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How to Stay Warm for Winter Homestead Chores

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Winter. It is the bane of my existence. It’s not even the end of December and we’re already bundling up to brave the biting wind and thawing out water.

This girl is not a fan of winter. While I enjoy having time to plan my attack come spring, this bitter cold we’ve had the past few years can go. If I didn’t know better, I’d think we were out in the western plains. When the high is 26°F and the wind chill takes it down to a mere 5°F, it’s time to snuggle under a blanket and stay indoors.

But, the animals need to be tended to, regardless of my complete dislike for heading outdoors in this frozen tundra that makes Antarctica look like a tropical paradise. Okay, maybe not but still.

So, what’s a girl (or guy) to do to not freeze their digits off from simply stepping outside? Well, you dress for it!

Of course, in true homesteader fashion, it’s nothing fancy and you may resemble little Randy on a “Christmas Story” (I can’t put my arms down!). But, you gotta do what you gotta do to stay warm and get your chores done.

How to Stay Warm for Winter Homestead Chores

Base layer- Thermal underwear

I went out the other morning with a shirt, my jeans, and a coat. This was a terrible idea. I should have thought it through more. I knew I would be out there a while, but I thought I would be fine. Wrong. My legs were like ice as soon as I stepped off the porch.

I should’ve layered my awesome, warm Minus33 Midweight Bottoms and tops. They’re warm, they’re comfortable. They don’t ride up. Perfection.

Over layer- A good sweatshirt

Next on the list is a good sweatshirt.  A comfy North Face Pullover Hoodie is exactly the type of sweatshirt I look for. Warm, comfortable, and fits well without being too tight and isn’t too bulky.

Some people layer over with a short or long-sleeved t-shirt. I personally like the comfort of a sweatshirt, though. I buy them just a tad bigger than I typically buy t-shirts and under a coat, they’re comfortable and keep me warmer. But, if a sweatshirt isn’t your thing, by all means, find a better top layer for you!

Outer layer- A Winter Chore Coat

Every homesteader needs a good, durable coat. Those skimpy, not very warm, ski jackets are not going to do the trick. They tear too easily, and honestly, I’ve never had one that kept me very warm. I know a lot of people who use Carhartt, and they make a great, durable coat. But, I love my Berne Coat. In fact, I love it so much, we all have one. Even the baby.

These coats are, from what I can tell. Identical in quality and functionality as a Carhartt, but not quite as expensive. They’re durable enough to do chores without ripping, they’re comfortable and allow you to move around, they’re a little less expensive than a Carhartt, and most importantly, they’re warm.

Outer layer- Warm, insulated overalls

I save these for really cold, or really wet days. If the snow is coming down and I know I’m going to finish with muddy muck all over me, jeans layered over my wool bottoms aren’t going to do the trick. It’s time to pull out the overalls. I also make my kids dress in theirs when they go out in the snow… so they play double duty ?.

These will not only keep you extra warm. They’ll keep your clothes under clean and dry. So, maybe, no promises here, you won’t have 500 pairs of mucky muddy jeans to wash this weekend. Maybe, you’ll only have 499. 

I love these. My frugalness loves that these are a little less expensive than their competitor. But they’re still high quality, durable, warm, and comfortable. And in my book, that’s all that matters.

Feet layer one- A good pair of socks

A good pair of boot socks is so hard to find. They’re either not very warm, too tight, too loose, or they have a hole in them ten seconds after you put them on (color me unimpressed). But, when you do find an awesome pair of warm, wool, boot socks… the store stops carrying them. Because the wool sock people are against you having warm feet.

But, I digress. I did find these awesome darn tough yeti socks that seem to fit the bill. They wick away moisture, they’re durable, they stay up and regulate your temperature so you have warm, cozy tootsies even when the cold is trying to bite through your boots. This brings me to…

Feet layer two- The Best Winter Boots (muck boots)

Muck boots are like a homesteader’s dream come true. None of us go without a pair. They’re comfortable, they have insulated ones to keep your feet warm, they’re durable, and they wash off easily. Which is super important when you’re up to your knees in mud and poop.

My kids each have a pair (except for the baby, because she’s not walking yet, but next spring you better believe she’ll be sporting a pair). My husband and I have a pair as well. I asked for these for Christmas last year. And, against her better judgment, my mom (Lord, how I miss her), bought them for me. Best. Christmas. Present. Ever. These boots have seen more mud and poop than I’d like to admit. But, they clean up just fine, they keep my feet dry and warm, and they go up high enough to keep my legs dry even in deep snow. My mom said “these things look so ugly” but they’re so incredibly functional. I’m not out here trying to win a beauty contest (clearly, you should see my hair ?).

Keep your head and ears warm -A good hat

I almost always throw my hood from my coat and/or sweatshirt over my head, but I always wear a hat. That way I can have really pretty hair. No, that way I keep my ears from freezing when the ridiculous wind blows my hood half down. Not all hats are created equal, though. I like a comfy, Knit slouchy hat, so I can cover my ears.

True story, we went to New York City one year for New Year’s Eve (this was way back before I adopted this way of life). It was one of the coldest on record and I wore a silly skull cap that did not pull over my ears. It was so darn cold. I about froze and that hat did nothing to keep any heat on my head.  Bad idea. Now, I go for the bigger hats that have room to pull over my ears.

Keep your hands warm and dry -A good pair of gloves

Good gloves are hard to find. They’re either too bulky, not durable enough, or too thin. Or, you have to pull them off every ten seconds because you’re dealing with water. I have yet to find a good pair of gloves that work well for all of the chores we need to do. But… I have these on order and will let you know. Like I said, I don’t have them, yet, so I’m not sure. If you have a glove you love and want to recommend, please do!

That’s it! That’s how to stay warm in the winter! It requires a lot of good layering and clothes, but it’s worth it to not freeze.

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Peyton Schoch

Thursday 1st of October 2020

Hey Danielle, have you tried those gloves yet?

Danielle McCoy

Saturday 3rd of October 2020

I completely forgot to update this last year LOL. I did, and they work pretty well.


Saturday 30th of December 2017

Cool that you’ve been in SD! I was born here moved to warmer (a little bit anyway) for 20 years and moved back 10 years ago. Sometimes I wonder why! But luckily the frigid temps usually don’t last more than a week or so! Then everything else feels pretty warm! -15 to 15 above is a 30 degree jump. Heat wave!


Saturday 30th of December 2017

As I read this and look at the thermometer-11. Yes negative 11. It’ll get to -17 tonight and almost -30 tomorrow night supposedly. Believe me one can not dress warm enough at those temps. Keeping animals warm and safe is a real worry. Though some don’t even seem fazed. Seems like your temps are a heat wave compared to here in South Dakota!

Danielle McCoy

Saturday 30th of December 2017

I used to live in South Dakota! I know it gets cold there, but, believe it or not, it gets just as cold here. It is currently -11 here as well, with blowing drifting snow. It was -20 here two mornings ago. I stay warm enough to do what is necessary in my gear. It's cold, for sure, but dressing for the occasion sure helps. We had a warm up of 12 degrees above zero yesterday and snow. I skipped my base layers. It was cold, but I got the job done. Keeping animals warm and safe is definitely a huge concern! Stay warm!

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