It will be cooling down this week and we might catch the edge of the storm coming out of Alaska/Canada. Snow is in the forecast Wednesday evening and the temp will be dropping below 20 degrees F. by the end of the week. I got busy on getting the leaves up today. Both of my compost piles are full of a grass and leaf mix and I got the big raised bed covered in a leaf and grass mulch mix. Several of my trees still have leaves so I will need to do the leaf cleanup again but at least I have a good start on the job. My little leaf blower/vacuum makes the job a little easier and the vacuum mulches the leaves nicely for adding to the pile or the garden beds. I drained the last two garden hoses and will run the soaker hoses Monday on the front beds then drain them and the rain barrels 1/2 – 3/4 for the winter.
I got the front porch loaded up with wood. The wood rack is topped off and then some with more elm and all five of my big party buckets are full of the mill ends for the wood stove. I can now walk all the way to the back of my wood pile and it should not take to much longer to have all the wood properly stacked for the winter. The wood stove is clean and ready for any storm. I was looking at the area under the carport where I stacked the mill ends and measured it out this area looks to be the best place for the shed Mom wants for her chicken coop. The shop has power for any lamps or heaters if it gets cold and carport cover will provide extra protection from the weather. Plus it will close to the compost pile for easy cleaning and I don’t lose any yard space, if Mom needs to stay a bit longer than planned. We will need to do some cleanup and re-stack the mill ends but it should work better in the long run.
Mom dropped a few more things this weekend and I got her TV set up in her room. I was darned surprised by how many channels her little antenna pulled in as that room seems to be the best in my house for reception. I set up her mini-greenhouse on the patio and I think it will do better than I had anticipated because it catches the early morning sun more than I had imagined because of of the angle of the patio cover and the angle of the winter sun. I have lived here for 10 years and have I found out this year that some of my general assumptions about how the sun hits were not completely accurate.
I dropped off a bucket of tomatoes to my sister today along with the step ladder and a infrared quartz space heater Mom and I got her for a birthday/Xmas present. My sister had a room mate had one of those heaters and my sis really liked it. Plus it saved her on energy costs compared to the whole house heater. It is an early present, but it was pure serendipity that we were able to get the heater on sale and deliver it to her before the snow started flying. We would love for my sister to have an off grid heat source but with her health and income level getting her as electrically efficient as possible is about all we can afford to do. Overall this year my sister is making out “like a bandit” as she got a nice little toaster oven earlier this year when I upgraded to a larger toaster/rotisserie/convection oven. While my wood stove gives me a good off-grid backup for heating and cooking. I like the idea of having electrical appliances that can replace an oven if you have to use a smaller gas generator short term. My electric oven requires 220 voltage and neither my portable solar or gas generators can support that voltage. But I can use a 110 volt hot plate or toaster oven with my gas generator!
So how are you preparing for the “Polar Vortex”? Even if you are not hit with any cold weather you can use the storm as a test to run through your basic storm preparation steps. Little things like checking backup lights and radio battery power, matches, candles and staying warm. Are you prepared to cleanup tree limbs that get blown down and have the tools needed for clearing those limbs? Do you have salt or sand on hand for your sidewalks and where is your snow shovel? If you use a snow blower does it have gas, oil and when was the last time you ran it or did basic maintenance so you know it will run? Have you charged up any cell phones and radios? If you are using a propane or kerosene stove for your backup heat source do you have fuel and how is the wick on your kerosene stove and your lamps? You did change out the batteries on your smoke detectors and installed a carbon monoxide alarm. While the storm is a bit early in the year you can do a test of your preps and write down any areas that need some attention.