Thursday, September 24, 2009

Preparing for Old Man Winter

Good Morning! This morning I woke up to the sounds of the crackling fire, my very favorite! Although it means winter is on it's way, I love to sit by a warm fire, even if it is just for a short time before the sun comes up. Tom knows that Isabella and I sit in front of our wood stove for our morning chat, and that we miss it terribly when he doesn't start one, so as soon as the temperature drops in the fall, I wake up to the smells and sounds of a soul warming fire.

With the first days of fall came the first snow storms. Monday (the last day of summer, mind you) we got over six inches of snow here at the ranch. We were supposed to get 6-12 inches overnight on Tuesday, but it didn't happen, just an inch or so. The kids were really disappointed, they were hoping for the earliest snow day ever!

With this reminder that freezing temps are not in the all too distant future, I need to make a list of the things I must do to prepare the Royal Ranch to have a "greener" winter. I want to share some ideas and tips that I use here, on a small ranch at a very high altitude, but many things that we do, even people in urban areas can adjust to their own needs.

  • Check and replace timers. This is one of my favorite green tips, timers. I use timers on our favorite lamp, various small animal waterers, and I will use it on the chickens "day light", but the big difference has been on the large llama water trough. I have found that if the water heater is on for only 4-6 hours during the coldest times of the night (midnight to 4 or so), the water will not freeze. The savings are huge. Be careful to always get the right kind of timer, for example, get one especially made for outdoors if that is what you are using it for.
  • Shop for textiles at Goodwill. In an old house, you'd be amazed at the odd places that drafts come through. I take old towels, tablecloths, blankets and sheets that I find at low prices and staple them up at the backs of cupboards, in the barn for the barn cats, in the garage windows (where no one can see them), and in the attic.
  • Get the sewing machine out. Every winter I pick an area that really needs attention and sew for that room. Again, I will take textiles that I have purchased second hand and turn them into curtains. Actually my favorite curtains are family treasures, like old tablecloths that had stains on them that can be repurposed into a new usable family treasure! This doesn't work with every one's style though, so look for good sales on fleece, it makes great warm window coverings in just a few quick hems and comes in amazing pattern choices.
  • Firewood, firewood, firewood!
  • Check with other ranchers to see if they have old water troughs that I can turn into feeders. We add feet, drill holes in the bottom for drainage, and presto changeo, we have a new llama feeder from someone else's trash!
  • Scour garage sales for winter supplies like plug in watering dishes, textiles and timers. These things cost pennies on the dollar at private sales and are very easily found.
  • Bring in any plants from outside that I will be able to winter over in the house. It might be a little late, since the snow snuck up on me, but I will get my geraniums and maybe some violas, don't make the same mistake!

Well, I wish you luck with your winter preparations, but the best advice I can give you is to be well prepared. It is coming whether we are ready and prepared or not!

1 comment:

Daisy said...

Our snow starts later (Wisconsin) but the winter is just as serious. I usually pick all the tomatoes when the killing frost is predicted. We live in the city, so we don't have as much to prepare, but I need to drain the rain barrels, rake the leaves, and prep next spring's tomato plot. I'm moving them from the regular garden.