I love January like a mother loves nap time.
In the photo above, my garden lays sleeping under layers of farmy compost and crusty snow. It is resting and regenerating. It doesn’t need me right now. Do I miss it? Nope. It will be awake before I know it!
I used to hate January. I also used to live in Alberta, Canada. (That pretty much explains it.) Cold is relative and the cold there will make you appreciate the “cold” almost anywhere else.
I’ve heard January described as a “giant bucket of suck” compared to the excitement and twinkling lights of December. I suppose it is all in how you look at it. I find December full of events and obligations and I relish in January’s quiet. It seems like there is nothing that HAS to be done in January. It’s also a fresh, clean beginning.
Now, I’m not saying I don’t suffer in the winter from the shorter light length of the days and the reduced activity outside. I totally do. I have found there are some things that help, though. So here’s my list to help beat the winter blues:
1. Farm animals. I am serious. Now, while I’ve been told that the worst about having farm animals is the winter chores, I just don’t find this to be true. For me, it helps a great deal that I have animals who need me a couple of times every day to bring them food and water. I just don’t begrudge these chores. I always take the time to dress properly (wool socks, these gloves, and sometimes snow pants). When I am warm doing my chores, I don’t rush through them. I feel no urgency to get back to the warm house and I take my time talking to and petting the animals.
2. Get in the kitchen and make something fresh. Recently I made cabbage salsa. There was cilantro to chop, garlic to crush and a lime to squeeze. The smells and the fresh colors were a joy to be around.
3. Grow sprouts.
It gives me a real boost to see these things come to life. I use them in wraps, sandwiches, stir fries and salads. You can sprout a variety of different things and it’s really easy. All most seeds need is the temperature of your house, moisture and sometimes darkness. I especially like sprouting yellow mustard seeds from the bulk spice section of the grocery store. You can buy specific seeds for sprouting but I find these too expensive. I feel safe as long as the seeds are intended for food.
To sprout seeds, I follow a few simple steps:
- overnight soak
- drain and rinse then transfer seeds to a container and spread them in a single layer
- cover them with tinfoil to keep out the light
- rinse twice a day
- While this is not necessary, after they sprout their little white roots, I remove the tinfoil and set them on the windowsill to do some photosynthesis. I keep them covered with plastic to maintain the moisture. You may need to vent the plastic if the sunlight is strong or they will cook! (This wasn’t necessary for me in the winter but depending on where you live, it might be.)
- Once they have grown to your liking store them in the fridge.
To make the rinsing process easier, you can buy needlework canvas and make an insert for your container by stapling the corners to make a box or, like I did, sewing the edges. This will also help to keep the sprouts from sitting around in too much water. I lined the plastic tray I made with paper towel because I am not a fan of plastic touching my food.
I’ve been sprouting mung beans (these produce the same bean sprouts you can buy for stir fry), lentils, buckwheat and clover. I plan on trying sunflower seeds, oats, quinoa, basil and peas.
Here’s an informative link if you want more details: How to Grow Your Own Sprouts.
4. My last bit of advice is to find outdoor activities to do. Once, last winter, we had a memorable hot dog roast outside while it was snowing. Now my family makes it a habit to get all our winter clothes on and sit in our camp chairs around a fire. Last weekend my husband and I went sledding with our two boys. I screamed all the way down the hill. I highly recommend it!
So, while you might be wishing winter away, I am here whispering, “Shhhhhh, sweet January, take your time…”