Checking Things Off the List: Winter 2014

My internal clock is set for some time back in June, but according to the calendar it’s already effing September. That’s how we’re going to refer to it for the whole month. Effing September. Which is going to be short lived because effing September is effing half over already. It’s almost effing October.

I just need to take a minute to breathe into a paper bag, if you don’t mind.

You know, September itself isn’t such a bad month. I love Fall. I love it when the entire world starts to smell like apples and woodsmoke. I love the idea of curling up with a book and hot cider at the end of the day. I love Christmas (and not just because sometimes I drink a bottle of wine and sing for you guys.) It’s just the getting from here– with a pretty hefty list of things I need to do before it snows–to there seems a little… intimidating.


If I’m being honest, I feel a little melancholy about this year winding down because my progress on house projects recently feels, well, disappointing. And while I don’t think there’s any good point to getting all woe-is-me on you about this, it’s also probably healthy to acknowledge my feelings and put them out there… I’ve noticed on other blogs (and am sure I’m guilty of it myself) a tendency to get preemptively defensive about things. The fact that I don’t feel good about how much I’ve gotten done probably subconsciously affects the way I tell stories. I’m afraid at any minute I might just start spouting off a list of THINGS I’VE DONE THIS YEAR, YOU GUYS just to make myself feel better about, well, all the things I haven’t done.

One of the ways I deal with ALL THE FEELS is to, well, first, just call it the eff out. There’s no point in me writing at all if I’m not going to tell an authentic story, and it’s actually okay to be a little disappointed in yourself. It doesn’t mean I’m unhappy or ungrateful or stressed out… It just means I think I can do better.  And then? Well, then I make lists.

Dwelling for too long on things I don’t feel good about doesn’t energize me, but you know what does (for weird, weird reasons that we don’t need to get into the psychology of?) Challenges.

So here’s the list of things I’m challenging myself to do before winter rolls in for real (which, knowing winter, could be anywhere from 3-8 weeks from now)…

1.)    Barn Work – Yes, I spend more time working on the barn than the house, but more things live out there than in the house too. Here’s what needs to be done:

  • Deep clean the chicken coop, donkey stall, and floor. Put down new bedding, organize for winter.
  • Fix man-door
  • Fix donkey door
  • Close up windows

2.)    Prep for animals- Running out of hay in the middle of a snowstorm when my truck won’t start is a bitch, and it’s not happening to me again this year.

  • Stock up on hay, straw, feed
  • Get water heaters set up (Nov)
  • Get guineas
  • Move new guinea coop out to pasture (done, but needs a pen)

3.)    Run electric to barn  (call electrician)

4.)    Have wood-stove hooked up in garage

  • Build table for drill press/ router table
  • Fix wall
  • Call to have hooked up (did that this morning, actually)

5.)    Refinish dining room floor finally (probably just call someone to do this)

6.)   Finish some projects

  • Clean up dead tree branches
  • Fix or store truck cap
  • Paint back of barn
  • Put cross braces on pergola
  • Put gravel under pergola
  • Finish propane fence
  • Patch holes in soffits, cap chimney

7.) Work the land

  • Mow the Back 4
  • Plant fruit trees dammit, you’ve been talking about it for years
  • Plant garlic, onions, anything else that needs to go in the ground
  • Kill weeds in garden (clean up beds)

I’m hoping if I can make some decent progress on this list, then I can clear some headspace and focus my energy on taking on one of those bigger projects. Or, if this year is anything like last year, on shoveling snow.

Anyone else panicking about winter already or is it just me?

Also, for listening to me panic about winter, I give you this… donkeys spying on guineas.


Always there with the comic relief.

29 Responses

  1. You are certainly not the only one panicking about winter. The wood pile is taunting me daily at this point. So much cutting and splitting left… but also so many “summer” projects that I still want to do?

    I love fall.. but I’m a little resentful of how fast it seemed to come this year.

    And despite my unfinished list of projects I find myself still rapidly planning indoor winter projects, of which I might finish a quarter. I think it’s not that I’m not getting stuff done, it’s just I enjoy the project planning / goal setting a bit too much.

  2. OMG, those donkeys are the cutest!! So lists are great, dont gete wrong but certainly can be overwhelming with a multitude of things to do!! Breaking it down into seasons should help !! That will leave you with rhe things that can be done anytime and this list you can pick off when time allows!! Give yourself huge credit for taking on such an endeavor!! And, doing it by yourself!! Slow down girl, it will all get done, but enjoy your piece of the world!!

  3. No, you’re not the only one!

    Am prioritizing in order of importance:
    #1 – Animal tending comfort/safety.
    #2 – Maintenance against snow loads crushing things, like out buildings.

  4. *hyperventilates* I need to paint…and caulk…and paint some more…and there is a kid to play with and quilts to make and football games to go to and beer to drink and I need more hours in the day so that I can work my regular job and still get everything else done.
    And if this winter is anything like last winter I’m just going to move to a cabin in the mountains where I’m SUPPOSED to get a shit ton of snow and then not worry about shoveling because I’ll be snowed in and not expected to go anywhere or do anything from October until May.

  5. Oh my goodness. I can relate. This week was supposed to be the week to get shit down outside (fence and porch painting, garden tidying, making new raised garden beds, and so on), but I badly sprained my ankle yesterday. Nooooo!

  6. Holy hell…I wasn’t panicked until I saw YOUR ambitious to do list. I gotta get off here,I got too much crap to do 😛

  7. I love reading your lists and seeing you cross things off!! This probably makes me a complete weirdo, but I feel strangely satisfied, as if it were me accomplishing things!!

    1. No, I also love reading other peoples lists and seeing what they’ve checked off! I don’t know what it’s so satisfying, but it’s possible we’re *both* weird…

  8. We’re over here just hoping we have a winter this year. Rain would be nice!

    Funny how you feel like you haven’t done anything and I’m like dang she does so much.

  9. Oy it seems SO strange to me to hear people fretting about winter already. I tend to forget that other parts of the country have more than 2 seasons. Here in Central California, we have EFFING HOT (it is still triple digits here), and EFFING FOGGY/COLD (it gets into the twenties and frozen fog, which is just nasty, but not as bad as snow).

    To me, that list sounds totally do-able, until I see your 3-8 week timeframe. Then I’m all WTF about it. Seriously girl, you kick ass – I know you can do it!

    I barely pulled out my fall decorations in a vain attempt to spur Mother Nature to change her tune. Guess my pumpkins and leaves were too pathetic to even blow a gust of wind at.

  10. I am panicking too,with my list of stuff on the farm still not completed. Still got that limb hanging over the house and no one to cut it down. All the companies are so busy with the cleanup of downed trees since the spring. Can’t we just skip winter?

  11. I know it shouldn’t make me feel better that so many other people are panicking, but it really does… Here’s to all of us getting our work done before snow!

  12. The reason I love this blog above other blogs is for your Authenticity. You’ve actually inspired me to start a blog. I looked at your blog about how you blog, wordpress etc and I bought a URL. I love the tone of your blog and how you are real. When I discovered your blog, I went back and read the old blog posts, not in a stalker way,but just because you make my laugh and your life is real. Not fabricated prettyness like so many other blogs. I think if you wrote a book in your same authentic tone, people would buy it. I would at least.

  13. You are definitely not the only one breathing in a paper bag & I don’t have a boatload of critters to look after! Way too chilly in CT for this time of year! One sprained (or something worse) toe on right foot (no idea how), one nasty sting from something on left hand (didn’t see it, but still itching and swollen) and a 4 year old in the house that managed to lift a 2 pound hand weight and smack himself right in the eye. THAT was Monday…night. I think I will go directly to bed tonight after work and make lists…nah, I’ll read a good book. As long as I don’t fall out of bed, I should be good to go soon! LOL!

  14. Nope, you’re not alone. I’m totally panicking about winter. I haven’t completed half of what I wanted to do in the basement this summer, so that we would have a cozy place to do projects when we are trapped inside in the cold. Yuck. Of course, I have those outside projects that I tend to put off until “it gets a little cooler” and so I’m left with 20 projects to do as soon as October rolls around. And who has time to do anything when you are making giant spiders and Halloween decorating?

  15. Wow, it’s so strange reading about you all getting ready for winter. This is such an alien concept to me!

    I live in Darwin, Australia (our closest neighbours are Indonesia and Papua New Guinea) and we have just the two seasons here.

    The Wet Season is VERY hot and SUPER humid and is just starting now. For the next 8 months we’ll hide inside our air-conditioned houses / cars / offices and dread having to step outside to do chores. Then I’ll look at your photos of snow covered fields and dream that I’m rolling around in it naked. Sorry to put that visual in your head haha.

    When the Dry Season rolls around in May we have just 3 months of dry, cool weather where we can actually grow vegetables, build stuff, fix stuff etc without perspiring to death. So I guess in a way I can relate to trying to get a long list of projects done in a short period of time!

  16. I think panic is totally appropriate when you have critters counting on you. Looks like you have your priorities in order. You got this – slow and steady wins the race!

  17. I am totally panicking about Winter! We got electricity out to our new barn last weekend so I can have light when I feed my dog and cat in the evenings (we are running out of daylight hours FAST!). And now I can plug the heated water bowls in out there and not run extension cords.

    I had a WHOLE LIST of things to get done this year and it just flew by. Now all I can think of is buttoning up the exterior before the snow flies. And I hate to be a pessimist here but the Almanac predicts another bad Winter! I am also preparing an emergency stash for power outages and getting snowed in (which sounds romantic but is not actually quite like you imagine!)!!!!

  18. I just want to say that you should not beat yourself up because every time I read your blog I’m in awe of how much you get done. You do 10x the amount of stuff around your house than I wish I did around mine. Keep that in mind when you get bothered. That being said, good luck with the list.

  19. About those fruit trees, I have ordered a couple of things from Clifton’s Nursery. They ship several year old plants in the container they grew in. So, big, heavy package, $, but you wind up with something that looks like its been growing in your yard for some years.

    Here’s their (rather tacky 🙂 url:

  20. Kit, some stuff *should* be easier now that you have a tractor. For example, get or borrow a one row breaking plow and dig a trench for your underground power line to your barn. Not sure of your depth (ask your electrician) and do all the labor yourself and you can save some major money! In fact what we did, Call the electrician for a quote, have him give you a list of the supplies you need, or if he can get them cheaper, and you do all the prep and assembling and he does the final hookup and sign the receipt so your covered for insurance.

    Another Idea: Not sure if you go with Round or Square bales, but either way you can store them outside and then put a tarp or black plastic over them. Also, if you store them where you want your garden to be you kinda kill two birds with one stone. Your grass will die in that area and you should use up all the hay before Spring planting time. If you can find a good Disk on CL it will do a decent job, but the ultimate is find yourself a 3pt rotary tiller attachment. Expensive, but amazing (especially if you don’t have alot of rocks).

    You should try your 20-10-20 cleaning rule to your project list. Assign 20 minutes to one project and then find something else to tinker with for the 10. At least you would always chip away at the “boring” jobs a bit.

    Good luck because I know how you feel, my list is longer and I am a bit lazier so it has a tendency to drag on thru winter and then I kick myself for not getting that done.

  21. Kit, even if you feel down on how much you accomplished this year, you inspire me to accomplish something myself. ^_^ Even if that something is finally prioritizing my list of things I need to save up to purchase.

    And my list for the winter is to put together a comprehensive list of house/land projects that need to be completed and send it to my dad to see what he can help me with come spring.

  22. Oh God where DID summer go? I had a list a mile long in May and maybe have a third of it done. I left in mid-July for a two week vacation with my brother’s family and ended up being gone for mostof July and August due to several circumstances beyond my control.

    And I still haven’t caught up. I have painting projects that HAVE to be completed at 3 properties because I power-washed my fence and my cabin and now there is lots of bare wook that has to get painted before winter. Working on the last side of my rental house this week and it keeps threatening rain. Fingers crossed I can get this done and get to the cabin and tackle that next.

    I did get hay in the barn for the donkeys last week and my homeowner’s insurance paid to have my chimney rebuilt after frost-heave last winter threatened to bring it tumbling down. Also got the tile on my walkway replaced and grouted last week.

    But oh-my-god where did summer go? Seriously I am stressing out and hyperventilating like a mad woman. Trying so hard to stay focused and productive but its pretty overwhelming sometimes.

    Hope your list is getting shorter!

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