Letter from B : Fifty below Zero

 Letter from B : Fifty below Zero

You read the title correctly. Last night when I went out to do chores, it was 40 below with wind chill making it feel like 50 below. As cold as the surface of the planet Mars. It was close to midnight and my first chance to get outside. This is the kind of weather that makes me really think about what it means to be a prepper. I’m single mom of 7 kids, some adopted, some foster and some mine from birth. We live on a farm with 6 horses, 7 goats, 12 chickens, 2 dogs, 2 cats, 1 sheep, 1 llama and a gold-fish.

This IS my BOL. In the summer, I plant a big garden. In my pantry, there is enough canned, dried and frozen food for at least a year. I have my own well, rain water collection system, dugout and 18 x 34 foot swimming pool. Our house stays warm with geothermal heat but the wood stove and several cords of wood are ready to go if need be. We have a camper, several canvas tents, a tipi and a fully equipped insulated cabin hidden the bush. I can sew, knit, weave cloth on my loom and brain tan animal hides. I grind my own grain, make my own soap, cheese, yogurt, bread and pretty much everything else. My kids are home schooled but remain very involved in the community. I have my ham radio licence and am set up with a radio and antenna. Sweet? not.

Even with the power on, maintaining this lifestyle is hard work. Really hard work. That’s why my farm chores don’t get done until almost midnight. I can’t imagine how I will survive if one day I will have to wash the clothes by hand, cut and split my own firewood, use a hand pump to get water for all the livestock. And, what on earth will I do when the animals need hay for the winter? It’s time to sit down again and re-think the plan. I need to have a goal or a set of goals. What do I want to accomplish? How long do I intend to “survive” when things get bad? There are so many scenarios that need to be considered.

Sometimes, looking at my big picture (total self-sufficiency)- is just too overwhelming for me. I need to focus on little bits and then let the big picture come into focus slowly. For now, I have decided take another look at those scenarios that are most likely to occur and try to prep specifically to address at least some of my most obvious shortcomings.

Personal Illness

Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. No more staying up until 2 or 3 AM looking at YouTube videos of how to do home aquaculture. Drink lots of water that has been filtered through the Berkey water filter. Keep moving and lose weight.

Loss of income

Spend less money and squirrel away all excess. Really really work hard at this.

Increase in number of dependents

Being connected to the foster care system means that there is a real possibility that should there be a localized disaster, I may be asked to take in more children. I also have neighbors who have not prepped but know my lifestyle and would come knocking at my door in a heartbeat. It would be wise to stockpile for 20 rather than 8.

Power failure

Do a weekend trial of living off the grid (but not when it’s 50 below) and make a realistic list of what still needs to be taken care of. Understand that loss of power also means loss of transportation (no gas pumps) so loss of incoming supplies.

Tornado

Finish concrete “safe room” in the basement. Build earthbag building and store one third of supplies there and one third at cabin.

Brush Fire

Ensure that there are no combustibles near the house – cut back bush and trees to no closer than 20 feet. Divide preps and store in 3 different locations.

Attack from hostile people

Take time to look into self defense for whole family, consider a fire arm and develop a plan to secure the perimeter of homestead.

Finish secret room. Develop and practice our “run and hide” plan.

Biological agents/Pandemic

Put together kit that contains instructions and supplies needed for scenario. Educate children.

Cold weather/snow

Increase firewood supply to 10 cords and build shelter to keep it from rotting

Overland flooding

Invest in some type of watercraft. Pray that we’re not hiding in April in our nuclear fallout shelter in the basement when the power goes out, knocking out the sump pump and allowing the basement to flood!

Nuclear accident

Check stock of potassium iodide to ensure that there is enough for family and “visitors”. Put together kit with supplies and instructions that can be accessed easily. Prepare safe room in basement to accommodate nuclear scenario. Continue to look into plans for “hobbit house” made from giant culvert buried in dirt.

The internet is full of ideas and recipes for pretty much anything you can think of. We need to sit still for a moment and think carefully about where we are physically, emotionally and mentally, within our family, community, country and the world. Then create a mental picture of our destination (this picture will change as time passes and your circumstances change – that’s ok.). Finally, begin to map the path to get there.

Now, it’s well after midnight, still cold like Mars outside and I have to go out and do chores. The reality of a real BOL. Cheers

Comments

  1. Nice article.

    And 50 below is just plain cold. I have not personally experienced it, -30 is my personal best, but I’m good with that.

    • hey guys, not new to site, just never posted. @JP -30 is damn cold, i tried -45, i didnt like it, so i fed the cows and went back in the house…… wood warms nicely, if you talk to it the right way… haha jk

  2. Nebraska Woman says:

    Whew. I was exhausted by just reading the article. Good job.
    Blessings on your taking in children, loving and training them, and good luck to you.

  3. worrisome says:

    That is quite a scenario! I have one small suggestion only, 20 foot clearance in case of a fire is not enough. Triple that and you might stand a chance.

    • Thank you for the advice worrisome – our winds come from the northwest in the winter and unfortunately, that’s the side with the trees closest to the house – will have to add width to the shelterbelt on the north side to make up for those that will have to be cut closest to the house.

  4. My goodness! That is a lot of work! Im only getting a taste of what it would be like living off grid and without the conveniences we enjoy everyday,and im exhausted sometimes. I cant imagine how much harder it would be with children.

  5. Donna in MN says:

    Sometimes too much work is too much work. I would cut back on the horses to save you money and the extra hard work that comes with them. And since you say you are doing all this work, put the 7 kids to do farm chores to lessen your burden.

    It is good to have primitive skills, but not to offend anyone, you have too much to maintain, to do in chores, take care of all the animals, and take care of the kids just as one adult. I don’t know how you do it.

  6. B, thanks for your article. I wondered, what is the age-range of your kids? Could some of the older kids help with some of the harder chores? & the younger ones w/ simple things like washing dishes, washing clothes, feeding the smaller animals?

    I admire your lifestyle & for taking in foster children.

    • Hi RedC – my kids range in age from 2 to 19 – with the eldest away at university and the next oldest being 12. The kids do help as much as they can. Kids who are in the foster care system are often recovering from all sorts of trauma and so what I can expect from them is different that a child who has had the privilege a stable and healthy beginning. We’ve come a long way but we have a long way to go.

  7. You don’t mention any guns or means of self-defense??

    • You are right Red C – that’s because I have none – well, we have a guard dog and are in an isolated location – as long as the weather stay this this cold, we are safe :) as crime decreases in super cold weather. Seriously though – it is a problem that needs to be addressed. My neighbor is a pretty decent shot – just gotta keep him on my side.

  8. You do not mention the ages of the kids, so I do not know how much they can assist with all of the chores,I think you need help. what if you get sick/injured? so many depend on you, you need another adult there. No judgement, but a partner or assistant is necessary, and is part of prepping- having a person to assist or back you up. Me, I am old-fashioned I have a wife. There was a reason that when this country was settled homesteads were a husband and wife team, followed with a big family, you needed all the labor to make it work.Today with technology we can do more with less help, until “It” hits the fan, then we must go back to simple technology, and that requires labor-more hands. My two cents worth.

    • is this comment offensive?

      • What comment?

        • Rjarena – the 6 kids at home full time are between 2 and 12. Your comments are definitely not offensive. I couldn’t agree with you more about needing a partner. Finding just the right person at this point in the game is a tad difficult but hopefully not impossible.

    • A good partner is very difficult to find. How do you risk bringing someone into a family with children that he might not treat well?

      I think it is easy to say she needs a helper (you are right, though, she does!) and much harder to actually find a moral, Christian, hard working man who is willing to take on this difficult life.

      And honestly, a mate who is not all those things just adds more work and responsibility to your shoulders. I have experience with that one myself.

      God bless!

      • Patti is right, worthless slacker men lying on the couch in their underwear drinking beer are easy to find. I know a lot of them myself. OTOH, it makes men like me seem so much better. My wife’s friends are all jelous. I’m nothing extraordinary, just not a lazy slacker. When you think about it, its kind of sad that all it takes to seem wonderful is to not be a lazy POS.

        Somebody once said “Its good to live in a depraved time. Ordinary men find it so much easier to stand out.” Paraphrasing, but that’s pretty much it.

  9. It is 60 degrees outside and I am freezing. I cannot even conceive -50. When I was a kid visiting my grandparents in Conn. it snowed so bad my aunt had to tie a rope around her waste and tunnel to the barn to feed the animals. You couldn’t even see the barn from the house. (And the barn wasn’t more than 30 feet from the house.) That’s the only time in my life I have seen blizzard conditions.

    I don’t even know what kinds of clothes you must wear out there–certainly not t-shirts and flip flops.

    • I’m with you BamBam, today it’s in the low 50’s and I have the heat on and a flannel shirt.
      A very admirable life style, but I would worry about OPSEC and foster children coming and going. It only takes one to try and impress the next foster family and your security is blown!

      We are so far away from what you have accomplished it’s overwhelming ! But great idea to sit down and look at every sceanierio and what still needs to be done. Makes it manageable!

    • Donna in MN says:

      It was 40 below wind chill this morning. You gradually get used to the cold, but we wear long johns and layers and dress like Ralphie’s little brother in “the Christmas Story”. I use a snowmobile suit, tripple socks, double gloves, and a scarf around my face when it gets this cold outside to do chores. We also have whiteouts but smart people don’t venture out on the highways.

      • Donna,

        This may sound like a dumb question but what stores to you shop at for winter clothes? If you go shopping in the South the clothes are made of very thin fabric, even turtlenecks. I bought a sweater on Ebay that was made in Scotland. It is absolutely delicious; it is so warm. I get cold when the temperature goes below 70. Right now the temperature is dropping. It’s already 55 degrees.

        My dh’s daughter worked dude ranches in Wyoming for a year after college. She said the clothes were different.

        • Nebraska Woman says:

          LL Bean and Land’s End are pretty good, but wait for sales, of course!

        • Bam Bam,
          You need a set of carhart coveralls. I think they have them at Bass Pro Shop. It is a one piece outfit you wear over other clothes. We used them for hunting, mostly. You might find a set on eBay. They last forever!

          • Carharts are practically bulletproof. I also like Wall’s stuff (I think the stuff with the black lining is (or used to be) warmer). I prefer the insulated bib overalls and a jacket. In deep snow, gaitors are great. They help keep your pants legs dry. I love pac boots because you can take out the felt liner and dry it out. Don’t forget sunglasses for sunny days. Snowblindness can be a big deal.

        • Donna in MN says:

          I get some clothes from the army navy store and some second chance stores. You may not get the heavy clothes because they don’t sell where you live, like goose down coats, vests and wool socks. Most outdoor sprortsman stores like Cabelas, Duluth trading Co., and Army Navy stores sell cold weather clothes on line if you need them.

          • patientmomma says:

            I use Duluth and Cabella also, as their sales are better than LL Bean. Also Tractor Supply sells the Carhart quilted coveralls and work pants and jackets – I buy them when they are on sale. Thermal underwear helps too. I lived in Alaska when I was younger but where I live now it never goes below 15!

            I know I am not strong enough to do what B is doing; she is one awesome woman!

        • Thanks for the information. I will check out these sources.

    • Well Bam Bam… Sorel winter boots, ski pants (both actually more than 20 years old and still functional believe it or not!), a winter coat with hood and leather mitts. When the wind isn’t blowing, your own body heat stays with you as you move. The biggest problems are actually your eyelashes getting frosted up to the point where you have to take your hand out of your mitts to melt the ice so you can see again and the “snotscicles” (sorry – but it’s reality) that you have to deal with. Since chores take 45 minutes to an hour, I usually just wear regular clothes under my outer stuff. When you spend months in this weather, your body sort of adjusts and you loose heat differently. When I dip the #10 can into the horse waterer to fill the pails for the smaller animals, my mitt gets wet but then freezes solid before the moisture doesn’t make it past the outer part of the leather. When I clap my hands together, the crystals shatter and fall off and my hands stay warm and dry.

    • I grew up in connecticut. I cant come up with enough bad words to describe how much i hate cold. i left home at 16 and went to florida and klived as a beach bum for a year. the joined the army at 17 and never went back to the north. My hatred for cold is why i live in louisiana. I can remember digging out of our house as a child. i can remember waiting for a school bus in weather so cold i wished i was dead. I HATE COLD!!!

    • Old Alaskan says:

      After 20 below it just get’s more miserable. I have camped out in 70 below weather thanks to the Army. You dress loose and in layers, don’t overheat and sweat, keep your clothing clean and dry. It takes longer to do things. If you obey the rules of nature you can survive without to much misery.

  10. I lived through -40 wind chill during my Montana years, and it is hard, but you get used to it, just like you get used and adapt to 120+ Arizona summers. today we are lucky that we have gear/clothing options that were not available 100 years ago.

  11. I concurr with Donna: put those kids to work- there’s much you’re doing that even a five year old could give a hand with. (as examples: So what if the five year old has to make five trips to and from the woodpile to carry enough to feed the stove- they’ve energy to waste. Ditto feeding the animals and cleaning the barn. Put two or three of them on a task if one can’t handle it. Also, there’s safety in numbers for them.)
    As to sheltering your wood supply- if you use it within two or three years, a shelter is unnecessary. Just keep it a few inches off the ground (lay down 2x material or small trees before stacking the wood) and covered with a tarp and save the ‘shelter’ money for something more important.
    On firebreaks- cut down any trees tall enough to reach ten feet of the house and plow a ten foot wide furrow/firebreak around the perimeter (and use it to plant your garden or corn or wheat for animals).
    Worrying about the whorde of hostiles is unrealistic, IMO. Be concerned with security, but don’t let it overwhelm your thoughts. If you don’t have weapons already, I’m not sure what to suggest. Cost (if you can even find any) of .22 ammo is going to be near what you’d pay for .223 now. Shotgun ammo seems to be the most available in my area, and the off-caliber rounds such as 45-70 and .256 Roberts- odd balls for sure for which you’d have adifficult time finding weapons.
    Sleep… lose weight… drink plenty of water… eat high-pro foods. You’ll lose the weight with the work and the high-pro will rebuild and build muscle mass.
    Not being familiar with you or your situation other than what you’ve told us here, I’d still suggest looking for a helper- often called a ‘mate’. Just be sure you’re compatible mentally.

  12. Your list of all you do made me tired!! :) I’d say put those kids to work, cut back on the animals, especially those that don’t produce food, increase the firebreak around your house, don’t plan on taking in any more kids or other folks….one person just can’t do it all.

    I remember it getting down to -4o when I was a kid on the farm and my parents putting on just about all the clothes they owned to go out to do chores. I really don’t want to experience a repeat.

  13. Babycatcher says:

    More than two horses might be too many horse mouths to feed, IMO. We have Morgans and a donkey. I am training them to harness, so I can plow with them. That way they can have multiple purposes. But if you have a big garden, draft horses can pull more weight…hugs to you. I hope the children can help you out. I don’t know if the foster system would let you get them to help you the way you need it, would they? You are a better person than I am, that’s for sure…

    • I might be wrong, but I thought Morgans were bred to be all-round New England farm horses, smaller than some but feisty,smart and hard workers, I think you made an excellent choice, I would very much recommend them.

      • Nebraska Woman says:

        You are correct. I had a team of Morgan/quarterhorse mares that were taught to pull or ride. We did sleighs in winter and carts the rest of the time; they could also go for miles and were great roping horses.

    • I agree with you Babycatcher (I like your name, are you a midwife?), I’m sort of waiting for a bunch of the horses to die of old age (which is not necessarily a smart thing to do as my sister’s first pony finally died at 45 years of age!!!). I think they are taken care of too well. My useful horses or horse actually is the pony that the kids ride. Anyone want 3 old mares, a 8 yr old paint with attitude/potential and 12 year old pure bred Canadian with a crooked leg? The llama and sheep produce fleece and the goats job is to supply milk, chickens – eggs, dogs-protection, cats-rodent duty and the fish is um… therapy

  14. Wow! I am in awe of all that you do, never mind the weather on top of it. I have 5 kids, also through birth, fostering, and adoption. Although we are not fostering presently. Luckily 3 of them are self sufficient adults now, and my biggest worry is them getting home when the time comes.
    You are doing fabulously, and in your list of needs I hope you are finding time to take care of you and replenish your spirit. If you don’t take care of you, then you can’t take care of anyone else. Never feel guilty for taking some you time to do something relaxing and soul fulfilling.

    • N2Y, I think my alone time in the barn is actually the most relaxing time of the day – I often linger for quite awhile just talking to the llama and smelling the horses.

  15. Desert Fox says:

    Single parenting is hard enough with 2-3 kids so taking more than you can handle is not good for you or the kids. You are very courageous but trying to do too much. Granted, when you became a single parent you probably already had all the children. I respect your ability to help kids whose parents aren’t dependable but …yes they should be trained to help with the chores. I realize it’s easier to do things yourself, but it’s to the children’s benefit to learn to do things to sustain their living conditions.

    Can’t imagine the foster system you’re connected with being so incompetent to load you with more kids! They can be the ones to bring in and pay for a helper!

    • actually Desert Fox, I’ve always been a single parent. The problem with my foster kids is that the birth parent keeps having more and since I have all the sibs, it would feel like one of my own is being sent away. You will be happy to know though that I have said there’s no more room at this inn. If more children were to arrive it would be because something very terrible has happened and there is really no alternative. You can be sure I’m not waiting at the street corner with the car seat… Finding just the right person to help out is tricky but I do ask for help when I need to and most of the time, I don’t feel overwhelmed.

  16. exile1981 says:

    I was at a remote work site last February when the temp hit -60C. At that temp the construction crew would spend 10 minutes working and 15 minutes in a heated shack to warm up. After a while the bosses changed the cycle to 25 minutes of warm up and 5 minutes of tying rebar.

    From personal experience they three days we were that cold resulted in more fights on site than we had in the 4 months previous or the 8 months after. People get cranky when it’s cold like that.

  17. Rob in Ontario says:

    I agree the kids need to be more involved , I was in the bush since I was about 8 helping out with firewood , I never used a chainsaw until I was in my 30’s always used an axe . I remember going out to get firewood in – 30’s not fun. And yes ,you need someone there to help you out and maybe help with ideas also on how to do things

    • Hi Rob,

      My 6 kids at home are between 2 and 12. They do help but because of their ages, everything they do requires supervision. For example, 2 weeks ago, the 7 yr old went to the coop to get the eggs (usually a job for the 8 yr olds). He let the dogs out of the yard and then left the coop door open. Our guard dog is also a chicken killer and so I lost a dozen chickens. Note to self – 7 is not ready to be unsupervised with egg gathering. Most of my kids live with FASD which presents a whole unique set of challenges for our family.

  18. You are amazing! Really, truly in awe of all you are doing.

    You do need to train the kids to take of the wood, the animals, etc. the responsibility will be good for them. You will get sick eventually!

    You go girl. Take care.

  19. Goatlover says:

    God Bless You! Not many folks got the grit and grizzle you got, that’s for sure. Did my farm rounds in the rain today, harvesting carrots, green beans, asparagus, and romaine while wiping the rain from my eye brows (yes, I am in the extreme south!)

    Be encouraged knowing that you’re light years ahead of most preppers and ALL the sheeple in this country. Give yourself a break, too. That’s what the Holy Spirit has been impressing me with lately—I’ve been pushing and pressing so hard to prepare for all sorts of scenarios that I’ve worn myself OUT!! Look at nature—every year it gets a break during the winter……try to do the same! Blessings to you and yours…

  20. canadagal says:

    Wow you are a miracle worker. Bless you. We’ve had close to -40 all week plus a little wind some days so I know that is cold. I don’t have to venture out much in this weather so I can feel for you.

    In my humble opinion , since it is dangerous to be out in that kind of weather could you possibly do those chores in the daylight hours. It would be so easy to trip in the dark & hurt yourself. How would you get back to the house then. I’m not trying to be critical but trying to help. God bless you & do take care of yourself so you can take care of those who depend on you.

    • hey canadagal

      Would love to get out there in the daylight but some days it just isn’t possible. I often have to weigh the evils and pick the lesser…My life really requires a team effort and I’m still waiting for the second half of that team! For now, I’ll just do the best I can on my own. I’ve accomplished quite a lot in the past 15 years so I think I might be on the right track.

      • One thing to consider: adding another adult to the household isn’t as big of a safety net as some here seem to assume it would be.

        I’m also a single mother (widowed, if that matters to anyone reading), and while I don’t have the elaborate set up you are rocking, I’m a cancer survivor, homeschool and well I’m not sending my young child out to shovel snow or do other outdoor work when it’s 30 below. (It is a 2 balaclava kind of day where I live…..)

        It amazes me sometimes how I have to remind friends that while having the *right* partner would be awesome, there are no guarantees in this life. Spouses pass away, illness can strike any of us, people change…..

        You might be safer and more secure on your own. You’re accustomed to hard work and self reliance in a way that many cannot fathom. Look how much you’re accomplishing right now. More than many 2 parent households, I’m certain.

        Best of luck to you!

        • yup – you have said it waaaaay better than I could have. Also, I should have read my article over a few more times as my intention wasn’t to complain about my workload – I love my life and most of the time I’m good with the work but I think others might find the physical and mental demands much more than they are used to .

  21. Son of Liberty says:

    Yep, know what 50 below is like. Lived in WY when our worst temp was -58 actual, for two weeks. Frost on the inside of exterior walls, and furnace ran 24/7.

    Clutch in, manual transmission in neutral, and wheels would not turn — even when pulled. Finally broke loose and eventually started. Hard on equipment and vehicles.

    In winter of ’88 was driving through the Dakota’s at night (yep, pretty stupid in retrospect), wind chill (via radio) was – 83. We stopped to help everyone we could alongside the interstate. One poor black man apparently afraid (Bronco not running) had his door locked and we couldn’t rouse him. He had frozen to death. Bad, bad, news.

    Cold weather can kill, one must be fully prepared for it as well as everything else. Be prepared, warm, and safe.

    Blessings

    • You guys live in a completely different world. Here we just have to worry about alligators and snakes, and an occasional hurricane.

  22. B – I found your article very interesting. First of all, I admire all of your effort and endurance. It takes an ample amount of brain power to accomplish anything even remotely close to what you do. I agree, you do have a lot on your plate. However, your situation is what it is and I believe you are the judge of how much you are capable of. Although, with more responsibility comes all the more reason to step back and evaluate. I read an earlier comment of yours that some of your kids struggles with FASD. “I hear ya!” It’s not that they’re incapable. The best thing would to grow an extra eye for each kid so they could have they’re own personal means of supervision. An partner of some sort might help, but I gotta wonder. By the small glimpse of your life that I’ve had through your article, your future partner will have to be just as incredible as you are. I wish you luck. I encourage you to keep writing about your prepping. You are an inspiring woman and I wish you all the best.

    • thanks Lizzie, I sense that your comments come from a place of knowing. cheers.

      • a live-in or live-out help does not have to be a man. pray and see what God may bring you ‘out of the blue’. it could be anyone!

  23. I am tempted to propose, but then I’m not enough man for you :)

    • recoveringidiot says:

      Unfortunately that was my first thought also.
      Sorry I did that as I have been alone and praying for the right one to come by and stay.
      I wish B luck in finding that right one, I did and life has been great since.

    • Uncle Charlie, I hate machines and they don’t like me much either.

      My purpose in writing this article was to help preppers realize that living off the land and self sufficiency is wonderful, interesting and liberating but is also a heck of a lot of work. My own journey began when I was growing up on a farm and then time in Africa, Europe and the Arctic laid the foundation for my current life style. I realize that many preppers see the less populated areas of the country as ideal places to relocate. Those places are less populated for a reason, living there is significantly more difficult. Last year, spring came late with a whole bunch of snow and we lost 70% of our deer population. Not much left to repopulate if there is extra stress on the species from people needing to feed their starving families. I love my life and am not complaining about the work, only letting others know that if their aspirations lie in a similar direction, there are a million baby steps that need to be made to get to where I am and a million more baby steps to get to the ultimate goal of being prepared. Its really a lifelong journey and thinking you can make the switch the moment things get bad in the city is really asking for trouble.

  24. Thats a place I dont need to live . Just sayin
    I was doing a job in the mid west not too long ago , and the high was 15 one day , with 80% humidity . It sucked ! After work that day , I looked at the weather in Moscow on the laptop just for curiosity…………………..IT WAS WARMER IN RUSSIA !!!!! I shouldnt have done that because it added insult to injury lol . Anyway , its not fit for human habitation , sort of like the Az. desert in summer . I’m looking now for a possible relocation area , where either extreme doesnt overpower ……..still looking .

    • Come on, Phoenix (suburbs) isn’t that bad. I would take the heat over the cold any day. Just hydrate. I work out in an open shop without A/C. My boys played baseball in the 115 degree sun as we sat in the stands. You’ll see many people driving around with windows down and A/C off. People jogging, bike riding, swimming, golfing, four wheelin’ in the desert, quads,ATV’s, shooting. You name it. Besides scraping ice. Hottest day for me here was 122 degrees. Mostly 118-119 all that week.
      I CANNOT stand the cold. I can’t function when cold. Lately mornings have been about 30 degrees, that means 30 degrees in the shop. No heat.
      Be safe, be warm.

  25. We had -40 below growing up in Wisconsin. It is hard to get enough clothing on at those temperatures. I bought Carhart knockoffs in Kentucky at a Walmart once. They were much cheaper than real Carharts and they did the trick. I wore them at work for Bell. I still have them. Maybe Walmart still sells them.

  26. Interesting story, B. I laud you for your resilience. The lowest temp I’ve ever contended with was -41 central Wyoming in ’90, driving a delivery truck up from SLC. It was so cold that while the truck could idle, going faster than 20-25 would chill the engine to the point it’d stall out. I had to wait eighteen hours at a crummy 1st gen truck stop with the motor running until it warmed up enough to drive back.

  27. Very impressed with your fortitude. Used to live north of Duluth , understand the frozen coffee pot on the woodstove syndrome. Moved to tropical southern mn. They do make deep cell battery backups for sump pumps. Keep the faith!

  28. Iodine is something that should be taken regularly. The risk of assimilating radioactive Iodine is greatest when our bodies are iodine depleted, as most of us are. If your “iodine tank” is full, your body will not hang on to much more iodine, whether radioactive or not. Iodoral 12.5 mg/day is sufficient after a few months to fill our “tanks” After that a dose every few days is likely to keep our bodies from being depleted and therefore mostly resistant to any extraneous sources of iodine. Read Dr Brownstein’s little book on Iodine. Besides it will make you feel much better, giving a boost to your thyroid, dissolving breast cysts, promoting bowel function and more.
    just $0.02 from an old doc

  29. B- Respect to you. Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your life. I have been a single parent- seven children. I am wondering if it is a possibility for you to group with another single parent? Or,do you have a church that has younger women willing to learn and offer their assistance (with housekeeping, laundry, etc.). Are you near other resources such as a college that you could offer room/board in exchange for an extra pair of hands? Living the life of a homesteader is serious work, and a partner/spouse is not always available so we have to get creative and/or make due. I admire your tenacity. I remembered a product that I recently happened across called “thermal Johns” at http://www.jim‘sway.com. Perhaps they would keep you toasty in below 0 temps. Hugs.