Ready, Set… Snow!

It’s not actually snowing right now, you guys, nor is it supposed to snow in the next week according the weather forecast, which we all know is always accurate, right? Right.

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There were so very many years in my life where “getting ready for snow” meant looking outside, and if it was snowing, maybe putting on a hat. If I could even find a hat, which I probably couldn’t. And then, you know, going about my business as usual. Not much was different except everything was covered in white.

But now…

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Now there are a lot more fuzzy donkey faces in my life (begging for more hay), but I also have to start planning for snow in September. Remember this list of everything I needed to get done to have the farm ready for winter? Well, twelve weeks later, I’m finally ready. My life has gone from “trying to find a hat before I walk outside” to this…

1.)    Barn work

  • Deep clean the chicken coop, donkey stall, and floor. Put down new bedding, organize for winter. DONE. The Nugs helped, as usual.
  • Fix man-door – I didn’t get to this, but, I mean… it’s not really that broken.
  • Fix donkey door – DONE.
  • Close up windows – DONE. But it was the majorest pain in my ass. I don’t even care that majorest isn’t a word… it was that bad.

2.)    Prep animals for winter

    • Stock up on hay, straw, feed– DONE. Thirty bales unloaded and stored in the barn last weekend.

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  • Get water heaters set up DONE. Although I’m considering an upgrade to the nug waterer because it’s such a pain in the ass to fill.
  • Get guineas DONE. And they are making their presence known every day.
  • Move new guinea coop out to pasture  DONE. Except they decided to move themselves into the barn with the chickens. So that was a lot of stress over the coop situation for nothing.

3.)    Run electric to barn  DONE. And only one electrician had to risk his life in the process.

4.)    Have wood-stove hooked up in garage DONE. YOU GUYS, LOOK. This just happened yesterday.
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  • Build table for drill press/ router table DONE. Check out the workshop. So much awesomeness.
  • Fix wall – Turns out this was not necessary for the stove installation, but I still need to get it done.

5.)    Refinish dining room floor finally – Uh… kind of forgot this was on the list.

6.)   Finish some projects

  • Clean up dead tree branches – DONE. And learned how to use my chainsaw in the process.
  • Fix or store truck cap – DONE. Thanks to my awesome neighbors.
  • Paint back of barn – Didn’t get to this one…
  • Put cross beams on pergola – DONE. SO MUCH DONE YOU GUYS.
  • Put gravel under pergola – This will also be a spring project…
  • Finish propane fence – DONE. See it here.
  • Patch holes in soffits, cap chimney – Well… I bought an extension ladder so I can do this… does that count? Not really.

7.) Work the land

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  • Plant fruit trees dammit, you’ve been talking about it for years – Didn’t get to this one again this year… but there’s always spring!
  • Plant garlic, onions, anything else that needs to go in the ground DONE. I miss drinking wine in the garden.
  • imageKill weeds in garden (clean up beds) DONE.

Lists like this are what my life on the farm is made of, and it may seem overwhelming. Some people may wonder why I’d willingly spend twelve weeks prepping this place for winter and snow that may or may not come. And I don’t have a good answer for that, except, honestly, the work feels good. Taking care of this place feels good. Looking back at the last few months and taking pride in what I’ve done isn’t exhausting, it’s energizing. It makes me feel strong and capable, and like maybe I deserve just a small part of the joy and stability this farm brings me every day.

I’ve got food stocked for the animals. Lights in the barn. Heat in my workshop. I don’t know what else I could ask for as we enter a long, dark winter… well, okay, I could ask for that damn bathroom to be finished so I could lounge around in a hot bath with a glass of wine. But I’d take a barn full of hay over that any day. Which is how I know I’m in exactly the right place, and happy to be here.

26 Responses

  1. Good for you — I enjoy seeing your lists and reading your updates, and I am very glad to see that stove go in so you can play with tools all winter long! 🙂

  2. Brava!!! Having animals makes a huge difference in prep that for sure. Good Job!

    Just watched a PBS special A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps where he said that spring, summer and fall were all abut getting ready for winter.
    I got my winter criticals done *just* before the foot of snow we got over here a couple weeks ago…..now no snow since, which is nice I must admit.

    What are you using for chicken water heat?

    Is that daylight I see coming thru that wall behind the stove?
    Enjoy *not* shoveling, plowing, throwing snow…for now.

    1. Hey Anne, I have a plastic heated chicken waterer, but it’s kind of a POS because you have to fill it from a plug in the bottom (always end up with water EVERYWHERE.) Next year I’m going to upgrade to a heater for under their metal water tank.

  3. I’ve been reading, but not commenting for a while now. I love your “voice”… your humor… and your fearlessness.

    This was a great post, I also moved from the city and it’s amazing how much more important the weather is when you’re out a ways. After one-after-another blizzards (I’m in Colorado) our second winter on the land, I ALWAYS prepare for the snow. (eight tons of hay? yup, it’s in my barn… my boys won’t go hungry!)

    I love this:

    “Taking care of this place feels good. Looking back at the last few months and taking pride in what I’ve done isn’t exhausting, it’s energizing. It makes me feel strong and capable, and like maybe I deserve just a small part of the joy and stability this farm brings me every day.”

    Profound… 🙂

  4. You know, I love all your posts because you feel like the sister I never had (4 great brothers but still). But this morning I really needed this one. When we bought our farm 12 years ago, we had such ambitious plans to be, well “done” (whatever that means) by now and really, we have so many lists and projects that I wonder if we’ll even keep up let alone “finish”. And I have three young boys who keep me challenged beyond what I feel I have the strength for many days. Then this morning I woke up early, made my coffee and sat down to read your blog and remembered all the things I did check off my list: chicken coop winterized before it was -20F, barn/garage door built and hung after 5 years of looking at the hardware in the garage (thanks for the instructions:), door built for the back porch, woodshed full of cut and split wood, etc., etc. So your statement is absolutely profound. “Taking care of this place feels good……. ” Thank you for sharing your journey;).

  5. I see some daylight coming through the wall in the garage. Add that to next year’s list! But mighty impressed by everything you crossed off this year. Well done.

  6. can i have your motivation, determination, and ability to cross basically EVERYTHING off of your list?! seriously. you are such an inspiration!!

  7. No joke, I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts. I really have nothing else productive to add – just felt compelled to let you know that you + your writing are good shit.

    Big fan.

  8. I love your blog! i was raised on a farm for a few years , and i know the satisfaction and rewards of living on one and all the work it entails!

  9. Kit, you’ve gotten so much done this year – Good for you! Take a minute to pat yourself on the back and have a good beer or two. Or three.

  10. About those fruit trees (or any other tree planting for that matter…) – the best time to plant is in the Fall when you have a couple good weeks before the ground freezes. Soak them well at least once a week (or until your hose freezes), mulch them (keep the mulch away from the bark, spread around the tree like a doughnut shape), and fence them in at least 6 inches below ground (moles, mice, rabbits…). Hog fencing and hardware cloth in a good 3 to 5 foot diameter around each tree, staked well to keep out deer and curious donkeys. No need to stake them in if their trunk is of smaller diameter than your wrist.
    The little critters gnaw at the bark and can girdle your trees while the big critters can rub/chew bark/branches. Protect the young bark from winter sun scald – never wrap them tightly. You can remove the wrapping in the Spring after the snow is gone.
    Best to make planting trees a priority early on as the intensive part is getting them in the ground. If you do this part well the first time, then you can pretty much just check them from time to time sipping a glass of wine. 🙂

    That’s pretty much it for the sweating part.

    Find trees hardy to your zone and space them apart so they won’t be crowded in when they are grown. Math is involved. There are hundreds of apple varieties out there, from heirloom stock to fancy pie apples to cider apples to tiny berry sized crab apples birds will devour. Crab apples also have the most intense colorful blooms, from red to pink to white. Then there’s the leaf color choices in the Fall… AND if you buy trees for Fall planting, you will spend 25 to 50% less $.
    More than you ever wanted to know, right?

    So here’s a little more… consider planting the perimeter of your property with hardy evergreens (Pines, not spruce) that will be amazing when they are grown. Majestic, even. Spruce trees are best used as part of a windbreak, but no closer to building structures than their mature height (ex. tree grows to 150′ tall – plant about 100 to 200′ from house/building). Hardwoods such as Sugar Maple are great for magical shade AND tasty syrup.

    Approximately 15 to 20 years to maturity with smaller fruit trees and 50 to 100 years for the large trees. Often apple trees won’t produce fruit at all for up to a decade after being planted. And you will need to consider similar bloom times for desired pollination. (Got bees?)

    Consider planting an alley of trees up your drive or from the house to the barn (can be smaller trees); Google images. It would turn your house into an estate… or Nug plantation… Gone with the Wind – Up North?

    Gotta go. Dimmer switch install tomorrow. First time. Hopefully not the last time. 😛

    1. I actually just paid my HVAC guy to do it. I don’t have any personal experience with woodstoves (never had one, never installed one) and I didn’t have any good examples to look at and see how it’s done. (Usually if I can see how someone else did something correctly, I can re-create it.) And this is one of those things that could result in burning down the garage (with all of my tools in it) so I was more than happy to pay to have it installed. Probably one of the few things on the list I never considered DIYing! 😉

  11. Meanwhile, here in Arizona, I am complaining because I am sooooo sick of sunny warm weather. Just once, I would love for it to feel like winter. Yah, I now feel like a shmuck! You are a serious badass! I wish one day that I can muster up enough energy to get some stuff done in this little apartment, while dreaming about getting serious stuff done on my future farm! Thanks for your awesome posts and have a great Christmas!

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