Here in Idaho (as well as many other northern locations) they say we have three distinct seasons: Winter, After Winter, and Getting Ready for Winter. There's some truth to that.
Old-timey folks wisdom is full of predictors for the weather, usually interpreting signs in the natural world (both plant and animal) to dictate whether we'll have a hard winter or not.
Last winter most of the country was WHOMPED with one of the harshest cold seasons on record... yet north Idaho managed to escape the worst of it and we had just a regular winter. But we've had our share of nasty weather as well. A few years ago, we had two harsh winters in a row that illustrated with great clarity why a prepared lifestyle is a wise lifestyle.
So when I saw Granny Miller's blog post on a hornet nest winter forecast, it got me thinking about our winter preps. We have a lot we want to do before the snow flies, but here's what we've got done so far.
We have oil lamps primed and on standby, as well as a generous supply of kerosene.
We have about 40 gallons of stored water on hand (no photo, sorry).
We have lots of firewood.
We have our hay in.
The livestock have shelter from the barn awning.
The chicken coop is now insulated.
But there are a LOT of projects we want to accomplish before the snow flies. These include:
• We want to build feed boxes for the cattle under the awning. This will keep hay from being wasted as much, and will keep debris from building up as fast.
• We want to build an above-ground root cellar out of a pen in the barn. We anticipate a heavy crop of potatoes and don't really have an adequate way to store them. Our house doesn't have a basement and digging underground involves a lot more logistics than we're willing to put in at the moment, but retrofitting a pen with heavy insulation is more do-able.
• I want to do a lot more canning. A lot more.
• Don wants to drop several more dead trees and cut them up for firewood. Not only will this reduce the chances of losing other trees to insect damage, but it will provide additional firewood.
• We'll need to blow out and put away part of the drip irrigation system in the garden.
• We want to build an extension to the bull pen shed. Our current shed is kinda cozy (read: small) and having additional room will allow the animals to over-winter more comfortably.
• We want to install guttering on the barn awning. Currently water just dumps down the awning and creates horrifically muddy conditions. Guttering will funnel the water away and make the bull pen and feedlot much less sticky.
• We want to buy a ton of chicken feed. Yes, literally. We found a source of bulk feed where the feed comes in thousand-pound bags. The cost is half what we're currently paying for 50-lb bags, and it means we won't run out of chicken feed in the middle of a blizzard. However we'll have to build rodent-proof bin before we can buy the bulk feed.
• We'll make sure to have plenty of food on hand, both for us and for our pets. For example we always try to keep two bags of dog food ahead of what we're using, just in case.
• We'll top off our propane tanks.
As you can see, plenty to do before the snow flies! But since it's not yet September, we'll have about two full months (maybe more, if the weather cooperates) to get these tasks done. We'll prioritize as we go, and the least important (or the least do-able) will get put off until next year.
Yep, we're in the season of Getting Ready for Winter. We must be in north Idaho.
What are your winterizing plans?