Prep Monday is Back!

Winter is coming, whether it’s supposed to be “mild” or not, so now is the time to prepare. As a kid, I always associated September, October, and November with fall, even though the official dates don’t quite line up, and that means we’re halfway to winter.

To me, heat is very important. I’m not a fan of cold weather at all. We use wood heat, so, as the leaves are falling, we start picking up deadwood as we go about our chores and pile it out back. We also note standing trees that need to come down, and in the next week we’ll be cutting those. After that, we haul out the log splitter and cut and stack.

We had a little incident with the clothes dryer not long ago, so in the course of fixing that, my husband also cleaned up the lean-to and got the furnace all ready for winter use.

Last year was our learning curve; this year, we know we need a lot more firewood! And we also figured out, about halfway through the winter, how to regulate the fire. I don’t mean with the flue so much as the size of the fire—at least once, we had to open a few windows to lower the temperature a bit.

And by “a bit,” I mean that the thermostat in the living room read 88 degrees!

I’ve already changed the bedding to the winter set—which includes a heated mattress pad, and those, by the way, are amazing—and I’ve packed up the spring/summer clothing for storage and brought the flannel and thermal items into the house.

Yes, I know that not everyone has external, on-site storage, but if you do or you can, it’s great when you have a small house. If you don’t, I just discovered this wonderful bedframe—takes only a mattress—that has 18 inches of storage underneath. That’s enough for a deep plastic tub for clothes storage, or for anything else.

Besides the wood furnace, we also have a space heater for my office and an electric fireplace. Yes, I would have preferred wood, but that would involve building a chimney.

We have enough projects . . .

To sum it all up, if you want to stay warm in the winter and be prepared for any scenarios, you should have multiple sources of heat: electric, wood, proper clothing, extra blankets. In a pinch, we can pile into a vehicle and run the heater for a short time—we also store gasoline, although this would be a last resort. Gas is needed for other things, like chainsaws, ATVs, generators, and so forth, which also contribute to heat sources.


Prep Monday—Winter

Look, it’s only January 3 and I’m already running behind—what an accomplishment, huh? And yes, I did take off the week between Christmas and New Year’s, thankyouverymuch!

Now let’s talk prepping:

Winter on the homestead has traditionally been about regrouping, resting, and of course, carrying on the daily chores. And we’re nothing if not traditional (forget the WiFi for a moment and the addition of Alexa to our household)!

For me, living in the ‘burbs, it was always hard to get motivated when the sky is gray and the wind is blowing and, well, it’s COLD. I do tend to sleep a bit more, even out here in the sticks, but there are still things to do.

Animals and livestock need to be fed and cared for—and horses worked with. The cats will let you know this, just in case you forget and their bowls are not filled at a precise time, that time being as soon as your eyes start to open at zero-dark-thirty. And then they’ll want out, and in, and out, and in . . .

I have less desk work now, since I’m closing Rocking Horse Publishing, but yes, of course I still write. And I’m taking up leather working again. Played around with decorating a lighter case just last night. I swear, too, I’m going to conquer this thing called “knitting.” One of these days . . .

But winter is a good time to learn new skills and practice old ones. Even outside, as long as you’re dressed for it. I shot my bow over this past weekend—it had been a while, so I lost a couple arrows. And the weather was good. I can deal with almost anything except lack of sun. That’ll put me to sleep quicker than a football game or a golf match.

And if you use wood for heat, you know that you have to keep the woodbox full. That’s an every-other-day event, but it’s not time-consuming and, if you want to be warm, you’ll do it. Our furnace is in the lean-to, right off the kitchen, and the wood piles are about 15 feet from the back door. And covered. Also important!

Don’t think you have to be busy all the time during this season. You do need to be timely when it comes to chores—don’t put things off if the weather is cooperating. Take advantage of sun and warmer temperatures when you can, and use the time to rest and rejuvenate. Within a couple months, you’ll be prepping your garden and making repairs, sunup to sundown.