Homesteading isn’t for the faint of heart.
Especially if you live in blizzard country.
Now for those of you who are apartment homesteaders, or maybe reside in a warmer part of the country, feel free to enjoy this post with a sense of satisfaction that you don’t have to deal with these issues.
But if you ARE homesteading in a more wintery part of the country, I just want to say- I feel your pain.
I had no idea of the power of a blizzard before I moved to Wyoming. Snow storms? Sure. Literal white-outs where you can’t see your hand in front of your face? That’s only in movies… Right?
If only I knew…
The first winter at our homestead was a doozy.
That is our house. And behind the massive peak of snow is our front door. Let’s just say we were very thankful that the house has 2 doors. The other door’s drift was only half that size.
The view from inside the house:
I seriously considered bringing a shovel inside the house that year in case we had to dig from the inside out!
Thankfully since that first year, we’ve put in tree rows, snow fences, and a deck, which has helped to greatly reduce the drifting. Eliminated? No way. But definitely reduced.
So I’ve put together a Winter Storm Preparations checklist for all of you homesteaders that live in colder climates.
I’ve learned (often the hard way) that it is way easier to go out and do a little prep before the blizzard hits, versus trying to play catch up when it’s storming so hard that you can’t see the barn from the house.
And because no one should have to dig a frozen hose out from under 5 feet of crusty snow. (Trust me, I know.)
The Homesteader’s Blizzard Checklist
When a severe winter storm is being forcasted here are a few things you can do to make your life easier:
- Fill all animal waterers to the top. Watering is far more enjoyable when your fingers aren’t trying to freeze together and the hose isn’t cracking.
- Dig out tank heaters or heated water bowls & make sure they work. We have a small heated dog bowl for the chickens in the winter. They love it and so do I.
- If previous tip is not applicable, find your ax. For our big tanks, we do things the old-fashioned way… Lots of ice chopping. But it’s a good workout…Right?
- Drain all the hoses and put them in your barn or garage. Because, there is nothing, and I mean nothing, worse than an empty water tank and a frozen solid hose. Ugh.
- Muck out the barns and/or coop. After a good blizzard, there is often NO WAY to drive a wheelbarrow around our barnyard for days (and sometimes weeks…) Therefore, I always feel better starting out with a clean-ish barn.
- Move animals inside, if needed. Our rather “delicate” goats get moved to a pen in the big barn during bad weather. I know, they’d probably be fine with their lean-to shelters, but they act so pitiful that I can’t help myself.
- Fill hay feeders full and make sure you have plenty of easy-to-access hay. If you store your bales outside, it might be a good idea to move some into the barn so they do not become buried. Remember that animals will eat more hay during cold weather to stay warm, so make sure they start off with full feeders.
- If you have poultry, plug in heat lamps and make sure you have extra bulbs. Mine always break at the worst possible times…
- Chain up your tractor and/or vehicles if need be. It’s always easier to chain up when it’s not freezing cold and blowing 100 mph. Ask me how I know…
- Dig out your muck boots and warm clothes. Carhartt coveralls, tall insulated boots, and a silk scarf are a must at my house.
- Make sure you have enough food, water, and toilet paper in the house. This is usually the least of my worries since we always have ample amounts of food stored in our pantry and freezers. But, it seems that most people frantically run to the grocery store whenever a storm is predicted. My suggestion is to always have supplies stored up.
- Think ahead. What would you do for heat or water if the power was to go off for a period of time? It’s good to have a game plan thought out ahead of time for such instances.
- Get ready to stay warm. If you have a wood stove, make sure to have plenty of firewood chopped and brought into the house.
- Have a little entertainment handy. In Wyoming, road closures are a very frequent event. The first day of being snowed in is always fun. The second day is a little boring, and by the third day, you’ll have a whole new understanding of the term “cabin fever”. Have a stash of movies, boardgames, books, projects (baking bread is always cozy when it’s snowing. I canned applesauce during our last storm), to keep you busy if you are stuck inside for a while.
- String a rope from your house to your barn. Okay, okay, I’m kidding on that one… Little House on the Prairie fans will know what I’m talking about. Actually, during that first blizzard, I totally understood why the old timers did that. In fact, it was such a white-out one day that our dogs got lost in the front yard and started barking because they couldn’t find their way back to the house (only about 40 feet away…) So maybe that rope wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Like I said, none of these things HAVE to be done before it starts snowing, but man, life is sure easier when they are!
It’s barely November and we’ve already had 3 decent snow storms at our house. No real blizzards yet, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to be a “tough” winter like everyone is saying…
Honestly though? As much as I complain about the snow, I have to admit that hubby and I still get a little excited when a “big one” is predicted in the forecast. (Let me rephrase that: We like it when they come in December or January. By May, we are getting a little tired of snow…)
There is just something about the real, raw excitement of battling the elements that brings a little bit of adventure to life. And that is what homesteading is all about.
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