Life at 16 Degrees


It started snowing Tuesday night and didn’t quit. Ever wonder what it’s like to live in a one-hundred-year-old farmhouse in the winter? Come on in.

Outside, it’s gorgeous, a winter wonderland, crisp and cold. Inside…it’s crisp and cold.

Children abandon icy bedrooms to sleep by the fire. It’s a snow day. No reason to get up before noon. Might as well keep snoozing in front of the gas fire. It’s the only warm place in the house. Dogs like the fire, too.

The cellar porch door doesn’t shut unless you shove something against it, like an overflowing laundry basket. Forget about doing laundry. The hot water pipe is frozen and the washer is frozen, too. The outside door doesn’t shut very well even with a basket jammed against it. None of the doors in the house shut right and we have no insulation or double-paned windows. One-hundred-year-old farmhouses aren’t for sissies.

We have to hurry to light the fire on the gas stove in the cellar porch. We still have cold water! We’re excited. Must keep the cold water pipe from freezing. (All the pipes come into the house through the frigid cellar porch.) Just have to be careful not to blow myself up lighting the gas stove with a match. I light one burner for now. Sometimes I have to light two.

Cats take over deserted bedrooms. Nobody will bother them in there.

We roll towels and shove them against drafty doors. The house laughs at us.

A snow plow actually comes down our boonies road, but snow keeps falling, covering its tracks.

We aren’t going anywhere today.

Dogs go outside, and beg immediately to come back in.

We fill our 2 1/2 gallon water containers. Just in case. We could lose the cold water any time now.

We need comfort food. Cracker candy sounds good….. Georgia, my cousin’s mother, has dipping chocolate next door. If we can’t have hot water, we can have chocolate.

Georgia says cracker candy satisfies all her longings. She makes a big batch every winter to share with everyone then keeps what’s left in a box in her refrigerator for when she has a longing. Just, you know, in case you’re visiting and want to sneak some.

Children play outside, then complain that they’re bored. I have a chore list.

Nighttime comes. We keep water running in the faucets, hoping to get through the night without the cold water pipe freezing.

Cats play dress-up.

Dogs find their spot by the fire. It’s evening again in the one-hundred-year-old farmhouse. We find electric blankets, space heaters, covers and slippers.

It’s going to be a two-burner night.


  1. Kim A. says:

    Okay, *that’s* winter. 😆

    If I were you, I’d be longing for the new, insulated, well-heated house!

    Good luck keeping warm and I hope the pipes don’t freeze. Brrrr.

    P.S. It might be -22C here right now, with a windchill of -29C, but we have heat at the office and I have heat at home (knock on wood). So I guess I’ll take our enormous snowbanks and freezing weather and stop complaining. 😆


  2. jan says:

    We’ve been that cold too before. Put on layers and wear blankets and hats. Do you get ice on the inside of the windows at all? Just think of all the memories that you ae making….

  3. jan says:

    Just wondering how you got the weather stuff on your side bar…nice touch…I need one for our blog.

  4. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Jan, that’s called “GetWeather” and it’s a WordPress plugin. It’s fun, isn’t it? 🙂

  5. shgrsweet says:

    Hopefully soon you will be in a nice new warm farmhouse!! :heart: I love the picture of the cat playing dress up! sooooo cute!!!! :rotfl:

  6. Barbara in Tucson says:

    OOOOHHHHH MY! That is why I live in sunny southern Arizona. We had a high last week of 48 and everyone was holed up, sipping hot chocolate, in front of the fire. We are wimps! But may I add, we do real well when it is 120!

  7. Jill says:

    Okay so my house isn’t 100 years old but I have the snow and the bored kids and the frigid temps. Does that count?

    And I need me some of that cracker candy.

  8. Letha says:

    I truly feel for you. I live in South Texas near Galveston. We are truly wimps. If the tempature get in the 30’s we are all crying. However, two years ago we had snow that actually stuck to the ground on Christmas Eve. That is the only time I ever remember it snowing on Christmas and I have live hear for 40 years. We would like snow a little more often. My prayers are with you and your family.

  9. Bayou Woman says:

    Oh my, Suzanne. I just read your post and I can so relate. Please go visit my blog and read my post from this morning. Although I’m not in 16 degree Virginia in a 100-year-old farm house, we only have heat in on portion of our home. My oven is on and open and a burner is lit on top of the gas stove to heat the kitchen/dining/bath/1bedroom part of our home. We don’t have snow, but when it dips below freezing here, we panic. My facets are dripping, too. I’m still in flannel PJ’s and a terry robe. Here’s wishing you warmth!
    Bayou Woman

  10. Karen says:

    Hi Suzanne! I`m a first-timer. :wave: :catmeow: I love your photos! My husband has always wanted an 100 year old farm house! I`ve always wanted lots and lots of animals! :catmeow: We live in NC on the coast, but were from in N.J. The picture of the gristmill at Babcock State park is great! We have friends who are from WV and have spent time with them camping there! It`s a beautiful park! West Virgina is a beautiful state! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Susan says:

    Just keep remembering next winter you’ll be in your new home!

  12. Alice Audrey says:

    I’ll bet you can’t wait for the new house to be done. :weather:

  13. Bayou Woman says:

    I just noticed all the typos in my previous post. No more blogging without my “readers” on! :typing:

  14. Tarah says:

    Great site. Just happened upon it today. I am feelin’ your pain. In 2005 we bought a farm in Milton, WV and moved into the 106-year-old farmhouse. The floor in the bedroom was so bowed that it separated from the walls and you could see outside. But we built a new house behind the old one and plowed the old one down. It was kind of hard to see it go, but the new is sooo much better. Except we still have the same well water that was hooked up to the old house and guess what. We have no water today because it’s so stinkin’ cold out. Ahhhh, the country life!!!! Love all your pics.

  15. Tori Lennox says:

    I would absolutely die!!! *shiver*

  16. Estella says:

    Next winter you’ll be in your warm new house. Just keep repeating that over and over.

  17. Dru says:

    I know how you feel. growing up in the city with no heat in our building we had to sleep with the oven and burners on to keep warm.

    Just think, next year at this time, you’ll be in your new home.

  18. Brandy says:

    I bet you’re counting the days until the new house is finishGood luck keeping warm. We lost power two years ago during an ice storm, the only heat we had was one kerosene heater for 4 days. I hate kerosene. Stay as warm as you can!

  19. Tombstone Chronic (aka abb) says:

    I am sitting in my kitchen with that horrible attached sunroom that has “triple coated storm windows” – and I am quoting the salesman here – FREEZING my hiney off! It’s 14 degrees out, but with “triple coated storm windows” one expects to be at least reasonably warmish. Our house is FAR from 100 years old but I’ll bet it’s just as cold if not colder as yours, Ms. CITR! HA!!
    I so enjoy your site – keep the good words coming.

  20. Jan says:

    First time to your blog. It’s a good one. That toffee cracker candy sounds scrumtious. We are not that cold here in East Tx. but anything below 40 freezes our buns off.

  21. Donna says:

    I HATE to be too cold or too hot…I am such a sissy. LOL In the summer here, I would almost trade it for that cold though…heat and humidity from hell, here. The “arm pit” of the USA.

  22. Leah says:

    WOW…………..WOW…………! :weather:

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