Saturday, February 08, 2014

My Winter Routine

I think as wives and mother we are always trying to be as efficient as possible.  I know I am.  I think that is why I love reading about the days of helps me think through the way I do things and fine tune anything that needs work.  So I try to share the things that I like to read from others, not because I think I have anything figured out, but because maybe my day can be a help to someone else :)

Wouldn't it be nice if I could just do this in bullet style and you could go on to something else?  Not going to happen.  I ramble.  Be prepared to make it to the end or get out now :)

And we being....
I get up at 6:00 a.m.  Every day.  There are cows to feed - 3 steers, named Larry, Mo and Curly - and they like to maintain a schedule.  In the evening that isn't always possible so I try to stay to the same morning time as much as possible.  So I get up, wake Lee if it is a school day,  add more clothes over my pjs if the temperature requires it (although anymore I sleep in so many clothes unless it is severely below 0 I am good) and then don my rubber boots, hat, double wrap cowl, sweatshirt zip jacket with hood up, then heavy brown cowl, barn coat with hood up and gloves.  I fill the woodstove up and then venture outdoors for my walk to the barn/pasture.  I keep a small flashlight in my barn coat pocket that Greg gave to me and sometimes I have to use it to find a path through the snow.  I check the water first.  It is all the way over on the far side of the pasture but we are very blessed to have automatic heated waterers for the cows.  We have had a little trouble with them this winter but I am so grateful every day that they work.  So I make sure that they are working then back-track to the barn.  I give the cows grain, check their bedding and make sure they have hay.  Norman does the straw and hay but I always check it so I can tell him if there are problems.  I call the steers in, make sure they are eating, lock everything back up and head back to the house.

Now I'm good and awake.  I unbundle myself and give the cats new water, milk and scoop their litter box (they will give you no peace until those things are done), move laundry from washer to dryer, start a new load in the washer and make coffee.  I sit down with my Bible and read my Sunday school lesson portion and my chapter for the day and pray.  Greg usually gets up about now.  Then I check facebook, eat breakfast and talk to the boys about their upcoming day.

Abby is usually up by now (around 7 a.m.).  Some days she wants to watch cartoons, some days she wants breakfast immediately, sometimes she wants to snuggle and read a book.  I go with the flow.  The big boys leave around 7:20.

I reboot the laundry and get a shower.

By 8 a.m.  I'm usually ready to tackle the day.  I will be honest here and say that if I'm not planning on going anywhere I put on new pjs.  My pajama pants are heavy fleece and I wear leggings under them.  They are honestly the warmest thing I own so that is what I wear if I'm going to be home.  On top I wear a t-shirt and sweatshirt...socks and slippers.  I get started on chores.  I try to do dishes the night before but if I didn't I start there, fold laundry and sweep the downstairs.  I usually have a "daily" chore like cleaning the bathrooms, dusting, mopping or something.  If I have time I do that now, if not later.

School starts at 9.  Usually Bear is up by now.  Usually Norman is too.  School takes about an hour.  Please remember that I have one in kindergarten and one in preschool.  We have a good routine and it doesn't take long if everyone is cooperating.  Next year will take a little longer.

School is usually over by 10.  By now, Norman is moving.  He waters the chickens, gathers morning eggs and does any cow chores for the day.  I fix lunch.  I either fix a big lunch and we have the leftovers in the evening or we have a big supper with the leftovers for lunch.  I try to know what this will be the day before.  It is a work in progress.

Lunch is usually around 11.  Norman and I visit.  I finish any house chores I had.  He gets ready for work.  He leaves around 1:30.  After that the littles and I read together, play, I bake and sometimes we run to town for errands or the library.  Often I can get some sewing or knitting in depending on how the day is going.

The big boys get home from school at 4 unless Greg has basketball practice.  That gets over around 5 so either Lee or I run back into town and pick him up then. I gather the evening eggs and feed the cows their supper sometime in between 4 and 5.   I fix  our supper (the difficulty being in a whole new meal or leftovers).  I start a load of laundry in the washer (you can see why in my long hard winter post).  After we eat I clean up the kitchen and we settle down for the night.

Abby and I like to go lay down around 6.  She watches TV.  I read a book.  She usually drifts off around 7.  I usually crash around  8.  I know that is early but I check on the woodstove at 10, 12, 2, 4 and then get up at 6.  So I need the sleep.

Norman gets home around midnight.  And the new day begins :)

In the comments link up your day.  I really do love to read all about it!!!!!

Friday, February 07, 2014

The Long Hard Winter

Isn't that the title to a Little House book?

That's what it feels like here.  I'm the person that has been saying for years that we were due for a "hard" winter.  I've been saying it.  I thought I was ready for it.  It's here, and I'm sick of it.

We were ready.  As ready as a person who hasn't experienced a "hard" winter since childhood could be.  We had plenty of food and various ways to prepare it.  Bottled water.  Plenty of warm clothing for indoors and outdoors.  Wood for the woodstove.  Gas for the generator.  Electric heaters to supplement.  We put straw around the foundation.  Insulation in holes.  I thought we were ready, and I think we were.  As best we could anyway.

As we endure the 3rd or 4th "arctic blast" since January 1st I feel like I can look back and say we made it.  We are alive, aren't we?  I think we lost 4 out of 40 some chickens.....although 4 was heartbreaking, it could have been a lot worse.  A  lot worse.  I keep trying to remember that.

We've dealt with frozen pipes inside, frozen pipes and water pumps and waterers outside.  I hauled water to the cows for several days. I learned to wash laundry at night and dry it first thing in the morning to warm up the drain lines.  We drip faucets and leave under sink doors open every night.  We have strategically placed electric heaters on certain outlets so not to flip breakers.  We burnt through way more wood than we expected, but the boys have been great about getting and splitting more.  I've moved more wood than I ever dreamed.  I'm exhausted after getting up every 2-3 hours almost every night to feed the woodstove so it stays 60 degrees in here overnight.  I automatically dress in double or triple layers with 2 coats, 2 cowls and 2 hats every time I go outside.  Ice and I are on intimate terms.

What have we learned?  Old houses are very difficult to keep warm.  We blanketed off all the exterior doors we don't use.  I've learned how to harness the heat of the sun coming in the big windows.  We filled in many foundation holes.  We need better electric heaters.  Next year we will straw around the chicken house.

Now that we have made it (it hasn't been miserable, although I am tired of feeling cold and tired all the time) I wonder if we will need this experience....its been a long time since we have had a winter like this....what are the odds it will happen again anytime soon?

We've spent lots of time snowed in together.  That doesn't happen much.  Played games.  Watched movies.  I've baked a lot and Norman swears that he has gained 10 lbs because of it.

I think I've lost weight from all the worrying about heat and water lines.

I can't imagine how pioneers kept cabins warm.  I do realize that their definition of warm and mine are probably different.  And they didn't have running water that would freeze.

So this winter I've done a lot of reading, knitting and sewing.  I've thought up quilt ideas, curtain ideas, and knit wear ideas.  We've planned our garden.  I've learned to make more things from scratch.

I will say that this winter has been memorable.  In the end that is what life is all about.