Country Living Series

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Winter's a-comin'

So far this year we've had an extraordinarily mild winter. No complaints; we were moving.

But we also knew the mild stretch was unlikely to last. Sure enough, it looks like we're in for a winter whomp of both snow and cold this upcoming week.

If we get all the snow in the forecast -- and we may not -- we could see 18 inches of snow on the ground by next week.

So we're battening down hatches. Unfortunately battening down hatches here in our new place is not quite the same as at our old place.

For one thing, we're entirely dependent upon electricity here -- a situation we don't like and will change as soon as we're able. On Monday, for example, we got about five inches of gentle light snow overnight...

... but it was enough to short out power lines in the area, so we woke up to a power outage.

Normally this isn't a big deal -- we have plenty of kerosene for lamps, and stored water -- but it meant we were without heat. Being at the mercy of the power company is not our idea of self-sufficiency.

It also underscores the need to install our wood cookstove, still boxed up and sitting in the barn at our old place. Unfortunately this isn't likely to happen until next summer. Not only do we still have to transport it here, but we have to prepare a fireproof pad in the house, punch a hole in the roof for a triple-walled pipe, etc.

So, because we can't be without heat in case of another snow-related power outage, Don purchased a propane room heater suitable for indoor use. We'll have this hooked up, tested, and on standby today in anticipation of this week's weather.

We've always said self-sufficiency is a journey, not a destination; and here in our new place, we're embarking on a new journey in that direction. The difference between then and now is we kinda know what we're doing this time. We know what projects we'd like to accomplish (install the wood cookstove; build a garden; plow a wheat field; securely fence the pastures; build a chicken coop; fence a chicken yard; get cows; etc.), but we have to be patient, pace ourselves, and tackle things as time, money, and opportunity permit.

And right now, I'd say the cookstove is numero uno on the list.

19 comments:

  1. Those wick lamps are handy when the power is out but an Aladdin Mantle lamp trumps them in light and heat output. You might want to look into getting a couple of them. They're still being manufactured but new isn't necessary because the old ones were very well made and parts are still available. I've got one that's almost a century old and it works good as new. Congratulations on finding such a special place and Godspeed getting that stove in.

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    1. Actually, we have quite a few Aladdins we purchased many years ago. However the mantles are fussy creatures and for brief power outages, I prefer the wick lamps. We reserve the Aladdins for longer-term outages since they put out such bright light.

      - Patrice

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  2. Wisdom, in itself----> Knowing that this, like most everything, is a process. Not a "slam-dumk-we're-done!

    Peace Joy Courage

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  3. I would love more info on indoor safe propane heaters. We are moving to North Dakota this summer, and I am actually surprised that most homes, even older ones, do not have a fireplace or wood stove in the event of a power outage. So, I have to look into a remedy for that situation.

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    1. We loved our Rinnai propane room heater. Safe, efficient and instant heat. Most people had them in the high desert where it got cold.

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    2. Lack of trees... Pellet and Corn stoves as well as propane or natural gas are options.

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    3. Thanks for the info. I want to be closer to the grand kids, but don't want to freeze if there is a power outage in winter.

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  4. Ugh. Bundle up and stay safe. And here is hoping for a mild Winter hereafter.

    Are you significantly North of your previous home that it would make a difference in your climate?

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    1. We're roughly in the same weather pattern. The big difference is we don't get nearly as much wind -- which not only makes cold temps much more bearable, but doesn't drift any snow.

      - Patrice

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  5. When we have friends move to SW Idaho or meet new people moving in we always say "You can't do it all the first year", and maybe the second year either.

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  6. Don't forget to make sure your water lines are insulated. If not keep the tap on a drizzle.

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  7. This may be a silly question, but living along the Gulf Coast, we rarely have temps below freezing. Will my canned food in glass jars burst if they freeze?

    We are expecting ice on Monday and could possibly lose our power. If that happens, is there anything I can do to protect my jars?

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    1. Canning jars have been used for freezer storage, but canned (processed) food is not meant to be frozen. I hate to say it, but there is a chance your jars could burst in freezing temps. However before you panic, define "freezing." If you'll touch down to 31F for a couple hours, don't worry about it. If you'll be at 15F for two weeks, that will be a problem. If your jars are in an insulated place (i.e. in your house), they'll likely be fine since the inside of your house is not likely to hit freezing (let's hope). If your jars are stored outdoors (i.e. a shed or barn) and the cold snap is expected to be long and severe, you may have to move them indoors.

      - Patrice

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    2. are they in your house? Yes, they can burst if frozen. Takes a bit for the temperature to freeze things stored in the house. My canned goods are in my kitchen and pantry. It is the warmest area in the house. Don't know where you are on the Gulf Coast but I lived through 3 days in South Texas with a high of 18. Yes, my pipes froze. I was out of town and only had space heaters which, of course, only got used when someone was home. Nothing in my cabinets was damaged. My hair dryer and I thawed my faucets and my space heaters thawed the house but it was 24 hours before my water was running. Since I had thawed and opened the faucets (all inside and outside), there was no pressure and I didn't lose any pipes. Sorry to say but there were a lot of people in the area that did have pipe damage.

      kathy in MS

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    3. Thank you so much for your advice! Yes, they are inside my house. I am in a suburb of Houston. From what the both of you have said, it sounds like we should be ok. The lows will be in the teens only 1 day. And it looks like we have highs below freezing for only 2 days. I have lived in this part of the world my whole life and could give advice on hurricane preps, but with cold weather...no experience.

      If our power goes out we were planning on turning off the water to our house and draining the pipes.

      Thanks for your help! I know it is a minor issue compared to the bitter temps that other places are experiencing, but I knew this was a great place to tap into canning knowledge!

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  8. I am nervous here because there are no lamps or even a grill outdoors. I will remedy those problems this summer.

    I also had a generator at my house!

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  9. Wow, I can't believe you left the beautiful cook stove at the house you sold; even for a little while. That is the first thing I'd move. Hope your you had a written agreement with the new owners of that agreement to store your belongings in their barn on their property. Praying your power stays on to keep you warm at your new place.

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    1. The original cookstove stayed with the house since it's the primary heat source. We ended up purchasing a brand-new cookstove (identical model since we loved it so much), and that's what is still stored in the barn at our old place.

      The new owners are lovely people and our verbal agreement to store things in their barn will suffice. We're counting the days when we can get back there and finish cleaning out the barn, however!

      - Patrice

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  10. For electrical power loss, I install a solar panel system with batteries. I used Harbor Freight solar panel with an eight connector junction. I used 8 panels that feed 4 lawn mower batteries. The panels are 15-vdc, but with their regulator it maintains the batteries at 13.5-vdc. These have been installed for over 6 years now, and I haven’t had any major problems. We had a bad storm last year, and we were without power for four days. The batteries held up. Two generators help also since I got 2-100 amp panel that I back feed the panel without major power users.

    The HF panels have the regulator and includes two 12-vdc lights that use a headphone jack that you can plug into to have light. The light chords are 30-ft long. Yes, I had to wire the house to put jacks throughout using 12-gauge speaker wire. I also connected an inverter to a couple of rooms for AC power. The inverter will power a fan or a DVD player with a small screen. It won’t do a coffeemaker. Any outlets or switches using the 12-vdc system I painted red to identify them.

    A 12-vdc, 50-watt blub is very bright. Our one bathroom that doesn’t have a window, I permanently mounted a switch with a blub in the wall. It makes using the bathroom easier except for the 5-gallon bucket for flushing.

    I read your site and others for years to get practical approaches to prepping and maintaining a simple life while maintain awareness of current situations. It’s working and so am I. Keep the panels pointing south. Your winters up there have more sunshine.

    God Bless.
    (I couldn't link anything, but you'll find it at HF>)

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