 will have few daylight hours for outdoor activities in December. Extreme weather conditions are likely. Livestock will need a draft free barn with plenty of bedding and extra attention to keep them healthy. Chickens, with their small body size and susceptibility to frostbite, may not survive well in this zone without supplemental heat. Consider keeping a heavy breed of duck instead, as they have more body fat. Homesteading activities may include raising sprouts and microgreens indoors under lights, repairing and maintaining tools, home cooking, crafts and creating homemade gifts, tanning hides, woodworking, butchering extra livestock, trapping, hunting, ice fishing and splitting firewood.

Average Low Temperatures:
  • -50 to -45F in zone 2a
  • -45 to -30F in zone 2b
Average Frost Free Dates:
  • Average last frost in spring – May 15th
  • Average first frost in fall – August 15th

Barn Chores

  • Keep livestock well fed and protected from wind and cold
  • Check for signs of hypothermia and frostbite on livestock
  • Water should be kept ice free with proper heaters
  • Make sure barn is ventilated (but draft free) to prevent disease
  • Give poultry corn or sunflower seed for extra calories
  • Poultry may lay eggs with 14 hours of artificial light a day in their coop
  • Gather eggs often to prevent freezing
  • Keep bedding clean and dry
  • Assess feed supplies to ensure they will last through winter
  • Butcher or sell excess livestock

Garden Chores

  • Order gardening catalogs
  • Plan garden beds (be sure to rotate crops)
  • Protect fruit bearing trees and shrubs from damage from wildlife
  • Clean and oil tools if you haven’t already
  • Grow sprouts, microgreens, herbs and houseplants under lights indoors
  • Check houseplants for scale and mites, treat if necessary
  • Transplant houseplants to larger pots
  • Houseplants do not need fertilizer until daylight hours increase
  • Check vegetables in root cellar and use up any with bad spots (or feed to livestock)


December Homesteading Chores

USDA Zone 3

Homesteaders in Zone 3 will have fewer daylight hours for outdoor activities in December. Extreme conditions are likely.  Livestock will need a draft free barn with plenty of bedding to keep them healthy. Consider keeping cold tolerant chickens, such as Buckeyes, or a heavy breed of duck, as they are more adapted to cold climates. Homesteading activities may include growing frost tolerant vegetables in cold frames, raising sprouts and microgreens indoors under lights, repairing and maintaining tools, home cooking, crafts and creating homemade gifts, tanning hides, woodworking, butchering extra livestock, fishing, trapping, hunting, and splitting firewood.

Average Low Temperatures:
  • -40 to -35F in zone 3a
  • -35 to -30F in zone 3b
Average Frost Free Dates:
  • Average last frost in spring – May 15th
  • Average first frost in fall – September 15th

Barn Chores

  • Keep livestock well fed and protected from wind and cold
  • Check for signs of hypothermia and frostbite on livestock
  • Water should be kept ice free with proper heaters
  • Make sure barn is ventilated (but draft free) to prevent disease
  • Give poultry corn or sunflower seed in evening to keep them warm
  • Poultry may lay eggs with 14 hours of artificial light a day in their coop
  • Gather eggs often to prevent freezing
  • Keep bedding clean and dry
  • Check fence lines for needed repairs and signs of predators
  • Assess feed supplies to ensure they will last through winter
  • Butcher or sell excess livestock

Garden Chores

  • Order gardening catalogs
  • Plan garden beds (be sure to rotate crops)
  • Check fruit bearing trees and shrubs for damage from wildlife
  • Clean and oil tools if you haven’t already
  • Grow sprouts, microgreens, herbs and houseplants under lights indoors
  • Check houseplants for scale and mites, treat if necessary
  • Transplant houseplants to larger pots
  • Houseplants do not need fertilizer until daylight hours increase
  • Check vegetables in root cellar and use or compost any with bad spots



December Homesteading Chores

USDA Zone 4

Homesteaders in Zone 4 will have fewer daylight hours for outdoor activities in December. Winter conditions are possible, especially late in the month.  Small livestock will need a draft free barn with plenty of bedding to keep them warm at night. Allow livestock out on pasture during daytime. Consider keeping cold tolerant chickens, such as Buckeyes, or a heavy breed of duck, as they are more adapted to cold climates. Homesteading activities may include harvesting cold tolerant vegetables from cold frames, raising sprouts and microgreens indoors under lights, repairing and maintaining tools, home cooking, crafts and creating homemade gifts, tanning hides, woodworking, butchering extra livestock, trapping, fishing, hunting, and splitting firewood.

Average Low Temperatures:
  • -30 to -25F in zone 4a
  • -25 to -20F in zone 4b
Average Frost Free Dates:
  • Average last frost in spring – May 15th
  • Average first frost in fall – September 15th

Barn Chores

  • Keep livestock well fed and protected from wind and cold
  • Check for signs of hypothermia and frostbite on livestock
  • Water should be kept ice free with proper heaters
  • Make sure barn is ventilated (but draft free) to prevent disease
  • Give poultry corn or sunflower seed in evening to keep them warm
  • Poultry may lay eggs with 14 hours of artificial light a day in their coop
  • Gather eggs often to prevent freezing
  • Keep bedding clean and dry
  • Check fence lines for needed repairs and signs of predators
  • Assess feed supplies to ensure they will last through winter
  • Butcher or sell excess livestock

Garden Chores

  • Order gardening catalogs
  • Plan garden beds (be sure to rotate crops)
  • Harvest the last of the cold hardy greens such as kale, Brussels sprouts, and collards if you haven’t already
  • Grow cold hardy greens in cold frames
  • Protect fruit bearing trees and shrubs from damage from wildlife if you haven’t already
  • Clean and oil tools if you haven’t already
  • Grow sprouts, microgreens, herbs and houseplants under lights indoors
  • Check houseplants for scale and mites, treat if necessary
  • Transplant houseplants to larger pots
  • Houseplants do not need fertilizer until daylight hours increase
  • Check vegetables in root cellar and use up any with bad spots (or feed to livestock)

 

 


 

December Homesteading Chores

USDA Zone 5

Homesteaders in Zone 5 will have fewer daylight hours for outdoor activities in December. Winter conditions are likely.  Small livestock will need a draft free barn with plenty of bedding to keep them warm at night. Allow livestock out on pasture during daytime. Consider keeping cold tolerant chickens, such as Buckeyes, or a heavy breed of duck, as they are more adapted to cold climates. Homesteading activities may include growing cold hardy vegetables in cold frames, raising sprouts and microgreens indoors under lights, repairing and maintaining tools, home cooking, crafts and creating homemade gifts, tanning hides, woodworking, butchering extra livestock, fishing, trapping, hunting, and splitting firewood.

Average Low Temperatures:
  • -20 to -15F in zone 5a
  • -15 to -10F in zone 5b
Average Frost Free Dates:
  • Average last frost in spring – April 15th
  • Average first frost in fall – October 15th

Barn Chores

  • Keep livestock well fed and protected from wind and cold at night
  • Check for signs of frostbite on chicken combs, wattles, and feet
  • Water should be kept ice free with proper heaters
  • Make sure barn is ventilated (but draft free) to prevent disease
  • Give poultry corn or sunflower seed in evening to keep them warm
  • Poultry may lay eggs with 14 hours of artificial light a day in their coop
  • Gather eggs often to prevent freezing
  • Keep bedding clean and dry
  • Check fence lines for needed repairs and signs of predators
  • Assess feed supplies to ensure they will last through winter
  • Butcher or sell excess livestock

Garden Chores

  • Order gardening catalogs
  • Plan garden beds (be sure to rotate crops)
  • Harvest cold hardy greens such as kale, Brussels sprouts, and collards
  • Grow cold hardy greens in cold frames to extend season
  • Protect fruit bearing trees and shrubs from damage from wildlife if you haven’t already
  • Clean and oil tools if you haven’t already
  • Make sure hoses are disconnected and stored indoors
  • Grow sprouts, microgreens, herbs and houseplants under lights indoors
  • Check houseplants for scale and mites, treat if necessary
  • Transplant houseplants to larger pots
  • Houseplants do not need fertilizer until daylight hours increase
  • Check vegetables in root cellar and use up any with bad spots (or feed to livestock)

 

 


 

December Homesteading Chores

 

USDA Zone 6

Homesteaders in Zone 6 will have fewer daylight hours for outdoor activities in December. Winter conditions are likely later in the month.  Small livestock will need a draft free barn and clean bedding to keep them warm at night. Allow livestock out on pasture during daytime. Clean barn and chicken coop in preparation for winter. Homesteading activities may include growing cold hardy vegetables in cold frames, raising sprouts and microgreens indoors under lights, repairing and maintaining tools, home cooking, crafts and creating homemade gifts, tanning hides, woodworking, butchering extra livestock, fishing, hunting, splitting firewood, and finishing yard and garden clean up.

Average Low Temperatures:
  • -10 to -5F in zone 6a
  • -55 to 0F in zone 6b
Average Frost Free Dates:
  • Average last frost in spring – April 15th
  • Average first frost in fall – October 15th

Barn Chores

  • Protect livestock from wind and cold
  • Water should be kept ice free with proper heaters
  • Make sure barn is ventilated (but draft free) to prevent disease
  • Give poultry corn or sunflower seed in evening to keep them warm
  • Poultry may lay eggs with 14 hours of artificial light a day in their coop
  • Gather eggs often when temperatures drop
  • Keep bedding clean and dry
  • Check fence lines for needed repairs and signs of predators
  • Assess feed supplies to ensure they will last through winter
  • Butcher or sell excess livestock

Garden Chores

  • Order gardening catalogs
  • Plan garden beds (be sure to rotate crops)
  • Tend and harvest cold hardy greens such as kale, Brussels sprouts, and collards
  • Grow cold hardy greens in cold frames to extend season
  • Harvest root vegetables and store in root cellar if you haven’t already
  • Clean garden beds and prepare soil for spring if you haven’t already
  • Protect fruit bearing trees and shrubs from damage from wildlife
  • Clean and oil tools to prevent rust over winter
  • Make sure hoses are disconnected and stored indoors
  • Grow sprouts, microgreens, herbs and houseplants under lights indoors
  • Check houseplants for scale and mites, treat if necessary
  • Transplant houseplants to larger pots
  • Houseplants do not need fertilizer until daylight hours increase



 

USDA Zone 7

Homesteaders in Zone 7 will have reduced daylight hours for outdoor activities in December. Inclement weather conditions are likely.  Small livestock will need a draft free barn at night. Allow livestock out on pasture during day. Clean out barn and chicken coop in preparation for winter.  Homesteading activities may include harvesting and preserving the end of their fall produce, growing cold hardy vegetables in cold frames, raising sprouts and microgreens indoors under lights, repairing and maintaining tools, home cooking, crafts and creating homemade gifts, tanning hides, woodworking, butchering extra livestock, fishing, hunting, splitting firewood, and finishing yard and garden clean up.

Average Low Temperatures:
  • 0 to 5F in zone 7a
  • 5 to 10F in zone 7b
Average Frost Free Dates:
  • Average last frost in spring – April 15th
  • Average first frost in fall – October 15th

Barn Chores

  • Make sure barn is ventilated
  • Poultry may lay eggs with 14 hours of artificial light a day in their coop
  • Keep bedding clean and dry
  • Check fencing for needed repairs and signs of predators
  • Assess feed supplies to ensure they will last through winter
  • Grow kale, collards and other cool season crops for livestock fodder
  • Butcher or sell excess livestock

Garden Chores

  • Order gardening catalogs
  • Plan garden beds (be sure to rotate crops)
  • Tend and harvest cold hardy greens such as kale, Brussels sprouts, and collards
  • Grow cold hardy greens in cold frame to extend season
  • Dig root vegetables and store in root cellar if you haven’t already
  • Clean garden beds and prepare soil for spring if you haven’t already
  • Plant evergreens and water until ground freezes
  • Protect fruit bearing trees and shrubs from damage from wildlife
  • Clean and oil tools if you haven’t already
  • Grow sprouts, microgreens, herbs and houseplants under lights indoors
  • Check houseplants for scale and mites, treat if necessary
  • Transplant houseplants to larger pots
  • Houseplants do not need fertilizer until daylight hours increase



December Homesteading Chores

 

USDA Zone 8

Homesteaders in Zone 8 will have reduced daylight hours for outdoor activities in December. Inclement weather conditions are likely.  Allow livestock out on pasture. Clean out barn and chicken coop in preparation for winter.  Homesteading activities may include growing cold hardy vegetables, harvesting and preserving fall produce, raising sprouts and microgreens indoors under lights, repairing and maintaining tools, home cooking, crafts and creating homemade gifts, tanning hides, woodworking, butchering extra livestock, fishing, hunting, splitting firewood, yard and garden clean up.

Average Low Temperatures:
  • 10 to 15F in zone 8a
  • 15 to 20F in zone 8b
Average Frost Free Dates:
  • Average last frost in spring – March 15th
  • Average first frost in fall – November 15th

Barn Chores

  • Pasture livestock in good weather
  • Make sure barn is ventilated
  • Give poultry corn or sunflower seed in evening to help them stay warm
  • Poultry may lay eggs with 14 hours of artificial light a day in their coop
  • Keep bedding clean and dry
  • Repair fencing and check for signs of predators
  • Grow kale, collards and other cool season crops for livestock fodder
  • Assess feed supplies to ensure they will last through winter
  • Butcher or sell excess livestock

Garden Chores

  • Harvest cool season vegetables and preserve for winter
  • Clean garden beds and prepare for spring
  • Tend cool season vegetables in cold frames
  • Use cold frames or floating row covers to protect warm season vegetables
  • Dig root vegetables and store in root cellar
  • Clean, sharpen, and oil gardening tools
  • Finish planting dormant fruit trees, shrubs, and hardy perennials
  • Plant evergreens until ground freezes
  • Finish dividing and transplanting hardy perennials
  • Grow herbs and houseplants in sunny windows



December Homesteading Chores

USDA Zone 9

Homesteaders in zone 9 will have reduced daylight hours. Cold weather is likely this month. Warm season vegetables may be grown with protection from cold weather. Planting cool weather vegetables will provide greens over winter. Livestock may need protection in inclement weather. Homesteading activities may include harvesting and preserving, crafts and making homemade gifts, foraging for wild foods, fishing, hunting, gardening, tending citrus trees, yard and garden clean up.

Average Low Temperatures:
  • 20 to 25F in zone 9a
  • 25 to 30F in zone 9b
Average Frost Free Dates:
  • Average last frost in spring – February 15th
  • Average first frost in fall – December 15th

Barn Chores

  • Pasture livestock, protect from inclement weather
  • Make sure barn is ventilated
  • Give poultry small amounts of corn or sunflower seed in evening if weather is cold
  • Poultry may lay eggs with 14 hours of light a day
  • Gather eggs often if temperatures drop
  • Keep bedding clean and dry
  • Repair fencing and check for signs of predators
  • Assess feed supplies to ensure they will last through winter
  • Grow kale, collards and other cool season crops for livestock fodder
  • Butcher or sell excess livestock

Garden Chores

  • Prepare garden beds and direct seed successive crops of cool season veggies
  • Protect warm season vegetables when temperatures drop
  • Harvest and preserve vegetables
  • Plant fruit trees, shrubs, and hardy perennials
  • Divide perennials
  • Water citrus trees during dry spells, protect from frost
  • Clean, sharpen, and oil gardening tools
  • Bring tender potted plants indoors when temps drop
  • Harvest root vegetables for fresh use


December Homesteading Chores

 

USDA Zone 10

Homesteaders living in zone 10 may grow cool season crops all winter for fresh greens. Warm season crops may continue to produce with protection in cold weather. Some citrus fruits may be ready to harvest. Watch for signs of pests and disease on crops. Homesteading activities may include harvesting and preserving produce, crafts and making homemade gifts, foraging for wild foods, fishing, hunting, gardening, yard and garden clean up.

Average Low Temperatures:
  • 30 to 35F in zone 10a
  • 35 to 40F in zone 10b
Average Frost Free Dates:
  • Average last frost in spring – January 31st
  • Average first frost in fall – December 15th

Barn Chores

  • Pasture livestock
  • Make sure barn is ventilated
  • Poultry may lay eggs with 14 hours of light a day
  • Keep bedding clean and dry
  • Repair fencing and check for signs of predators
  • Grow kale, collards and other cool season crops for livestock fodder
  • Finish off livestock for butchering in cooler weather

Garden Chores

  • Prepare garden beds and plant successive crops of cool season vegetables
  • Protect warm season crops from cold snaps
  • Clean up beds as warm season crops are harvested
  • Water citrus in drought
  • Harvest citrus fruits when ripe
  • Plant cover crops
  • Clean and sharpen gardening tools
  • Grow herbs and houseplants on sunny decks, bring inside during cold snaps
  • Cut back on fertilizer for houseplants
  • Harvest root vegetables for fresh use


December Homesteading Chores

USDA Zone 11

Homesteaders in zone 11 are able to grow heat loving tropical plants year round. Cool season crops may be harvested and direct seeded in areas that remain cool, such as in shady beds. Some citrus fruits will be ready to harvest. Plant trees, shrubs and perennials, divide plants and keep watered.  Homesteading activities may include harvesting and preserving produce, crafts and creating homemade gifts, foraging for wild foods, fishing, hunting, gardening, yard and garden clean up.

Average Low Temperatures:
  • 40 to 45F for zone 11a
  • 45 to 50F for zone 11b
Average Frost Free Dates:
  • No frost

 

Barn Chores

  • Pasture livestock
  • Make sure barn is ventilated
  • Keep bedding clean and dry
  • Repair fencing and check for signs of predators
  • Plant cover crops
  • Grow kale, collards and other cool season crops for livestock fodder
  • Butcher livestock during cool months

Garden Chores

  • Prepare garden beds and plant successive crops of cool season vegetables
  • Tend and harvest warm season vegetables
  • Start transplants of warm season vegetables for spring
  • Plant trees, shrubs, and perennials
  • Divide and transplant perennials
  • Water citrus fruit during drought
  • Weed garden beds
  • Grow herbs and houseplants on patios, protect from cold snaps
  • Harvest citrus fruits


Notes: Within each USDA Zone, there are many different micro-climates and variations in frost free dates, average low temperatures, and average high temperatures. Visit the Interactive USDA Zone Map for the most accurate information about your local conditions.
The information listed here is intended to give a general guideline to appropriate homesteading activities for your area. Each individual using these guidelines must determine if the information is accurate for their conditions.

 

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