Living Up NORTH - Challenges and Strategies for Success

Where do you live? How do you manage your homestead?
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Farmfresh
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Living Up NORTH - Challenges and Strategies for Success

Unread post by Farmfresh » Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:02 am

Sometimes WHERE we live dictates HOW we live. Different climates provide us with different challenges. Those challenges require different plans and strategies for us to be successful. This thread is dedicated to those of us who live where the snow piles and the cold wind doth blow.

What are some challenges that YOU face? What have you done that makes it easier to live the life WE choose in face of ice and snow?
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

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Icu4dzs
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Re: Living Up NORTH - Challenges and Strategies for Success

Unread post by Icu4dzs » Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:01 pm

As often as I see things about "sustainable" this and that, a lot of the issues covered on all the websites and forums I ever see are predicated on the fact that the participants live in a relatively warm climate. So far, very little of any of the magazine articles ever discuss the approach to things in places where "sub-zero" temperatures and large snow accumulations exist for a significant portion of the year.

Where I live, heating season starts in September/early OCT. We had 10" of snow on October 10. The growing season here is from late May/.early JUNE to late August at best. We grow 80 day corn here for a reason.

To give a perspective on this, when I lived in P'cola, FL we had 280 day growing season. Yes, it got down into the 30's on occasion in January but never really FROZE stuff. Here, that is not the case. When you live N of 45, you have to think differently.

We have only three seasons here. 4th of July, Getting ready for winter, and WINTER. That's it. Anything you left on the ground in SEPTEMBER needs to be back in the shed/under cover by 30 SEP or it will be destroyed by the cold.

One of the things that has always amazed me is that folks who do construction N of 45, really don't have much use for the concept of building materials that can withstand and resist cold. I'm not talking 30*F. I'm talking -30*F. You don't spend much time in that situation with the usual things. Plastic, regardless of what it is used for, will invariably break if you touch it at that temperature. Your buckets have to be metal and they freeze water faster than you can say, "Jack Robinson". Water in ANYTHING will destroy the item in which the water is found unless it is heated to resist freezing and even then you might not get a second chance. I have a hose that has an electric heat tape built into it. Things are THAT serious here. Of course, you learn to adapt, but it takes a good bit of $$ to be able to find these things out.

I'm going to stop here because I don't want to exceed the "character limit" and will break this up into smaller portions.
Cheers,
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I can't tell you how many repairs to a hose I have made because of a small amount of water left in them or the rats chewed through it. Both are issues that I never saw anywhere else that I lived. We had 51 MPH winds today. Even the moderate low 20's that we had did not help with that kind of wind. Few things ever stand up to that. The critters all stayed in the barn where it was relatively warm by comparison.
Your believing it is not required for it to be true. TMM
I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and NOT have it!
Saepe Expertus, Semper Fidelis, Fratres Aeterni
Trim sends
//BT//

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Re: Living Up NORTH - Challenges and Strategies for Success

Unread post by Icu4dzs » Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:35 pm

Most people who own a tractor expect it to start when they activate the starter. Here, you need to disconnect the block heater or at least wait for 2 hours after plugging it in to get that tractor to start. That really cuts into your plans as to what you are going to do with that tractor.

A snow blower is your only real choice here. Why? Well, your option to move snow is either push it to somewhere or re-distribute it evenly so that you don’t have huge piles of it late into next July! On occasion, you end up snow blowing a large mountain of snow because there is no end to it for weeks at a time. In that case, the colder it is, the easier it is to blow the snow because it doesn’t clog up the chute of the blower. The tractor then becomes a huge snowblower which means the things you would ordinarily do with that tractor need to be accomplished some other way. Having two tractors is generally a good idea, both of which need loader arms and a bucket. For the extra money it costs, the John Deere tractors manage to keep working when some others might not. Don’t ask me now I learned THAT!

There are a number of issues one must consider when the “getting ready for winter” season is upon us. Obviously, firewood is a big consideration. When you live alone or with only one other person, firewood is a lot of work, but like other forms of INSURANCE, it will always work. The power company can’t lose your wood burning stove during a big storm.

Staying warm in this environment is one of the greatest concerns of the year. Obviously, since heating season starts in September, it is naturally wise to have an idea of where you are going to get that wood, how you are going to get it and how you are going to transport it where it is needed. Of course, you also have to decide how you are going to process it and then move it to where it will be used. Splitting wood by hand is hard, and can be dangerous work. When you are 70 years old, it is even harder. While there are a number of labor saving devices to assist a person with this, the grand-daddy of them all is a hydraulic wood splitter. Cutting the wood with a chain saw, regardless of how it is powered is by far and away much easier than splitting it without the benefit of the hydraulic wood splitter. A foot pumped version exists and while that requires some effort, it is by far a lot better than swinging that huge steel wedge that is required to split some logs. Targeting gets more difficult as you age and your shins really don’t have any protection against that fast moving steel, once it is in motion. There is an old saying, gathering firewood warms you three times; once when you cut it and move it; once when you split it and move it and once when you burn it. Nothing could be more true.

In addition to the concept of having a fuel source for staying warm, there are other issues which appear to never reach the building trades brain. For what it is worth, insulation is the best investment in building materials that you can possibly make. Regardless of what source of fuel you use to create heat, wasting that heat to the cold air is a fools errand. Insulation at the early phase of construction is the best thing you can do to protect yourself from Natures Natural Killer, COLD. Properly insulated, a small space with a minimum of heat will protect you better than any other single item. In a movie I saw once which was set in the 1400’s in France, the furniture in the houses included what is called a “cupboard bed” which was essentially, a box in which your bed was located that allowed you to stay a good bit warmer than if you had been out in a drafty room. With proper insulation, I imagine this to be a good way to go in the event that fuels become difficult or impossible to obtain (other than wood if you are lucky enough to be where that can be obtained.) I would imagine that a good Plexiglas layer in strategic locations of the bed would afford one the opportunity to get some sunlight and thus utilize the “greenhouse effect” as well as the insulation advantage.

Many people think food is easier to preserve in the cold and while there is SOME truth to that, it is also important to realize that if it gets cold enough, a refrigerator will stop working and things inside will FREEZE! This means that a “cold box” which is well insulated and temperature controlled is an important consideration. While most refrigerators/freezers have some insulation, they both fail when the temperatures go so low that they would be warmer than the ambient temperature. In that situation, things will actually defrost in the freezer and freeze in the refrigerator. I don’t seem to find anyone ever discussing that issue, but I am certainly aware of it up here N of 45.

More to come...
Your believing it is not required for it to be true. TMM
I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and NOT have it!
Saepe Expertus, Semper Fidelis, Fratres Aeterni
Trim sends
//BT//

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Re: Living Up NORTH - Challenges and Strategies for Success

Unread post by Icu4dzs » Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:21 pm

Living out in the country has its challenges regardless of where that is, but when you are N of 45, it becomes even more interesting. As I said earlier, staying warm is a serious issue and one that takes precedence over a lot of things because when you are living on a farm, there is no such thing as a day off or a “sick day” where you call in and say you aren’t coming. The critters can’t relate to any of that. They have to eat, have water they can drink and salt. There is no day off out here on the farm. Given that reality, the opportunity to freeze yourself to death is an everyday possibility. How then does one mitigate that problem? Well, one of the ways is to:
1) learn how to dress for it and
2) NOT be cheap when obtaining cold weather outer clothing.

Learning how to dress for the cold and the wind is not difficult. Doing it systematically is not difficult either but requires some concentration. When the wind is making a -20*F day into a -50*F day, you quickly learn that any exposed skin you own will be burned and frost-bitten in short order if it is not covered. That means you have to have not only multiple layers of material but multiple items which will protect you from that cold.

One of the things that some people seem to miss is keeping your neck warm, COMPLETELY. Think about it. Your neck has two huge arteries that supply blood to your brain. When the neck is cold, it feels like EVERYTHING else is cold. No one enjoys that burning sensation when the wind blows down the back of your coat, causing your neck to immediately experience pain. Why do that? The same is true for your wrists. Most people wear gloves but there is always that gap between where the glove stops (no matter what kind you use) and where the over coat begins. Like the neck there are two large arteries that pass through the wrist which supply your hands. Ever wonder why your finger tips get cold when the rest of the hand is “ok”? So, the issue is what to do about that?

One good solution is to have specific neck and wrist warmers. Folks who knit with woolen/acrylic yarn are always looking for things to make. Neck warmers and wrist warmers are a great option. They are quick to make for the knitter and really provide a wonderful connection between the outer garments. My friend, “Woodswitch” (her internet name) is a first class knitter as well as crochet. She makes things out of wool/acrylic yard and is an expert at that art. For Christmas this year, she made neck warmers and wrist warmers. I started putting the neck warmer on when I went outdoors, but then forgot to take it off when I came back inside. The difference in how I felt was astounding. At night before I go to bed, I take the neck warmer off and immediately feel chilly. Having felt chilly, even in the house at 70*F before having such a garment was kind of difficult. Since getting that neck warmer, that feeling of chill is gone and I couldn’t be happier about that. As for the wrist warmers, they have also proven their value when working outdoors in the cold. I’d be the first one to admit that my fingers do NOT like being cold but since starting to wear the wrist warmers, that has improved. Of course, I am now a convert to “MITTENS” vs. gloves. While gloves have some advantages over mittens, such as fine motor dexterity, the mittens have it all over the gloves when it comes to keeping the hands/fingers warm. There is no amount of relief so great as to be able to work outside on the farm and NOT get cold hands or feet.

That brings me to the next item of cold protection, Foot wear. When I moved to SODAK, I readily became aware of the fact that my feet were vulnerable to cold after many experiences as a youngster with numbness/pain caused by cold susceptible feet. Manys the day I would be out shoveling snow and come home with my feet nearly frozen stiff. The long periods in front of the radiators in the living room of our house were a testament to either my reluctance to come in or my tenacity to tolerate cold with poor footwear. That has now been alleviated by the advent of good footwear. One of the products which has changed my life is called “MUCKBOOTS” Artic Pro. These are boots made of neoprene and insulated with material that really works. While I am not associated with their company, I can say that I have worked outdoors in the coldest days of winter here and not once come back to the house because my feet were cold. These boots have changed my life and I am glad of it. There is one model of “Muckboots” that is rated for colder temperatures than I have experienced here and I bought a pair of them for when the current pair of boots I have wears out. While they are vulnerable to sharp objects, they are also easy to get on/off, making them so much more pleasant to wear.

Another item that has changed the cold survival problem for me is called “Polar Fleece.” This material is amazing. It is tough and durable. But most of all, it is WARM. It makes the best insulation of clothing regardless of where it is employed. Currently, polar fleece is used as lining for trousers and heavy shirts. Often it is used specifically for outer wear shirts. It is a wonderful fabric and makes life in cold climates much more tolerable. While it is generally a “layer 2” item, it is still one of the best things to come from the fabric industry ever. What concerns me is that if it becomes difficult or impossible to obtain in the future, it will be really difficult to find anything short of good Melton wool that can even compare to its warmth. When I first joined the Navy in 1968, they issued clothing made of wool for winter wear. That stuff works. It is just not as practical for farm work because it is difficult to keep/get clean.
Your believing it is not required for it to be true. TMM
I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and NOT have it!
Saepe Expertus, Semper Fidelis, Fratres Aeterni
Trim sends
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Farmfresh
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Re: Living Up NORTH - Challenges and Strategies for Success

Unread post by Farmfresh » Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:05 am

I do have one obvious question ... WHY. Why do you choose to live in such a cold place?

I could never do it. I DREAD the winters here because it just makes EVERYTHING so much more difficult. Especially as I age.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

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Farmfresh
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Re: Living Up NORTH - Challenges and Strategies for Success

Unread post by Farmfresh » Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:48 am

Next I too will testify for the MUCK boots. They are amazing. They keep you warm as toast, but they also make your feet sweat if the day is not truly cold. We bought them for the sloppy muck that we sometimes get around here in winter. Line these with some of the new wool blend winter sports socks and you have a win.

My sister suffers from a weird little circulatory issue called Raynaud's disease. Whenever she feels stressed... or more usually cold... her blood vessels in her hands and feet constrict and her fingers start to go numb and blue. Because of this she is MOST INTERESTED in decent gloves. She has horses, so is often outside in nasty weather just as we are. She likes to double layer. She uses a lightweight water resistant glove usually something synthetic on her hands and then tops those with those mittens that have a finger pocket that can be folded back over the top of the hand for dexterity. That way when she needs the dexterity and the mitten is folded back she still has on a nice glove underneath.

As for me. As long as I can keep my head and my butt warm I am in business. Insulated bibs are my best winter friend.

And I made my own hat.

One day I was cold. I had some left over fleece and some left over baby soft blankie material called Minke. This is what happened.

Image

|em28|

|em26|

My family calls it my Evil Elf hat. Because it has that point on top to house my usual hair-on-top-of-my-head bun. It IS ugly.

It is also WARM. So if I ever have to spend extended time outside in the winter it is my go to hat. It was just intended as a first try for the sake of a pattern. Some day I will get more "normal" material and remake another one. Perhaps this time I will round it off a bit more to look like I am not a cone head.

|em30|
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

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Icu4dzs
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Re: Living Up NORTH - Challenges and Strategies for Success

Unread post by Icu4dzs » Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:54 am

I’m glad you asked but I don’t think you will believe the answer.
I believe with all my heart that I was “sent here” and given this farm to be “ready” for what ever is coming.
The challenges came with the blessings. While the challenges are impressive at times, I have always been given the ability to manage them.
This may seem difficult to understand but I truly believe this. I would be willing to bet that DD would tell you the same things about where he is. You probably would admit that you are “where you are supposed to be for whatever is coming.
I know that this probably won’t make any sense to some but there are reasons for why I believe this.
Whatever is coming, I believe is very nearly here. I’m 70 now. I’m thinking that I’m as ready as I’m going to get.
Now I have to wait till it starts and activate whatever plans are made.
I’ll expand on this soon. It’s early morning and I have chores to do in the snow and high winds.
Cheers
Trim sends
Your believing it is not required for it to be true. TMM
I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and NOT have it!
Saepe Expertus, Semper Fidelis, Fratres Aeterni
Trim sends
//BT//

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Farmfresh
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Re: Living Up NORTH - Challenges and Strategies for Success

Unread post by Farmfresh » Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:59 am

No... I get it. Some places just call.

That said... I am NOT where I am called to be. I have heard the call from the Kansas Flint Hills for years. Family and other things are just louder than the call I hear.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

Dirtdevil
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Re: Living Up NORTH - Challenges and Strategies for Success

Unread post by Dirtdevil » Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:29 am

My area is not that difficult to live in weather wise. It is were we wouldn't have so many freaking rich people around here. We don't get the minus zero temps. We get snow and wind. Our average seasonal snow fall is 168 inches. The winter of 2014 we had 265 inches. That was a little hard to deal with. I'm 72. I have a half mile long drive way, but share the last quarter mile with a neighbor so we take care of that together. The quarter mile to my house I now clear with a walk behind snowblower. Believe it or not it is easier to do it that way than plowing with a truck, which is how I did it for the previous 15 years. I burn about ten full cords of wood a year. Up until now I split all that with a maul. It kept me in good shape. This year I finally bought a wood splitter. That's a wonderful thing. We live eight miles off the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, which is why we get all the snow. It's mostly lake effect. It's also why the wind never stops blowing. Especially at the start of winter. 70 mph winds are not uncommon. We think 25 mph is a breeze. In the near future ICU will have much milder winters.

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Re: Living Up NORTH - Challenges and Strategies for Success

Unread post by Rhodie Ranch » Sat Jan 18, 2020 11:19 am

Medford OR had snow the day after I left. It shut down schools, closed roads, and 18K lost electricity. Three inches....

I've been thinking of a wood stove, but they are not allowed in many developments. If I had a pellet stove, it would take electricity. A gas fireplace as I'm on natural gas for the furnace, but does it take electricity? Slightly off topic, but these thoughts have gone thru my mind given what is happening back home.

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