And So It Starts. One Person’s Fight Against Winter



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?

About Janolyn

I am a mother of 5 wonderful children, 4 boys and 1 girl. During the years that my children were growing up, we grew most of our own food with a vegetable garden, many fruit trees and berry patches. I grew flowers for joy. We milked goats and raised our own meats and eggs. I learned to make my own cheeses, butter, canned foods, sourdough, and fermented foods. I made our own health products like soap, hand creams, lip balm, and herbal tinctures. We live off the power grid and have learned to do without conveniences that most Americans consider essential. The land clearing and building has been mostly accomplished with hand tools; some of them even the right tool for the job. After a couple of miscarriages between #2 and #3 due to “standard medical procedures”, I consulted a midwife and my last 3 children were born safely at home. That was when I was first alerted to the fact that doctors did not know everything nor would they have the time to share it with their patients if they did. As I learned the basic principles of heath-through-nutrition from my midwife, I learned alternative gardening practices from her husband. That introduction started a lifelong love of learning the practical life of our ancestors. I want to share what I have been learning with you and learn from those who are also living a sustainable life.


And So It Starts. One Person’s Fight Against Winter — 1 Comment

  1. Great post, I can so relate. Straw and cardboard boxes around the pipes might help, that’s how we kept our above ground pipe by the shed from freezing. Straw covered by a tarp on the roof my help maintain heat in the trailer and hanging quilts/ blankets over walls and window helps. The cold here is not so much an issue for us as it was when we were in TN, we had to use a hair dryer to thaw the pipes under the sink. Also, when I was in HS and my parents bought a 200 year old house I use to sleep with my clothes at the foot of my bed or under my pillow and they would be warm to put on in the morning and I would dress before getting out of bed.

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