|Photo: blog.syracuse.com My photo of the same did not turn out quite as well.|
My husband laughs and says that I say this every year. I don't recollect saying that we are having a bad Winter annually, because most of the time in Virginia, the Winters in the last twenty years have been fairly mild in comparison to a large chunk of the nation and certainly mild compared to the weather when we lived in the Northeast. I remember that in 1989 here, that it was so warm a Winter that I did not wear a coat the entire Winter, and that I didn't stop wearing Summer clothing, that year except perhaps for shorts.
This year, the natural phenomena seem a little confused. We had a very wet year, and blackberries and acorns did not grow , leaving a terrible deficit in the food supply for black bears and for squirrels. This has translated into black bears wandering around closer to us than normal, and looking a shade forlorn. We must resist the temptation to leave food for them because once human beings become associated with food for bears, the bears begin to become dangerously close, and this generally gets the bears killed by either terrified humans, Game and Inland Fisheries staff, or Wildlife Police. The squirrels are another story. Not to feed them means that they are constantly in our bird feeders, and our birds need the suet and seed blends we place outside for them. This also may increase the chance of squirrels getting into our barns or outbuilding, or worse, chewing through a vent to enter and decimate an attic. So this year, one of my son's built a tall salt treated lumber stand, with a green metal roof which houses dried corn for the squirrels. It looks quite good. I wonder if we could market these ?
It's also been the coldest December on record in a long time here. Although we have a new house, our HVAC system was structured to bring inexpensive abundant air conditioning to a large home in a very hot place. Its heatpump system was not really designed to keep the house inexpensively warm. The vented gas logs in the fireplace have been doing double duty, and I have a couple of DeLonghi oil heaters in bedrooms, which I normally use in the center of the kennel, away from dogs. Usually, January and February are the worst Winter months here, but we went right from Autumn to very real Winter at the end of November.
January and February have yet to happen and bring their snow and the dreaded freezing rain.
If you haven't already, this may be the year to plan and be ready for a bad Winter. Have extra animal feed so you don't wind up heading out for some in a brewing storm. Try to stay ahead on any OTC or prescription meds you or loved ones are using. Double bag and throw two loaves of bread in the freezer. They make excellent grilled cheese sandwiches when defrosted, to be served with tomato soup, which is a great meal after shoveling snow. Would a DeLonghi style heater benefit you ? Lowes and Home Depot have them, and they are safer than many of the other types of space heaters. If you need a dehumidifier, then get one at a store where you can pick it up. I bought one on Ebay, and although it is exactly the same unit as is sold in hardware stores, mine arrived with the casing damaged. I didn't wish to return it unless it didn't work. It worked for a week before failing. Lowes, Home Depot and Wal-Mart all sell a pet safe salt product for steps and walkways.
Make sure your vehicles are ready for ice and low temperatures and that you have TWO not just one scraper in each vehicle. (Each year I wonder if mine have been stolen, but I am obviously just misplacing them !) How old is your battery ? If your vehicle is a diesel, how old are your glow plugs ?
Winter comes every year, and yet I am never as prepared for it as I wish to be. I think so much energy is spent planning for hurricanes, tornadoes, longer term power outages, etc. that I am simply out of energy when it comes to Winter. I hope it is a pleasant and safe season for all of you.