Although we work outdoors much of the winter, when a severe cold snap hits, we find plenty to do indoors. And this week we’ll be  doing a lot of indoor work! For five days, the HIGH is going to be between -12 and -9 degrees F. And the lows at least -20 to -35 and that’s NOT with the wind chill. That’s the plain old temperature. Brrr… throw another log on the fire!


Of course, we still have to do chores and those chores include hauling extra bedding for all the animals and chickens, so our normal chores take longer to do. And because it’s so cold, nothing wants to start. No ATV to haul hay and grain buckets. The vehicles are stubborn and the generator is really stiff pulling. I sleep on the sofa so I can toss wood into the living room stove and kitchen stove every hour all night until about 4:00 when I finally go to bed. Of course I don’t get up at the crack of dawn after that, either!

Will shelled our tubs of sweet corn that was left over on the stalk after I had canned all I could before it went tough. We picked it all and brought it into the enclosed porch to finish drying after the blue jays started eating lots of it when it was still on the stalk. All totaled, he got 33 pounds of perfect, dry corn. That’s not counting small seeds or those that were shriveled. Those went to the chickens.


We will be using some of it for cornmeal and maybe even trying to plant some to see what happens. It IS a hybrid; Seneca Horizon, so it won’t breed true. But who knows? I bred hybrid tomatoes back to open pollinated and now save seeds from these wonderful used-to-be Early Cascade and are now Early Firefall. Early Cascade was “discontinued” when Monsanto bought out Seminis Seed Company years back.

Well, I’ve got to go do chores! Not looking forward to that but the critters sure are. — Jackie


  1. Jim,

    We do our chores in segments and warm up between. It is challenging at times but sure makes us appreciate spring!! We think of you and Deb often. Stay warm.


  2. Staci,

    Our favorite open pollinated sweet corn is True Gold which was bred back from hybrid sweet corn. It is quite sweet and delicious. It is offered by several seed companies including Seeds of Change.


  3. Don,

    Your Dad is out sunbathing right now. He was embarassed to have pale skin! I’ll call him for supper if he’s not froze stiff. I’ll keep you posted.


  4. Northern Iowa,

    Yes, that’s a wood boiler. BUT it was a leaker and after Will welded it several times he decided that it wasn’t dependable enough to heat the house. So now it heats the water for our hot tub! Only in the summer, of course. We’re not that tough…and it would waste wood to run it all winter. Wood boilers are great but we’re still trying to figure how to run the two pumps which must pretty much run all the time, off grid on our limited system. When we figure that out, we’ll let you know. My son, Bill, has one and they have used it for nine years now and love it.


  5. Dave,

    Our solar panels, on the bracket/pole are about 30 feet from the batteries in the basement. We thought about putting them on the roof, but Will remembered that we were aging and wouldn’t want to climb up on the roof to sweep the snow off much longer. So down on the ground they went!
    You can house your batteries in your living space if you build a box around them and vent the gasses to the outside using a sloped box top and vent through the wall. Some folks put their batteries under the house in a crawl space, but you’ve got to watch this as in very cold spells they can freeze. Once frozen, they’re toast!


  6. Jackie, burr I do believe that I have never felt it that cold in the United States and I sure am thankful that I live in Arkansas (the highs have been in the high 50’s)!! The corn sure does look good and I am anxious to see how it turns out when you plant it. I have been wanting to plant some open pollinated corn but all of the reviews that I read tell me that none are very sweet. Do you happen to know of a few good open pollinated corn that would be good for fresh eating and canning? Thanks so much for offering the squash seeds, that is very kind of you. I am going to be sending you a stamped and addressed envelope inside one so that you will not have to pay the shipping. Please stay warm and take care, Staci.

  7. It’s 12:00 noon here in CNY,near Cooperstown and it’s -2 degrees outside…We are getting chilled a bit here too.I gave my animals away over the last 2 winters..( nobody wanted to buy them).I was grateful that I didn’t have to do chores today..It’s so hard when you are by yourself.I would like to retire and start the homestead up again.Maybe soon,I hope..Praying for you and Will to stay healthy and strong..MA

  8. I see in one of the pictures what looks like an outdoor wood burner…am I really seeing that? If I am wondering how you like it.

  9. Gee Jackie! I’m freezing just thinking of what you and Will need to do. We are warm at 9 degrees! Hah!
    Nice memories seeing Will in the kitchen area.


  10. Hi! I’ve been following your site for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Arizona. Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent work!

  11. Hi Jackie,

    I have solar panels located on the roof of my cabin in North Idaho. The batteries, controller and inverter are located in a shed I have to go out side for. Sweeping the snow off the solar panels is really a hassle with them up on the roof. I have been looking at relocating them on a pole like yours and bringing the batteries and electronics into a more convenient location, so I do not have to go outside to keep an eye on things. I do not have a basement. Looking at a space in our pantry but not sure about having the battery box near our living space. How far are your panels located from the batteries and where do you have your batteries located?


  12. Sure makes me glad I live in Texas! Our lowest temp. this week is 30.
    We’re having highs in th 60-70+ range. I do have to admit I’ll be jealous of ya’ll come July and August when we’re burning up down here!

  13. Just got over 3 weeks of that weather we really feel for all of you in the mid west. Just so you know we are getting our “January thaw” as my Great granddad used to call it. Been in the upper 30’s to mid 40’s in the day and teens at night. So we should be sending it your way!

  14. I think my father should be outside more often he’s looking a little pale skinned. And let him know it’s 43 degrees here in Ketchikan

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