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.

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