Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Bad Winter is Coming

Photo:     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.

We keep one of these in the tack room on a low on demand setting to keep medications there from freezing in Winter. We also have one for the center of the kennel in the coldest of nights. They are between about fifty and sixty dollars and although I like the name brand product, there are generics available also.

           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.


BBC said...

I call current weather events weather chaos, no telling what is going to happen. We had a pretty nice summer for this area, warmer and less rain than usual. So far winter has been pretty mild but I didn't use the snow plow on the old Toro riding mower last year either. I'm pretty much ready to deal with whatever does happen though and have back up propane heaters if I need them.

A DOG GOT HELP. Sometimes this world is okay.

Linda said...

Just the other day, I was wondering as I froze inside in 19 F weather how cold it would be in January and February. It is sort of scary. Last year, it dropped to 9 F for one night right after New Years. At the rate the temps are going, it will be the first year I have experience 0F

I am trying to get one room closed off, but I have to empty it or everything will just get musty. And, I plan to buy a new blanket for my bed. I always keep bread in the freezer, about six loaves, that is, until I run out. I will buy bread on Thursday this week because I am out. I have plenty of soup, cheese, dried fruit, and canned food so that I can handle a few days of not going to the store.

This is the first winter I have ever worried about a particularly hard winter. I am more likely to worry about a torrid summer. But, this is freaky cold here in north central AL.

JaneofVirginia said...

I hope we both have a reprieve. The news said that it may be sixty degrees on Friday. I would certainly be appreciative !

BBC said...

The bakery outlet near me sells a package of 6 big breakfast muffins for 4 bucks, pretty good deal. Any left after a week she sells to me for 2 bucks so I always keep two or three packages in the freezer for back up. Those suckers are almost 700 calories each, two a day will keep a person going just fine.

JaneofVirginia said...

Yes, and many people don't realize that well packaged bread, rolls and muffins can be kept in a freezer for quite a time, and really can be as fresh as new if warmed slightly when they come out. We don't have any such bakeries for 75 miles, but about ten years ago, about 70 miles from here there was an Entenmann's outlet. They had cakes, croutons, crackers, cookies, rolls, breads, specialty breads and other brands too. They also had Pepperidge Farm products, and some unusual canned soups and frozen foods. I loved that place and used to stock up there. Then, one day I went there, and they were simply gone, and no one knew what had happened to them.