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Preparing for Winter

Sep
13

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Yesterday was The Day of Corn. I’ve put up corn from over 100 ears now and we’ve still got corn coming in from our garden. (I’m continuing to dry all the husks.)
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I also processed a huge box of hot peppers. These were mostly sliced and frozen for use in stews, chilis, casseroles, fajitas, and so on through the coming months.
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I also set aside enough to make another batch of Hot Pepper Butter, which I’m in love with now and fear running out of before next year’s peppers. I had to make more.


I’m still canning and putting up food in the pantry as well as storing up gifts for Christmas.
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Items that must be bought at the store are being gradually stored up, too. Staples like flour, sugar, baking powder, dry beans, rice, and so many other basics (including meats).
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I’ll also be freezing some eggs, just to be sure not being able to get to the store won’t stop me from baking! And in case the chickens stop laying right in the middle of a blizzard. (I prefer not to use dry milk, of course, but I keep dry milk onhand also, for emergency baking purposes. Snowbound beggars can’t be choosers.)

As God is my witness, I will not run out of aluminum foil this winter in the middle of a snowstorm.
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There is a lot more stocking up to do, of course. We have a few months yet before winter arrives. Every shopping trip is an opportunity to lay in an extra this or that. Buy two instead of one. A little here, a little there. A gradual stockpiling.

We learned a lot last winter about how abruptly–and how thoroughly–we can become isolated. And there is more to survival than food.

A truckload of crushed stone was put down on the driveway yesterday.
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Another truckload will come next weekend. Much of last winter, the driveway was impassable. There were many days….weeks….when I had to park at the bottom and walk. It’s a long way up. Especially in the snow. Or if you’re carrying any groceries–which is another reason to lay in supplies. It’s quite likely that 50 percent of the time during the winter, even if I can get down the road and back, I won’t be able to get my vehicle up to the house. Snow plus steep, shaded driveway equals impassable. The fewer supplies that have to be carried up the hill, the better.

The extra layer of stone on the driveway won’t mean it will always be passable this winter, but hopefully it will make it passable more days than it was last year.

The road itself is another thing. It will also become impassable at times.

A “new” old woodstove is set to come in the house.
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Chopping firewood is gonna be a popular hobby around here.
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And! Most exciting is………
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…..a generator!!!!! A generator will keep our well pumping and our freezers freezing, our refrigerator humming and my laptop living, at least in limited measures, in case of an extended power outage. (At least as long as we have gasoline to run it. We’ll have to lay in a supply of that, too.)

The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a hard winter, but that’s not so bad if you’re ready. If you’re sitting by a toasty woodstove, if you have plenty of food and water, if your animals have hay and warm shelters.

There will be snow falling over the hills here in a few months.
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I will have dried fruits and spices in a simmering potpourri pot. Squash, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, corn, green beans, and eggplant to cook in casseroles and stews. Peaches and apples and blackberries to bake in pies. Salsas and relishes, chutneys and jams. Bread in the oven and tamales steaming in corn husks. (And dolls tumbling out of baskets.)

Oh yeah, I will be ready for winter this year. DO YOU HEAR ME, WINTER? I’M THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET.

I’m in so much trouble now.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on September 13, 2009  

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  1. 9-13
    3:57
    am

    You are so ready that winter will just give up and try lull you into believing you prepared for nothing this year. Then watch out a few years from now. Really though I’m happy to see the generator. I was worried about all that food in the freezer getting lost in an extended power outage. I didn’t even think about the well pump. Like you said though, it will be frustratingly worthless if you don’t have a supply of fuel to run the generator. What if you had to try to siphon gas out of the car to fill the generator, so not fun in an ice storm. Here’s to being prepared. You will sleep well knowing it doesn’t matter what happens you can not only survive, but will live well this winter.

    Seriously though…. meat from the store? You gotta start buying on the hoof from local farmers and having it custom butchered. The quality is so much better and it’s soooooooo much cheaper! And it cuts out the middle man giving all the money to the farmer and butcher. Keeps money local too! Sorry, just my bias showing through, I so hate corporate America.

    Your pigs will be ready to butcher this fall or at the latest early winter. Ham, sausage, bacon, pork chops….. oh my! And next year you should have lamb too if your flock more than doubles in the spring. Excess goats,(the kid bucks, you know you are going to get them) are very tasty too. Raise some poultry (we processed chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese this year). Buy a side of beef off a local farm and you will be set. Only thing left to do is go fishing in the local streams.

  2. 9-13
    4:44
    am

    Ugh. I dread this time of year, ready or not. Looks like you’ll be all set though!

  3. 9-13
    5:54
    am

    Wait don’t do it; don’t fool with Mother Nature…to late you have challenged ole man winter to a duel? Bad girl, this will surely cost us all with snow and ice and electrical outages galore. Yep ole man winter will return and if the Almanac is right he will make us all wish for Spring. Burrr, I can feel it coming. Nothing to do now but maintain the 4WD and get sand for the driveway! Hey has anybody noticed that 1931 holds so many records for daily high temperatures? Wow that precedes the rural electrification act that brought us all this climate change.

  4. 9-13
    6:16
    am

    What a lovely post! I like the quiet of winter and the beauty of the snow ( just not driving in it!) Looks like your house is w-a-y out in the country, love it, and love your wonderful blog:)

  5. 9-13
    6:21
    am

    That is an awful lot of aluminum foil!! Surely not to run out this year!!

    We’ve been stockpiling here, too. The kids are calling the pantry a “store” again, that’s a nice thought! They even notice Nana & Papa are getting ready for winter!

    The pig will be here the first part of October — we get ours from my sister who raises beef and pork — MUCH cheaper and better quality meat! The beef came in last month. So the freezer will be full as well as the pantry!

    Find a local farmer who raises beef for their own family — you know you will be getting better quality meat, it is MUCH cheaper than the store, and it’s packaged how YOU want it……no more buying family packs and packaging it into smaller quantities!

  6. 9-13
    6:35
    am

    Suzanne,
    Even though I live in the ‘big harsh’ city, I’ve been doing the same thing. Although more because of the bad economy than from being isolated like you and your family sometimes get. It’s best to be prepared when cold winds blow and you need something warm in your belly, isn’t it? xxoo

  7. 9-13
    6:53
    am

    You know the sled the kids are using? Well…put it in the car and use it to haul stuff up the hill. When my kids were younger, they would even use it on the grass to haul groceries “all the way” from the car – about 35 paces from the house. lol Hey, as long as they got it inside, safe and sound, I didn’t care HOW they did it.

  8. 9-13
    6:54
    am

    We moved from Minnesota to Florida to avoid WINTER, but you make it sound so good with all the preperations. Your pantry looks so good. Could I come and live with you for a couple of weeks? I would even cook, and I bake great bread. Ahhh, my husband would start to miss me, but it is a lovely idea.

  9. 9-13
    7:23
    am

    In what part of the country does one these terrible and barely surviveable winters? Curious people and enquiring minds want to know.

  10. 9-13
    7:25
    am

    Oops, verbs are helpful little words. Sorry. ‘. . . does one find . . .’

  11. 9-13
    7:34
    am

    Maybe someone suggested this yesterday…have you thought of hanging your corn husks on the clotheline to dry?

  12. 9-13
    7:37
    am

    Yes, I have, but I have like 100 of them…… I’m not thinking I want to hang up 100 corn husks. It’s easier to lay them out.

  13. 9-13
    7:40
    am

    Just in the boonies, where you can’t get out because of the roads.

  14. 9-13
    7:51
    am

    I’ve been following you for some time now and wondering the same thought—when does the woman write???? Now, I know. Wintertime!!! LOL

  15. 9-13
    7:54
    am

    I hear ya!! I too love my generator, love my woodstove, love wood, and am preserving whatever I have…which happens to be APPLES APPLES APPLES at the moment. Can a person survive on home-fed steers and applesauce and apple pies and dried apples? No problem.

  16. 9-13
    8:16
    am

    Ken, I think there are people in MN that would like to claim our winters are unbearable with air temps going below -27(wind chill temps -60) and a foot plus of snow fall at a time. But in reality the really bad weather only last a couple of weeks. We also have an amazing system of snow removal and the utility companies do an awesome job of getting everything up and running. That really helps. And its a plus that alot of people have engine block heaters for their vehicals and own snowmobils. Many intrepid souls look forward to the winter as it means they can once again enjoy cross country sking, snowshoeing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, etc. Unfortunately (depending on your outlook) we haven’t had a really good winter like that for a long time. Most blame it on Global warming.

    I don’t think it is so much the severity of the winter, as it is what kind of system is in place to clean things up. I know there are people living in the mountains out west (Montana) that get snowed in most of the winter as the plows can’t make the mountain passes. My sister in ND has to deal with the local James river flooding with the spring snow melt. At times she has been unable to get to work, or has had to stay in town because she can’t get back to the farm.

  17. 9-13
    8:23
    am

    Loved this post, It reminds me of my childhood and how far away and long ago that seems. I’m a city girl now and live where nary a flake of snow falls. Thanks for the memories and the reminder and inspiration to be prepared.

  18. 9-13
    8:26
    am

    Last winter’s worst ice storm in 100 years started me blogging! I was housebound for days and thought, what can I do? Our mountain is treacherous even though none of my driving is dirt roads, it’s still impassable with a little ice or snow. We sure don’t want to be without food or aluminum foil!

  19. 9-13
    8:38
    am

    Maggie, yes, that explains our situation pretty well. Most people in this same county don’t face the winter obstacles we do, even, because many (most? I’m not sure) one-lane rural roads are served in the winter. Paved one-lane rural roads. (Not all are served, but many are.) Our road, however, is not only one-lane, it’s a rock-based road. It doesn’t get served by salt trucks etc. Very few people live on this road so the service goes to roads with higher populations. When there is snow and ice, the road can become impassable. Then there is no getting to the store, and there’s often no getting up our driveway even if we can get to the store. Having supplies stocked up is a must!

  20. 9-13
    8:39
    am

    Wow thats a lot of preparing to do, it sounds rewarding. Here in California the seasonal changes are minimal, didn’t you live in L.A. at one time? The farm sound much more exciting, your doing a great job, thanks for the nice pics and info.

  21. 9-13
    8:55
    am

    You can freeze eggs?

  22. 9-13
    9:03
    am

    Yes, you can!

  23. 9-13
    9:57
    am

    Hi Suzanne! That sounds like such a cozy winter!! I have never experienced anything like that, only dreamed about it. I live out here in Arizona where it barley gets cold enough to wear jeans. I can’t wait to live vicariously through you this winter!

  24. 9-13
    9:58
    am

    I’ve been canning and freezing alot too. In fact I have more “maters” and okra calling my name this very second! But I do so love getting prepared and stocked up for the winter. It just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, knowing I am doing this not just for myself, but for my whole family. I also give some of my canned bounty to friends/family for Christmas. Alot of them don’t have gardens and/or don’t wanna take the time to put up the veggies and fruits. All of this hard and time consuming work really does pay off. I live in the middle of the U.S., but I have a feeling we are gonna be in for a long hard winter too. No almanac involved. And if a person was really into weather watching, you can tell what the winter is gonna be like by watching critters. If their fur starts thickening early in the fall, you KNOW winter will be coming early. It’s very interesting if ya think about it, and it’s always nice to know ahead of time.

  25. 9-13
    9:59
    am

    How are you putting up your eggplant? I have so much, and don’t know what to do with it!

  26. 9-13
    10:00
    am

    As I read the post I was preparing my comment, and I planned to toss in a zinger about remembering the tin foil. You beat me to it! I LOL’d when I came to the foil pic. You’re not going to forget that lapse, and neither are we!

    It sounds like you are well prepared. :snoopy:

  27. 9-13
    10:02
    am

    For eggplant–slice, blanch, then freeze!

  28. 9-13
    10:14
    am

    Suzanne,

    Wow, I’m so impressed with all your prep! It reminds me of when I was younger and we used to put up my mom’s tomatoes and veggies from her garden. But seriously, never to the amount you have done. But now I know why. Still, so sad to think of your little farm animals ending up on your table as someone suggested. Is that why you’re raising them?…Don’t mind me, I’m a city girl and rarely eat any meat but chicken and fish… :cry:

  29. 9-13
    10:19
    am

    No, that’s not why we’re raising the goats, sheep, or chickens. (Only the pigs……)

  30. 9-13
    10:26
    am

    I live in the heart of Dallas, Tx…the most winter preparing I have to do is make sure my red snowflake mittens and scarf are handy! There’s a wonderful grocery store about 1/10 of a mile from my apartment. I’m set for winter, Suzanne.
    But when I lived in Missouri, out in the country, I always made sure I had the three C’s when a snowstorm was predicted….Coffee, Cat Food and Coke! You do NOT want to be isolated with four cats who don’t have several cans of on-hand catfood!
    Your pantry looks wonderful! Suzanne is a Worker Bee!

  31. 9-13
    11:20
    am

    The photo of the peppers were beautiful. As many have suggested, meat directly from the grower is much better and cheaper, but may I add a suggestion. There are lots of 4Hr’s out there who at the end of a show/seaon need to sell there project, be it a calf or lamb, whatever. The ones who do not place often sell their’s for very reasonable. If you buy a calf, you’d better have a huge freezer or find someone to half it with. Where’s the tamale recipe!

  32. 9-13
    12:00
    pm

    I hope your pantry includes a generous stock of cookies for all the fur babies this winter, unless they receive homemade cookies! I don’t think Clover would appreciate running out of cookies, LOL.

  33. 9-13
    12:47
    pm

    Obviously, it’s time to start harness training your animals. :-D Jack and Pocahontas are the obvious choice, but don’t leave out the others.

    I’m sure Clover will eagerly volunteer to haul groceries up the frozen drive. She just seems to be the type who can’t stand to stand around watching others do all the work. (I actually read a short article about pack-goats the other day. Previously, I was unaware of this function of our caprine friends.)

    Coco would probably love skijoring. I bet it’s a lot easier to get up an icey driveway when most of the muscle is being provided by a GIANT white puppy.

    http://www.northwestpackgoats.com/whats_a_packgoat.htm
    http://www.skijornow.com/skijornowhome.html

  34. 9-13
    1:17
    pm

    I’m hoping Fall lasts for some time yet!

  35. 9-13
    1:28
    pm

    How do you freeze eggs? don’t you have to poke a hole in them first and do they taste the same once you thaw them out?

  36. 9-13
    1:57
    pm

    To freeze eggs (per the Ball book): For whole eggs, break the eggs into a bowl through a sieve or colander to mix the whites and yolks without air bubbles. Then you can pack in freezer baggies or canisters–leave 1/2-inch headspace. When using, 3 tablespoons equals one egg.

    To freeze yolks alone, do the same procedure only add either 1 teaspoon sugar or 1/2 salt per 6 yolks to prevent coagulation. When using, 1 tablespoon equals one egg yolk.

    For whites, do the same as for whole eggs. When using, 2 tablespoons equals one egg white.

  37. 9-13
    3:32
    pm

    I don’t know much about canning. I am curious. Why have you not put the rings onto the jars? I thought they went on after the jars have cooled down.

    I love your pictures of all the food. I always feel better when my shelves are packed solid. We don’t get cut off from the rest of the world but there are other reasons for needing food in the house. I remember when we had petrol strikes in England. The food couldn’t be driven to the stores and the shelves emptied very quickly. Another time when my young children had chicken pox I didn’t get out of the house for four weeks. It was difficult.

    I am really glad you got a good supply of foil in. I remember when you ran out last year.

  38. 9-13
    3:53
    pm

    Rings go on the jars before you put them in the hot water bath, then come off about 24 hours later before you store them. The rings can corrode and become hard to remove on stored jars. Also, if you by chance have a bad seal and don’t know it, rings holding the lids down on spoiled jars can cause them to explode in your pantry.

  39. 9-13
    4:31
    pm

    We’ve been doing a lot of the same. Wish we had a generator.

  40. 9-13
    7:08
    pm

    Hello Suzanne – Speaking to you from far north Fort Worth and really enjoyed your post and learned alot from it and everyones replies- we hope to live in the country someday. I had a question-where did you learn to can/preserve?? I think you mentioned a book in reference to a question about the rings… I’d be interested in learning and reading it … although our first try at a suburban backyard garden here this year was a disaster lol good thing I don’t know anyone who got tomatoes this year or I’d take it as a personal message from mother nature lol but we did have a pepper plant do well. Also I wondered how you planned for the unforseen medical emergency? Do you have a snow mobile – would one be useful for the urgent need to get to town?

  41. 9-13
    7:19
    pm

    RaNae, I learned to can from Georgia (my second cousin’s mother). Later, I got a book (The Ball Blue Book of Preserving) and learned more. Re medical emergencies, we do have various medical emergency supplies onhand (mostly because we have so many animals, LOL, but many of the same things can be used for people). If there was a severe emergency, we would (assuming the phone worked) have to call 911. There are emergency vehicles that are equipped to get out roads like this one if necessary, though obviously it would take some time. There are also a few neighbors I could get to within walking distance to get help. We don’t have (and can’t afford) a snowmobile. We do have 4WD vehicles, though in icy conditions, even that isn’t always adequate. (There really isn’t deep enough snow here to warrant a snowmobile, I don’t think. The issue is more one of ice and road conditions.)

  42. 9-13
    7:38
    pm

    We went without power for 16 days here in Kentucky last winter from an ice storm. Thank goodness we had prepared and stocked up. The first few days, our road was also impassable but we had plenty of food stored and canned, our well can be turned on and ran with generator power (even though we are on county water, we lost that too because the generator at the water plant broke down) and propane heat for backup, water heater and cook stove. We were so fortunate that I spent part of those 2 weeks taking food to he warming shelters. I felt so sorry for those families there with small children. Some say we are suposed to get a worse one this year. We’ve been stocking up, canning and making sure we’re ready for it again. I’ve been making sure I have lots of supplies for grandmother bread and I hadn’t thought about freezing some of our eggs. That’s on my list to do now!

  43. 9-13
    7:43
    pm

    I’m glad to see that I’m not the only person getting ready for this Winter! I also live on a rual one lane road where we can get stuck here for a few days. I’m always doing major stock ups especially when I find things on sale. Just a reminder, don’t forget to stock pile some tp! :D I also wanted to mention that the picture you showed us of your canned goodies scared me just a little! I would check to make sure it won’t fall and end up breaking a lot of your goodies! I’ve had a shelf to fall at my house that I never in a million years thought could fall. Thank God it was just my clothes and some unbreakable things on the top shelf but one can never be too careful! When my husband installed the new shelf he used much heavier duty brackets and things to keep it from happening again.

    I can remember when I was a kid it snowed :snowman: so much that school was out for almost a month! And we lived in the city! lol

    The best place to look at our weather is at http://www.wsaz.com and check out Chris Bailey’s blog! He’s the Weather Man!!!! :sun: :snowman: :jackolantern:

    :wave:

  44. 9-13
    8:40
    pm

    WOW, you have some beautiful foods!! I didn’t know you could freeze eggs. Think I’ll google that one, or if you have a minute, give me your best tips. http://www.whatupduck.com

  45. 9-13
    10:03
    pm

    Well, after reading this post, you’ve definitely got me thinking. Winters in Korea are supposed to be somewhat brutal. We’re not as remote as your lovely little farmhouse, but if the base commissary shuts down – we’re SOL. So!…

    Now I get to start prepping for my own winter. Dog food, cat food, husband food….and firewood. Lots & lots of firewood.

    Thanks for the nudge!

    Much love from an overseas Army wife,
    Jennifer

  46. 9-14
    3:57
    am

    Kelly, scroll further up in the comments on this post and I’ve got the instructions for freezing eggs!

  47. 9-14
    8:12
    am

    Do you have a Sams club? I buy my aluminum foil there in the 18″x500 feet rolls.. I too LOVE my foil! I always have 2 rolls on hand. It’s about 18.00 a roll here for that size….

  48. 9-14
    8:23
    am

    Thanks for the info Suzanne about canning I appreciate it and I am so glad you are also well prepared for an emergency. I never knew your writing but am glad to have found your blog I find it informative, creative, fun and inspiring. I appreciate you sharing your life with us.
    RaNae

  49. 9-15
    4:53
    pm

    I loved reading about your winter prep. It almost makes me wish for snow instead of surf. almost…

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