It first makes its appearance with the rain. Mud. Especially where the animals walk the most and where they eat. So begins the yearly fight against the elements. I always dig ditches while it is raining. I can see where the water is going and how best to redirect it. I don’t know why I have to redig these every year. Maybe I don’t dig deep enough or the animals walk through it enough to plug the ditches back up. I know it would be easier with a backhoe or something to change the shape of the landscape, but it is a rare thing for me to be able to afford to use one, so I dig and dig again. And then cover the eating places with woodchips. I hate seeing my animals covered in mud. So I am hauling woodchips most of the winter.
The mud is not limited to the animal areas. It comes into the house with me. Even when I take my boots off at the door, it follows me in. Having a clean house during the winter is nearly impossible. Since I am now living in a travel trailer, it is especially frustrating. And there are times when I have to make a quick trip into the house to get a tool or put the eggs in the refrigerator, or my children and friends come in. I do not make a rule about shoes and maybe I should. But I definitely need a covered porch. When the shoes do come off, they are dropping mud where we are walking in our socks……and being tracked around. And then there are the dogs. They are always wet and muddy. But pets are pets and I do not leave them outside.
The next problems come with the freeze. Some of my water pipes are not underground and neither is my ram pump, so already this fall I have fixed 2 broken pipes and a valve on my pump. The pipes are being buried now, but I still have hoses to and from my trailer that freeze. That means that I have to haul water and not take showers……yeesh. And haul water to all the animals by bucketsful from my pond. It is a good thing that they don’t drink quite as much as when it is hot. I would be at chores all day.
Snow……… We have not had that yet this year, but I know the score. Leaving my car over a half mile away and walking in and out of the driveway. You know the old lie about going to school uphill both ways? Well at my house it is true. I live on the far side of a valley, so to I have a fairly steep hill on both ends of the driveway. With snow and ice, there is no getting out with my car. I have yet to be able to afford a 4X4 which would make it easier, but I still would not totally trust it.
Having a generator that supplements the lack of sunlight for the solar panel also makes things a little trickier. I have to have gas. One year I made some makeshift harnesses for our dogs, strapped them to sleds and had them help us haul 5 gallon cans of gas and groceries home. They did really well for not knowing what they were supposed to be doing.
I did fairly well keeping the house warm. We had a large wood stove and plenty of firewood. The mornings would be cold after a night with the fire damped down, but the main living area could be maintained at a comfortable temperature. The same cannot be said for a travel trailer. It is always cold. The furnace kicks on and heats until it is really warm, then it gets really cold again before it kicks back on. I will be looking for a more stable source of heat. Maybe long johns. Maybe I will build an enclosed porch and put a wood stove in it. The video I watched about heating with tea lights is nice. It does put out some heat, but it cannot combat the freeze and lack of insulation in my trailer. So here I sit with a lap blanket and coat. And just for your information, I totally LOVE hot water bottles to warm my feet in bed at night. I cannot sleep at all if my feet are cold, so this has been a total llifesaver.
What are the frustrations that you combat all winter and how do you do it? What kinds of things do you do to stay warm?