Thursday, January 8, 2015
The Long Winter On A Homestead
The Long Winter On A Homestead
There are many things to consider in preparation for winter on a homestead. We certainly found that out our first winter here up on the mountain. Many of these things are simple, but many can easily be taken for granted until you are looking at a thermometer well below freezing. After a few incidences that we encountered, we vowed we would be more prepared the next time. That is the key in all realms of homesteading… always be thinking ahead and always expect the unexpected. Therefore, the more you have planned for, the easier it will be.
When you live in a rural community, jumping in your vehicle and grabbing what you need because of bad weather approaching is not realistic. There always needs to be a back up plan. I remember one time being told by one of my favorite teachers that a good shepherd always puts his sheep up when he sees a storm on the horizon and that logic certainly applies here.
Here is list of basic considerations every homesteader should think about for the winter months.
1. Fuel: How do you heat your home? If it is by wood heat, make sure to have a large supply of well seasoned wood ready to go. Make sure your propane tank is topped off in the late summer when the rates are low. If you have electric heat, do you have a back up plan? How will you heat water and food or wash clothing should the power go out?
2. Food Supplies: In case of an emergency, or in case you can not leave your home, do you have a basic and easy food supply that you can easily utilize and heat? Canned and dehydrated foods are a great source for back up. Bottled and a stored water is critical for the hydration of your family and animals should your pipes freeze.
3. Winterizing Your Pipes: This is huge. Be sure to be aware of falling temperatures at all times. If you need to run your faucets at night or turn off the water in your barn/garage, remember to do so. Also, be sure to cover all outdoor spigots. The repair to fix any burst pipes could be a major expense for a homesteader.
4. Power: Even though many homesteaders love to have wood stoves in their homes for heat and cooking, losing electricity is still a major inconvenience. We often lose power. Therefore, if we know that bad weather or extreme temperature drops are coming, I work very hard in making sure my laundry, dishes and basic chores are completely caught up. We also make sure we have extra batteries for flashlights, oil for lamps, and candles for light. It may be an expense to work towards, but a generator can really help! These small details makes times much easier on this homestead.
5. Clothing: This may sound silly, but if you are working out in the barn or coop in 5 degree weather, you will quickly understand the value in coveralls, great boots and thick gloves. The amount of work multiplies for a homesteader in extreme weather when caring for the basic needs of farm animals. Look for deals in the warm months for clothing that will make cold temperatures tolerable when the time comes.
6. Animal Needs: This is a broad topic depending on exactly what animals you have on your homestead. For us, we discovered a large stock of hay, many back up buckets for hauling and switching out frozen water and extra feed go a long way. You may need extra straw bales to insulate your coops or shelters and extra pine shavings for fresh nesting boxes. Always think ahead for the essentials that will make the cold days go much easier and keep your animals warm and healthy. Also, don’t forget about extra feed for your domestic pets as well!
These are just a few suggestions or recommendations that should be considered in order to get through the hard winter months on a homestead. There is one thing for sure, once you encounter a hardship in any of these categories, you will quickly understand how important it is to always think ahead.