More Than 100 Are Dead As The Worst Flu Epidemic In Years Sweeps Across The United States This years flu is going nowhere fast. It is infection people all over the nation and has caused some serious situations. We have seen whole school districts tapping out to this flu in Texas. We have seen Triages …
Have you ever heard of a kidney wrap? It’s a simple but powerful technique to take care of your body during the winter months.
It soothes the adrenals and ensures your body will be ready to have a fabulous spring. This amazing health technique used to be well known by folks who lived in cold climates, and you’ll recognize the truth of it when looking at the fashions people wore in old photos.
Learn how to protect your own body with a kidney wrap in this video featuring Doug Simons (the master herbalist who teaches “Treating Infections Without Antibiotics”).
(This is an updated version of an article originally published in October 2013.)
Much of the country has had unusually cold weather this year. Some of us live in regions where cold is business as usual, and others are more accustomed to milder temperatures. But frigid weather can be tough on everyone, even those who are used to it. If you need ideas for ways to keep from going insane when you’re stuck in the house during winter, consider some of these:
1. First, don’t be stuck in the house. Get outside. Even though it might be hard to get motivated to suit up and brace the cold, you’ll be glad you did. Fresh air will invigorate you and help put a new perspective on things.
2. Get some exercise. There are plenty of ways to work out during winter. You can swim laps at the pool, lift weights or work out on machines at the gym, or play basketball or other sports at the community center. If those options are not available to you, an exercise video or home equipment might be a possibility. Walking is always a good option if the sidewalks are plowed or if there are other ice-free surfaces available. If you live near multi-story buildings where you can go up and down stairs or near a mall or civic center where you can walk indoors, that could work, too.
3. Embrace what winter has to offer. Lots of activities are exclusive to winter, and it would be a shame to miss out. Ski, sled, ice skate, toboggan, snowshoe, build a snowman or an ice fort, throw snowballs, ride snowmobiles, or go ice fishing—whatever sounds fun!
4. Attend events. Winter is a great time to go to music concerts, circuses, themed performances, cooking shows, art exhibits, basketball and hockey games, community theater, and whatever else is available in your area. There also might be expos like home shows, outdoor recreation shows, and agricultural trade shows.
5. Use this time to tackle back-burner projects. That might be patching ripped pants or fixing an old radio or resurrecting a long-abandoned blog—whatever tedious or time-consuming jobs you put off during busier seasons, this is a good opportunity to get them done.
6. Do some early spring-cleaning. Organize a closet, donate unused boots and hats to Goodwill, spiff up the basement, scrub ceilings—this is stuff you won’t want to bother with once the weather turns nice enough to be outdoors!
7. Spend time on hobbies. The sky’s the limit with this one. Soapmaking, woodcarving, jigsaw puzzles, reading, target shooting, ham radios, wildlife photography, and online role-playing games are all just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hobbies. You can enjoy activities you’ve always done, or learn something new. This might be the time to learn how to play guitar or make French pastries or tie fishing flies or train your dog to do new tricks.
8. Spend time visiting friends and loved ones, during a season when people are not too busy to visit. Socializing opportunities can be few and far between for many folks. Whether it’s gardening, food preservation, livestock care, haying, vacations, travel or home repair, most people stay extra busy during warmer months of the year. Winter is a great time to strike up a conversation with neighbors, invite old friends to lunch, or spend a weekend at Grandma’s.
9. Host a party—of any kind! Make it a pot luck, play board games or cards, give it a theme, do a progressive dinner, make the dress code be family pajamas, or even consider a bonfire in the snow. You can make any party suit your style and budget, from quiet and small and low-key to a big bash, or anything else that works for you. If you’ve been meaning to have a party but never seem to have enough time in other seasons, seize the moment in winter!
10. Be glad for the chance to relax. Catch up on the shows and books and crafts and social media you wish you had more time for during the rest of the year. Enjoy the warm wood stove and a comfortable couch. Give yourself permission to spend the day in sweatpants and slippers every now and then.
11. And by all means, dive into the seed catalogs! Enjoy dreaming and planning for next year’s garden, scoop up any discounts offered for early sales, and bask in the idea of fresh vegetables.
When you think about all the things you can do when it’s cold outside, winter doesn’t seem so bad. Try some of the ideas on this list, and you will not only avoid getting cabin fever but may actually enjoy the season.
What would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:
Living in Florida, there are lots of tropical plants around, among them fruit trees. Our new property is on the border of Zone 8 and 9, so it is still possible to grow tropical fruits as well as some heat-tolerant stone fruits such as nectarines and peaches. We planted several different types of food-producing trees on our property in expectation of having a house there and enjoying the bounty.
Banana Tree Missteps
One of the first fruit trees we acquired for free was a banana tree. I planted it among some large palms in an area that I knew would get lots of water.
I gave it kitchen scraps from making salads and other plant-based foods, and it thrived.
I made the mistake of giving it some cooked bone scraps, and it promptly died.
My second gifted banana tree was planted on property that is still undeveloped land. We had other tropical plants growing there such as avocado, mango, and guava, and I created a barrier around the garden area with old logs and branches piled up on three sides. I thought this would be sufficient to keep it from getting too cold during the winter, but again, I was wrong, and this banana tree also bit the dust.
Read More: “The Top 10 Tropical Staple Crops”
That was almost a year ago.
When the hurricanes whipped through Florida in September, a friend of mine who had a yard full of mature banana trees lost most of them. So, while Mother Nature sometimes conspires against us, at least I am not the only one who has had problems keeping banana trees around
Another neighbor who lives about a block away had a stand of banana trees along his fence and these managed to survive the hurricanes, although the fence was completely ripped up. When I noticed that he was replacing his fence and taking out some of the banana trees, I stopped my car to ask what they were planning to do with them.
Read More: Build a Community in 9 Easy Steps
I was told that the trees were going to be discarded, so I offered to take them away with the help of my husband and his truck. About an hour later, we took the truck over and filled the back with banana trees!
Planting Rescued Trees in Winter
Knowing that winter is upon us and can drop the temperature at any time, we headed up to our property with the banana trees, a load of abandoned bamboo, several gallons of graywater, a few weeks of kitchen scraps (all plant matter), and some shovels. Along the way, we picked up a few bales of straw and potting soil—some with fertilizer, some without.
- We dug a trench about two or three feet deep and a bit more than a foot wide, then added the kitchen scraps (to provide moisture and heat from decomposition) and the potting soil.
- Next, we added the banana trees, placing them close together the way they normally grow.
- After that, we put the excavated dirt back in to hold up and secure the trees, and installed four-foot lengths of bamboo vertically around the hole and fairly close together.
- You may be wondering what the straw is for…. Insulation! We packed the inside of the bamboo enclosure with straw about three feet high, and then watered the enclosure with the graywater we brought.
Since that weekend, we have had some fiercely cold weather in Florida—two inches of snow in the Panhandle!
What about the banana trees?
They are still holding up, but even in the worst-case scenario where the tops are frozen, the bottoms should still be okay. We will trim them down at the end of February to give new growth a chance.
Once we get our ducks, the duck pond will go in nearby to feed the banana trees and the other tropical plants that will appreciate the fertilizer-rich soup that the ducks will produce. A chance meeting with a person in our area who will be moving this year brought us a free liner for the duck pond and loads of other materials that we can use to improve our homestead.
Banana trees, bamboo, pond liners, and more all came our way through a little communication!
The post Banana Trees: Tips for Planting and Growing (Even During a Cold Snap!) appeared first on The Grow Network.
This time of year it feels like there are germs everywhere you go. During these months of cold and flu season, we need to be prepared for any illnesses that come into our house. Part of being prepared means having your supply of herbal teas ready to use when they are needed.
One of the best things about herbal teas is they are extremely easy to make and they can be made as you need them. They are also wonderful because they can be tailored to your needs by using the herbs you have on hand and prefer. Even when you are not sick a good cup of herbal tea can be just what you need to relax. Herbal teas can be used as preventatives, to treat symptoms, and to shorten the duration of your illness.
Almost all of these teas can be mixed in bulk batches and stored in airtight containers for later use. Unless otherwise noted, all of these teas can be made the same way by putting 4 to 6 tablespoons of herbal tea mixture in the bottom of a quart jar. Pour boiling water over the top of the herbs and cover the jar. Steep the mixture for 30 to 45 minutes. Strain the herbs out and sip throughout the day. Excess tea can be refrigerated for 24 hours.
1) Immune Boosting Chai Tea
You can drink this Chai Tea daily throughout the year. It will help build your immune system. It also tastes wonderful. Astragalus and reishi are great herbs for preventing colds and the flu. This tea can be mixed in bulk in advance. The reishi and astragalus can be added before brewing since they are large pieces that do not mix in well with the rest of the herbs.
2 tablespoons dried ginger root
2 tablespoons dried orange peel
1 tablespoon cinnamon chips
1 teaspoon peppercorns
½ teaspoon hulled cardamom or two crushed cardamom pods
¼ teaspoon cloves
10 to 20 grams astragalus
6 to 9 grams sliced reishi
1 ½ quarts of water
Put all the ingredients in a pot or slow cooker. Boil and then lower the heat. Let simmer for one hour. Strain the herbs out. You can add milk or honey for added flavor. If made in the slow cooker, heat on low for 8 hours. The prepared tea can be kept in a sealed jar in the fridge for one day and reheated as needed.
2) Immune Boosting Tea
This tea is great for boosting your immune system because it is high in Vitamin C. This tea contains both elderberries and rosehips. Elderberries are well known for their cold and flu fighting properties, but many people do not think of rosehips which have approximately 40 times more vitamin C than some citrus fruits.
1 part dried elderberries
1 part rosehips
¼ part cinnamon chips
¼ part ginger root
3) Honey Lemon Ginger Jar
This tea is different than many herbal teas. This tea is made in a jar and stored in the fridge until used. The liquid mixture is placed in warm water and can be drunk just as other herbal teas. This tea gives you many unique benefits of honey. Honey has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
1 cup of raw honey
1-2 sliced lemons
1-inch piece of ginger
Wash and slice your lemon. Slice your ginger. It is not necessary to peel the ginger, although if you want to you can peel it with a spoon. Put the lemon and ginger in a jar and seal tightly. Then, place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before using it. To make the tea, spoon 1-2 teaspoons into a cup of warm water and stir. Drink this tea immediately. This mixture can be stored in the fridge for around 2 months.
4) Elderflower Fever Reducing Tea
The elderflower is part of the same plant as the useful elderberry, and it is great for reducing fevers. This tea is great for children. With children, we often worry about their fever getting high and not going down. This elderflower tea is a great remedy if you are worried about fever.
1 part catnip
1 part elderflower
1 part spearmint
5) Echinacea Tea
Echinacea is a beautiful flowering herb that is easy to grow. If you do not grow it yourself, you can easily buy it. Echinacea is a great herb to help stop a cold in its tracks. Start drinking this tea at the first sign of a cold and it can shorten the duration of your cold.
1 part echinacea roots, leaves, and/or flowers
1 part spearmint
1 part lemon balm
6) Ginger Tea
Ginger is an amazing medicinal herb. It can help so many symptoms of all kinds of illnesses. This herb is so powerful that Rosalee de la Forêt says that “if you only had one herb to choose from during a cold or the flu, ginger may be the one”. This herb is great for congestion, sore throats, and warming up from the chills. It is also a wonderful herb for calming the stomach and helping reduce nausea.
1-inch long piece of ginger (grated or minced) or 2 teaspoons of cut dried ginger
Splash of lemon
Spoonful of honey
Place ginger, lemon, and honey in a cup or jar. Pour water over these and cover. Let this steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain your tea. If your tea is too strong, you can add more water to dilute it.
7) Soothing Ginger Spice Tea
This tea has a lot of different ingredients. Many of them are things we keep in our kitchen and use in regular cooking. Each one of these herbs and spices has healing properties that we don’t expect. Cinnamon is full of antioxidants. Cloves will help with coughs and get rid of the nasty phlegm that comes with colds and flu. Turmeric can help ease up stomach symptoms that often accompany the flu.
3 cups of water
Juice from half a lemon
1 stick of cinnamon
¾ inch of ginger sliced
¼ teaspoon cloves
½ tablespoon turmeric
1 small pinch of cayenne pepper
Honey to sweeten your tea as desired
Add all of the ingredients into a pot except the honey. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain tea. Pour into a cup and add honey as desired.
Drinking these herbal teas can help not only reduce the symptoms of a cold or flu, but they can also help prevent getting sick by building up your immune system. Herbal teas will also shorten the length of your illness. Prepare and store these herbal mixtures before illness arrives, so at the first sign of sickness you are ready to make a healing cup of tea.
Anthis, Christina. (2014 September 18). Ten Homemade Herbal Teas for Cold and Flu Season. https://theherbalacademy.com/ten-homemade-herbal-teas-for-cold-and-flu-season/. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
Attwell, Ciara. (2015 February 23). Honey Lemon Ginger Jar – Natural Cold and Flu Remedy. http://www.myfussyeater.com/honey-lemon-ginger-jar-natural-cold-flu-remedy/. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
Chatelaine. (2014 November 11). Soothe cold and flu symptoms with this tea. http://www.chatelaine.com/health/wellness/flu-fighting-tea/. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
Nancy. ( 2013 August 9). How to Make Your Own Echinacea Tea. http://livininthegreen.blogspot.com/2013/08/how-to-make-your-own-echinacea-tea.html?m=1. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
De la Forêt, Rosalee. (n.d.) Learning Herbs. Herbal Cold Care Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu Season.
PrepperMed 101: What To Do When The Frost Bites Getting lost in the woods can be a terrifying situation. Even when it happens briefly you can get a serious adrenaline dump from going off trail and realizing you have lost your way back. For most people they wander a bit and find their way back …
Here are some ways to soothe a cold. It seems like everywhere I go, someone is coughing, sneezing, and sniffling. It’s that time of year. Is it a cold or allergies? My voice sounds raspy, but I’m not sick. It’s that time of the year, sinus and congestion issues. You know when we have holidays and we have family or friends coming from different cities or states they sometimes bring a sniffle or two with them. Or we have the sniffles, right? It’s life and we love getting together.
Over Thanksgiving, our son-in-law came down with a cold when they arrived here for the holiday, but no one else in the house got it. Then a week later we were getting ready to head up north to visit some family and Mark got a cold with a cough just as we were leaving.
I will share what I do for colds, but it may or may not work for you and your family. I am not a doctor, nurse or anyone in the medical field. We know what is right for our families. Mark and I rarely go to the doctor, but there are times we must all visit a physician. I get it. I will also share ideas to keep from getting a cold, or at least try not to get one. If you are flying in an airplane I suggest you wear some N-95 Masks. I’m sure my husband, Mark wouldn’t wear one, but I will.
How To Soothe A Cold
- Wash your hands.
- Stay hydrated with good clean water.
- Eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Stay away from fast food and empty calories.
- Always use those wet wipes available at your local grocery store to wipe down the handle of the carts.
- When you get home from the store, place those grocery bags on the floor. Those carts are a bacteria haven. If you must put them on the counter clean the area where you place them after you empty the bags. Who knows what’s on those grocery carts. I’m starting to sound a little OCD, I own it.
- Please use Clorox or Lysol wipes on your light switches, phones, remotes, etc. at home. They harbor so much bacteria. I know some people are against using bleach, I’m not.
- I visit the hospital probably a little more than the normal person does so I can check in on people from our neighborhood, not because I’m a patient. Thank goodness for those hanging hand sanitizer machines. I use them going in and going out. I even have a bottle in my car. You may think I’m a clean freak, I’m thinking I am too. LOL! Oh well, that’s how I roll.
- Wash your hands, yes, I’ve already said that. It’s critical to have clean hands.
- My favorite drink to clear congestion in my throat is warm water with Organic Green Tea, honey, and lemon juice. I buy Santa Cruz Organic Pure Lemon Juice. It’s too expensive on Amazon, you can buy it at your local grocery stores. Of course, freshly squeezed lemons would be awesome, too.
- I use My Doctor Suggests Throat Lozenges, they are not too strong in flavor and contain silver, which I love.
- I also use My Doctor Suggests Colloidal Silver 30 ppm. I would suggest you sign up for their emails on their website, and they have specials all the time you can take advantage of. If you are wondering if I take some every day, no I do not. But, if I have been somewhere where people are coughing, sneezing, etc. I will take some when I get home. I also always have their throat lozenges in my car.
- I use doTerra “Breathe” essential oil all the time.
- I love doTerra “Wintergreen” essential oil as well.
- Have you tried their “Eucalyptus” essential oil? I love it.
- I have a diffuser going almost every day at my house.
- I have a warm vaporizer I use to keep the room humidified. It’s cheap but it works. Vicks Warm Vaporizer
- Have you ever used a Neti Pot? They clean out your sinus cavities. Please be sure and use clean water.
- Make a pot of good old-fashioned chicken noodle soup. Chicken Noodle Soup by Linda
- Rest, sip on a warm drink, curled up in a blanket, sounds awesome, doesn’t it?
- Keep your over the counter cold remedies or cough syrups rotated. If we have a power outage, you may be out of luck getting some of the ones you need.
- Some people like nasal sprays, I know I do. I buy Nasacort at Costco.
- Please rotate your fever reducer products if you use them. You may need some when the pharmacies are closed.
- Thermometers may be needed.
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, especially if you are coughing and sneezing.
- Keep a good supply of cloth hankies or tissues for wiping our noses. They would be great to help cut down on the virus or bacteria floating in the air.
- If you can stay home, please stay home, let’s cut down on sickness in the day care centers, churches, schools and the workplace.
- Please rest and stay hydrated
Stock Up On Cold Remedies
Thanks again for being prepared for the unexpected. If we lose power from a disaster or unforeseen emergency you will be glad you stocked up on your favorite old remedies. Make a list and stock your cold kit. May God bless this world.
“Prepare Your Family For Survival” by Linda Loosli
Fabrics for Survival!
Micheal Kline “Reality Check” Audio player below!
In this show, we will be looking at the science behind the phrase ‘cotton kills’ and will learn what fabrics work best in the wet and the cold. If you love those 50/50 shirts made from cotton-poly blends then I have bad news. They will still kill you, although it may take a little longer.
Listen to this broadcast or download “Fabrics for Survival” in this player!
Herbal Cold and Flu Care Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio player below! Cold and flu season is here. It has already hit our household, hard. One of the best ways to use herbs is for cold and flu relief. And thankfully, I had lots of herbal cold and flu remedies on hand early this … Continue reading Herbal Cold and Flu Care!
Have I told you about my collection of Vera Bradley blankets? I discovered these wildly colorful, plush blankets about 4 years ago when I was on a business trip and wanted to splurge on a little something just for me. Well, one blanket quickly turned into 2, 3 and now I believe we own a grand total of 6.
I love blankets and, if I am a hoarder of anything, it would be blankets.
For practical purposes, though, there is no need to buy anything expensive, not when there are always older, maybe even oddly colored, blankets at thrift stores and yard sales. Those cheap blankets can serve many purposes and can easily be tucked into corners until needed.
You should keep a small stockpile of several blankets on hand, for the following reasons:
- Let’s start with the obvious. Blankets keep us warm and in an emergency situation, sitting underneath and on top of blankets when there’s no or little heat can quite literally keep us alive. Having more than enough on hand means we can care for extra people as well – the elderly neighbor, extended family and friends who come to visit.
- Keeping a garden is an important part of the homesteading lifestyle and a late spring or early fall frost can destroy our plants quickly. Keep extra blankets in the garden shed or garage for frost protection. When the weather forecast looks ominous, toss the blankets over sensitive plants to protect them from the damaging effects of a light frost.
- Add a pocket to one edge of a quilt and hang it from a tension rod in windows, to add an extra layer of warmth during frigid cold spells. This helps keep the cold out from drafty windows or even just large windows that get cold from sheer size. These window quilts can help keep cold out and heat in, helping us use less wood or other forms of heat energy. Believe it or not, our first winter in Texas was freezing cold — Texas not being known for cold weather, I know. The only way we could keep the frigid January air out of our master bedroom was to hang a heavy, plush blanket over the sliding glass door.
- Use them as makeshift beds. A few blankets piled on a floor add padding and a slightly more comfortable sleeping space. It’s not as comfortable as a bed, but for extra guests in an emergency situation, it would be appreciated.
- Pets and livestock occasionally need bedding beyond just wood chips or straw, and your spare blankets can be a just as much a lifesaver for them as they are for humans. Keep a pile in the barn or outbuildings specifically for animal bedding. At worst, they get destroyed and can’t be used again, but most likely they can be washed and re-used multiple times.
- Receiving blankets and other thin cotton and wool blankets can make great scrap fabric. Hold onto these to repair thicker quilts that get torn or for piecing together larger quilts and throws. Depending on your sewing skill level, they can often be fashioned into coats, pants, pajamas, and more.
To keep your stockpiled blankets in the best possible shape, store them in plastic garbage sacks, space bags, or even plastic tubs to keep them from getting dirty between uses and to protect them from pests like insects or mice, especially when being kept outside. I’ve added cedar balls or small pieces of cedar planking to ward off insects.
Do you have any favorite uses for old blankets?
Hypothermia presents one of nature’s greatest dangers. Even just among America’s homeless, thousands die from exposure to the freezing elements. Nobody should face the cold unprepared.
By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog.com
Here are some of the facts behind hypothermia, and some more about what you can do to handle it.
#1: Defining hypothermia.
Hypothermia literally means “below heat”, and it’s what happens when the body’s temperature drops below 35°C. This means that your organs will eventually begin shutting down due to the cold. Once tissue starts freezing, what you’re dealing with is frostbite, the nasty cousin of hypothermia. Its opposite is hyperthermia, or what happens when the body overheats.
#2: What is frostbite?
The symptoms of frostbite include loss of feeling and discoloration of the skin: This can be blue, red or white, so keep in mind that any unnatural discoloration is generally a bad sign which can point to issues in circulation. Yes, permanent damage or the loss of limbs and digits becomes a real danger here: Once affected by frostbite, your priority is to warm up the affected areas gradually though as soon as possible. Think of frostbite like freezer burn.
#3: Just how cold…?
There are several factors involved with contracting hypothermia: Cold, air and exposure time are just some of them. Here’s a handy chart from the US National Weather Service showing the temperature, wind and time related to both hypothermia and frostbite, just in case you were wondering.
#4: Recognizing the symptoms.
Hypothermia is classified in three stages: Mild, moderate and severe. The symptoms of hypothermia start off slow with shivering – the body’s natural way of trying to warm itself up – slight nausea, drowsiness and confusion, but can eventually turn to much more severe versions thereof. Apathy and slurred speech eventually sets in, and inevitably the sufferer will tire out, fall asleep and into a deep coma and die.
#5: Alcohol will not help.
Do you know anyone who has a brandy to warm themselves up, usually on a camping trip? In the event of hypothermia, it turns out that’s one of the most dangerous things you could possibly do. Contrary to popular belief – yes, this is complete BS – alcohol will not warm you up. What alcohol really does is dilate the blood vessels, making you only feel warmer while you’re losing most of the heat through your skin. It does more harm than good, so don’t do it.
Related: Ten Ways to Survive the Winter Cold
#6: Preparing beforehand.
The best medicine is prevention. When you’re preparing for a trip (or stocking up your grab-and-go bags), make sure you pack essentials like warm, insulated gloves. It’s also worth investing in proper thermal wear, which can be expensive, but you’ll surely thank yourself if you’re stuck somewhere in the cold. Also prepare by checking out the weather forecast before heading out: Is there any bad weather in the cards?
#7: You can’t, and shouldn’t, work it off.
It’s another common myth that exercise will get rid of hypothermia entirely, so you can just “exercise it out” or “walk it off” and you’ll be fine. Like most myths, there’s more harm than good to this one as hypothermia puts intense strain on the heart. Suddenly exercising can cause your body to shut down if you are already in an advanced state of hypothermia. The same applies to throwing someone with hypothermia into a hot bath (or, for that matter, someone with a fever into a cold one): The resulting stress on the heart can cause a heart attack.
#8: Warming up gradually.
Due to the stress hypothermia places on the body (and the ice crystals that form in the tissue in the case of frostbite), the key to getting rid of either is to warm the patient up gradually, not quickly. Getting them out of wet, cold clothes and covering them with a warm blanket or clothes is step one, and much less dangerous than the common method that certainly might kill someone.
#9: The enemy of cold.
Know how to make a fire even in a cold or ice-covered climate, as it might be the quickest way to avoid getting hypothermia. (Remember: Cold doesn’t always come in the form of ice, and both icy wind and cold water can induce hypothermia just as quickly.) Many campers carry a flask of hot tea or coffee for keeping the cold away in the mornings, and – when possible – it’s highly recommended.
Check Out: Emergency Foods from Wild Plants
#10: Increasing your tolerance for cold.
Controlled exposure to the cold will eventually increase the body’s tolerance levels if done over a long period of time. This is true for people like Wim Hof, better known as “The Iceman” and the Guinness World Record holder for the longest time immersed in ice – a total of one hour and fifty-two minutes. (That doesn’t sound like too much until you actually try it.) There’s nothing superhuman about it, though: Wim (and many others like him) insist that their abilities are due to practice and practice alone.
Download Smart Thermometer from the Google Play Store, Fingerprint Thermometer from PreApps.com, Free Digital Temperature from the App Store or The Thermometer App and make sure you know just how cold it is outside.
Have you experienced frostbite or hypothermia while hiking, swimming or camping? Tell us your story in the comments.
When the mercury is dropping and the wind is blowing a gale, most people would rather be indoors than outside braving the elements. The same is often true of livestock. I am among those who prioritize keeping all of my animals as comfortable as possible throughout all seasons, and have developed a repertoire of effective ways to keep them warm during the cold of winter. Even if your motivation to keep livestock warm is centered more on avoiding a drop in production or merely basic survival, the following list is a good reference for livestock safety in winter.
1. Time grooming and treatments with intentionality. Avoid shearing and trimming coats when cold weather is approaching, of course. But beyond that, it may not be a bad idea to limit shots, hoof-trimming, and other routine procedures in winter as much as possible. Anything that causes an animal stress can detract from the energy it uses to stay warm and healthy. I am not suggesting a moratorium on livestock handling, but only to try and do the bulk of it in late fall and early spring so as to keep it to a minimum in winter.
2. Give easy access to shelter. Laws in some states specify minimum housing required for livestock. Whether a certain level of shelter is mandated or not, even animals that are adapted to cold often do better if they can get in out of the wind and precipitation. Insulation is great, but could be considered extravagant. If a barn is well-insulated and airtight, it is important to allow for ventilation in order to prevent excess moisture buildup inside and keep healthy air circulating.
3. Provide plenty of clean dry bedding. Depending upon your infrastructure and the type of animals you have, this may include cleaning out waste every day or two before applying fresh shavings, straw or other litter.
Conversely, the dung of certain livestock such as goats and sheep is sufficiently small and dry that it can be allowed to build up over the winter. This creates a thick mattress of composting material which contributes to the animals’ comfort. Whether you clean out regularly or not, a clean dry space is important.
4. Increase protein intake. For ruminants and other herbivores such as cattle, sheep and goats, this is usually accomplished by way of grain. This can be done by switching up to a higher-percentage grain, adding a top-dress of kelp or other supplement, or increasing the amount of grain. Protein for omnivorous animals like pigs and poultry can be fed meat fats as well.
5. Allow communal living. Animals will group together for warmth if they need to do so. Snuggling into the hay, or even moving about in close proximity to one another, will help them create and retain body heat. Sometimes the animals within a herd need to be split up for management reasons, but they all need at least one or two buddies during frigid conditions.
6. Allow them to rely on their own instincts. Animals will gravitate toward warm areas on a cold day if they can. If they have access to sunny barn windows, draft-free zones, or spaces up against buildings or solid fences that reflect the sun, you are likely to find them availing themselves of nature’s hotspots.
7. Use a plastic livestock curtain in doorways. These vertical strips of heavy plastic purchased from farm equipment catalogs — or made at home using clear shower curtains — hang in doorways and are effective barriers to inclement weather. They allow animals to move freely in and out, are loose enough to provide crucial ventilation indoors, limit snowfall beyond the threshold, draw the sun’s heat on cold clear days, and help retain interior warmth.
8. Maintain some dry ground outdoors if possible. Livestock often balk at fording deep snow, possibly because as prey animals they do not want to get bogged down, or because their instincts cause them to avoid expending unnecessary energy, or perhaps they just do not like it. A roofed outdoor area, plowed paddock, or even some shoveled paths to their favorite locations are a plus.
9. Use added heat if absolutely necessary. The best way to do this is to provide heavy-duty water jugs — tightly closed and kick- and chew-proof — of hot water, or bricks heated near the wood stove, for the most frigid snaps. Another way is by using heat lamps, but only with extreme caution. I see at least one news story every winter about a barn fire that started from heat lamp use. It is so easy to make a mistake or for accidents to occur — they end up too close to combustible materials, or the hanging apparatus breaks, or animals knock them over or chew the cords, or the outlets are bad. Except for extenuating circumstances — compromised newborns, animals that are sick or must be isolated, or other extreme situations — the use of heat lamps is probably not worth the risk. Choosing the right breeds, maintaining infrastructure, and facilitating a way for the animals to keep themselves warm naturally are all better choices. If heat lamps must be used, it is vital to use only those that are high quality and are designed for use in a barn.
10. Choose the best breeds for your climate. Some breeds of livestock are more naturally suited to extreme temperatures than are others. Animals with thick coats or other cold-weather adaptations are more likely to thrive in colder regions, but obvious physical attributes do not always tell the whole story. It is helpful to consider where the breed originated or was developed — did it come from the desert, or the tundra? Another consideration is the size of the animal: Very generally speaking, larger animals tolerate cold better than smaller ones, due to the ratio of skin surface to body mass.
Short of bringing livestock into the house, these are some of the best ways to help keep farm animals safe and comfortable in the harshest of winters. Due diligence and a little forward thinking can work together to create an atmosphere that will provide the best possible care for animals and peace of mind for owners.
How do you keep your livestock warm during winter? Share your tips in the section below:
A Few Ideas on How to Prep When it’s Cold Outside
If winter and its freezing temperatures are making you depressed, I want to give you a few ideas on how to prep and help pass the time. No, this is not one of those “how to prep for winter” types of articles.
Instead, I’m going to give you a few ideas that don’t require you to go hiking, to go outside and build a solar cooker and test it. These are things you can do in the comfort of your own home, most with little effort, but they will give you that feeling that you’re productive. And you will be.
#1. Try making a clay pot heater
…or any other indoor project for that matter. Now, don’t get your hopes up, these heaters won’t be able to heat up a whole room, however, they will help in an emergency. If, for some reason, none of your other heating options will work, you’ll be able to use this heater to at least keep your hands and feet warm.
Warning: candles are a fire hazard so be sure to supervise the thing every minute it’s running. There are lots of youtube videos about clay pot heaters you can watch. (Editors note: Please watch this warning video about clay pots. They can be very, very dangerous.)
#2. Watch a movie
There are plenty of survival movies you can watch with your family and learn a thing or two. While many of them are full of errors, I still enjoy them and I’m sure many other preppers do. If your family is not on board with you with regards to prepping, this could be a great way to open their eyes, if only just a little bit.
Recommendations: History Channel’s Alone series (not a movie, a TV show but really good), The Way Back (2010), Children of Men (2006), Volcano (1997).
#3. Make Plans
Don’t stop to making survival plans. Winter is the perfect time to plan for the year ahead, set goals and think of ways of achieving them. Of course, making or refining your survival plans should be a top priority.
If you’ve already done your basic planning, consider improving them by:
- figuring out how to make more room for your increasing stockpile
- reviewing your gear to see if any of the items you have are low quality
- printing better/more maps of your area and re-adding the points of interest with a marker
- prepping for disasters and emergencies you haven’t yet considered
- finding your blind spots and making plans to improve them (e.g. if you’re not prepping to bug out, you should definitely start planning for it)
#4. Perform a full inspection…
…of all your gear, your food, water and meds stockpile, your bug out bag, even of your EDC!
- that your electronics are still functional
- for leaky or discharged batteries
- your propane heater
- your generator
- that your hand-crank devices are still functional
- that your fuel tank is full or almost full, and make a mental note to always keep it full
- the gear inside your car
- Your medical equipment (ever tested your newly bought thermometer, for instance?)
Pay particular attention to items that have never been used. You definitely want to put them to the test more than a few times, to ensure they’re going to hold up in a survival situation.
Inspecting your stockpile can save you money by not having to throw away food that would otherwise spoil. If a tuna can is close to its expiration date, you may want to take it out, eat it, and re-add to your shopping list.
#5. Learn how to use your gear
Come on, admit it: you have at least one piece of gear you don’t know how to use. Wouldn’t this be a great time to play with it a little bit and see how it works? Well, you won’t be able to test everything indoors (some items are fire hazards) but you can safely play around with:
- Paracord (try to make some knots)
- HAM radio
- emergency radio
- …and so on.
Survival and preparedness are complex and, as a result, they have a lot of issues and controversies. The more you read, however, the closer to the truth you’ll get. The bugging in versus bugging out dilemma, what things are found in water that filters can and cannot purify, whether or not you should tell others about your preps, how to handle cashiers when they ask you why you buy too much of one thing – these are just some of the things that’ve caused heated debates (and still do).
Knowledge is power, so take advantage of all the free info out there, read it all and make up your own mind.
Our ancestors’ homes usually were heated by wood-burning stoves. While any wood stove will keep a certain space warm, the ability to heat a whole house – particularly one that is two stories — diminished with distance and range.
Sitting next to a fire is nice when the weather outside is -30 degrees Fahrenheit, but if you’re sleeping upstairs you’re going to feel far less heat and far more cold.
While some homes had the luxury of a second story fireplaces, most did not. As a result, our ancestors had to improvise numerous solutions to stay warm at night.
Some of these solutions were simple and some more complex. Some were temporary, while others were more permanent. Many of these solutions were used in combination on particularly cold nights. Still, our ancestors found some unique and even weird ways to stay warm at night when sleeping.
1. The “grate.” Homeowners would cut a hole between the first and second floor and insert a grate that would allow the hot air from below to rise into the second floor. It was far from forced-air heating, but it did offer some relief.
2. The hot-bed pan. Another solution was to take hot coals from the fire and insert them into a covered pan on the end of a long wooden handle and rub it over a mattress before sleeping.
It brought some wood smoke into the bedroom briefly, but that was and still is common in any home heated by wood. The heat was temporary, yet it took the edge off a cold bed when first turning in.
3. The “nightcap.” If you’ve ever slept in a cold tent during winter, then you know the need for a “nightcap.” This was a head covering that could be a knitted cap or, in Artic climates, a fur cap. When the weather outside is frightful, keeping your body warm is only half the battle. A stocking cap or “nightcap” made a big difference.
4. Layers on layers of insulation. Layering is a common concept for anyone in winter, and layers of sheets, blankets and quilts made a sleeping arrangement warm and warmer. Goose down quilts were a luxury and often a necessity on bitterly cold nights.
5. Sleep with the dog. The shared body heat from a pet can help keep a bed warm at night — and the dog appreciates it, too.
6. Night clothes beyond pajamas. Most pajamas are made from a thin, lightweight material that serve more as a modest way to sleep.
Our ancestors didn’t mess around. Their night clothes were often heavyweight combinations of wool and thick, cotton flannel.
7. Snuggling. Families often slept together in the same bed, especially on cold, winter nights. The human body radiates heat at an average of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and a combination of people in the same bed allowed the body heat to be shared.
8. Hot iron. This is potentially dangerous, but hot pieces of iron were sometimes heated on the top of a wood-burning stove or in a fireplace and then placed into a metal bucket. The bucket was then brought to the bedroom and placed on the floor or even under the bed. The radiant heat from the hot iron lasted for hours and helped to bring some added heat to a cold bedroom.
Of course, when all else failed, it was likely that a family would sleep downstairs in closer proximity to a stove or fireplace. This was a somewhat radical move, but when temperatures plunged far below zero, it was sometimes the only alternative.
Do you know of other ways our ancestors kept their house warm at night during frigid temps? Let us know in the section below:
Even the most prepared of families can fall on hard times when winter comes. Depending on where you live in the world, winter can mean extreme cold temperatures, harsh winter storms, and complete lack of food resources. This can add up to life-threatening situations, which is why prepping for winter should be at the top of everyone’s list. Here are some of the best tips to keep in mind for making the most of winter survival.
This is possibly the most important factor in preparing for the winter. The cold can totally incapacitate, and even kill a person, in a matter of a few hours. Preventing yourself from exposure to the cold is the first step in winter survival. Cold can make a person’s immune system more vulnerable to pathogens, so keeping warm enough will keep you healthy.
Make sure that you and your family have the right kind of winter clothing. The best possible option combines both price and utility, and wool fits the bill for both of those categories. Wool is an incredible material all around. Naturally resistant to bacterial growth, it can be worn consecutively for days, even weeks, at a time and will not be hazardous to your health or hygiene. It is the most effective fiber at keeping skin warm, especially when acting as a base layer.
To stay warm – have multiple layers available. Wool base layers, followed by a clothing layer, then a core warmer (like a vest), and an outer sweater. A jacket on top of that, along with a hat, gloves, and warm socks, and any human can stay warm in even the harshest cold weather. Additionally, warming packets can be added to pockets, gloves, and socks. Clothing should fit well to prevent heat loss. If you live around rain and/or snow, then a waterproof layer is a must. None of the warmest clothing will work if you can’t keep it from getting wet. And wet + cold is a recipe for serious trouble. Stay warm and dry!
Most likely, if you live in a place with deep, dark winters, clothing won’t cut it by itself. You will need a way to generate heat to stay warm, especially in the night when temperatures drop to their lowest. Look into purchasing a gas stove, along with extra gas containers. A generator is a basic prepping piece of equipment, and can also be used to power heating devices like space heaters.
The other option is to have a good old-fashioned wood fire. The problem with this is that you might not always have dry wood to burn, and it can also attract attention if you are trying to keep a low profile.
Food and Water
Without these two items you will be hurting in no time, so it is important to ensure that you and your family have clean water to drink, and enough food to eat. Water is more of an immediate need, so make sure that you have several options for gathering it. If you live near a stream or river, have multiple filters to use in case one breaks or is lost. Mechanical filters with ceramic filters work the best, and are very price-effective. Have a way to contain water – purchase several jugs that you can store enough water in for a few weeks at least.
Canned food keeps the longest and can be kept for years on end. Make sure that the cans are not dented, which can be a sign of botulism. Have a diverse set of canned foods, from beans to vegetables to canned meats. This way your nutrition will not falter and you will be in the best possible state of health to tackle other survival concerns.
Be sure to stock up on some treats here and there, as this is the best way to boost moral. Candies, chocolate, vape juices can all provide something to create a good mood in the dark and cold of the winter.
Prepping for the winter is a serious task and should take a lot of forethought on your part to make sure you have everything you could possibly need. You know best what your winter conditions are like where you live, so think about possible circumstances that might arise and what you can do to mitigate winter threats. With adequate prepping, you can survive winter in relative comfort and stability.
It’s the time of year when the winter season bestows upon us its magical charms and beauty. Crystalized, winter landscapes lend to frosted-over ponds ripened for ice skating. Ice-capped mountains call upon the adventurous skier. And the snow-covered trees of the forest sound out for the hunters of the season.
For many homesteaders, spending time in the outdoors during winter is a way of life. Unfortunately, so is coming down with colds, and maybe even worse, the flu.
That means it’s time to stockpile essential oils for the cold and flu season. Did you know that there are more than 200 types of viruses that cause the common cold?
Essential oils have many antimicrobial, antiviral, astringent, disinfectant and antiseptic properties that can kill the cold and flu viruses before they even have a chance to set in. But with proper preventive measures, and with the right combinations of essential oils, you can stop cold and flu viruses in their tracks.
If you do end up coming down with a bug, essential oils have powerful healing properties.
Methods Of Using Essential Oils
There are several methods of using essential oils for prevention of colds and flu relief. They are:
- Diffuser/humidifier aromatherapy
- Spray bottle disinfecting blends
- Massage aromatherapy
- Bath aromatherapy
- Steam inhalation
- Hot and cold compresses
I will go over the methods as I come to the remedy sections for each essential oil.
9 Essential Oils You Should Stockpile
1. Oregano essential oil
Oregano can immediately relieve your cold and flu symptoms. It has antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, digestive and anti-allergenic properties.
I never recommend taking essential oils internally, but oil of oregano can be bought as an ingestible form. Make sure you stockpile with ingestible oil of oregano and as soon as you feel the symptoms of a cold coming on, place several drops under your tongue and let it sit for about 30 seconds before swallowing. This method of sublingual administration is a powerful way to absorb oregano essential oil quickly into your system.
Or, try this massage or diffuser blend:
- 3 drops oregano essential oil.
- 2 drops rosemary essential oil.
- 2 drops eucalyptus essential oil.
- 1 drop peppermint essential
Use the blend in your diffuser or humidifier to help relieve your symptoms. Or, add four teaspoons of a carrier oil and massage the blend onto your chest area or where you have inflammation or bodily aches or pains.
2. Eucalyptus essential oil and …
3. Tea tree essential oil
Eucalyptus essential oil encompasses about 67 percent eucalyptol. This makes this essential oil a powerful remedy for relieving stuffed-up noses and chesty coughs, as well as to ease breathing. (Do not take eucalyptus essential oil orally, as it can be toxic.)
Tea tree essential oil has antiseptic, antiviral, antimicrobial properties and is a natural germ killer and disinfectant.
Methods for preventing airborne infection from spreading:
- 4 drops eucalyptus essential oil.
- 4 drops tea tree essential oil.
- Use the blend in a diffuser or a humidifier to kill airborne viruses and germs.
- Or, drop it into a 16-ounce spray bottle with water and spray all surfaces in the household, including light switches, door knobs, remotes, computer keyboards, cabinet knobs, etc.
- You even can add some pine essential oil and mop your floors and clean your bathroom with this blend.
Chest rub to relieve chesty coughs:
- 4 drops eucalyptus essential oil.
- 4 drops cedarwood essential oil.
- 2 drops tea tree essential oil.
- 4 tsp carrier oil.
- Massage the blend into your chest, day and night.
To relieve bodily aches and pains:
- 3 drops eucalyptus essential oil.
- 3 drops ginger essential oil.
- 3 drops rosemary essential oil.
- 1 drop tea tree essential oil.
- 4 tsp carrier oil.
- Massage into your body to reduce aches and pains, as needed.
- Use as a hot or cold compress to place on the body.
- To do this, you can warm up a dampened, cloth towel in the microwave and add a few drops of this blend, or chill a dampened, cloth towel in the refrigerator or freezer and add several drops of the blend.
4. Lemon essential oil
Lemon is considered a cure-all fruit. It’s a natural healer and antiseptic, is great for reducing fevers, is a natural diuretic, and can fight off fatigue.
The great thing about lemon essential oil is that it is found right in the peel of the fruit. Therefore, you can boil lemon peels in a pot of water, let it cool, and drink it. The powerful, lemon-infused water will act as a natural diuretic, fight off fatigue, lower your fever, while at the same time, heal your body.
For an additional bonus, as the lemon peels boil, they also release essential oils into the air, which purifies your home.
Virus-fighting blend. Diffuse:
- 5 drops lemon essential oil.
- 3 drops lavender essential
- 3 drops turmeric essential oil.
- Or, 4 tsp carrier oil for massage blends.
5. Lavender essential oil
I’m sure you have heard of the powerful and wonderful healing powers of lavender essential oil. Lavender not only heals your body, aids in insomnia and takes away aches and pains, but it is also an anxiety-reducer.
Hot bath blend to relieve aches and pains and reduce anxiety:
- 3 drops lavender essential oil.
- 2 drops rosemary essential oil.
- 2 drops black pepper essential oil.
Sleep aid and decongestant:
- 4 drops lavender essential oil.
- 3 drops chamomile essential oil.
- 3 drops cedarwood essential oil.
- Or, add 4 tsp carrier oil to create massage blends.
6. Peppermint essential oil
Peppermint essential oil can help to progress concentration and battle fatigue. It’s perfect for soothing an upset stomach and relieving nausea.
Because of its potent concentration of menthol, using peppermint essential oil for cold and flu relief is ideal because menthol is valuable for relieving symptoms such as congestion and stuffed-up noses.
Furthermore, peppermint essential oil has a mild, warming effect,which is perfect for making sore and tense muscles feel better.
To ease an upset stomach and stop nausea:
- Inhale peppermint oil from a tissue
A warming massage blend for aches and pains:
- 4 drops peppermint essential oil.
- 3 drops nutmeg essential oil.
- 4 drops rosemary essential oil.
- 4 tsp carrier oil for a massage blend.
Steam inhalation blend to relieve congestion, clogged airways and headaches:
- 4 drops peppermint essential oil.
- 6 drops eucalyptus essential oil.
- For a headache, add 2 drops lavender essential oil.
- Boil hot water and pour into a bowl. Drape a towel over your head. Lean over the bowl and wrap the towel around the bowl while it is still draped over your head. This will contain the steam. Inhale deeply until the oils have dispersed from the water.
7. Rosemary essential oil and …
8. Frankincense essential oil and …
9. Cedarwood essential oil
All three of these essential oils have powerful healing, pain-relieving and other beneficial properties. You can substitute them into any of the above recipes.
What would you add to our list? What is your favorite essential oil? Share your tips in the section below:
Most folks are inherently afraid of the idea of camping out in cold weather, but before we go further let’s define cold weather. A person from Alabama is probably going to have a different definition of what cold weather is than someone who lives in Maine or any of the northern latitudes. I consider temps 30 to 50 degrees pleasant to sleep in. Anything below 30 degrees is starting to get cold and once the temperature hits 10 degrees, I consider it true cold weather camping. The coldest I’ve ever slept in was -40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty cold!
So why would someone want to subject themselves to the torture of sleeping in the cold? A couple of reasons:
- To prove to yourself that you can do it. If you ever have to bug-out in the cold with just a tent and sleeping bad you know you’ll be able to do it.
- Once you’ve done it a couple of times you’ll have your gear tweaked for the cold just the way you like it.
- Experience. Nothing beats actual hands-on experience when it comes to any kind of camping, but particularly cold weather camping.
- It’s actually fun once you understand how to stay warm out there. It only sucks when you’re not prepared for it!
Shelter and Sleeping: A four season tent is good if you’re going to be camping in higher elevations or where it’s windy; however, I’ve slept in three season tents in dead winter and they worked just fine. They’re just not as sturdy in a high wind. I’ve also slept in tipi’s, five and ten military tents, and snow shelters, all of which did a good job of keeping the weather off. In my mind the sleeping bag is the most important piece of gear you can take with you into a cold weather environment. The colder the bag rating the better you’ll sleep. I’ve had a few nights where I slept cold (meaning I was shivering in my sleeping bag) because I took the wrong bag or was experimenting with different sleep systems. A sleeping pad is important too because it separates you from the ground, which will try to suck the heat out of your body.
Sled or Toboggan: An easy way to move gear through deep snow is with a sled or toboggan. I’ve pulled sleds called ahkios, which we used in Norway, but probably the most prevalent sled I’ve used is the toboggan. The toboggan isn’t just a death ride into the valley, it’s actually designed to carry gear. It’s slim width is well suited to fit into your snowshoe tracks as you pull it behind you.
Snowshoes: If you think you’re going to hike long distances in deep snow without snowshoes, think again. Let me save you the trouble and tell you that it is exceedingly difficult moving through deep snow without them. Invest in a decent pair and your life will be much happier.
Clothes/Boots: Synthetics and wool are your best choices here. Remember the old adage, “Cotton kills!” When it gets wet, cotton is pretty much useless when it comes to keeping you warm. Dress in layers using synthetics and wool and you’ll be fine. A good, warm pair of boots is also a good investment.
Water Filter: If it’s warmer than 32 degrees F., you can get by with a filter.
Pot Set/Mess Kit: If it’s really cold, you’ll likely be melting snow into water, so make sure you’ve got a pot to go with your stove. Snow is super fluffy compared to water, so you’ll need a bunch of snow to make just a little water. Plan accordingly.
Fire Starter: Lighters are good, but remember that butane doesn’t perform that well when it gets really cold. I always carry a firesteel as a back up. Matches are good as long as they are fresh and don’t get wet. I’ve used the wax tipped matches with mixed results in cold and wet weather and would rather have a lighter. Experiment and see what works for you.
Flashlight: Since it gets dark around 1630, it’s wise to have a couple of flashlights and even a lantern on hand. I love lantern light and that’s what I use 95% of the time when I’m cold weather camping in my tipi or military tent.
Toilet Paper: When there’s three feet of snow under you and no leaves, you’ll want to have some TP with you. You’ve been warned!
First Aid Kit: You’ll want a comprehensive first aid kit. In cold weather you could see anything from a cut by an axe to trench foot. Be prepared with knowledge and how to treat the injury.
Navigation: You all know how I feel about GPS. Yes, it’s totally awesome when it works. I love looking at my phone and seeing what’s over the next hill, but when the phone or GPS dies where are you going to be? Carry a map and compass. More importantly, know how to use it! If you’re in the back country snow shoeing and get lost, you have suddenly entered into a true life and death situation. Make sure you know how to get home, or at least to the nearest road.
Some things to think about in cold weather. Carry extra long underwear with you. When you stop for the night and you’re still warm from moving change into something dry as soon as you can. If you’re already dry, no worries, but if you’ve been sweating you’ll be a lot more comfortable if you change. Everything takes longer in cold weather. Moving, setting up your tent, getting water… everything. Make sure you give yourself extra time when setting up camp the first time, so that you can get a feel for how long it takes.
Things tend to break easier in cold weather too. The cold makes plastic brittle so it cracks easier, cold metal sticks to wet skin, batteries die faster, and other fun stuff you’ll discover when you get out there.
You won’t feel as thirsty in cold weather. Remember to stop and take frequent water breaks as you’re moving. One good thing about snow is when you urinate it’s easy to gauge how yellow it is. If it’s dark, you need to drink way more water. If it’s as clear as the snow, good job!
Going to the Bathroom At Night
Of all the things about cold weather this is the one that sucks the most. When you have to get up at 2:00 am to go to the bathroom and it’s -10 outside you might wish you were dehydrated, but don’t do it. I sleep with wool socks and as soon as I get up I stick my feet in my boots, grab my soft coat, and go outside. Usually there’s a designated area to go to the bathroom, but what you’ll probably find is at night people will take about five steps away from the tent and let fly. If there’s no wind it’s not too bad. Look up at the sky and marvel at how crystal clear it is. If it’s windy and snowing, you’d better hurry because you’re probably going to freeze your ass off. Once done, race back to the tent and crawl into your sleeping bag and get warm again. You’ll be surprised at how fast you get back to sleep!
Read Also: Cold Weather – The Great Equalizer
Another option is to use an old water bottle as a “piss bottle”. Just maneuver around inside your sleeping bag until you’re in position, open up the old bottle and urinate into it. Be careful you don’t miss!! Cap it up and slip it outside the bag when done. It’s more comfortable, but riskier if you can’t see what you’re doing.
Despite all the things I’ve told you to watch out for here winter camping is still an enjoyable experience. Once you’ve got your gear nailed down and your winter knowledge solid, you’ll enjoy those trips into the back woods. The only way to know for sure is to get out there and try it. Remember, when you’re walking from your heated car to the office and you’re wearing thin pants and winter jacket you’ll tell yourself, “No way in hell am I camping in this!” But as soon as you put on three or four layers and climb to the top of a mountain somewhere, the wind hitting you in the teeth feels refreshing.
Don’t sit around for life to pass you by, folks. Get out there and grab it by the tail and live it like it was meant to be lived! Questions? Comments? Sound off below!
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With winter weather finally here in most of the country, it’s a good idea to keep yourself ready to start a fire. We aren’t normally warned about pending survival situations, so it’s important to carry an EDC bag or survival kit with us at all times. That ounce of prevention really is worth much more than a pound (or three) of cure.
If there’s ever a time when starting a fire is critical, it’s in cold weather. The biggest survival danger we face in the wintertime is hypothermia. Cold weather is bad enough on its own, but if you happen to fall in a river, or otherwise get wet, your chances of survival drop from difficult to very iffy indeed.
But starting a fire in cold weather isn’t anywhere near as easy as it is in warm weather. Not only are you fighting the difficulties of heavy clothing and your body being made stiff from the cold, but finding dry fuel and a good place for a fire are much more difficult in the cold. On top of that, it seems like most fire-starters just don’t want to work as good when it’s cold outside.
Locating the Fire
Finding a good location for your fire is even more critical in cold weather than it is at other times. To start with, the ground may not be dry. Chances are, things will be covered with snow, making it hard to find good, clear locations. If they aren’t covered with snow, then you might find that all you have is frozen ground. That won’t work well, either, as the fire will melt the water in the ground, which will then try to extinguish the fire.
Your best bet is a bed of stones — not just a circle of stones around the fire, but stones under the fire, as well. That will not only protect your fire from the wet ground, but also from any water from melting snow that decides it wants to try and run through your fire pit.
You can easily make a broom out of pine branches to clear off an area and find the stones you need for your fire. If no pine trees are available, then you might want to try pulling up a handful of long dried grass.
Finding Dry Fuel
Fuel can be deceptive in the wintertime; that which looks dry might not be. The problem is that any water in the wood is probably frozen, making the wood seem dry. Unless it is coated in snow or ice, a branch laying on the ground will look dry, even if it’s filled with ice.
Always check the weight of any branches you pick up. With experience, you’ll soon have a pretty good idea how much a dry branch of a certain size should weigh. Try comparing dry branches to freshly cut, green branches sometime, and you’ll see that the green branches weigh considerably more. So, if the branch is heavier than that, it’s most likely not a dry branch.
Look for dry branches in the same places you would if it were raining. That means sheltered areas where the rain won’t fall directly on them, while being off the ground so that they don’t soak up water from the ground. One of my favorite such places is the underside of deadfall trees. There are usually a whole bunch of dry branches which can be broken off easily.
The bigger problem is going to be in finding anything you can use as tinder. Tinder, by definition, is dry stuff. But you’re not going to find much dry stuff around, unless you happen to find an abandoned bird’s nest somewhere.
This is why our ancestors carried a tinder box with them when traveling. Rather than having to look for tinder when it would be hard to find, they were able to use the tinder they were carrying with them. Then, when they found something that would work as tinder, they replenished their stock.
This is what you should do, as well; carry your tinder with you. Whether that’s in the form of char-cloth or a commercial “fire-starter,” having something that will readily ignite with you is a great guarantee of your survival. You could find everything else you need in nature, but if you can’t find something to use as tinder, you’re going to have trouble making a fire.
I carry a commercial fire-starter with me, as well as cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly. Either one will work, even with damp wood, so I’m always sure that I can start a fire. Between the two, I have enough in my bug-out bag to start 50 fires and enough in my EDC to start 20. Why? Because I want to be sure that I can get a fire going, if I need one.
Starting Your Fire
This isn’t the time for impressing people with your ability to start a fire by rubbing two dry sticks together. Nor is it a good time to try and get a couple of sparks from a Ferro Rod into some dry tinder. If you need a survival fire in the winter, then you can’t afford to waste any time. Forget finesse and go for the sure methods of fire-starting, matches or a butane lighter.
Butane lighters are my favorite fire-starting technique. The best are the ones which have a piezo-electric igniter. Not only will those work every time you strike it, but they continue striking, so that if the wind blows the flame out, it reignites immediately. A waterproof butane lighter with a piezo-electric igniter isn’t anywhere near as cheap as a disposable Bic, but they are worth the investment.
Now, I’ve got to say something about butane lighters here. That is, they don’t work in cold weather. If the weather is cold enough that you’re wearing a coat, it’s cold enough to keep the butane in your lighter from turning into a gas. But, there’s an easy way to overcome this; that’s to keep the lighter inside your clothing, where the heat from your body will makes sure that the butane can flow.
Of course, matches will work as well, especially if you spend the extra money to buy stormproof ones. The only problem is that you’ll be more limited as to the number of fires you can start.
A Final Thought
One way to eliminate the problem of having to start fires in cold weather is to carry one with you. The American Indians did this, carrying hot coals in a cone made out of tree bark. If you’re in a survival situation, you might want to consider doing this, too. Not only will this keep your fire going, but it makes an excellent hand warmer, as well.
What winter fire-starting advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:
Electrical Grid Down – No Power in a Canadian Winter What would happen in your area if the power went out in the dead of winter – not for minutes but for days? How would people behave if they didn’t have any idea when the electricity would come back on? What would happen to you …
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Editor’s note: The writer lives in Alaska.
Choosing the right livestock for your homestead is an important decision. You may know what kinds of animals you want — ducks, chickens, pigs, cattle, etc. — but how do you choose the right breed?
Too often when choosing a specific breed of livestock, the winter hardiness of the animal gets overlooked. When winter rolls around with her cold breath, you want to ensure you have livestock that will require little supplemental heat. Heat is energy, and when you’re already trying to keep your family warm, you don’t want to waste precious energy trying to keep your livestock warm unless it is absolutely necessary.
In this article, I will go over some of the common types of livestock people choose for their homestead and then explore some of the most winter-hardy breeds. For poultry, I will focus on breeds that are typically used for laying, assuming that any poultry kept through the winter will be primarily used as a source of eggs.
Choosing livestock that is appropriate for your geographical area is incredibly important and can save you a lot of time and energy while making your winter preparations.
It is hard to find more winter-hardy poultry than ducks. Domestic chickens evolved from tropical regions and by their very nature deal much better with drier and warmer conditions. Ducks and geese, on the other hand, can handle much colder and wetter climates with ease. Another benefit of ducks is that they require a lot less added light to keep them laying. In some areas of the country, you may not have to add supplemental light at all.
Swedish Blue ducks are a winter-hardy bird that are known for both their meat and laying qualities. You can expect about 120-180 eggs a year from them, with males weighing about 8 pounds and females around 7 pounds. They do mature slower than some other breeds of ducks, however. Originating in Germany, they are very winter-hardy and have a calm temperament.
If you are looking for a duck for just egg production, I recommend the Khaki Campbell duck. The Khaki Campbells we have on our Alaskan farm keep laying straight through the winter, and we are still getting good yields from ducks that are over a year and a half old. You can expect 250-325 eggs a year from the Khaki Campbells and, while they are a smaller duck, they are extremely cold hardy. Males top out at about 4.5 pounds and females around 4 pounds. They are very noisy, however, and can be flighty birds.
Another duck you may consider is the Cayuga. They are very cold-hardy, and lay approximately 120-180 eggs a year. Males weigh about 7 pounds and females 6 pounds when mature. Although very loud, they are calm and only go broody occasionally.
Chickens are a homestead staple. To have them lay throughout the winter, keep in mind that they will need added light during the darker winter months. Chickens lay best when they have at least 15 to 16 hours of light provided. When the amount of daylight dips below that, either keep a light on in their chicken coop, or set it on a timer to add the extra light needed when the sun goes down. Although you will need added light for chickens, if you choose winter-hardy breeds you may be able to avoid having to add extra heat.
If you live in an extremely cold climate where frostbite can be an issue, you’ll want to choose a laying hen that has a small comb. The Chantecler chicken is an excellent example of a winter ready chicken. Originally bred in Quebec, these chickens are made to handle the extremely cold winters of the Canadian prairie. They have small combs and wattles, making them resistant to frostbite and will lay throughout the cold winter months. They do have trouble in extremely hot weather, however, so if you live in an area with hot summers, these may not be the right chickens for you.
Another breed that we have been very happy with on our farm here in Alaska is the Black Australorp. The hens do have larger combs that could be susceptible if your winters are especially harsh, but they do extremely well in areas that have winter temperatures in the 10-35 degree Fahrenheit range. They are also prolific layers, laying 280 eggs a year or more.
Although many homesteaders purchase piglets in the spring, raise them through the summer and then butcher them in the fall when the weather turns colder, there are several reasons you may want to keep pigs through the winter. Maybe you are starting to breed your own piglets for butcher or want to do two rounds of butchering a year instead of just one.
When choosing a breed of pig to carry through the winter months, I’ve found it most beneficial to look to the heritage breeds. Heritage breeds of pigs typically do better on pasture and are hardier for the outdoors. Breeds that are used in confinement operations, like Yorkshire crosses, will invariably be bred to live in conditions that have them inside year-round with an extremely controlled environment. Heritage breeds retain a lot of the characteristics that make them suitable to living outside, and if you choose breeds that originated in climates with colder winters, they should do just fine with minimal shelter provided from you.
After doing a fair bit of research, we finally settled on the Tamworth Hog for our Alaskan farm. One of the oldest heritage breeds found in the U.S., the Tamworth originated out of Ireland, where it was known for its ability to forage and grow on pasture. They have quite a bit more hair than some of your other breeds of pigs and do perfectly well in our winter climate. We know of one breeding operation in Michigan that lets their Tamworth sows give birth in the middle of winter with just a small shelter and straw, no added heat or attention. In addition to being hardy, the Tamworths are also extremely intelligent and very personable. We couldn’t be happier with them.
Although it is always tempting to get whatever livestock may be readily available to you at your local feed store, it is always worth the effort to carefully research and select breeds with climate in mind. The result will be happier animals and a more efficient homestead.
What are your favorite winter-hardy breeds? Share your tips in the section below:
Herbal Steams for Cold and Flu Season Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Listen in player below! This week, I’m talking about herbal steams for the cold and flu season. Cold and flu season is roughly October through May, with a peak in February. I talk about herbal medicine for respiratory infections periodically throughout the season. Herbal … Continue reading Herbal Steams for Cold and Flu Season
Farmers are hard at work bringing in this year’s harvest, and in many parts of the country, deciduous leaves are boasting a myriad of beautiful colors. We love much of what autumn offers, but these days also bring with them some of our least favorite things: viruses, mainly colds and flus.
Cold and flu season is quickly approaching. The cool, dry air of fall keeps the mucous membranes dry, leaving them vulnerable to invading viruses. In addition, most of us spend a lot more time indoors during the fall and winter months, providing additional opportunity for viruses to spread.
There are many ways to prevent cold and flu viruses from affecting you. First, frequent hand washing is a must. Making a conscience effort to keep your hands away from your face is also a great way to lessen the chance of you contracting one of the many viruses out there. Second, make it a habit to get a good night’s rest. Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on how effective your immune system is in resisting harmful bacteria and viruses.
Another line of defense can be made with judicious use of essential oils. Using essential oils as cleaning agents, topically, or through a diffuser can not only kill viruses, but also can strengthen your immune system to more effectively fight off seasonal illnesses. An alternative way to reap the benefits of using essential oils while on the go is to use an oil diffusing pendant. These pendants may be made from porous stone, or unglazed clay, allowing them to absorb oils that are then slowly released throughout the day. Other pendants are essentially lockets that include a mesh cover and felt swatch to absorb the oils. Either method will allow you to use essential oils effectively while working on the homestead or traveling around town.
Not sure what to buy or use this fall and winter? Below are 11 suggested essential oils to help you stay healthy this season.
Tea tree oil is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, making it an important part of many preventative measures. The frequent cleaning of door handles and light switches alone with a cleaning solution that includes tea tree oil will greatly reduce the possibility of spreading germs to others. Tea tree oil used in a diffuser will combat pollutants in the air, while topical applications will reduce cold symptoms by relieving congestion.
A blend of lemon eucalyptus oil and balsam fir oil will fight viruses, bacteria and fungus and is also effective when used topically with a carrier oil or when diffused. Additionally, it relieves fatigue, muscle and joint pain commonly associated with flu-like symptoms when used as part of a warm soak.
Cinnamon, clove, lavender and sweet orange oils combine to create a seasonal smell that is an anti-virus powerhouse. Use this blend in a diffuser to clean the air in your home.
Lemon oil alone is a wonderful agent for boosting one’s immunity by naturally increasing the production of white blood cells. Use lemon as a single oil or combine it with clove bud oil and pine oil for a potent blend that fights infections.
Peppermint oil, coupled with eucalyptus oil, provides an extra layer of defense against common viruses. These oils continue to work well for those who are suffering with cold and flu symptoms by relieving nausea, congestion and fever-induced pain.
A blend found in writings from hundreds of years ago, thieves is a popular blend that provides antiviral, antibacterial and antiseptic qualities when used in several different ways. This blend of eucalyptus, clove, lemon, cinnamon bark and rosemary can be used as a disinfectant around the house and to clear the air of pollutants. It also can be used topically to support immune function and fight infections.
Please be aware that as with any substance, you may build up a tolerance if used topically for prolonged periods of time. It is best to switch up the types of oils you use, or alternate a blend with a single oil, every seven to 10 days for maximum effectiveness. For topical applications, a few drops applied to the soles of the feet before bedtime, three to four times a week, is a good baseline.
*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or cure any particular health condition. Please consult with a qualified health professional first.
What oils would you have place on the list? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:
Pliny the Younger, the author and politicians of the late 2nd century – meaning it likely was used during the time of Christ.
Raw vinegar is full of antioxidants and is a natural probiotic, but it’s also been shown to sooth sore throats, improve digestion, reduce cholesterol, help guard against cancer and maintain a healthy weight. As a natural antibiotic, it can help clear out your throat and digestive system of harmful pathogens, allowing you get better faster. Raw cider vinegar has also been shown to help the body absorb nutrients from the foods you eat.
Raw honey is a nutrient powerhouse, full of antioxidants, minerals and enzymes that promote health and wellness. It’s used throughout the world for its antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, as well as an immune system booster. Research shows that it can be just as effective as commercial cough syrup in treating coughs and sore throats. Taken regularly, raw honey can act as an allergy shot to reduce your sensitivity to pollen and allergens in your environment over time.
The herbs used in oxymel vary based on your goals, but in general, they’re often herbs designed to improve your immune response, or address a respiratory condition such as cough, cold, flu or sore throat. Whichever herbs you choose, do your homework, and make sure they reflect your needs, and the needs of your family; great choices include sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, mint, Echinacea, ginger, elecampane, fennel, garlic, mullein, hyssop, wild cherry bark and horseradish. Sweeter nutrient-rich and health-promoting fruits are sometimes included, as well, including elderberries or sea berries.
One famous version, referred to as “fire cider,” is made with ginger, garlic, cayenne and horseradish. Other times, elderberry, ginger and Echinacea are combined for immune support. Another mixture is a cough syrup/respiratory blend that includes wild cherry bark, elecampane root, rose hips, ginger, slippery elm bark and peppermint.
Pre-mixed remedies sell in health food stores and online for as much as $5 per ounce, but can be mixed at home for pennies and a little patience. Recipes vary widely, but a common formula includes 1 part dried herbs steeped in 2 parts honey and 2 parts vinegar. Leave in a cool dark place for at least a month, and then strain. Feel free to use more honey if your tastes require a sweeter version to overcome the herb flavors you’ve chosen, or if you simply have trouble with vinegar. Likewise, recipes with up to 5 parts vinegar and 1 part honey are also acceptable for those who like a little extra zing in their medicine.
Some people choose to steep the honey with the herb in one jar, and then the vinegar with the herb in a separate jar, only mixing them at the end. That way, they can have an infused honey and an infused vinegar which also have a variety of uses, and they don’t have to commit all of the infusion to being an oxymel mixture.
While they’re generally pleasant to use on their own as a medicine by simply taking them on a spoon as you would a cough syrup, they can also be incorporated into meals to turn your food into medicine. Oxymel is a great way to enjoy sweetness without negative effects on your blood sugar. Raw vinegar has also been shown to balance blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity in diabetics, which will help to balance out the effects of the honey on your system. With that in mind, these medicines make a great addition to cold sparkling water to make a medicinal spritzer, or when used to top a salad as a sweet and tangy dressing. Recipes using sweet herbs (such as elderberry) make excellent pancake syrups or yogurt/dessert toppings.
However you choose to take your oxymel, know that you’re participating in a medicinal tradition that goes back millennia, and taking your health into your own hands by crafting your own homemade medicine.
Have you ever made or used oxymel? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
Kale is a tough, cold-hardy member of the cabbage family, but kale grown in cool, frosty weather is amazingly sweet. If you already harvested a crop of kale you planted during spring (or even if you didn’t!), you can plant a fresh crop in late summer or early autumn. If you live in a warm climate, you can plant kale as late as October.
Although kale tolerates frosty weather, it grows best where temperatures don’t drop into the teens. If this is a possibility, then plant kale in a cold frame, or protect the plants with row covers. Consider planting fast-growing cultivars such as Red Russian or White Russian, cold-hardy varieties ready as soon as 40 days. The plants may stall if days are hot, but the kale will take off and grow like crazy when the temperatures drop.
Seeds are slow to germinate outdoors when days are still warm, so pick up a few seedlings at your local garden center, or start seeds indoors four to six weeks ahead of planting time.
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Kale isn’t difficult to grow. Here’s a few tips to get started.
- Although kale prefers at least six hours of sun, the plant will tolerate partial shade, especially in hot climates.
- Soil for kale should be moist and well-drained but never soggy.
- Enrich the soil with an inch or two or compost, well-rotted manure or other organic material.
- Plant the seedlings at about the same depth they’re situated in the nursery container, but definitely no higher than the lowest set of leaves.
- Allow 12 to 15 inches between each plant and 18 to 24 inches between rows. You can also stagger the plants, which saves space in a small garden
- Mulch the kale plants lightly when the plants are about 6 inches tall to keep the soil moist and maintain an even soil temperature. Mulch also keeps weeds in check and prevents mud from sticking to the leaves.
- Provide 1 to 1 ½ inches of water per week, unless it rains.
- Feed the plants about halfway through the growing season, using a balanced commercial fertilizer, diluted solution of fish emulsion, or manure tea.
- Control aphids or flea beetles with an insecticidal soap spray. Never spray plants on hot, sunny days, or if you notice bees, ladybugs or other beneficial insects on the plant.
- Hand-pick larger pests such as cabbage worms, cutworms or cabbage loopers. You can also spray the pests with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), a natural, bacterial pesticide that kills pests without harming beneficial insects.
- Harvest kale after one or two light frosts, as kale needs frosty nights to convert the starches into natural sugar. You can even harvest kale when the plants are covered with snow!
- Pick leaves around the outer edge of the plant. Leave the terminal bud at the top, center of the plant if you intend to continue harvesting. Be sure to pick kale before the leaves get old and tough. If this happens, toss them on the compost heap.
Kale is a vegetable that gardeners even in the harshest climates enjoy. Get planting!
What advice would you add for growing kale? Share it in the section below:
Imagine living in an off-grid home and not ever receiving a utility bill – no electric bill, no water bill, no sewer bill. Even better, you don’t have to stockpile firewood, because your home is heated by the sun.
Sound impossible? It’s not. It is called an earthship home, and on this week’s edition of Off The Grid Radio we take a look at these unique houses that are revolutionizing what it means to live off-grid. Our guest is Craig Cook, who lives in an earthship home with his wife Connie in Canada – where temperatures in the winter often hover around 0 degree Fahrenheit.
Incredibly, their home cost only $70,000.
Craig tells us:
- How his house stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer, without a stove or AC.
- What is different between an earthship home and a typical homestead house.
- How he and his wife have all the water they need – without a well or utility hook-up.
- Why his home incorporates hundreds of used tires … that he got for free.
Craig also shares with us the pros and cons of an earthship home for those considering making the transition. If you’re a homesteader, off-gridder or simply someone who enjoys fascinating people, then don’t miss this week’s show!
Every spring when the first spell of warm weather occurs, many beginning gardeners head to their local garden centers and nurseries, eager to get planting. When the temperatures rise and the sun is shining, it is tempting to want to get a head start on your spring garden.
However, that head start can be a frustrating waste of time and money when spring frost damages or destroys your young plants. You can avoid this scenario by doing a little homework on frost and freeze dates in your area.
First, what exactly is frost? By definition, frost is a collection of tiny white ice crystals that form on the ground or other solid surfaces when the air temperature gets cold.
Frost forms when water vapor in the air changes from the gas phase to the solid stage. Frost is difficult to predict, though, because the air temperature within the vicinity of your garden can be several degrees higher than 32 degrees Fahrenheit – the freeze point — and yet it can still form on your plants. As a result, the National Weather Service uses 36 degrees Fahrenheit and below as its guideline for a possible frost. But even then, frost may not occur. The air must be mostly still, and moisture has to be in the air. (A frost is different from a freeze, in which the temperature must be 32 or below.)
Frost can damage plants by causing ice crystals to form in the plant cells, disrupting the movement of fluids to plant tissues. Frost-damaged leaves first appear water-soaked; then they shrivel and turn dark in color.
Garden plants are classified according to the temperatures they can usually tolerate. Plants classified as “hardy” can tolerate some frost, while plants classified as “tender” often are killed or damaged by frost.
The average last spring frost date usually ranges from mid-March to mid-May, depending on where you live in the United States. Almanacs, websites and university extension services often take historical data into consideration and list an average date as the last frost date.
Many seed and gardening websites feature last frost dates that you can look up by typing in your zip code. Keep in mind, however, that that date is an average, and that means that a frost can certainly occur after that date.
The location of your garden can play a big factor in whether your plants are damaged by a frost or not. Generally, air temperature lowers from 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit with each thousand-foot increase in altitude. Therefore, the higher the elevation of your garden, the more likely your plants will be hit by a frost or freeze. On the other hand, cold air is heavier than warm air and can sink to lower areas, causing frost damage.
The best spot for an early annual garden is on a gentle, south-facing slope that is exposed to plenty of late-afternoon sun and is protected from the north wind. A garden that is surrounded by trees, shrubs or buildings or is located near a body of water is also less likely to be damaged by frost. Additionally, closely spaced plants can protect each other from frost damage.
The best way to prepare for a late-season frost is to know the sensitivity level of your plants. In addition, the plant itself can give you clues. Immature plants that still had new growth showing well into the fall are susceptible to damage. Plants with dark-colored leaves – especially bronze or maroon – absorb and retain heat and can better handle a frost. Also, in general, plants that are compact have less to expose to the cold and wind and therefore can ride out a frost better than taller plants with smaller leaves.
What should you do if you have planted your garden and learn that a frost is likely? Here are a few tips:
- Cover your plants to retain soil heat and moisture and to protect them from strong winds. You can use newspapers, fabric tarps, sheets, straw or baskets, but be sure to cover the entire plant in order to trap any heat. Anchor lightweight coverings to prevent them from blowing away. Avoid plastic covers because, unless you remove them quickly enough in the morning, they can create enough heat in the morning sun that will actually burn your plants.
- Water your plants if frost is predicted. It may seem counter-intuitive, but as the water freezes, it will release heat, protecting the plants from damage.
- If you are able to use an electric fan to protect your plants from the elements, then set one up by your garden. Even a small breeze can help stop cold air from settling on your plants and then freezing during the night.
- Potted plants are susceptible to frosts because their roots are less insulated. Move smaller pots indoors or under a cover. If the planters are too big to move, wrap the pots in burlap or bubble wrap or try burying the pot in the ground. Also, place a covering over the foliage.
As you plan your spring garden, realize that in late April or early May, you are not out of the woods for a spring frost. If your green thumb cannot wait and you are a bit of a risk taker, you still can have gardening success as long as you watch the weather carefully and prepare for the worst.
How do you protect your garden from frosts? Which vegetables do you plant the earliest? Share your tips in the section below:
It can be tough to stay healthy during the cold months of winter – especially if you’re doing everything wrong.
For starters, avoid certain foods when you are stick with the cold or influenza. Milk, ice cream and puddings are mucus-forming foods. If you have a child or elderly person who needs nutrition and really likes dairy, use small amounts of fat-free milk or cultured dairy products only if absolutely necessary.
Soups should have a clear broth base, as cream soups create mucus, too. Limit your intake of heavy, greasy or very sweet foods while you are ill. Consume extra fluids and fresh, light foods.
Diluted juices, broth-filled soups and warm herbal teas are best for the sick. Avoid iced beverages and foods. The only exception to this practice is the use of ice pops for sore throats or when necessary if a person can’t keep other liquids down because of vomiting.
Some people like blander foods – such as chicken noodle soup – when they are ill, but spicy soups can be a good idea, as well. They help to rid the body of mucus and are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, such as vitamin C, which is needed for healing. Spicy foods such as peppers, garlic, onions and pungent spices are packed with antibacterial compounds.
But there are other things you shouldn’t do when you have a cold. Here are five:
1. Don’t keep your house closed up too tightly.
Don’t hibernate this winter. When the weather outside is frightful, you may be tempted to just stay inside by a cozy fire. While that is one of the joys of winter, too much of a good think may actually make you sicker. Many of us strive to make our homes airtight for the sake of comfort and energy. Unfortunately, airtight homes and offices don’t allow for much airflow when sealed up. Toxins, germs and particles from cooking, among other airborne pollutants, all accumulate. In work, school and home settings, germs just keep on circulating. So when you get a warm spell this winter, open up your doors and windows to let some fresh air in.
2. Don’t stay indoors all of the time.
It is vital that you get outdoors during the winter. Outdoor air is invigorating. Exposure to sunlight will help keep you well. If you engage in sledding, ice fishing, skiing or other vigorous outdoor activities, you will keep your entire body functioning better. Your immune, circulatory and respiratory systems will especially benefit. Fresh air and sunshine are great for your mental health, too. It has been proven that depression and anxiety impair immune system function. The combination of light and enjoyable outdoor exercise can help you avoid the winter blues. Getting exercise also will help you to maintain a healthy weight.
3. Stop relying on hand sanitizer to keep you well.
While frequent handwashing and hand sanitizing does reduce the number of bacteria on your hands, don’t assume that keeping your hands clean is all that you need to do to stay healthy this winter. You still need to use other hygienic practices. The number of adults who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom is astounding. Don’t be one of those folks.
When you wash your hands, do it correctly. Wash vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Make sure that you scrub between each of your fingers. Rinse and dry well afterwards.
And remember, there are a lot of people out there who have lousy hygienic practices. So protect yourself and your family. Don’t assume that others are being as considerate and respectful to others as you are.
4. Don’t go to work when you are sick.
Regardless of how indispensable your employer says that you are, stay home from work when you are ill. It is particularly important when you are first coming down with a cold or flu, because this is when the germs are the most contagious. Don’t go and finish out the week or wait to see how you feel once you are there. If you think that you are getting sick, stay home. Also, keep your children home from school when they are ill.
You need rest when you are ill. All the cold and flu products in the world will not compensate for this. Your symptoms may be suppressed, but you may actually be ill longer if you don’t take timeout to let your body heal.
5. Don’t bury yourself in blankets.
If you have a fever, don’t pile on the blankets. In fact, remove the covers and heavy sleepwear. Just drape a sheet lightly over the ill person. This can help to reduce a fever. If you feel cold or have chills and don’t have a fever, feel free to pile the blankets on. Just be aware that chills are often the first sign of a fever. Fevers are most likely to rise in the late afternoon and evening.
Keep you and your family healthy this winter by eating well, staying active and using common sense. Consult with your health care provider for individualized advice, particularly if you have an underlying health concern, are elderly or have young children.
What advice would you add? How do you stay healthy? Share your tips in the section below:
I’ve instructed a number of field classes on foraging for wild foods and have written about it quite a bit, too. The classes always took place in the spring, summer or fall and the articles focused on plants, berries and other wild edibles that were easy to find on a sunny, summer day. But what about winter? Well, I’ve done that, too — and it’s tough.
For the record, we’re talking about serious winter. Not a cold night in the desert or a brisk wind in the southeast. This is below-zero stuff.
It is possible to find food in the winter, but let’s first look at four factors that will complicate your winter foraging:
1. It’s cold. This not only affects what you’re trying to find and gather, but it’ll eventually affect you. Cold also can freeze the ground, which will limit your access to some roots and tubers.
2. There’s snow. Snow covers and obscures many of the things you’ll be looking for. You need to look for clues above the snow. An oak tree is a good indication that acorns may be on the ground under the snow. Some oak trees hold their leaves on their branches over the winter. That helps. We’ll cover some other clues for those snowy days.
3. It’s wet. A lot of us like to harvest cattails in the winter. But sloshing through a foot or two of water and reaching deep into water and mud is going to take its toll on you quickly, if you’re not prepared.
4. Less than 10 percent is still available. If you’re in a winter climate, most stuff is dead or not growing. Your options are limited for any harvest at around 10 percent, depending on where you live.
In winter, we lose some of the indicators that help us find food — especially the prolific appearance of leaves. However, some indicators are still out there.
I found a grove of wild plums two days ago in late January. I recognized the shape and concentration of the trees, but the real giveaway was the frozen little plums still on their branches. They made a great jelly. Fruits visible on a tree or plant also could include rose-hips, cranberries and crabapples.
Take note of the shape and appearance of bark on trees, especially nut-bearing trees like oak, horse chestnut and black walnut. Take the time to learn and recognize the bark and the physical characteristics of nut-bearing trees. One clue is a squirrel’s nest in a tree — although the squirrel may have gotten too many of the acorns before you arrive.
Some plants continue to photosynthesize under the snow. Scraping the snow might reveal some of this winter treasure, including dandelion, wild onion and chickweed.
Go in the water, but carefully. Water sources have an abundance of food in the winter. If you live by the ocean, tide-pools at low-tide can provide shellfish and plants like kelp or seaweed. Freshwater springs, creeks and ponds often will have stands of cattails, fresh water mussels under the mud and muck, and the occasional crayfish. But you have to be dressed for any water foraging, so let’s get into how to dress and equip for winter foraging.
Here’s what you should look for:
1. Cattails. The roots, when washed and peeled, are an excellent starch source with a potato-like flavor and can be prepared like potatoes. They also can be dried and made into a flour.
2. Acorns, black walnuts and horse chestnuts. These are found on the ground under nut-bearing trees. You should soak them for three days with three changes of water to remove tannins and then either roast them, or boil and dry and grind into flour.
3. Rose hips. Usually bright red and about one-quarter-inch to a half-inch in diameter. Make into a jelly or infuse in a tea. One of the highest sources of vitamin C in the wild.
4. Fresh water mussels. I often encounter these while foraging for cattail roots. They usually grow in beds. Where you find one, you’ll find others. Scrape them up from the mud with your small, hand rake. Wash and scrub carefully and boil until shells open and then boil some more. If they are from a suspected polluted water source, then don’t eat them. In fact, don’t eat anything from a water source that is suspect.
5. Mushrooms. Curiously resilient even in winter and will sometimes appear after a brief thaw. Look for them on rotting deadfalls. Check out some pictures so you know what you’re eating. Even in winter, some mushrooms are toxic.
6. Wild greens. Dandelion roots and crowns, wild onions, chickweed, wild garlic. They’ll betray themselves with a showing of green under the snow or poking through the leaf litter. Rinse and boil with salt and eat like greens.
7. Watercress. Evident as a large bloom of green flowing in springs and creeks. Easy to harvest in bulk and can be eaten raw as a salad.
8. Wild fruits like plums and crabapples. Usually apparent still hanging from their trees. Mash into a jelly or strain as a juice blended with water, sugar and boiled.
It goes without saying that you should dress warmly and dress in layers when foraging. There are going to be varying degrees of exertion and rest, and you want to be able to manage your perspiration.
Here are a few more tips that have benefited me when winter foraging:
If I’m going to harvest cattails, that’s usually all I’ll do. I’ll wear water-proof boots and have even donned insulated hip-waders. I also wear heavy-duty rubber gloves that go up to my bicep with a layer of insulated gloves underneath. Rooting around in the mud with your bare hands is going to be a short-term effort in the winter. You also need to harvest a good amount of things like cattails if you’re seriously thinking about making a meal.
The same equipment and preparation applies for looking for mussels, although I’ll bring along my little three-pronged hand rake like I do for wild nuts. I’ll also bring along a five-gallon plastic bucket if I’m foraging in water. It does a better job of containing the residual water, mud and muck.
If I’m going to pursue wild nuts like acorns or black walnuts, I’ll leave the rubber boots and rubber gloves at home, but I’ll make sure I have the small, three-pronged hand rake. Scratching your gloved hand through the snow and leaf-litter will get your gloves wet and not be as efficient as scraping the surface with a small rake and picking out the nuts.
If my goal is to find frozen fruits or berries like rose-hips, wild plums, crab-apples or other frozen fruits, I’ll make sure I have a supply of plastic bags in one-gallon, one-quart and sandwich sizes to contain the fruits. It’ll be a lot easier when you get home to sort and wash the berries or fruits rather than tossing all of them in a side-pack or sack.
If I’m looking for wild, winter-greens, I’ll have some kitchen shears and my little hand rake. I’ll also have plenty of one-gallon plastic bags. The rake helps to separate the matted greens from the leaf litter and some of the stems can be tough, so the kitchen shears help.
Collecting your foraged foods requires the ability to potentially carry a few pounds or more in a way that keeps them separate and any water or snow contained. I usually have two, canvas side-satchels or even a small backpack. Sometimes I’ll insert a plastic, kitchen-sized garbage bag into the satchels or the backpack, or use the smaller plastic bags to keep things organized and dry. Sometimes, the five-gallon plastic bucket comes along for the hike.
Don’t forget to bring along a bottle of water or two and if you’re going far afield and a small, waterproof survival kit. If you trip and fall into water when it’s 10 below and you’re four miles from anywhere, you’ll need to be able to build a fire fast.
Winter foraging is slim-pickings. I’ve seen too many articles that seem to make this all so easy. It’s tough, it’s cold, and it’s hard work, especially if you’re trying to find any wild plants in winter. But if you know what you’re doing, you can find food … and survive.
Have you foraged during winter? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
Cold and flu season is here, and many Americans are stocking up on over-the-counter medications to help fight sickness.
In fact, according to the research organization Euromonitor International, retail sales of cough, cold and allergy remedies in the US are expected to reach $8.8 billion in the next four years. However, before you hit the pharmacy or even your doctor’s office for a prescription, you would do well to look to a variety of potent natural remedies. Many of them can be found in your grocery store’s fresh produce section, or they may already be in your kitchen.
1. Lemon juice. Heat it and mix it with water, and then drink. You can ease a sore throat by heating water and adding fresh lemon juice. A spoonful of honey helps the taste and offers an added boost of nutrition.
2. Apple cider vinegar. Add a tablespoon of this miracle liquid to a glass of water and gargle on an hourly basis until symptoms improve. The vinegar helps alkalize the body and helps kill infections.
3. Cinnamon. Cinnamon is effective as a natural antiviral and antibiotic. Simply mix one tablespoon of cinnamon with one teaspoon of honey and stir to make a tangy tea that helps reduce cough and congestion.
4. Garlic. Garlic is a natural antibiotic, antibacterial and anti-fungal. Finely mince two to three cloves and then place them in a small glass of water. Drink quickly.
5. Thyme. You can use thyme as an antiseptic and decongestant. Steep thyme leaves into a tea and sip slowly.
6. Eucalyptus essential oil. Eucalyptus is a natural antibiotic and naturally antiviral. Add a few drops to heated water and inhale for relief from congestion.
7. Peppermint essential oil. Peppermint oil is a soothing remedy for sinus congestion, nausea and upset stomach.
8. Oregano. Oregano can be used in a soothing tea, or it can be added to a warm bath. It is a natural antibiotic.
9. Ginger. Use fresh ginger on its own or blended with garlic for its strong antiviral qualities and its ability to boost immune system function.
10. Honey. An excellent source of antioxidants, raw honey can help rebalance electrolyte levels and treat coughs and sore throats. Also, when used consistently, raw honey can help increase the body’s white blood cell count. Take a teaspoon of honey directly or add it to your favorite herbal tea.
11. Echinacea. Echinacea contains polysaccharides that naturally boost the body’s resistance to infection. A study involving 755 participants conducted by the Common Cold Center at Cardiff University found that participants who took echinacea had significantly fewer sick days than those who took a placebo.
Vitamins and Minerals Your Body Needs
Nature has provided us with vitamins and minerals that boost our immune system so that we can ward off illness, but it’s important to understand which vitamins and minerals we need for flu season. Consider increasing your intake of:
Vitamin C. Increasing your intake of Vitamin C should be among your first line of defense in cold and flu season. In controlled studies, Vitamin C has been shown to aid in the prevention of influenza, as well as shorten the duration and reduce the severity of respiratory infections. Foods that contain high amounts of Vitamin C are citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli, peas, tomatoes, berries and papayas.
Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps maintain the body’s mucus membranes, which are part of our defenses against viral and bacterial infections. Vitamin A also assists with vital T cell function, which is part of a healthy immune system. Natural sources of Vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, squashes, dried apricots, cantaloupe, bell peppers, liver, fish and tropical fruits.
Vitamin D3. As a hormone precursor, Vitamin D3 helps optimize important Vitamin D levels, which can help prevent illness and help speed recovery. Cod liver oil is a potent source of Vitamin D3. Other lesser sources are beef liver, egg yolks, cheese and fatty fish
Zinc. Zinc helps maintain healthy immune function. Low levels are associated with a decrease in T cell function, the white blood cell that helps us fight infections. Natural sources of zinc are spinach, lean beef, shrimp, kidney beans, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and oysters.
Many teas and herbal drinks have been used for centuries to fight off illness. Next, let’s look at hot drinks that can help during cold and flu season.
Before taking any supplement, check with your health care provider. This is especially true for young children and pregnant or nursing women.
Here are some other natural tips for boosting your body’s resistance to illness if you feel a cold or flu coming on:
- Take a hot bath with one to two cups of Epsom salt added to the water. Epsom salt has many beneficial properties that can help soothe and relax the nervous system, soothe bodily aches and pains, ease muscle strains, heal cuts and abrasions, and treat congestion.
- Drink plenty of warm liquids, including the above-mentioned teas as well as soups and plenty of water.
- Get plenty of rest. When you are fighting off an illness, your body needs some down time. Stop “burning the candle at both ends” and get to bed early.
What do you stockpile for flu and cold season? Share your thoughts in the section below:
If you get a cold this winter, help is just a few steps away, right in your kitchen. While I can’t promise that these remedies will heal you overnight, they will definitely make you feel better and may reduce the degree and length of time that you suffer.
Make a Steam Tent or Take a Bath
One of my favorite home treatments for a cold is an herbal steam. Simply take a couple of spoonfuls of dried herbs and toss them in a large heatproof bowl. Cover the herbs with boiling water. Sit in front of the bowl. Cover your head and the bowl with a towel. Inhale the head-clearing moisture and herbal medicine.
You can use this technique for children, but ensure that the water is quite a bit cooler. Make a game out of it. With very young children, you may need to go into the “tent,” too.
Ordinary cooking herbs contain powerful properties which inhibit viruses and bacteria. Oregano, rosemary and marjoram possess some of the most active antimicrobial actions. Sage is very soothing if you also suffer from a sore throat. For herbal steams, inexpensive bulk-size containers of herbs are just fine. Don’t use kitchen spices such as ginger or cinnamon for steams, as they are too stimulating and can be irritating. Add a bit of citrus peel to your steams, too.
Use the same herbs for herbal baths. Children benefit from the use of catnip, dill, mint and fennel. They are soothing and gentle. The catnip and mint help relieve fevers if used in a tepid bath.
Enjoy Hot Brothy Soups
Mom was right when she fed you chicken soup when you were sick. Soups are terrific medicine for colds. While chicken soup is fine, any brothy soup is beneficial. Soups are easy to digest, so they conserve what energy you have for healing. If you suffer from chills, a cup of hot soup may be just what you need to warm from the inside. While most children and many adults prefer mild-tasting soups, I recommend spicy types for maximum benefit. They warm you up better.
Use plenty of the germ-fighting herbs mentioned above in your soups. Other herbs and spices which are particularly beneficial include cayenne, turmeric, ginger and black pepper. The hot-flavored herbs improve your circulation, including that of germ-fighting lymphatic fluid. They also help to relieve the aches and pains that may occur when you have a cold. Hot soups get everything flowing. Your nose may run more while you are eating your soup. That is healthy. It gets the offending virus or germs out of your tissues.
Include mushrooms, particularly shitakes, in your soup. They are powerful immune-boosting aids. Include plenty of colorful, fresh vegetables, which are packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants which promote healing. Be sure to toss in lots of garlic and onions.
Make Some Cough Medicine
Very effective cough medicine can be made by heating up some honey. Pour the heated honey over some kitchen herbs in a heatproof container. Use at least one teaspoonful of dried herbs, or one tablespoonful of fresh herbs, for each cupful of honey. Place a lid over the container. After 20 minutes, strain out the herbs. Use up to one tablespoonful of syrup every four hours. Any of the aforementioned herbs work well. Try thyme, lemon and fresh garlic for a potent antiviral blend. It will soothe irritated throats and reduce coughs.
If your throat is particularly sore, use sage and a pinch of cayenne. While it might seem odd to add such a potent herb to a syrup which is formulated to ease a sore throat, cayenne possesses numbing properties once the heat wears off.
All of the children’s herbs mentioned above may be made into syrups for them. Make a delicious honey syrup with chamomile. It has antispasmodic actions which gently quiet children’s coughs. Plus, it tastes great. The amount to administer is based upon the size of your child. Do not administer honey to babies.
Juice Your Favorite Fruits and Vegetables
Dehydration makes mucus thicker, and may cause fevers to intensify. Stay hydrated with freshly made juices. Juices contain concentrated amounts of vitamins and minerals which your body needs to heal. They are particularly useful if you have little appetite. Like soups, drinking juices conserves your body’s energies so that it can fight off the cold more efficiently.
Smoothies made with a little yogurt are fine in moderation. While many dairy products shouldn’t be consumed when you have a cold because they may increase thick mucus production, a little bit of Greek yogurt added to a smoothie provides protein. Yogurt sooths inflamed tissues of the throat and gastrointestinal tract as well.
There is no guaranteed cure for the common cold, but kitchen remedies are tools which promote healing, provide your body with the nutrients needed for healing, keep you hydrated, and help to relieve symptoms.
What kitchen foods or advice would you add to this story? Share your thoughts in the section below:
I vividly remember growing up in Colorado. We lived in Lakewood, a suburb on the west side of Denver, which put us right up against the mountains.
We used to have a saying in Denver: “If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes, it’ll change.” Anyone who has ever lived there understands what that means. The thing is, the weather in Denver comes over the mountains, and we’d get little warning of what was to come. I could literally leave my house in the morning with clear skies and find it raining or snowing by the time I got to work.
Maybe the weather can’t sneak up on you quite as quick where you live, but the truth is that the weather you leave behind when you walk in the door at work may be very different than when you walk out the door eight hours later.
With that in mind, it only makes sense to stay prepared for winter weather, as long as there’s a chance of it showing up. That means more than just dressing for cold weather; it means taking along what you need to ensure your survival. A simple drive to a friend’s house out in the country could easily turn into a dangerous survival situation, especially if you end up spinning out on the ice and go off the road.
Survival in this case means surviving until someone can come rescue you, and we’re assuming you already have a cell phone. We’re not talking full-blown wilderness survival here. Call someone, stay with your car and allow them to come rescue you. That’s your best chance for survival.1. Shovel
A shovel gives you the chance to dig your way out of being stuck alongside the road. While that won’t always be possible, there are many situations you can get out of with a quick 15 minutes of digging. A simple folding shovel, like an entrenching tool, is enough as that doesn’t take up much space and is small enough to get under your vehicle.
2. Sand (or, something for traction)
I remember many a time when the only problem was getting enough traction to get up a slight hill or even out of a parking space. Keeping a bag of sand in the trunk, or something else to give you traction, may be all you need to get unstuck and back on your way. Of course, if your state allows studded snow tires, that will solve the problem for you as well.3. Space/rescue blankets
3. Space/rescue blankets
With three or four of the cheap rescue blankets, you can create a cozy cocoon in your vehicle. Line the roof, windshield, rear window and doors with the blankets, taping them in place with duct tape. That will reflect the heat back to your body, rather than letting it all escape.
Rescue blankets don’t provide insulation, so you need something between you and them. They are heat reflectors. However, as a heat reflector, they are excellent and will help you to stay warm.
4. Candles & matches (or other heat source)
A couple of large candles will help keep the inside of your car warm, even if you can’t run the engine. Granted, it won’t be summer on the beach warm, but it should be enough to keep the ambient temperature above freezing, when used in conjunction with the rescue blankets. While that may not seem comfortable, it will help you survive.
In a pinch, those matches can be used to light your spare tire on fire. The rubber will burn, providing you with heat. It will also provide a lot of smoke, so keep it on the downwind side of the car. Let the air out of the tire before trying to light it so that it doesn’t explode.5. Blankets
If you’ve got an old blanket or two, one of the best places to store them is in your car. That will help keep you warm while you’re waiting to be rescued. And at other times, keeping a couple of blankets in the back seat can help keep the kids or any other passengers from complaining about the cold.
6. Hats and gloves
There are a lot of people who don’t like wearing hats or gloves in the wintertime, even when it is cold out. But those are important for keeping you warm. A quarter of your body’s blood supply goes to your head, so wearing a hat will go a long way toward keeping you warm. Keep some spares in the car, just in case you left home without them.
Please note that I’m assuming that you always wear a coat when you leave your home in the wintertime.7. Charger for your phone
7. Charger for your phone
Actually, I carry two: one for the cigarette lighter and a battery-powered one. That way, I can recharge no matter what, even if my car battery is dead. That call for help is important, but it’s not going to go through if your phone is dead.
8. A full tank of gas – even extra gas
Maybe this one seems a bit simple, but it’s amazing how many people run out of gas in the wintertime. You tend to use more in the winter, simply because of the time you spend waiting for all the other people who are driving slow or slipping on the ice.
But even more important than that is having that gas if you get stuck somewhere. As long as your engine is still running and your exhaust pipe is clear, you can run your engine to keep you warm. I’d recommend running it every 15 minutes, for about 10 minutes, to make your gas last as long as possible. That may not be enough to keep you really warm, but it will be enough to keep you from freezing.9. Energy bars
9. Energy bars
Your body needs sugar to burn and turn into heat. Keeping yourself well-fed is an important part of keeping yourself warm. Don’t count on your body using fat reserves; those take time to convert to sugar. Some high-energy bars will give your body that extra burst of energy needed to help keep warm.
When eating these, take lots of time to chew them. Sugar begins being absorbed into the body at the mouth and carbohydrates are broken down into sugar by saliva. So, by chewing thoroughly, you’re getting some of that sugar into your bloodstream immediately, where it can start helping your body produce heat.
10. Plastic bags
In order to avoid having to go outside to go to the bathroom and expose yourself to the cold, keep several plastic bags in the car. You might want to keep some toilet paper, too. While it’s inconvenient to try and go in the car, at least it’s warmer than outside. Then, tie the bag closed, open the window or door slightly and put the bag outside.11. Flashlight with extra batteries
11. Flashlight with extra batteries
A bright flashlight might make it possible for you to signal anyone who passes by on the road. Make sure you have spare batteries, as high intensity flashlights go through them rapidly.12. Piece of rope
12. Piece of rope
You’re best off if you don’t have to get out of your car. But you might need to get out for something, such as clearing the snow from your tailpipe. If you do and you fall in a blizzard, you might never find your way back to your car.
This problem is solved quite simply the same way that astronauts accomplish their space walks. Simply tether yourself to the car, each and every time you need to go out the door. Tie one end of the rope to the steering wheel and the other end around your wrist. That way, if you get lost in the snow, all you have to do is follow the rope back to the car.
What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Thankfully for those living in the most extreme climates, winter’s frost and snow provide beauty during this cold, dark season of short days and long nights. When it comes to staying warm, hot tea has long been an excellent choice during the winter months and it also comes in many healthy varieties which can enhance mental, physical and even spiritual well-being.
Try Black Teas This Year
For many of us, winter is a time for looking inward. We reflect on the prior year and look forward to the new one ahead. While you are reflecting upon your life, enjoy a cup of a dark rich tea. Black tea aids clarity and help us to focus. It energizes with caffeine and contains healthy antioxidants that support brain health and aid concentration.
Lapsang souchong tea is a potent black tea that has an unusual smoky flavor. It is prepared by smoking tea leaves over spruce wood. Flavored black teas which contain jasmine or vanilla are also delicious at this time of year.
Black teas also contain compounds which provide protection against streptococcus, the organism which is responsible for strep throat, a common winter malady.
Pu-erh tea has been used in China for hundreds of years as a digestive aid that also detoxifies. It warms the body and aids digestion of heavy winter meals. Pu-erh tea was traditionally consumed only by royalty.
Prevent Colds and Flu With Tea
All teas contain concentrated plant compounds that help us ward off common winter maladies. Be adventurous! Try teas that contain “super” fruits and antioxidants, immune boosting vitamin C and a multitude of other protective compounds. Hawthorne, wolfberry, elder, acai and goji berries are just a few of the tasty fruits that are available.
Elderberries have been used by herbalist for hundreds of years to treat respiratory illnesses. Current research supports their traditional use.
You also can make a delicious winter tea of spruce tips. Spruce tea was traditionally consumed by Native Americans during winter months. This practice prevented scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency disease which resulted from inadequate intake of fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter months. Spruce also supports respiratory health.
Take Advantage of Spicy Teas
Hot and spicy teas warm us up. Teas that contain ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves possess potent antibacterial qualities. Hot steamy teas clear congested respiratory passages and warm our bodies.
If you are suffering from a respiratory illness such as a cold, sore throat, sinus infection or flu, be sure to drink at least one quart of tea each day. Brew up extra and use it in a foot, steam or tub bath. Gargle with teas made of thyme, oregano, clove, myrrh, rosemary or sage for relief of sore throat discomfort.
Chinese star anise is a tasty spice which pharmaceutical manufacturers use to make medications that reduce the intensity and limit the duration of influenza symptoms. While the spice in the tea may not be as concentrated as it is in the drug, it makes a safe, delicious and healthy tea.
Ease the Discomfort of Winter Ills With Tea
Catnip, birch, wintergreen and cramp bark contain salicylates, aspirin-like compounds which relieve pain, inflammation and fever. Unlike aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs, teas made from these herbs do not usually cause stomach upset or bleeding concerns.
Licorice root and wild yam decrease inflammation, too. Licorice, which adds a sweet taste, is an excellent addition to teas that are made with less tasty herbs. Only use licorice root in moderation and for short periods of time, however. Blend it with marshmallow root for a sweet, nutritious tea to drink the next time that you have a sore throat.
Fight Infection With Herbal Teas
Echinacea, mint, thyme and sage are particularly effective for preventing and easing respiratory infections that cause congestion. Rosemary, sage, thyme and dried wild cherry bark help to calm coughs. Calendula possesses potent antiviral actions. It is particularly useful for preventing and treating gastrointestinal ills. Make blackberry root tea for treatment of diarrhea.
If using herbal teas in the presence of nausea or vomiting, begin with tiny amounts. For example, administer one-half of a teaspoon of brewed tea. Wait 15 minutes and then attempt to give a teaspoonful. Repeat this procedure until the sick individual is able to consume about a cup of fluids per hour. Reduce the amount if the sick person is a child.
Drink Tea, Be Well
Herbal teas are delicious and a valuable addition to a winter wellness plan. You likely have many of the herbs in your pantry already. Others are readily available and inexpensive to obtain. If you or a family member is ill, always consult with your health care provider for expert advice on the best course of treatment.
Do you drink tea to boost your health? Share your advice in the section below:
See larger image Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation Typical books about preserving garden produce nearly always assume that modern “kitchen gardeners” will boil or freeze their vegetables and fruits. Yet here is a book that goes back to the future—celebrating […]
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Winter is inevitable. At times, it is a mild affair. At other times, snow piles up higher than a man. Preparing your homestead and farm are important if you want to ensure the highest chance of you, your livestock and your equipment coming through the winter unscathed and ready for spring planting.
Here are some things that should be done. If it’s already too cold to do some of these chores, then wait for a warmer winter day to tackle them.
Check the seals around your windows and doors. Improperly sealed doors and windows account for the largest amount of heat loss, and a huge waste of energy. Plastic sheeting, cloth drapes and curtains all work to reduce heat loss. Insulating a poorly uninsulated home can be costly but can yield huge rewards going forward.
Replacing an old, inefficient furnace can reduce waste and increase savings. For a wood stove, clean and inspect your chimney or flue. Make sure you have an overabundance of wood for your wood stove, especially an emergency supply for large snowfalls. Have a large supply of firewood in and near the house if you live in an area where snows typically reach great heights.
Having an emergency supply of food, water, medical supplies and blankets for cold weather emergencies is important. Canned or dry food, and a means to heat your food, can make the difference between feast and famine in a massive blizzard.
You don’t want to seal up your barn super tight if it is a livestock barn. Airflow is necessary to prevent a host of respiratory issues with your animals. Eliminating as many cold drafts as possible is sufficient enough to keep your animals warm.
For areas of a barn that need to be heated, then fill cracks, weather strip doors and windows, and inspect furnaces and heaters to make sure everything is running top notch.
Take the time before the big chill comes to thoroughly inspect and clean your barns, repair any fencing you need to fix, and prepare supplies to be easily accessible and dry.
Prepare any winter clothing your animals need before the freeze. Mend horse and cattle blankets. Any new purchases of blankets should be made before severe weather hits, as these tend to disappear from feed and tack stores quickly.
Be sure you have adequate supplies of forage on hand. If not, purchase as soon as you can. I realize haying season is well past and it is not time to get the baler out. There are also financial considerations to make. If you are short on cash and fodder, perhaps trading and bartering can work; it has for me! Conserve your forage as best you can while making sure your animals have enough calories for the cold months. Remember: Livestock burn through calories fast at this time of year to stay warm, and extra food is needed.
Livestock also will need a constant supply of water. Eating snow reduces body heat, and it takes six buckets of snow to equal one bucket of water. Water tank heaters are the best option for your animal’s water tanks. You will need to monitor them closely as to prevent water pipe freezing. Horses also have a knack for kicking heaters out of a tank, so you may have to improvise a cover.
Keep any water tank clean, checking often and screening out organic matter to prevent build-up.
If you have barn cats, be sure they have a warm insulated place to sleep in the barn.
For outdoor dogs, provide them a warm place in the barn. During extreme cold, consider bringing dogs indoors.
Tractors and other vehicles should have oil changed to a lighter oil for winter. Check your hydraulic lines for leaks and repair as necessary. Replace antifreeze in all of your vehicles every two years. If possible, keep tractors, trucks and other equipment in sheds, barns and garages during the cold months. Diesel equipment may need to be plugged in for reliable starting. Gas tractors should definitely be sheltered if possible, as gas engines take sitting idle for longer periods hard.
If you have any snowplows, keep them easily accessible for rapid attachment to equipment.
What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:
When winter hits, you should not feel the difference in your home. If you’re feeling cold air leaking in, though, what that really means is that 10 to 20 percent (or more) of your heat is escaping through openings along the window or directly through the window glass.
Since you’re responsible for creating your own heat, you definitely don’t want to waste 10 to 20 percent of your effort just keeping up with your windows. Thankfully, there are a number of simple measures you can take to improve the insulation of the windows in your home; choose the ones that fit your lifestyle and keep the cold air out.
1. Draft snakes and weather stripping
When you have a minor leak along the edges of windows, you might want to try installing weather stripping along the frame. There are many types of weather stripping commercially available for filling gaps along the edges of windows, or you can make your own. You can staple strips of felted wool along the top and bottom of the window sash to prevent drafts there, or cut foam strips for the same purpose. Felt is a quick and easy solution, but it will need to be replaced every year or two as the fibers wear down. To fill gaps in a double-hung or sliding window, you’ll need aluminum or another durable material cut and shaped to fill the space.
For single-hung windows whose drafts come mainly from the bottom edge, you can make draft snakes. Draft snakes are tubes of insulating heavyweight fabric, such as wool felt, filled with rice or sand to provide weight. You can easily sew one out of an old sock, shirtsleeve, or other scrap fabric by making a tube sealed at one end, and then filling and sealing the other end. Rest it on the windowsill snug against the sash to block drafts. If you have outer sills, you can install draft snakes outside as well; consider stapling it in place to prevent it from moving in the wind.
2. Shutters and foam
If you don’t need to see out of a window, as is the case with basement or attic windows, consider blocking it with polystyrene foam insulation. Cut the foam to the exact dimensions of the window frame to ensure a snug fit, and slide it into place. You can reuse foam seals for windows year after year, or leave them up through the summer to prevent heat leaking into your home. When you remove seals for the season, label each piece with the window location to which it belongs to speed reinstallation.
Another option for fully blocking leaky windows is to construct shutters on the exterior or interior of your house. This is a greater investment in time and materials than any other option, but allows you the flexibility of opening shutters on milder days and closing the house on the windward side during a storm. You can construct shutters in a variety of styles: hinged, bi-fold, and rolling shutters are all possibilities. The simplest shutter is a single-hinged panel that blocks the whole window. Exterior shutters provide better insulation but are more difficult to open and close in poor weather; interior shutters can be easier to manage. On sunny days, opening shutters to allow passive solar heat on the sunny side of the house can help to keep the interior warm.
3. Window films, shades and fabric insulation
If you need to be able to see out of a window, but need the insulation of a fully covered window, construct a removable window film. Cut sturdy framing strips or wood to measure inside the window frame, and staple vinyl sheeting over the edges. The resulting films can be inserted into the windows for the season while still allowing for light to enter and enough transparency to see out.
You can create a similar opaque or translucent construction with any fabric. For the best insulation, adhere heavy fabric or multiple layers to your frame. These fabric window insulators can be easily removed after the winter.
One of the easiest ways to create insulation is by installing fabric or vinyl thermal shades. Roman shades made from heavy fabric will provide a bit of protection from drafts. Install weight at the bottom of the shade or fastenings along the sides to improve the shades’ capacity for blocking drafts.
Regardless of what method you choose, it is straightforward and sensible to begin blocking drafts in your windows right away. Examine your windows for drafts, and devise a solution for each one; even a curtain or a towel is better than nothing.
However, taking the time to create more permanent solutions will pay off in comfort and style, and with so many simple options for blocking drafts, there is no reason to be losing your valuable heat to winter’s edge.
What tips would you add to this story? Share them in the section below:
A glancing blow from the polar vortex will direct cold air southward and could raise the chance of snow in the central and eastern United States toward the middle of January.
The pattern of cold air coming and going will be a theme through January.
According to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, “Arctic air will leave quickly, after giving the Great Lakes and Northeast a cold shock this week.”
Temperatures will rebound to above-average levels in much of the Midwest and Northeast during the latter part of this week and this coming weekend.
Train of storms to drench California, southwestern US as El Nino takes hold
Winter storm to spread snow, ice and rain across central and eastern US
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You may rather reach for blankets when you look out your window during the cold months, but there are some good reasons to pull on some boots and go for a walk. Cold temperatures and some snow should not stand in the way of enjoying the season and staying healthy.
There are both mental and physical benefits of this cold-weather walking, so grab a friend or two and head outside to experience what walking in the winter has to offer.
With the lack of sun in the colder months, walking is a great way to keep your spirits up. Walking reduces stress as more sun equals more serotonin, which helps slow and stop food cravings. Winter walking also helps in weight loss regimes, because you have to work harder when walking through snow (that is, unless you have a sidewalk or clear street).
Walking in the winter, it may come as a surprise, actually helps fight infections. The infection-fighting cells will increase when you go out in the cold.
Walking in colder temperatures makes your body burn more calories than in warm weather. This is because you need to work harder to become and stay warm. Once the blood starts really pumping, endorphins are released, helping you feel great.
The sun gives us Vitamin D, and by walking for just 15 minutes three times a week, you can get enough Vitamin D to help strengthen your bones and other parts of your body. The sun causes your body to produce Vitamin D, so get outside and let the sun shine on you for a while.
Physically, walking improves balance and coordination, lowers blood-pressure and strengthens bones. It also increases energy and encourages better sleep patterns. Inflammation, swelling and joint pain are also reduced.
Mentally, walking improves concentration and acts like an anti-depressant.
Of course, we should take precautions when walking in the winter. Know your route and surroundings. Be aware of the terrain. Remember to check the temperature as well. Sometimes taking two or three shorter walks is better than taking one really long one. Yes, sometimes it is just too cold. For the shorter walks, you may have to walk a little quicker than on the long one, but the outcome will be the same.
As with any form of exercise, always check with your doctor before you start. Begin slowly, and build up to your desired walk time. This will allow your body to get stronger and adjust to the cooler weather.
Walk with friends, or at least tell someone when and where you will be walking.
Bring water! Even if it is cold, you will still need to stay hydrated and will get thirsty. Have a warm up and go at a good, comfortable pace. There is no need to race.
Carrying a cell phone is always a good precaution, and you will still need to carry sunglasses and sun block. The winter sun’s strong rays can be deceiving, although warm.
What to Wear
Pick good, appropriate footwear. Don’t grab shoes or boots with flat or smooth soles. Put on a pair of well-tractioned boots or shoes, made with non-slip soles.
Put mitts or gloves on and keep your hands moving. Your center of balance is affected when you keep your hands in your coat pockets as you walk.
Wear a hat, scarf and mitts; those items are a must. Wear bright clothing so drivers and other people can see you clearly.
It is a very good idea to wear layers, and make sure your clothing is comfortable, not clumsy or bulky. This way, you can adjust to the workout you are getting from the walk.
Things to Remember
If possible, walk during the first half of the day. Morning and lunchtime is perfect winter-walking weather. You will have plenty of daylight hours and often have the warmest temperatures of the day.
You will need to rehydrate after your walk, even if you don’t feel like you’ve worked up a sweat. Drink some room-temperature water.
Be aware of frostbite, what it looks like and how to prevent it.
Enjoy your winter walks by being prepared, staying safe and finding joy in your surroundings. It is a great activity to do with the family or with friends. What better way to stay healthy than by doing something fun that you enjoy. Bring a camera — and create some memories along the way.
What are your tips for walking during winter? Share them in the section below:
One of the best ways to ensure you enjoy a good experience with chickens in cold climates is to choose a breed that is known for being winter-hardy.
While most chickens are fairly cold-tolerant as a general rule, some breeds seem to enjoy cold temperatures more than others.
Consider choosing a breed that is proven to flourish in colder climates, such as the Barred Plymouth Rock. Or, if you don’t want to worry about frostbitten combs, the solution is to keep chickens that have smaller combs that are tight to the head, such as a pea comb.
Following are some of the breeds I’ve had personal experience with over the years that have done very well in the winter months. I define “doing very well in the winter months” as showing no signs of stress, such as picking feathers or spending a lot of time huddled up and dormant. Poor egg production is another sign of stress.
I first tried Buckeyes years ago and was impressed with them right from the start. The chicks are small but the most active I’ve ever seen. This trait carries all the way through to adulthood.
These birds will forage like crazy. Unlike many chickens, these girls will run out into the snow if they have been cooped up for a couple of days. Egg production is good during the winter, although they are average to just above average layers in their prime. Any small moving object will be attacked, making them excellent mousers.
Rhode Island Red
A popular breed, Rhode Island Reds are great layers and maintain a good egg production in winter months. I have had no problems keeping them through the cold months. I once kept a flock through the coldest winter I can remember with temperatures staying in the -10 to -15 degree range (Fahrenheit) for several days at a time. They did very well with no signs of frostbitten combs.
While not as active as the Buckeye, they are good foragers, although they don’t seem to like to get out in the snow as much as the Buckeye does. They are readily available at hatcheries and typically cost less per chick than some of the rare breeds such as the Buckeye.
Australorps are reputed to hold the record for the most eggs laid in a year. I have found them to be the best layer of all the breeds I have ever kept through the winter. Most people remark on how docile the breed is, but I have had several flocks that were flighty compared to the other breeds mentioned here. I’ve had trouble keeping them from flying over the 48-inch poultry netting. This was typically when something startled them, and a hen or two would make it over the netting. Once they fully matured, this behavior ceased. Overall, they have been great chickens in the cold months, especially if you want good egg production.
As always, do your research and experiment with different breeds until you find one that suits your particular homestead.
What chicken breeds would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:
There is a rhythm to the year-round garden. At no point are we without fresh food from the garden, though it changes quite a bit through the seasons. Here in Zone 5 and where potential frost days are six months out of the year, cold frames are more than a novel method; they are an absolute necessity. Consequently, managing your cold frames is as important as planning for the garden as a whole.
Most people who live where it snows for four or more months of the year believe they must give up gardening once the hard frosts set in, because it is too cold for plants to survive. While it is true that frosts will kill tender plants left exposed, and only cold-hardy crops can be maintained through extreme conditions, in reality it isn’t the cold that makes growing so difficult; it is the lack of sunlight. There are multiple plants that can overwinter in the frozen soil and grow in the spring, and a few that can be harvested frozen, and then thawed and eaten fresh.
However, in mid-winter plant growth will slow to a near standstill as photosynthesis slows. Your cold frames will protect your garden from the most severe conditions, and can maintain temperatures warmer than the surrounding area, but there is little that can be done about the sunlight. Therefore, don’t expect miracles.
Most especially, don’t expect that your cold frame is equivalent to a greenhouse. Because you will likely not be installing heaters, irrigators and artificial lighting in your cold frames, you cannot expect to be growing plants that are not winter crops. You will not get peppers or tomatoes harvested in winter from a cold frame unless you are in a more tropical growing zone (in which case you probably wouldn’t need a cold frame.) Rest assured, however, that forcing crops out of season rarely yields satisfying results; the more flavorful and nutritious choice is always to grow what would more naturally grow in your climate at the particular time of year you are growing.
In the northern part of the country, the best crops for cold frames will be greens such as lettuce, spinach, kale, and cress. Chard, bok choy, carrots, beets, and cabbage can also be harvested late into fall and through winter in some areas. As you harvest through the season, space will open up in the cold frame. Consider continuous sowing of sprouts and herbs if the soil remains soft. Mache and scallions can both be harvested frozen.
Manage Daily Conditions
Even in the north, there are warmer days and colder days in the winter. An essential part of successful winter gardening is attention to daily conditions – no different than in summer. On mild, sunny winter days early and later in the season, it will be necessary to vent your cold frames in order to avoid burning the delicate greens within. Install a thermometer on the outside of your cold frames and vent when it shows an outdoor temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius), especially if it is sunny.
Additionally, be prepared for winter storms, and cover your cold frames with insulation or a snow shield in preparation for harsh or icy conditions. After the storm has ended, clear snow and ice from the tops of the frames and the surrounding space. Even better, construct a snow fence on the least-sheltered side of your frames to protect them all winter long.
Lastly, monitor soil conditions within the frames for moisture content. Too much moisture within cold frames can promote fungal growth, killing off your plants.
Other Uses for the Cold Frame
Once spring is approaching and the cold frame crops are nearing the end of their season, it will be time to repurpose your cold frames. Consider dedicating space to promote successful spring growth through the following:
- starting seeds outdoors, earlier than you would be able to in the garden proper, but more hardy than those started indoors.
- protect and harden seedlings started indoors.
- starting bulbs such as garlic and onions, left to overwinter in the cold frames.
Whatever you choose to eat from your winter garden, there is little to match the joy of a fresh harvest on a cold day, and there is little doubt that planning a year-long garden will enhance your family’s well-being and improve your harvests.
What advice about cold frames would you add? Share it in the section below:
Keeping chickens healthy and comfortable in cold temperatures is easy if you follow these simple tricks.
Chickens, of course, are not mammals. They are birds, and thus, they maintain their temperature very efficiently if they are not subjected to extreme conditions such as wind, rain, snow or ice.
The first step is to make sure your coop is adequate to protect them from the elements.
There should be no cracks or openings that will allow cold drafts to enter the coop. You want it to be air-tight, with the exception of ventilation, for proper air movement. Place air vents high in the walls or in the roof to allow proper air exchange and to avoid moisture build-up.
Condensation and high humidity combined with cold temperatures are the chief cause of frostbite to the wattles and combs of chickens.
Make the most of solar heat by placing windows on the south side of the coop or by installing clear panels in the roof. This will aid in warming the coop and especially the floor during daytime hours.
Make sure your perches are wide enough so the birds can sit on their feet while roosting. I like to use two-by-fours for perches, turned flat, so the chickens can roost flat-footed. Unlike many birds, chickens don’t like to curl their feet around a perch. Do not use plastic or metal pipe. It’s slippery, and metal gets very cold and could cause frostbite.
Allowing the manure and bedding to build up in the winter will create heat as the waste breaks down, just like a compost pile. If you smell manure and ammonia when you enter your coop it means you need more bedding. Keeping plenty of bedding in the coop allows the birds to scratch more, aiding the composting process as well as keeping them active during winter months.
To encourage your chickens to be more active in winter months, hang a head of cabbage on a string from the ceiling. They will love it and stay busy pecking and shredding it.
Feeding a high-quality protein feed in the winter helps to keep their metabolism running high and produces more energy for warmth. Giving them cracked corn in addition to regular feed in the evening provides them a good high-energy boost for the night.
Chickens need good supply of water at all times. If the water is freezing, you’ll need to give them warm water two or three times a day or purchase a heated water base to keep the water from freezing. Dehydrated birds have a very hard time maintaining their body temperature. And chickens that are low on water will not eat as much, and that only makes it harder for them to maintain heat.
I have kept chickens using these methods for years through many days of zero and even sub-zero temperatures — and you can, too!
What are your best tips for keeping chickens warm? Share them in the section below:
As the weather turns colder, thoughts are no doubt turning to adding insulation, sealing leaks, and pulling the wool rugs out of storage. Properly winterizing your home helps keep energy costs down and spirits high once Jack Frost moves in.
The doors and windows to your home can be challenging to properly insulate, however, and will remain vulnerable to heat loss. Consider preventing some of this vulnerability with the addition of a mud room to provide a buffer between your home and the inhospitable conditions.
Although you can install well-insulated fiberglass exterior doors to keep weather out, nothing compares to the insulation offered by an interior wall. A mud room is a vestibule built along the side of the main dwelling which separates the door from the outside. Whether fully insulated or not, it functions as an airlock and prevents the full force of wind, rain and snow from having access to the exterior door. Consequently, less cold air and moisture finds their way inside. A mud room will even provide your home with protection from heat, making it more energy-efficient in summertime, too.
Design your vestibule to be small to moderate size; the smaller it is, the more effectively it will function to save energy. Keep it in proportion with the façade of the house, so it will not seem to be an afterthought, and leave enough interior room to organize it for functionality. You may eventually want to add furniture such as seating or a small table inside. Plan on at least one window to permit light into the space, open it up, and allow a view out while dressing for the weather. Draw up blueprints for your mud room, bearing in mind all future plans.
Once you have decided on the size of your addition and created blueprints, you are ready to survey and build. Enlist experienced help if this is your first construction project, but most homesteaders can plan on this work to be hands-on. You needn’t plan on using premium materials for construction; the vestibule is essentially an outbuilding and should be constructed with sound but not necessarily expensive materials. A concrete foundation will ensure your mud room will last a lifetime. Plywood for walls, joists and roof will suffice, covered with siding to match the house and asphalt roll roofing or similar. Take care to select a well-constructed door and energy efficient windows.
Within the addition, be careful to install interior wiring for fixtures and electrical outlets safely and properly. Do not run heating ducts from the house, as this would work against the purpose of the vestibule, but you may choose to add a well-insulated heat sink. Linoleum or tile flooring will be easiest to care for in this muddy area; in warmer climates a sealed subfloor might be sufficient. If you are in a very cold climate, you will definitely want to consider adding insulation to the mud room floor and perhaps the walls. If you install a layer of rigid board insulation beneath the flooring, you will be more comfortable when you remove boots and shoes even though the space isn’t heated. Rugs can also help, but will need to be hard-wearing as they will bear the brunt of tracked in snow and mud. Bear in mind this isn’t a room for living, however, but just a transition zone.
After construction and finishing are complete, discipline your family to use the mud room as a primary entrance, regardless of its location on the house. Add seating and storage for outdoor clothing such as coat hooks and a boot rack to encourage the removal of wet and muddy things to dry, saving you from having to clean up messes indoors. Set up a space for keys, mail, tools, equipment and outdoor toys, to keep it all from entering the house.
If you have a “drop zone,” an area where everything that is carted out of the house seems to collect in piles, you can move this into the mud room. Designate a basket or small table within the space for all this clutter, and watch it fall into place. Design the mud room around the behavior of your family; it is much easier than trying to work the other way!
Whether you call it your porch, sunroom or mud room, the addition of a transition space protecting your main entrance will make your home noticeably warmer and more organized within its first cold season. A mud room should be seriously considered, especially for homes in wet and cold climates, as a straightforward and inexpensive way to make a big difference to the comfort, security and standard of living of your family; it’s not just a way to put a pretty face on your house (but it does that, too).
Have you ever built a mud room, or do you have one? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:
When I was a kid, I assumed you had just a few months to plant, tend to, and then harvest plants and vegetables. I was wrong.
When I started out working for a farmer I was introduced to the age-old “cold frame.” I learned it was a way not only to extend my growing season but also to grow some crops during winter. Cold frames also can help you get an early jump come spring, when you are chomping at the bit to get your spring crops planted.
What is a cold frame, you ask?
Simply put, it is a box-like structure with four sides designed to trap warmth and provide a sanctuary for cold weather plants, with a clear lid. You can build these boxes out of common materials you may already have laying around — such as bricks, spare boards, wood from pallets, plywood and hay. For a lid, I have used windows from car doors, an old window from a knocked down house, Plexiglas, plastic drop clothes and plastic clear sheeting.
The size of the cold frame depends on the size of the plants you will be growing. Be sure the top to your container is large enough and thick enough to trap the heat. I like to build my containers around at least 24 inches by 48 inches, although some people build them several feet wide. Height is determined by the plants you are growing. The back of the box should be higher than the front and it should achieve a gradual sloping shape. This design captures more light and provides more warmth and nourishment from the sun than if it were just a flat box with a bit of glass atop it. Often after I plant a vegetable in the cold frame I surround it with straw for added insulation.
Some people build a permanent cold frame. But because I live in a warmer climate, all of mine are portable and made from plywood with a folding glass lid.
I place the container facing south. The location must not be in the shade, and it should be in a place that gets the most sunlight during daylight hours. You location should have decent drainage and yet be sheltered from a harsh winter wind.
Plant Care in a Cold Frame
When planting, I remove the first four inches of top soil and lay down a layer of flat rock, and then put the soil back on top. This makes our cold frame into almost an oven. It also allows for drainage after a downpour so as not to flood your plants. You even can place you plants in pots or on trays.
Cold frames are like children and need attention. For example, you will need to follow the weather forecast when planting and tending your cold frames. At times, you need to keep your plants cool, as your cold frame can act as an oven. For summer plants you want you temperature inside a cold frame to be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but at least north of 50. For many spring and fall crops, above 45 and under 60 is ideal, although some plants, such as kale, can handle temperatures far less than that.
On days when it’s around 40 degrees outside, keep your top open a few inches, and when it gets close to 50 or 55 degrees remove the top completely. Otherwise, you risk scorching your plants.
When the thermometer plungers into frigid conditions, insulate your plants with straw, newspapers, even blankets. You will lose most heat through the top of the cold frame, so a quilted cover is a great option. Just remember to uncover it come daytime so your plants can again be warmed by the sun. Lastly, keep the snow clear from your frames as that will block heat.
What are your top cold frame tips? Share them in the section below:
I bet you really enjoy those hot showers in the winter, but did you know you could be causing your skin to dry out? Winter is coming, and with it months of dry skin and chapped lips. We all know the itchy, dry, burning feeling of our skin and lips during this time, but it doesn’t have to be this way!
What are the main causes of dry skin and chapped lips, and what are some natural ways to take care of these wintertime problems?
The skin on your lips is very thin, so you can imagine how easily your lips are affected by the world around us. Lips do not have oil glands to protect themselves or create moisture. And lipstick doesn’t provide the protection or moisture you need during the winter, and can even be part of the problem.
Causes for Chapped Lips and Dry Skin
- Licking your lips is a bad habit that is a common cause of chapped lips. Although it feels like your lips are moist for a moment, the wind actually dries the lips out faster. So you lick, they dry, you lick some more, they dry even more. The truth is, you are licking away moisture. Dehydration is a key cause of chapped lips.
- Hot or cold weather changes can also be blamed for dryness and soreness. Aging is a cause with which little can be done, but you can still practice healthy habits and take care of your skin and lips.
- If you rub or touch your lips often, you are transferring bacteria from hands to face, which could lead to cold sores or irritations. Also, if you bite or chew your lips, you can cause bleeding and cracking, making them susceptible to infections.
- Excessive use of lipsticks filled with chemicals, or lip balms with alcohol, retinol or menthol can also be very drying.
- As with your lips, age plays a role in dry skin. Low humidity and extreme temperatures are other common causes.
- Extremely hot or lengthy showers, no matter how dreamy they feel, strip moisture from your skin. Also, hard scrubbing in the shower can irritate the skin and facilitate dryness. Products often used for the skin which contain alcohol can be drying as well.
- Makeup, when used daily, can have chemicals which are absorbed into the skin. In the case of dry skin, the type of makeup used can lead to extreme dry skin, especially in the winter.
- Yes, smoking is a leading cause of dry, wrinkled skin. Be healthy and put down the cigarette. Your skin will thank you.
How to Prevent Chapped Lips and Dry Skin
What is the number one way to prevent this winter dryness? Drink plenty of water every day. You will moisturize from within. Also, vitamin B is important to both lips and skin, so consume food rich in Vitamin B. Make sure you are getting enough Omega-3 as well. Omega-3 prevents dehydration in cells, and keeps them moisturized and strong. Overall, eat healthy, eat fresh vegetables and avoid processed foods.
Use a natural lip balm. You can put it on before bed, or wear a long-lasting one with SPF during the day. If you want to wear lipstick, simply use tinted lip balm. (Learn how to make your own lip balm here.)
For your skin, remember to moisturize as soon as you get out of the shower. Use as little soap as possible, as any soap can be drying. Use natural body scrubs and skin products with SPF.
1. Coconut oil — natural and easy to find, this oil is full of antioxidants.
2. Honey — apply honey alone at night. It cleans and heals, especially dry, dark lips caused by exposure to the sun. You can take a dab of honey, and a touch of sugar, to create a natural and gentle exfoliating scrub. Gently rub the combination on your lips and wipe excess off.
3. Green tea bags — enjoy a cup of green tea, and use the bag for your lips. Press the used tea bag to your lips for four minutes, and repeat this every day until your chapped lips are healed.
4. Lemon juice — take one teaspoon of milk or cream, and three drops of lemon juice and mix. Place mixture in fridge for an hour, and then take out and rub on lips (and other skin.) You can repeat this daily for three days. Lemon juice helps to fight signs of aging, and it softens, smooths and nourishes.
5. Cucumber — peel a cucumber and crush it to extract its juice. Take the juice and rub unto your lips, leaving it for 20 minutes and then wash off.
For your skin, there are many natural oils and creams you can use. In addition to coconut oil, here is a simple list you can find in most stores, including health and organic goods stores.
6. Shea butter.
7. Cocoa butter
8. Jojoba oil
9. Palm oil
10. Aloe Vera
You can also place one cup of powdered milk in the bath to combat dry skin, or mix lemon juice and vinegar in the bath water. Also, try products with lanolin.
So, stay healthy and moisturized from the inside out. Be aware of what dries your skin and lips. Look around and find some natural alternatives for wintertime dry skin and chapped lips.
How do you prevent dry lips and skin? Share your tips in the section below:
Most people seem to welcome the holiday season, even though it can be a hectic and expensive time of year. We love reacquainting ourselves with family and friends, getting cozy with our loved ones, and enjoying some well deserved time off from our jobs. I feel the same way about this time of year, though I take exception with one particular aspect of the season. As soon as November 1st rolls around I know that I’ve entered the danger zone, and it usually lasts until March. That’s the season that typically gives me at least one cold or flu bug, and I’m sure it’s the same for many of you.
For me, this time of year is also a time for research. Every holiday season I like look for new cold remedies that I wasn’t aware of before, and readjust my strategy for fighting and preventing these nasty bugs. This year I’ve discovered a few different foods that might help you recover faster from these viruses, or stop them from infecting you in the first place.
These aren’t your typical food remedies however. These are the flu busting foods that most people don’t talk about, or might not even be aware of. If you’ve struggled to fight these bugs in the past (and boy, who hasn’t?) this should give a few new remedies for your fight against the germs. Here a few of the most potent, and underrated cold remedies:
No, I’m not talking about that ridiculous myth that claims onions will absorb bacteria out of the air. If you want to stay healthy, onions are far more useful in your belly than they are on your window sill. They contain quercetin, which is an effective antihistimine, and allicin, which is known to kill a wide variety of viruses and bacteria. And as an added bonus, raw onions will help you break down mucus and open up your nasal passages.
Aside from being a very nutrient dense food that is great for your overall well-being, sweet potatoes are absolutely brimming with vitamin A. While vitamin C gets all the credit for warding off colds and flus, we often forget that vitamin A is a crucial nutrient for maintaining the health of your skin and mucous membranes, both of which are important for keeping viruses from proliferating in your body.
Protein may be the biggest unsung hero in the fight against the common cold and the flu. It rarely comes up when people talk about cold remedies, even though it plays a crucial role in your immune system by forming antibodies, and helping your body produce immune cells. Unfortunately, many of us lose our appetite when we’re sick, and we miss out on those large servings of protein right when we need them the most.
While many of us reach for oranges when we’re sick, a cheap can of oysters may be one of the most underrated foods for fighting off colds and flus. Aside from providing a hefty dose of vitamin D, oysters also contain the highest density of zinc compared to any other food, which most people don’t realize is an antimicrobial substance. Much like Vitamin A, zinc is found in high quantities in your skin and mucous, where it provides a first line of defense against pathogens. It’s also an important component in the production of white blood cells.
So there you have it. For most of us, getting sick during the holidays is practically a foregone conclusion, but that doesn’t mean we should give up the fight against these pathogens. We should never stop trying out different remedies, because our bodies need all the help they can get this time of year. Hopefully now you have a few new weapons in your medicinal arsenal, for your personal war against those dastardly cold and flu bugs
Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.
Joshua’s website is Strange Danger
This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition
Weather this winter will be turned upside down, with the southern half of the country becoming colder and wetter and northern regions experiencing higher temperatures and less snow, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts.
“A strong El Niño is in place and should exert a strong influence over our weather this winter,” Mike Halpert, the deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, told Weather.com.
NOAA’s forecast for the South is in line with the Farmer’s Almanac forecast, although its forecast for the North differs from the Farmer’s Almanac, which is predicting a cold and snowy season for that region.
El Nino is a large patch of warm water that appears in the central Pacific, and NOAA’s researchers think this winter’s El Nino will be the strongest since 1997 and last until spring. El Nino impacts weather by changing the movement of warm and cold air across the United States.
The most visible impacts from El Nino are destructive storms. During the 1997-1998 El Nino, storms caused $550 million in damage and killed 17 people in California. Most of the damage was caused by excessive rainfall.
The main impacts that El Nino will have on this winter’s weather according to NOAA will include:
- The southern part of the nation, including southern California, the Southwest, Texas, and the Deep South, will be wetter this winter. Meanwhile, Texas, parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, and the Deep South, will experience below-average temperatures. This means we could see more damaging ice storms in the Southern states and flooding in California and the Southwest.
- The northern tier of the United States, from the Pacific Norwest to the Great Lakes region to the Northeast, will be drier and warmer. This means that the drought in Washington State will probably get worse next year, leading to more destructive forest fires. Currently, 68 percent of Washington is experiencing extreme drought.
“This historic drought is not over,” Maia Bellon, the director of Washington State’s Department of Ecology, told The Bellingham Herald. “We face winter with a huge water deficit.”
The increased precipitation will not be sufficient to ease the mega-drought currently afflicting California and the Southwest. The result: The wet weather could have little impact on food prices.
“California would need close to twice its normal rainfall to get out of the drought and that’s unlikely,” Halpert noted.
The Farmer’s Almanac annual forecast is predicting a repeat winter of last year for the Midwest, Northeast and Great Plains.
“It’s like Winter Déjà vu,” said editor Peter Geiger, adding that “last year our bitterly cold, shivery forecasts came true in many states including the 23 eastern states that experienced one of their top-ten coldest Februarys on record. This year many of these same states may want to get a jump start now and stock up on lots of winter survival gear: sweaters, long johns, and plenty of firewood.”
It looks like it is going to be a very interesting winter.
How do you prepare for winter? What do you stockpile? Share your tips in the section below:
Winter usually means the end of the growing season, shorter daylight hours, and possibly bitter cold temperatures.
That means your livestock will need to be handled very differently. The preparation leading up to winter will determine how well your livestock come through the winter months.
Following are some tips to prepare your livestock and homestead for the cold months ahead.
First, make sure your animals are in the best condition possible going into the winter months. Nothing takes more of a toll on livestock than to enter into the winter in poor condition.
Fall is a time to rid your stock of internal and external parasites. That will help them gain and maintain their weight during a time when temperatures are lower and fresh green growth is not available. In cold climates, an enormous amount of calories are used simply to maintain body heat.
The next area to look at is your shelter arrangements for the winter. The three winter rules are:
- Keep them dry.
- Keep them free of drafts and wind.
- Provide housing large enough to accommodate all the stock.
Not providing enough space for your stock can mean injuries from crowding or more submissive animals being forced out in the cold.
Don’t confuse “free of drafts and wind” with ventilation. Any building structure needs to have adequate ventilation to keep air quality acceptable for the animals and avoid moisture problems.
Check buildings for loose or missing roofing, and repair any leaks. Keeping animals dry will go a long way toward keeping them healthy and comfortable.
The best way to cut down on wind chill is to make certain barn openings are on the downwind side of the structure. Know your prevailing winds, and position openings to be the least affected by the wind.
A common mistake is not providing enough bedding material for animals in the winter. It makes no sense to spare bedding while simultaneously feeding more feeds to keep the stock warm and maintain condition. If they are young and growing, it’s even more important.
An easy way to provide solar heat to your livestock housing is by adding some clear panels to the roof. If you have metal roofing, this is accomplished by removing the screws holding on the metal and replacing it with clear sheets of roofing material. This will add extra light and heat during the day that your stock will enjoy.
The time to check water systems is before the temperatures drop below freezing. Make sure everything is in proper working order and insulate or add heat tape where needed.
Livestock need access to clean water at all times. If they are rushing to get a drink when you break the ice on your water troughs, it’s a sure sign that they aren’t getting enough to drink. Water is the body’s temperature regulation system. Dehydrated stock have a hard time maintaining body heat.
Cold or wet animals eat more feed, have lower immunity, and lose condition during winter months. This can be avoided by making certain they have dry, draft-free housing with plenty of room and bedding for everyone.
Winter can be a trying time for livestock, but following these guidelines will help with creature comfort, and you’ll sleep better at night as the cold winter wind blows outside knowing your livestock are dry and warm.
What advice would you add on keeping livestock warm during the winter? Share your advice in the section below: