It’s getting to be that time of year again with thoughts of winter just ahead. We have a little time before the snow blows up here in Michigan backwoods, but one needs only look up to see the hint of yellow and reds already waving hello from the Maples to know that it can be anytime now. It is quite the spectacle to see piles of cold white snow weighting down those beautiful orange and red covered branches. It sometimes happens late September or first part of October when everyone else is enjoying fall color tours. Our garden green bean plants have brown tips on their leaves already from a few very cold nights. Two more warm nights and the weather man says our summer is over. Hope the green beans can keep up. Oh, by the way, the onion skins are the thickest I have ever seen them. In case you are not familiar with the old wives tale, it suggests that the thicker the onion skins at harvest, the colder the winter will be.
I’m here to tell you, it looks to be heading toward very cold up here in Michigans U.P. This is now the time of year I begin to watch the wild things for signs, so when Rocky Raccoon and his gang demolished the sweet corn patch before the corn had even ripened it got my attention. And every bird known to mankind attacked the Elderberry, choke cherries and honeysuckle trees with a vengeance, leaving not one berry, ripe or otherwise anywhere. Chipmunks have been coming almost into the back door looking for vittles and Canadian geese have already been seen heading south. The bushy caterpillar is extremely bushy and the our dog seems to be extra thick so soon too. Could be nothing but old wives tales, or what if. . .
This all leads me to thinking about keeping our little cabin warm in the event we get another 50 below winter again this year. Makes things tough when the power goes out at those temperatures, too. Two years ago we went 6 weeks without propane because there was that shortage, if you remember in the mid-central U.S., and they jacked the price up to around the $8.00 a gallon mark. We have decided to get our ducks in a row and get ready for what ever mother nature throws at us this winter. Nope, no more procrastination. Time to drag out the earmuffs and hot water bottles.
Checking with the Old Farmers Almanac, they say we are supposed to be a bit warmer than usual, which is in direct conflict with what the guy over at Accweather has to say and all the animals around here. They are saying cold, cold and dry cold. Other weather people are saying that we have a strong el Nino out in the Pacific that could effect our weather dramatically. So here’s where the voompa, voompa comes into play, cutting enough firewood to keep ourselves warm for the entire season. Some years we use our woodstove for 9 months out of the year. Granted, some months it is used only for a short time during the day, like in the morning to take the chill out of the house before the sun works it’s magic. Or in the evening to warm us after dinner and before bed.
We are lucky to have a couple of chainsaws and a wonderful log splitter. Thanks to these modern gizmos the work is not so bad. As long as we have enough gas, bar and chain oil for the chainsaw and extra chains, more gas for the log splitter, hydraulic oil, and engine maintenance to keep things running on schedule. And of course, a truck to haul all the wood from the forest to be cut and then moved again to be stacked. Least we forget, to get all this work done we need a strong back or two, and a couple pairs of sturdy of gloves for each of us. Now the big question; what if one piece of those domino pieces fall down and for some reason we can no longer get, gas, oil or maintenance parts? Then what?
Alternative media along with those PSAs from FEMA to prepare. September being national preparedness month and all.
In part two of Voompa, voompa, voompa, oh my achy back, we’ll take up the issue of staying warm when the supply chains have come to a screeching halt. Some of this is covered in my book How to Survive and Thrive When the Power is Out.