With Winter rapidly approaching I thought it might be useful to post my 11 favorite cold weather tips for your homestead. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments section below.
* In winter time I make sure I always open my heavy drapes when the sun is up – even when the sun is weak just having it come in all day does make a significant temperature difference. At the same time I am always sure to draw the curtains when the sun sets to trap any warmth that may have built up during the day as windows are one of the biggest temperature sucks in your house.
* If you leave your oven door ajar after cooking the warm air helps heat your kitchen. In the pioneer days where families lived in simple one room cabins they would cook a stew over their wood powered stove for hours on end, which helped keep the cabin warm. By the same token I try to never use my stove in the summer months to help keep our kitchen cool. If you do have a wood stove for your homestead then make sure you do have more than enough wood to last the winter.
* Keep the doors closed to any unheated rooms in your homestead, I make a point of closing all the doors to the living room when me and my family are in there to help trap the warmth in there during the winter time.
* Make sure your generator is serviced and ready for the winter. As power outages lasting a few days or more are to be expected. Stock up on candles (even a few extra candles safely burning in your living room can increase the room temperature mid winter) and make sure you have enough fresh batteries for flashlights and digital devices. (cell phone chargers, handheld radios etc)
* Make sure you are well stocked up on food basics before any cold snaps. Most of us preppers have a 3 month or more supply of canned foods, meals ready to eat, powdered eggs and milk and drinking water. Its amazing in this day and age the amount of people that do not stock up until the TV news station is covering an impending storm. By then its usually too late and supermarket shelves have been picked clean.
* Be sure you have the following supplies for your car / vehicles before a cold snap: jumper cables, kitty litter for traction if you get stuck in snow, window washer fluid, keep the gas tank filled to at least half way at all times, snow chains for heavy snow, protein bars, warm blankets (in case you break down or get stuck) spare flash lights with fresh batteries.
* If you have an active use barn and plan to use heat lamps to keep your animals warm be sure to clear your barn before winter of dust and any cob webs as they are highly flammable and can easily lead to fires. It also pays to make sure any wires are kept out of reach as animals love to nibble and the last thing you want is one of your goats giving himself an electric shock. Tape them up if needed. If your heat lamps come with cages please make sure you have them installed and obviously do not position your heat lamps anywhere near your animals water supply or bedding.
* Ensure that all your animals have an ample supply of food stored and that their water troughs are free of ice during the winter months.
*If you do not have one already – consider getting a green house for your vegetable garden. Even unheated greens like celery, chard, parsley and some herbs do well in the winters months within the confines of a greenhouse. A fresh garden salad can do wonders mid January when your diet vegetable intake consists mainly of pickled foods.
* For your outdoor vegetable and plants do not forget to mulch the gardens before the cold sets in. The main reason behind this is to actually keep the cold in so that it prevents your plants from thawing as you do not want any new growth triggered in a warm spell mid winter. You know how it is sometimes you get a freakishly warm day in the middle of winter, this can trick the plants into thinking that spring is here and they start to grow new shoots and leaves. Many folks use a loose mix of shredded leaves to protect their plants but I also know people who swear by shredded newspapers!
* For baby trees consider getting wore guards (either make your own or purchase some from your favorite home and garden store) to protect them from being gnawed on by varmits over the winter. For evergreen trees fencing them in with burlap sacks helps protect them from the harsh elements. Many people I know fill the space between the burlap and the trees with insulation made up of dry and shredded leaves.