Thursday, 23 July 2015

Preparation

Someone once recently said to me that I appear to spend a lot of time preparing for winter. I think a truer statement would be that I spend time preparing for the non-summer months!

In the UK we used to have 4 distinct seasons, now they are blurring into each other as the years go by. Our summer, if we are lucky, will generally arrive anywhere from late May until the end of September. That is probably 4 months at an absolute maximum. Again, some years we might only get 2 to 3 months of Summer.

Autumn can be dry but is now often wet, windy and cool. Occasionally, we get an 'Indian' summer, i.e. a few late weeks of warmth which usually throws us and our gardens into a tizz.

Winter follows on in much the same theme, sometimes we have snow, nowadays often none at all. When snow does fall, people seem to have forgotten how to deal with it. The rain still pours, the temperatures drop lower and the frost arrives. Generally it is cold, penetratingly so at times, especially when combined with the fierce winds and driving rain.

Spring arrives, often much later than it used to. Again, it is predominantly wet, windy and cool with skies at times, resembling those of Autumn. Some years, the only difference between Autumn and Spring are the colours of the leaves or the appearance of flowers!

As soon as summer arrives, we stock the wood-burner stores so the logs are completely dry when we need them. We order and stack logs (we don't have the facilities to gather logs by ourselves), we gather friends newspapers, collect pine cones to help fill kindling boxes, look around for and collect or put by wood suitable for kindling.

Our central heating is oil, living where we do the alternatives are all electric or bottled gas which are even more expensive. We use it sparingly, relying on the burner instead so it is our priority when stocking up.

Any exterior house problems are sorted out before winter, we grow what we can in the vegetable and fruit department, freezing or preserving where necessary. After that, kitchen cupboards are slowly stocked up with things such as pulses and lentils, flours, canned goods.

I suppose you could call it a pioneer mentality in a way and it is probably not called for nowadays. However I remember power cuts, lack of food and heat, being cut off from the snow so I prepare. I can't help myself, it is an inbuilt defensive mechanism to protect my family.

All the things above are now done or in the process of being done. I have even started on my winter felted slippers:
Above is one of my giant knitted bootee's, which when felted and still wet, will be moulded onto my foot to mould  them into shape - lovely! If you wish to knit some yourself, here is the link

Loads of bedding and unwanted cotton clothing has been gathered ready for quilting. We just need to create some wooden blocks to go underneath the dining room table, which will raise it up to save our backs when cutting out. Then I can begin.

Boring it might be to some of you, exciting it is for me. Each to their own:)



8 comments:

  1. Not boring at all - in fact utterly fascinating! I don't live anywhere where I would need to go to the lengths you do, but I always prepare the house inside and out and start to stock up winter food in the lead up. It sounds very sensible to me!

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    1. It is not so much where we live but rather how we are mentally as well as financially. We live on DB's pension. Cutting back or reducing by preparing in advance allows us to 'cut our coat according to our to our cloth'. We love leading a simple life, like you.

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  2. We prepare too. We've added more insulation behind the walls of the attic room, drains have been swished through, windows will be resealed this week, more draught excluders have been made, and I have the pieces cut out for another quilt to use as a lap throw. I've made space in the freezer for the excess produce, and J's new jumper is on the needles. Preparation makes life easier for us, as my health can be affected badly by the cold.

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    1. We have had a recent spate of drain cleaning due to a build up of smells in the overflow crinkly pipes - such a pain to keep clean. I'm hoping to make a quilted lap throw, certainly got enough material.

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  3. We did a 'grand sort out' of the pantry yesterday, just so that it's actually possible to see what's in there!
    I have 'executive membership' (ooh, get me!) at Costco wholesale, so we buy a lot of stuff in bulk, but that means the pantry gets pretty disorganised at times. We often share things with DS and DDiL, it works out cheaper for both couples and I get a 2% reward on what we buy. DS bought a huge TV this year and as it's my membership, he saved money and I got £60 in rewards, which more than covers next year's membership fees.
    We're on mains gas so don't have to worry about the heating, but I make sure we're stocked up on pasta, flour, pulses, rice and quite a few tins; tomatoes, kidney beans and the like for soups, stews, chili etc.
    There's very little likelihood of us getting snowed in, but there are always winter days when going out just doesn't hold any appeal at all, so I prepare for our hibernation days!
    Preparing for winter isn't boring in any way at all, it's fun making sure that we're going to be able to enjoy the colder weather, keep warm and indulge in our indoor hobbies and interests.

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    1. Very true. Some just find it mind boggling that people like us do this but they forget for some it is a sheer necessity to survive. For others, it helps keep costs down.

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  4. Not boring in the slightest.

    We have lots of wood currently drying out ready for the log burner and plans to cut lots of fallen wood of ours from the woodland next month, it has been sheltered nicely and seasoning on the ground. I permanently keep my eyes peeled for fallen dried out branches to snap into bits for kindling, I just have to tuck them away so Rosy doesn't think it's a stick store for her :-)

    The less we can use the oil fired central heating the better, very soon the solar panels will be going on the workshop and garage roof and this will make the Aga (and everything else electric) totally free to run, so between the Aga and the log burner we shouldn't need the central heating on much at all.

    Now the food harvests are ramping up I will be collecting, processing and preserving lots of fruits and veggies to keep us going through the Winter.

    Even if you can't grow things for yourself, now is the time to look for fruit bargains in the supermarkets and make jams, chutneys and simply freeze somethings, like Blueberries and green beans, all too often I see them reduced to clear for pennies.

    It just makes sense doesn't it.

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    1. I must make more chutney this year as we had run out by February! I think we might be okay for jam as I still have some from the last two years. We decided this year to eat blueberries on our porridge each morning as there are so few.

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