Settling In For Winter

It’s about that time, you guys. I woke up one morning last week and the farm looked like this…

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That’s definitely snow. A light smattering of snow, but still…

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The Nugs were not amused. It’s happening already…

Honestly, to some degree I feel like last winter gave me such and epic beating (body and soul) that as soon as three flakes of snow fall from the sky I flinch and want to run and hide, but there are still things that need to be done around the farm. So, this weekend was for chores and settling in.

I packed all the garden and lawn gear into my fenced in storage area:

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This is one of the reasons I decided to fence this side of the barn it. It could still do with some organizing, but definitely looks better than previous years.

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I also finished cleaning out the last of the garden:

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Remember when it looked like this?

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Craziness. I know this happens every year–the waxing and waning of the growing season–but it seems I just barely get a grasp on more-tomatoes-than-I-know-what-to-do-with and then everything is dead. And it’s freezing out.

We topped out at 29-degrees this weekend, which meant I also spent time putting and extra layer of bedding in the coop and donkey stall, and also found a secret nest of eggs up in the hayloft while I was at it…

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Nugs.

The heated water buckets got plugged in (way easier since I now have legitimate electrical service and outlets in the barn.) As long as they weren’t expected to touch it with their feet, the Nugs were unfazed by a light dusting of snow…

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I also took some time to refill my gas cans (I keep about 20 gallons of diesel, and 10 gallons of gas on hand at all times, because reasons…) and also do a quick check of the exterior of the foundation, WITH HELP, obviously…

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I’m not thrilled with some of the things I’ve found, but since it probably isn’t going to get to above freezing until April, so I’m just going to need to make tuck-pointing a priority in spring.

The Nugs also helped me fill in the trench from the pole to the barn where we’re now all wired up for real electrical service (and not 200′ of extension cords stretched out here from the garage…)

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My neighbor actually saw me doing this and came over to help (because I’m getting good at using the tractor for these kind of things, but he’s way more adept at it… and so helpful. My neighbors are the best.)

I’m about done with “outside” work for the year, although I made sure to take a little time this weekend (even in the sub-freezing temps) to just sit outside and enjoy the place…

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If you’re one of those people who gets a sense of satisfaction when other things check things off their lists, here was my “get your shit ready for winter” list, with the appropriate strike-throughs.

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. DONE
  • Fix man-door (Eh, it’s useable)
  • Fix donkey door DONE
  • Close up windows It was a pain in the ass, but… DONE

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
  • Get guineas
  • Move new guinea coop out to pasture

3.)    Run electric to barn  DONE (There’s just one small thing we need to do before this is all the way finished. It involves a 28′ extension ladder and the bucket of my tractor… let your imaginations run wild…)

4.)    Have wood-stove hooked up in garage (Bastards have not called me back, so I may or may not do this myself…)

  • Build table for drill press/ router table DONE (Check it out.)
  • Fix wall (This will need to be done for the wood stove, if that ever happens.)
  • Call to have hooked up

5.)    Refinish dining room floor finally (Eh.)

6.)   Finish some projects

  • Clean up dead tree branches DONE (I’m a chainsaw MASTER… not really, but good enough.)
  • Fix or store truck cap DONE (My neighbors did this for me because they are the awesomeist people ever)
  • Paint back of barn
  • Put cross braces on pergola
  • Put gravel under pergola
  • Finish propane fence DONE
  • Patch holes in soffits, cap chimney

7.) Work the land

  • Mow the Back 4 DONE
  • Plant fruit trees dammit, you’ve been talking about it for years (Didn’t happen… so disappointing.)
  • Plant garlic, onions, anything else that needs to go in the ground DONE
  • Kill weeds in garden (clean up beds)

The good news is, all but 2 critical items are checked off that list. I still need to stock up on hay (I still have a good 10 bales from last year so don’t worry about the donkeys going hungry) and I’d like to get the cross braces (even temporarily) up on the pergola so that the posts don’t warp during winter.

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That’s going to be a cold and miserable job that will require quite a bit of cleverness as I am one woman, and those are 14′ 2×8’s that need to be strung up. But it needs to be done, and I had all summer to do it… this is my penance. It will be done next weekend, no matter how miserable the weather is. The rest can hold until spring…

And, as for other things, I’m still working towards being able to heat my chilly bones in a proper bathtub. I’m also working on those primers for all the things you need to know to remodel a room that I mentioned last week. Those damn things take just as long as I thought they would (and more) to write but I’m half-way through a decent primer on electrical and hope to post it for ya’ll this week.

Until then, stay warm people. It’s cold out there.

14 Responses

    1. It’s unused at present… someone stole the copper that goes to the heater in the garage, and my house runs on fuel oil so I don’t feel compelled to also heat the garage right now. But I may hook it back up eventually!

  1. Ditto the propane tank access, but maybe it’s not an active tank?…and might want to store nicer chairs under a roof.

    Can’t wait to see how you’ll get the 14 footers up…I have a couple ideas, have done the solitary builder thing many times…..brains over brawn/helpers.

    1. You know, I’ve had most of those chairs through 3 houses, and I’ve never put them inside for a winter. It’s half the reason I’ve kept them so long!

  2. You’ve got such a great start!! We still need to change our water spigots to frost free or at very least put in a valve and shut off water since last year we had one split open. And we need to put the blade on the four-wheeler.

    And I wish I had mowed our grass one more time. But we are pretty much ready to go at our house.

  3. Great progress! I am going to think of your list as I gripe my way through leaf-blowing mania! Not living on a farm that is my biggie 🙂

  4. Kit, I know anytype of blogging takes time, but have you thought about vlogging? I have subscribed to dozens of folks doing homesteading, fix up sections, gardening, farming, tiny house, geeky stuff, etc but I usually don’t run across a female doing DIY tutorials. I’m not sure if it would be the “perfect” medium to get your message out, but could be great at doing these primers and tying them into your blog somehow?

    I find myself usually winding down at night with kiddos and they don’t usually fuss to bad if we sit down to watch some Youtube instead of hulu or netflix on the tv.

    The video format must be successful for the HGTV folks to use alot of female hosts and contractors, but I wonder if it is just an untapped area for Youtube?

    Give it a try on a short 5-10 min video, I do know the editing takes a bit of time, but not sure if it is more time than typing it all out and tying the pictures together.

    Thanks for taking us along your ride!

  5. Winter is coming! You have accomplished so much. Looking at your list should make you feel great! My vote on prioritizing tasks is always, always do what will save you from freezing later. Looks like you have made terrific headway.

  6. Even with all the chores, you make me miss my farm/ranch. I love the country life and all that goes with it; gardening, chickens, horses, milking, mowing, planting and harvesting peanuts and cotton, canning, fruit trees, growing my own watermelons, etc…..
    I don’t miss bailing and staking hay. Itchy business!
    What I miss most of all is the creek fed swimming hole on a hot summer afternoon. You know, memories.

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