First Freeze of the Year

After our catastrophic winter storm this spring i figured winter would bring more of the sort but it didn’t. It was the first warm weather halloween i could remember and we didnt have a single hard freeze until the first day of the next year. I saw the forecast a week in advance so i had time to prepare. It was supposed to be 28 degrees one night and 21 degrees the next, then back to 31. In actuality, it ended up being 24 degrees the first night and 18 degrees the second night. I was working the evening shift all week so i prepared ahead of time because each night by the time i got home from work it was already freezing.

My preparations included watering and covering the trees and plants with blankets, bringing the potted plants into the house, moving the sumac berries and laundry detergent from the shed to the house so they wouldn’t freeze, turning the heat lamp on in the well house, covering the spigot with a frost protector, dumping the top two inches of rain water from each container so it would have room to swell when it became ice and not crack the plastic tubs and buckets, placing an abundance of new wood shavings in each nesting box and closing the window to the chicken coop to protect against wind and better keep their body generated heat in, filtering a bunch of well water for the chickens and dumping it in a home depot bucket in the kitchen, saving water for cooking and to rinse a toothbrush and night retainers, and lining a bucket with a bag of sawdust so that i had a makeshift bathroom when the water in the flexible plumbing lines froze solid.

The freezing temperatures made beautiful ice crystals on the car.

Luckily the chickens had finished their molt. They were all fully feathered and on the morning of the coldest night i woke to see them already walking about and was happy all 6 of them seemed healthy and well. Their water was frozen solid for half of the day so i kept having to fill a glass dish with water from the bucket in the kitchen and run it out to them.

Though the middle of the bucket was still liquid, the top three inches and about half an inch around the sides was ice. It did indeed swell. I dont think i needed to dump quite as much as i did but my thought process was that if the bucket cracked we would have no rain water and some was better than none. Ironically, the decade old cooler in the yard with the crack in the lid was still full of water; no ice. i guess it is well insulated even in its old age.

The dogs were ready to go in. They did their potties pretty quick and when i told them they couldn’t come in until they sat, this is what happened. As you can see, they both sat right away and were ready to get back to the warmth of the house. That window unit may be noisy enough that you cant watch tv when its on and a beast to lift but it sure did keep it toasty. Our little tiny house was 74 degrees when it was 18 degrees outside. The dogs and i were cozy. For whatever reason, the electric company did not cut power this time, which i appreciated, because all winter weather preparations pretty much involve electricity and it’d be hard to keep everything from freezing without it.

For the most part, i tried to do my business at work or during mid afternoon when the plumbing had thawed, but i did have to use my bucket toilet a couple times. It’s a pretty tidy system. Once you’re done you seal the bag and when its full you take it to the trash can in the shed. the bag lifts right out of the bucket. It’s just a necessary part of life out here. If you’re not going to build yourself an outhouse you’re going to need a home depot bucket for when the pipes freeze. Personally, i’d rather sit in the warmth of my house on a bucket than wonder what critters, insects and arachnids are hiding in the outhouse while freezing my butt off to get it done and run back to the house. However, some family members don’t see the appeal of the bucket and have concluded that i may have lost my mind.

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  1. Done the bucket toilet thing for a year when we moved to France. So skint we couldn’t afford a portable loo. Lol. I also have to pre fill buckets before the freeze or the geese have no water nor the rest of the feathered gang. I fill, cover with old plastic seed bags and tuck them way back into the coop where its frost free. Its enough on very cold snap days to function.. Buckets rule!

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