Planning for Success in the Winter Downtime

Planning for Success in the Winter Downtime

There are many women upon farms who, because they wish an independent income of their own, or perhaps because there is a mortgage to be lifted or unusual expenses to be met, feel that they must carry on some work aside from that of caring for the home and family, that shall promise pecuniary returns. Whatever this work may be, it is now time that plans should be made for it… Winter is nature and the farmer’s season of rest, but while the body rests the brain may be actively planning for the coming season’s work, which cannot fail to be the more successful because of the great thought devoted to it. Send for such catalogs as are required, procure books upon the subject and draw out the experience of others upon the special work intended, and thus be prepared as far as possible to insure success. Plan for Success.


As I shared in this month’s newsletter, we’ll soon be moving into a (rental) home of our own. I feel like I’m starting over as a housewife since my life will look so much different here in Texas than it was in Wisconsin. Next month will be full of new challenges as we set up housekeeping and make a house feel comfortable and homey.

For me, this winter been a “season of rest” more than any other time in my life as I’ve been without a place of my own to manage, so the quote above really resonates with me. Winter is a good time to recover and reassess after a hectic summer and the holidays. But beyond that, it should also be a time to prepare for the inevitably busy season ahead. I always feel like I stay busy year-round, but every summer I look back sentimentally at January as the most peaceful month of the year.

As for me, I’ve used some of my time this winter thinking of ways to earn money on the side that will help as we get ourselves established. It’s possible that I may have a smidge of a garden but it won’t be on the level that I’m used to doing. In the past I’ve focused on saving money as a way to make money, but I’ll be using both saving and making strategies for awhile. Because I likely won’t be canning, volunteering, and keeping up a big house as is my usual summer routine, I’ll have more time to spend on my side hustle selling handmade soap and I’m using this winter to figure things out in my head.

I was recently given an embroidery machine. I almost turned it down because I don’t have much storage space and didn’t know what I would do with one, but I was intrigued enough that I couldn’t pass it up. Maybe down the road I can use it in a way that brings in a little income; we’ll see. But this slower season has allowed me the time to learn to use the machine. I’ve learned in no uncertain terms to use the exact thread recommended in the owner’s manual. It makes all the difference between a beautifully detailed design and a tangled, snarled mess that ruins the fabric. Although it took me much longer to figure it out than it should have. I’m glad I’ve had the time to learn.

So how are you spending your winter? I hope you’re taking advantage of the slower season (for those of you in the northern hemisphere!) to plan or learn (or both) and that the rest of your year is successful because of it.

10 Replies on “Planning for Success in the Winter Downtime

  1. I live in Southeast Queensland, Australia and I am beginning to plan for winter. I have a crochet blanket to finish, a shawl for my mother, a request for a cardigan for my seven month old granddaughter and a new grand baby due in our spring. Lots to do while it is cool enough to rest knitting or blankets over my knees. Good luck with your move.

  2. Greetings Ms. Hird, I have the farmers wife 1930 Sampler Quilt Book. Under “Letter Excerpts and Quilt Blocks” which is a Beautiful Quilt. Can you please send me the name of the pattern. I love the beautiful blocks and quilt patterns, however I can’t find that one. I really appreciate all your help. Regards JoAnne Moreau

  3. I always try to make good use of winter. I do a lot of crafting and card making for gifts. I’ve already started Christmas cards! I get an early start on spring cleaning by doing drawers and closets. We usually paint/redo one room per year over Thanksgiving, rotating around the house. I already know the next room so I can watch for paint sales and anything else I need without rushing. I can usually paint and freshen up a room for less than $100. I also enjoy reading a bit more. Especially on the cold, grey days! Nothing like snuggling up with my doggy, a warm blanket, a cup of coffee, and my latest book!

    Before I forget, I saw that you are renting. Megan at *Homes I Have Made* has a great blog for rental friendly decorating. Her husband is military and they move a lot!

    Congratulations on the new machine! I saw the concerns about thread cost. Maybe you can make things that use less thread and colors. I do hand embroidery and some of my patterns gobble up thread!! Especially anything solid. Open patters use much less….and go much faster!! Good luck! I think pairing up an embroidered washcloth with homemade soap would make a lovely gift set to sell or give. And that could be a small pattern like a stalk of wheat or a Texas Bluebonnet!

    1. I really, really enjoy cold, dismal winter days so I can do many of those same things! I always feel a little disappointed when spring comes and life gets busier.

      I’ve been thinking along the same lines of open patterns. I’ve noticed that I gravitate toward the stitches that remind me of hand embroiderery, not so much the multiple color, giant cartoony embroidery I often see. That works out well for me since it saves thread!

      Thanks for the blog recommendation, Debby! I’ve been poking around at some different ideas.

  4. I understand what Gretchen is saying although in the big scheme of things YOU were given this great gift and did not have the expense to buy it as most of us do which is often a pricey investment. So that said if you have to invest in thread , it is still a lot less than when someone normally starts. I have a friend that has done this for 30 years now and has a good business because of it. Thank you for reminding us, even those of use that work that wintertime is a time to plan !! Good luck with everything ! from Iowa

    1. Good point! I also received a bin of backing material so it really is a boost to get me started.

      I hope you’re enjoying your Iowa winter. One of my favorite states. 🙂

  5. Here’s a thought for possibly bringing in income with your new embroidery machine. Buy that really inexpensive off white fabric for tea towels and embroider very old fashioned kitchen motifs in the corners. I bought a couple of those years ago and they are hanging up in my kitchen, too enchanting to be used and dirtied. I think a lot of women would love them.

    1. It’s funny you say that because tea towels are the first thing that I made! Pretty dish towels work better, y’know. 😉

    1. Thanks for the tip. I found a good sale on thread but it definitely gave me sticker shock! I need to test how much thread I use in each design.

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