Winter Preparations – Working Toward a Comfortable Winter

Winter Preparations – Working Toward a Comfortable Winter

Winter Preparations

Winter preparations have started. It feels like we must be far behind because here it is early October and we haven’t touched a stick of firewood. Steve dropped a few big trees in the new food plot over the summer, and he dragged them to the field between the high tunnels, but there they sit. He cut and I split and stacked this winter’s firewood last year. I thought I’d do next year’s this year but the majority of it is going to wait until spring. Using the empty high tunnel to dry and store firewood has been one of the best things we’ve done here. It’s warm, the air flows well and the wood dries fast.

What’s on the winter prep list?

  • Move firewood
  • Split firewood for winter 17/18
  • Harvest a deer or two
  • Process the meat chickens and one duck in early November
  • Process the turkeys the weekend before Thanksgiving (or sooner if the jerks won’t say in their pen)
  • Cover the basement windows with insulation
  • Frame the new raised beds in the high tunnel
  • Move the topsoil I decided to hold off on (horrid weed problem) into the new raised beds
  • Muck the hen house
  • Cover the hen house windows with poly

There’s a bear in the freezer now, lots of preserves put up, veggies, mushrooms and fruits frozen, and herbs and hot peppers dehydrated.


Out of everything on the list I like firewood the best. This is this winter’s wood. It was cut, split and stacked to dry in the high tunnel last year. It’s lightweight now and won’t take a lot of effort to move five cords into the wood shed, onto the back porch, and fill the rack in the living room. There’s something about the mindless repetition of firewood that appeals to me. Pick it up, put it on the splitter, pull the lever to split the wood, wait, grab the top piece with one hand and flip the bottom piece with the other hand, pull the lever, wait, let the split wood drop, drop the top piece onto the cold metal frame, pull the lever, throw those two pieces into the stack. Mindless but mindful at the same time. One wrong move can send me to the ER (once) or the doctor (once). Being careful and mindful while letting my mind wander is a good thing. I get a lot of damned good writing done in my head while I’m splitting firewood that unfortunately usually doesn’t make it to paper or laptop before it’s mostly forgotten.

winter preparations, firewood, high tunnel


As much as I won’t enjoy slaughtering and butchering the chickens and turkeys, I’m ready for it. They’ve lived good lives on grass and soil, taking dust baths under the sun on 70° October days, eating grasshoppers and weed seeds. The turkeys have learned how to trample down the side of their electronet fence and are wandering all over the place. I sent a pic of seven wandering turkeys and a text to Steve that said “they better taste good” this afternoon. I used the tractor’s bucket and a chain to move the hog panels, and I’ll put them back up near the hen house. That will keep them contained…unless they realize they can fly over, and then I’ll clip their wings. I don’t remember turkeys ever being such a pain as these seven, not even when we had 25 or more at a time.

winter preparations, English Shepherd, broad breasted white turkeysThe meat chickens are manure machines that fertilize the lawn and part of the garden, their tractor having to be moved daily even if they’re in it only overnight. They’re going to continue to live good lives until early November for the chickens and the Sunday before Thanksgiving for the turkeys.

Propane was delivered this week. We have a small hot air, propane fired furnace in the basement for back up when we’re not at home to fill the wood stove, or like this fall when it’s really too warm for a fire but too cool to not have some sort of heat. We’re used to $600 a year for propane to heat our hot water and occasionally run that furnace. The bill today was $115 for two months. That can’t happen again in October. That’s craziness.

Winter Preparations?

I’m more physically prepared for winter than I am mentally. I want it to stay just like the last three days – warm and dry, sunny and breezy, cold enough in the morning for a fire that burns hot and fast for an hour to take out the chill – for the next 364 days…or until I decide I want it to be colder. The new moon and clear sky of autumn are incredible. The gazillion stars at night are stunning. The constellations are easy to see on these gorgeous nights. Winter preparations are time and work well spent while I spend these gorgeous autumn days outdoors.


6 thoughts on “Winter Preparations – Working Toward a Comfortable Winter

  1. I’m loving these beautiful Fall days we are having in Michigan. Just cool enough to breathe easy and get some things done. Summer was so hot we didn’t want to go outside!
    Be careful splitting wood -it looks like you’ve gotten a great start!

    1. It was hot here, too, and it put me behind in some of my work. You know how it is when you live in a cool climate – 80° is way too hot!

  2. I have a cord of wood to put into the garage but since I didn’t use any of the 3 cords last year, there is no sense of urgency. I cheat and buy mine cut and split but that is good for the guy preparing and selling it.
    My meat chickens were processed in July but I have 6 turkeys that will go the week of Thanksgiving. Yes, they are jerks one of which insists on flying to the top rail of the pen. They will be tasty though. My garden is getting covered in seaweed, bunny poop and poultry bedding. Last thing to do the week of Halloween will be plant garlic.
    I absolutely love your writing.

    1. So far so good with the turkeys. The jerk managed to get out last evening but Steve was here to scoop him up and put him back over the cattle panels quickly.

      I’m thinking about buying our firewood cut and split next year. As much as I love the work and need the exercise, it’s extremely time consuming. That time could be spent writing.

      I truly appreciate your compliment. Thank you! Sometimes we (bloggers) wonder who’s reading and if they’re getting anything out of it so your words are especially meaningful.

  3. I like what you said, “Until I decide I want it to be colder.” Please don’t decide that for a while!
    Love the woodpile pic. It reminds me of my Maine childhood many years ago when Dad would have to cut and split it all by hand and we kids would throw it in the woodshed for winter.
    Nothing smelled as good as walking up the hill to the house and smelling the wood smoke coming out the chimney, knowing baked beans and biscuits will be coming out of the oven as soon as you walk in the kitchen door!

    1. Yes! THAT is a Maine Saturday in the fall and winter. Wood fire, smoke, baked beans and biscuits…next weekend’s Saturday supper.

      If I split anything by hand it’s only the cedar we use of kindling. I think I’d exhaust myself after an hour with a maul and ax. Thank goodness for hydraulic splitters!

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