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Sustainably Chronicles: Preparing for Winter Weather

Snowed in! Polar vortex! Frigid temps!

We have all heard these warnings; in our news feeds, from the meteorologists bouncing around in front of radar shots, splashed across paper headlines. But there's no need to panic. With a few quick tips, it's easy to be prepared for winter weather living off grid!

1. Ensure your dwelling is well insulated. Campers, sheds, tiny homes, and other conventional dwellings might need extra insulation to keep pipes and water systems from freezing. Get some straw or hay bales. Use peppermint oil to ward off mice. It's not fool proof, but they tend not to like it.

2. Filter and store plenty of potable water in a spot where it will not freeze, preferably in the dwelling with you. Figure out how many days temperatures are supposed to remain below freezing, multiply by the number of gallons you use per day, and add a few more for good measure.

3. Invest in some good chains for your vehicle so that if you do get socked in, you improve your chances of being able to drive out in an emergency. Gas up your vehicle. Also, if it gets below 0°F in your location, consider adding something like Heet to your gas tank to prevent ice crystals in your fuel system.

4. Get your snow equipment ready. Locate your shovels, brooms, and ice melt and keep them somewhere handy where they won't get buried. If you don't want to use salt, sand and kitty litter are good eco friendly options.

5. Stock up on firewood, propane, or other fuel sources to ensure you're able to keep warm. Be sure fireplace and stove flues are clean and clear. Keep your wood covered, dry, and easily accessible.

6. Make sure your food stores are replenished. Many off gridders live in remote or rural areas where services are limited. Though the storm lifts in a few days, it could be several more before roads in your area are clear enough to travel. A good stock of non perishable food items like flours, beef jerky, died fruits, and teas are a great way to ensure you stay fed during a storm. Don't forget to check your toilet paper, soap, and other essential supplies and fill as needed.

7. If you have kids, make sure you have activities! Felting, board games, coloring and activity books, as well as small art projects are great options to keep everyone occupied. If you have a good power supply, get your movie/DVD collection out and prepare a movie day.

8. If you've got pets, don't forget them! Stock up on their food and supplies and be sure never to leave them unsheltered. Same with livestock.

9. Double check your gear: flashlights, gas camp stoves, candles, lanterns, batteries, etc. If you run into power outage issues, you will be glad to have back ups. If you are in a location prone to blizzards and white out conditions, have rope on hand that you can string from your door to key locations like your storage areas, generator, and propane tank. Use this "life line" when conditions prevent you from being able to see where you are so you do not get lost.

10. Do laundry and bathe before the storm hits! Having fresh clothes, sheets, and keeping everyone smelling nice in close quarters is one of those little things you can do to make being cooped up more pleasant. You're gonna be busy digging out and cleaning up after the storm and we all know laundry is one of those things no one wants to deal with when there are more pressing tasks to be done.

These are just a few ideas to keep in mind. Every homestead will have its own special challenges in freezing, winter storm weather. When in doubt, assess how to maintain your shelter, food, water, and fuel supply for your family and animals days in advance and prepare accordingly. With the right kind of prep, you can be sure to enjoy cozy snow days by kicking back and enjoying a breather from all your regular work upon the land. 💙

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