What absolutely must get done on the winter homestead
"Hubby asked me yesterday 'When it's THIS cold out, what ~has~ to be done outside, and how long do you think it will take?'"
--- Karen B.
I've spent a lot of time
over the past week wondering how homesteaders managed before the era of
10-day weather forecasts. Luckily, modern homesteaders have quite a long
heads-up and tend to know when cold spells are coming. As a result,
Mark and I prepared extensively before our current deep freeze:
If you messed up and
didn't prepare, some of these tasks can be done on sunny afternoons
during the deep freeze. But I'll assume they're not part of your daily
chores for the sake of this post.
Okay, so the mercury has plummeted --- what do you absolutely have to
do and how long does it take? Starting at dawn, I make two quick trips
into the outside on ultra-cold mornings. The first involves bringing a
bucket of warm water and their morning ration to the goats, and taking
in yesterday's bucket of ice. The second involves bringing a chicken waterer
full of warm water to the chickens, tossing a bit of food into their
coop, and then taking in any eggs. Actual time spent outside: two
5-minute sessions, with glove-warming lulls in between.
The second trip is
similar to the first and occurs right after lunch. Once again, everyone
gets warm water swapped out for the morning ice, and I've noticed that
this is when the goats go crazy
drinking, having spent the morning filling up on hay. This is also when
I tend to gather our eggs on cold days --- some will have frozen solid
and cracked if the night got below 0, but often I'm able to nab them in
good condition as long as I get there by early afternoon. Finally, while
my boots are already on, I bring in enough firewood to make sure I can
keep the wood stove raging until the next morning, while Mark often
takes this time to bring in a bucket or two of water from the tank so we can catch up on dishes. Actual time spent outside: 20 minutes, with more dawdling to enjoy the snow.
Of course, I can't
survive on a mere half an hour of outside time per day, so as long as
the day gets above 20, I tend to trick Lucy into going out for a walk
with me in the afternoon. She and I take turns breaking trail through the thick snow, and we do all the things that don't actually need to be done. We carry in more hay to top up the manger, check the mail box, and brush snow off the sap-bucket roofs. Then we settle in for a well-deserved rest in front of the fire. Cold and snow are a great excuse to take it easy!
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