Homesteading attracts people wanting a simpler lifestyle and self-sustainability. In the most recent USDA census of agriculture, the government found that out of the approximately 2.1 million farms in the U.S., around 88 percent were small family farms.
In a 2017 survey of over 4,746 young farmers, about 75 percent stated they didn’t grow up on a farm and 69 percent had post-secondary degrees. A first winter on the homestead seems long and cold when you aren’t used to the lifestyle.
Fortunately, the Danish lifestyle called hygge – pronounced hoo-gah – makes things much more comfortable. Hygge is the concept of enjoying the simple things in life. Most homesteaders already live a relatively simple life, but for the winter months on a small farm, this means staying warm and cozy and enjoying the slower pace after the harvest passes.
1. Use Lanterns and Candles
Overhead lights eat up precious energy stores, especially if you rely on solar. Use candles and lanterns for a soft, homey glow without any energy usage. Just be careful to snuff out candles and turn off lanterns before bed. Never leave an open flame unattended.
If you must use electric light, use a table lamp with a soft watt bulb rather than a harsh overhead light. During the day, take advantage of natural light by opening drapes and blinds.
2. Rev up the Fireplace or Stove
Logs crackling in a fireplace or a woodburning stove add the scents and warmth of the season to your home. An indoor fire provides seasonal ambiance and keeps you warm.
If a tree fell on your property, you probably already chopped it up. You might as well put the firewood to good use and burn it up over the winter.
3. Adjust Humidity
Natural heat sources dry out the interior of your home. Adjust indoor humidity to between 40 and 60 percent to prevent damage to hardwood floors, doors and trim.
Some simple homesteading ways for adding humidity to your home include letting your clothes air-dry inside, adding a bowl of water near heat sources and growing houseplants, because they release moisture from their leaves as a vapor.
4. Add Soft Comfort
One element of hygge is soft warmth. Add details that feel cozy, such as fuzzy throw blankets across the end of the sofa or a thick quilt at the foot of your bed. Not only do blankets and throws add a touch of softness, but they also keep you warm during the coldest months.
5. Make Tea
Warm drinks are a must when the days become blustery and daylight hours are short. Make your own fresh tea blends by drying herbs such as alfalfa, lemon balm, mint and even wild herbs.
There are dozens of herbs and plants you can either grow or find in the wild that turn into delicious and nurturing herbal tea blends. For those who don’t like tea, experiment with grinding coffee beans and making steaming coffee, hot cocoa or even hot cider cultivated from apples grown on your farm.
6. Decorate With Memories
Hygge is about simplicity and home. Surround yourself with only pieces with a story to tell. For example, if you own your grandmother’s candy dish, place it on a small table and fill it with old-fashioned hard candies.
When people come to visit, share your memories of eating the same candy out of that dish when you visited your grandmother as a small child.
Use pieces that remind you of the past and have a story to tell. Keep things simple and uncluttered, though, in true hygge spirit. One beautiful piece with an amazing story is much better than a lot of clutter scattered around.
Time to Hygge
The most hygge time of year is winter, when you can bundle up in a cozy sweater, sip on hot cocoa and throw a few logs on the fire. Follow the Danish traditions and make your homestead cozy and comfortable this season.
A few simple touches turn the cold weather and your farm into a snug respite from the cold.