baby, it’s cold outside!

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Just when you think spring must be coming… for it must! It MUST! The nightshades are sprouting, but in the basement, under lights, where what would they know of snow? They’re ready for the world, but it’s not ready for them. The snow’s coming down, roads are a mess, and all the world is in a tither. Will we get to work on time? What will the roads be like on the way home? Are we ready? Is there milk in the fridge? Cocoa-fixins? Beer???

A few things help ease the mind on days like these. A full larder… plenty of feed for the animals (should have ordered the chicken feed and fancy dog kibble on payday, doh! There are a few days of layer mash, and worst case, stored grains that they could nosh in a pinch… and the dog will not die eating just the middle-brow department store chow without the duck and cheese Frohm’s mixed in for extra noms…). We have a shed full of wood, flashlights with batteries, a lantern with oil, candles, and plenty of provisions- even a downed power line would not be the end of the world. We have shovels, and salt, and strong backs. It’s cold enough that we could store the pig in coolers under the back porch until the freezer came back on, or just start putting pork chops in jars and canning them up (not as good as fresh-frozen, or we’d do that already…). We’re acclimated to the cold (55 is a cause for celebration around here… and do-able without the furnace, especially as we’re adding insulation and tightening up the building envelope upstairs), and own plenty of wool sweaters, socks, long-johns… We’re lucky. Not everyone is prepared, or would fare so un-fazed and un-froze.

Here are some tips to stay warm and safe, no matter what the world throws at you!

First, the basics. Wear pants. And underpants. Thank you Mr. MoneyMoustache… I know, seems like common sense. Cold? Try clothes! But some folks haven’t gotten the message yet…
The Oil Well You Keep in Your Pants

And then, the advanced course, from Sharon Astyk!

How Not to Freeze: Living without Heat

Even the most crappily insulated houses in the US (and there are some truly appalling houses out there – the older parts of mine not wholly excluded) are far better in many cases than the shelters people survived with for millenia. I know I keep harping on this, but badly insulated is a relative thing – yes, more insulation would be good – and contacting your congressperson to get more funding (especially including *GRANTS* for low income families to reinsulate) put to insulation is essential – but it is worth remembering that the Lapps routinely dealt with -50+ temperatures in tents made of one layer of reindeer skin and heated only by body heat, and that when people began living in the US, winter temperatures were considerably colder than they are now, and windows were made of oilskin over holes in the house and houses were heated by a central fire pit. Human beings can manifestly live without central heating. I know you don’t think you can, but you can. It is in your genes. “

If you get a chance, take one of her online courses, or at least read her books or blog! Thanks to a scholarship, I got to participate in one of her Adapting in Place classes… what a great learning experience! I hope to pay it forward with future classes of my own… and to spread that all the preparedness-skills and stores in the world will do you less good than engaging with your local community. Which reminds me, we’ve got a ward meeting coming up! I usually look forward to these with as much joy as a teeth cleaning (actually, that’s not true… I’m years overdue and would relish a dental day-spa over sitting through a ward meeting, haha. Oh, health insurance. What’s that like, anyway?), but have promised to accompany the fellow this time around rather than making him go it alone. Because if TSHTF… it’s not what you have, but who you know, what you know, how we help each other, and how you relate to your local and larger community that will ultimately determine how we all fare. Let’s stack that deck, shall we?

Be careful out there, stay warm, and take care of each other! Check in on your neighbors, especially the elderly… be a real saint and shovel their walks too while you’re at it (and maybe next time you’ll wake and find that one of them did the same for you- it’s a race on our block some days…)! And don’t forget to go have some fun if you can- snowpersons and flat-land tobbogening, here we come!

Oh, and update on the suspect list- when the fella let the dog out late last night, there was an ENORMOUS long-haired siamese Catzilla hiding out in the woodshed, final scene of the crime. Chalk up one point for “bad-ass alley cat” theory. I hope it was that and not a raccoon, as it will be easier to keep a cat out than a nimble-pawed raccoon. For now, the girls are cooped up in the more secure coop and run, and not the outer run. They hate the snow, so not too different than what today would be, and safer. Not a long term solution, as it’s a little crowded in there for them and I worry that they’ll start picking on lil’ scrappy, the smallest Red Star. Might be time to cull the Marans, who are over four years old and haven’t laid in a loong time. Was going to give them till the spring, but I think five chickens could pretty happily live in the inner run and coop, with only supervised trips to the great outdoors… at least for awhile. We’ll see how it goes. They have a full feeder, which hopefully will keep them occupied (and warm!) today.

Also, while we’re doing depressing winter farm updates, that beehive is empty. 🙁 We lost the italians, again. I think that hive is cursed. I cracked it open on the last freakishly warm day, after noticing the Carnolians flying and no activity from the yellow hive… and there was a hive full of very hungry and now very dead bees. Le sigh. I fed them all fall, and the early spring, but the one-two-three punch of a tough drought summer and constantly fighting off the hornets and the other bees took its toll. Of course, the docile bees died and left us with the cranky, wonky-comb building bee bitches. But hey, I’ll take a crotchety hive full of hustlin’ survivors over nice dead bees anyday. I think we might be Carnolian-keepers from now on. Keeping my fingers crossed for them…

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