Cold Temperatures Bring Ice in All the Wrong Places

There’s more to being a prepper than storing food; to be truly self-sufficient, you have to be able to fix things yourself.

I walked up and down our mountain three times today. According to my phone, that was more than 14,000 steps and 54 flights of stairs.

That’s how long it took to get our gravity-fed water system thawed out and working again.

Last year, we upgraded our water system after it froze a few times, and we made it through the rest of that year without it freezing again. We were not so lucky this year. I guess those repeated nights of super-cold temperatures did it in. We had hoped the snow would insulate the pipe, and it may have, but it also insulated it from the sunshine that might have thawed things out during the day.

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Winter Storm, High Winds Arrive with a Vengeance

Its been on the news for days before it finally manifested, the winter had such high winds I consider it to have been a blizzard. And it’s not over yet.

It was cold all day Sunday. The snow finally arrived, but I can’t tell you if we have 12 or more inches yet. It’s so windy up here we have drifts of snow that are a foot high and we have other spots where the wind has scoured it away. Unlike many heavy snows, it is not piling up on tree limbs because wind is blowing it off. There have been times the snow was blowing sideways.

This morning, I put only my insulated overalls and parka. They kept me warm doing chores. I left the chickens in their coop with the door closed, although I gave them fresh water and plenty of food.

While this may not be a day fit for chickens, it was a great day for the dog, who was outside for at least two hours. She had a ball. She would stick her nose in the drifts and come up with a face covered in snow. The dog ran around but also seemed comfortable just sitting there looking around. I consider this her guard stance. A flock or herd guardian dog by breed and genetics, she sits there, nose up, eyes bright, looking for a threat.

I’m writing this Sunday night and snow is expected to continue into Monday.

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It Begins Again: Empty Grocery Store Shelves and how to Compensate

We lived with empty shelves after the panic buying of early 2020, but shortages today are caused by supply chain issues, not panic.

I recommend you go to this article and watch the video. It’s all local shoppers talking about how empty the shelves are. No pundits or talking heads, no corporate spokespeople making excuses, just pictures of barren grocery store shelves and customers complaining about how there is no food to be found in the area. One man predicts people will starve and says, “It’s gonna get rough around here.”

It’s not just meat and fresh vegetables, but dairy products, eggs, bread, and even lunch meat and frozen foods. If you want to see more images, just look for the hash tag #emptyshelvesbiden.

The problem seems to be largely in areas where omicron is bad, with the situation in some areas exacerbated by bad weather. Still, if grocery stores in your area are empty, it doesn’t matter if the shelves are full somewhere else. People aren’t going to drive to Florida to buy groceries.

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Snow Delights the Dog, but the Chickens Hate it

Winter finally arrives at the homestead with temperatures in the twenties and a few inches of snow. More cold is expected.

Like much of the country, snow has chased away our warm weather. While we had a dusting of snow in the fall, this was our first significant accumulation for the 21/22 winter. What made it harsh was it rained for a few hours and then turned to snow as the temperatures dropped. This gave us a thin layer of ice under the snow. That made driving extra hazardous and required intensive scraping of your car window. We just stayed home.

It thrilled the dog to see a field of white fluffy stuff. We let her off the leash, and she pranced and galloped and ran and ran, making big loops around the house and visiting the neighbor’s field. She refused to come back inside for more than an hour. Finally, I went back inside and left the garage door open about a foot. Twenty minutes later, she was in the garage, wanting to come inside. No surprise that she slept most of the afternoon after all that exercise.

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A Country Christmas Weekend

We celebrate Christmas at home and take it easy over the weekend.

Last year, Christmas was so cold and snowy that we had to postpone Christmas dinner for a few days because no one could drive up the mountain. That was far from the case this year.

When I walked the dog on Christmas morning, the sky was cloudless and bright blue. The sun warmed us as we hiked up the mountain. When I fed the chickens–because people with livestock don’t get a day off–they came pouring out of their coop to enjoy the sunshine. Their Christmas present was a handful of grapes that were left over from our Christmas Eve dinner.

If you have never seen a chicken eat a grape, it’s a hoot. They peck at the grape and it rolls away. The chicken chases it, hoping another chicken doesn’t beat them to it. There were enough grapes for all, but it’s still fun to watch as they rolled across the chicken run. Grapes are a real treat for the girls. They ignored the sweet potato peels and other dinner scraps to eat the grapes first.

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Another Warm Day Means More Homestead Chores Get Done

There is always some outside work waiting to be done. Why not do it when the weather is warm and the sun is shining?

Yesterday was another one of those days when we took advantage of an unseasonably warm day to do some chores around the homestead.

After tending the animals, I whipped up another batch of winter feed for the bees. Then I left the 32-quart pot I use to heat and stir the 2-to-1 sugar/water mixture out for the bees to clean up. As you can see above, they loved it and lined up at the edge of the sugar water to suck it up.

There are plenty of bees still in the hives, which is a good thing. The bees form a big mass in the center of the hive to keep the queen and any brood warm during the cold months. The more bees, the warmer they will be.

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I Discover a New Role for Shotguns on the Homestead

I’ve owned shotguns for decades and shot thousands of rounds, but I’ve never used it on the homestead like this before.

While I was carrying feed out to the chicken run at about 8:30 Friday morning, I heard a distant truck struggling up our mountain road. I knew we were expecting a gravel delivery, but his early arrival surprised me. I let the chickens out of the coop and headed down to the end of the driveway. Yep, he dumped a full load on our private road, spreading it out as he drove up. Then he came back about 90 minutes later with another load for a total of 35 tons.

I drove up and down a few times to help compress the gravel. I also used a rake and a shovel to smooth out a few bumps. Later, our neighbor with a tractor used his box blade to smooth out the new gravel and cut down the bumps and fill in the holes. It made a big difference.

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Should Preppers Know how to Fix Small Engines?

If the ships stop sailing, how long will you be able to keep your generator, chain saw, or other small engines running?

Last week, I pulled out my old wood chipper to chop some fallen limbs into wood chips for our raised beds. I bought it more than fifteen years ago, used it for a while, and then gave it to a friend on a long-term lend. When he heard I was moving, he gave it back. It’s been sitting under my deck ever since.

The good news was that there was no gas in the tank or the carburetor, so he had stored properly it. The oil was full, but dirty. I decided it was sufficient to let me start it, so I grabbed the pull-cord and gave it a yank. Instead of the engine turning over, the entire device slid towards me. The engine and flywheel would not turn over.

If you have ever had this happen with a lawnmower, you can guess the problem: something was blocking the blade. Perhaps this is why my friend was so willing to give it back! I had to remove the housing of the shredding/chipping assembly and use a wood chisel and hammer to bust up a big chunk of wood that was jammed in there, locking it up.

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Looking Back One Year After Buying Our Prepper Property

After living with our house hunting decision for a year, we look back on what we have learned and would do differently.

One year ago, we left our home near the city and moved into our rural prepper property. Last week, I wrote about the lessons learned moving from the exurbs to the middle of nowhere. Today, I will discuss things we wish we had done differently regarding our property search, which is detailed here.

More Pasture

My biggest regret is that we do not have more pasture. We cannot raise goats or even pigs unless I were to fence part of the mountain. Having already installed fencing on a mild grade, I can only imagine how difficult it would be to fence steep terrain.

While I like to think of our land as our “homestead,” the terrain constraints limit our homesteading capacity to small livestock. It may also limit the amount of land we can use to grow food in a grid-down situation.

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Prepper Diary: Warm Weather Means More Work on the Homestead

An unexpected warm spell presented the perfect opportunity to get some work done on the chicken coop and beehives.

We are having a few days of warm weather with days getting into the upper 50s and the nights that should stay above freezing. After several weeks of cold weather, it’s kind of surprising to go outside and have to take off layers of clothing. I’ve been taking advantage of the warm weather to do some work around the homestead.

Firewood Preps

We let both fires go out for 24 hours. This allowed us to do a full ash removal and cleanout. Yes, the house got cool that night, but it wasn’t bad.

I moved more than 80 pieces of firewood from the outside woodpile to our inside storage. We are a week or 10 away from having burned a full cord so far this season.

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