Winter at Milkwood Farm can be a little frosty. When you come from warmer country, it’s nearly as exciting as snow. Ok maybe just the first time. After that, it’s just chilly.
Now that we’ve moved into an insulated abode after 5 years of caravans and sheds, the intricacy of the frost crystals on the grass, rocks, trees and ponds seems like a lovely thing – and part of the yearly cycles. And now I think of it, there are actually a few other practical upsides to frost…
The many Upsides of Frost:
I’m sure there’s many more, but here’s a few upsides of frosty winter mornings that pertain to Milkwood Farm. If you have any more upsides, please add them in the comments below, so that we can warm our fingers on them till spring…
Slug control: Frost and slugs go together like custard and dirt. I.e. not well, at least for the slug. But for the winter gardener, frost is a beautiful cleansing thing – no more slugs and snails munching on winter veggies…
Ice in the puddles: getting a small person out of their cosy house and into the early frosty morning can be a challenge, no matter how much farm kid juice you’re slipping them. The answer around here is icy puddles (and gumboots), becuase every kid loves a puddle they can crack.
If you’re really lucky around here, you might hit a morning of heavy frost, which means nice fat slabs of ice in the colder nooks of our swale system. Ashar picks them up and *smash* – a satisfying shattering experience, with no downside except cold fingers.
Fruit fly control: we’ve only had one year of fruit fly on our farm thus far, and we’d like to keep it that way. Frost is great because it helps mitigate the yearly cycle of the fruit fly. Hooray for non-wormy plums.
You get buff from splitting firewood. Which is good news for everyone. Enough said.
The appreciation of insulation and good passive solar design: Can you tell we’re in the middle of our *first ever* winter at Milkwood Farm where we’re actually properly warm? It shows. Not being able to see your breath freeze infront of you when you wake up makes me very happy.
Appreciating Summer all the more: In a few short months, the frost will be gone and the tomatoes will be germinating. Soon after that we’ll be eating feasts of peas, and then it will be time for evening swims in the back valley dam.
The year will move on, the seasons will turn. Better appreciate this moment while it’s here.
Any other upsides of frost that you think we missed out here?
The thing winter has become for me, living in Europe, is a time when nature invites me to slow down too. We love sitting in our conservatory, being warmed by winter sunshine and just spending time chatting about the past year and our hopes and desires for the coming year.
I think it could be the same to a degree for those on the land?
Yes, you’re right. Kids love cracking ice on frozen puddles.
I think the big key with winter is to give ourselves permission to slow down for a brief respite.
The old timers say it sweetens the ground. I’m not sure what that means but it definitely sweetens the carrots and parsnips. The broccoli heads stay nice and tight and the brussels small, sweet and firm. It stops the kikuyu and slows the other herby garden invaders down enough to get on top of the weeding and get all the garden in order before the Spring rush. And haha yep, nothing wrong with a bit of wood splittin’ buffness.
And some foods need frost in order to grow! I’m thinking blueberries…. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Hats. You get to wear woolly hats and gloves and if you’re really lucky ear muffs. Also leopard print gumboots. I don’t wear them myself but i hear other people like it.
Yeah, sorry. There is the absolute pleasure of getting warm and happy through exercise that doesn’t quite happen in summer.
Non-manual chop & drop (i.e. freeze & drop) of dynamic accumulators 🙂
Sounds so romantic…ah to enjoy the simple pleasures in life is grand. Just curious – how was the Milkwood Farm home insulated?
double skin wattle-and-daub with extra thick mud on the inside and rockwool inbetween 🙂
Kikuyu grass stops growing, time to establish legumes such as clover and other cold loving plants in the paddock.
Getting to wear all the woollens we knit is great and I do enjoy watching the open fire.
Living on the coast we always had massive problems with german cockroaches, the tiny ones. They were in everything and moving didn’t help as they came with us. Then we moved to Hill End and the first winter with it’s -6c nights and no more cockroaches. o/
Not so happy about driving on frosty roads though
true! Yay for no cockroaches. As an ex-Sydneyite, i should have thought of that one. Oh blessed frost…
Knitting is much more fun in winter too.
Not so much for the frost itself, although watching the ducks trying to get a drink from their frozen watering hole which actually supports the weight of our femail muscovy (and probably the huge drakes too) is amusing, but the darker mornings and dark evenings of winter make bedtime for young ones much easier. The frost also makes me appreciate our fire so much more and snuggling in winter is a much more inviting prospect than on an evening when the mercury won’t dip below 25. We’ve had the joy of our first winter here too and no such luck… Read more »
Brussels Sprouts LOVE frost 🙂
Just a note to tell you I look forward to your words, reaching round the world to my little house in Arizona , where I try to put your knowledge into practice Here it is monsoon season. 100 degrees and rolling thunder every other day or so , but everything comes to life and the desert at least for a while is green. My chickens have a shade structure and a swamp cooler:-) But they are happy to give me four eggs a day for the trouble and my garden grows The Three Sisters Corn, beans and squash. A total… Read more »
Winter’s my favorite season. I love sitting in front of fires, drinking hot drinks, and (in some places I’ve spent time) ice skating! Great list of loves from frost.
Hey. That Frost is water on your farm which must be a good thing. As long as it doesn’t evaporate off.
Couch grass dies – yay! Hate the stuff!
Kale grows like a weed – but tastes much better.
Someone told me that frost sweetens pumpkins, so I left mine on the vine until they’d had several frosts. I’ve never tasted such sweet pumpkins – the soup was awesome!
Heavy frost looks like snow – very exciting for an ex-Sydneyite.
For the sheer sparkling, ever changing, beauty of it.