On Friday, David didn’t have work because the high temperatures the past few days have been sub-zero and they work outside. So he and Ashley made some of David’s favorite “cookies.” You take Ritz crackers, sandwich peanut butter between them, then dip them in melted chocolate Almond Bark. They are very good; we went through two batches in two weekends! We had extra melted chocolate left over so I dipped some fresh strawberries Ashley bought. Very pretty — and tasty too!

Aren’t these chocolate-dipped strawberries yummy looking?

My oldest son, Bill, and his family came, as well as Javid so we had a merry time opening gifts and eating a big fat turkey with all the trimmings. We were too full to even attack the pies and cheesecake, not to mention cookies! But we eventually did munch on a few cookies.

We had fun opening presents on our second Christmas. Guess what David got? You wouldn’t know it’s a sheetrock square, would you?
Ava loved Ashley’s gift of a bottle of small seashells and Florida Keys beach sand she picked up when test-driving cars in Florida last summer.

It’s been terribly cold here. The night before last it went down to -37 with the high in the teens below zero. Last night, we bottomed out at -27 and it “warmed” up to zero around noon. Believe it or not, we thought we had a heat wave! Starting vehicles is a bit challenging in those temperatures. Normally, we start and run everything we use daily several times a day in those cold temperatures, then start them at late-night bedtime. Then someone gets up at around 3AM and starts them again. We didn’t do that last night as we had run them at 11 PM and the temps weren’t supposed to drop that low. They did.

So this morning, when the sun had warmed things up to -11, we tried to get things started just in case there was an emergency and we needed to drive somewhere. No dice. (We didn’t try our new truck but we’re sure it would have started.) Will clipped his new power pack (Christmas gift from Bill and Kelly!) to the Subaru and BAM! It started. No dice, though, on David’s old Dodge pickup or Ashley’s post office route car. Heck, we couldn’t even find her battery!

This morning, we were busy getting vehicles started in sub-zero weather … again.

She and David drove down to Bill’s so David could do major work on his GMC pickup: wheel bearings, tie rods, and ball joints. The old Dodge pickup he’s been driving to work — 35 miles — has a plugged heater vent so no heat! Needless to say, with this week’s temperatures, he wanted heat and a vehicle which would start better than the old Dodge.

I called Ashley and she told us her battery was under the back seat. Huh? She’d never had the seat off but Will figured it out and jump-started her Pontiac with our Subaru. David’s truck is still unstarted but we’ll put the battery charger on it when we start the generator when it gets warmer. Like the vehicles, the generator doesn’t like to start when it’s so cold. If we must start it, we pre-heat the generator shed with a propane heater for an hour, then try. Mostly, we just wait. When you live off grid, you do things a bit differently than most folks! But then, in an ice storm or blizzard our power doesn’t go off and we always have heat. Will, throw another log on the fire, won’t you? — Jackie


  1. MIss Jackie, We do not have the extreme cold that you all get but we’ve been getting below 0 F every night for a couple weeks…. sometimes have to baby the vehicles to get them started as well. I keep saying I’m going to homestead in the deep south some winter……Rick

  2. Maybe having the battery under the seat keeps it warmer and frost free?? I know Will and I were scratching our heads when we couldn’t find it under the hood or even in the trunk!!!

  3. Maybe having the battery under the seat keeps it warmer so it doesn’t get frosted up? I know it made Will and I scratch our heads when we couldn’t find it under the hood or in the trunk!!!

  4. We have an outdoor wood furnace and with the cold arctic blast we have had to load it two times a day. We live in Duluth, MN so have had much of that cold weather you also have where you live. Looks like everyone had a great second Christmas and the ritz peanut butter chocolate crackers are always a big hit for our family also. Thank you for sharing your week with us.

  5. Glad that your Christmas celebrations were joyful! Thanks for the updates on how you’re dealing with the cold weather. We always watch the weather reports for how things are in your area. We are dealing with minus temps here in Michigan, but not quite down to your -37 yet. Stay warm and keep us updated!

  6. So glad you had a good second Christmas. So nice the family was there. Hope you can get David’s truck started and fixed. You and Will keep each other safe and warm and dream about the warm days of summer.

  7. We have a 2003 Bonneville. We only replaced the battery once a few years ago. We too were shocked to find the battery under the seat. What an uncomfortable place to get at!

    We hear you about the cold temps. It takes me a long time to do chores. Today it got to 11 above so I hauled in wood to the garage. The Beavers were right again!!!

    Been looking at your Seed Treasures online catalog. I have to narrow down my tomato choices!! It’s hard .

    Thank you for offering so many good things!

    • You gotta love those beavers! I always believe them more than the Farmer’s Almanac and weather forecasters. I think God tells them and they prepare. He tells people but they go “oh, I don’t think so…”.

      I have the same trouble deciding on which seeds I’ll try each year. By always trying a few (or a lot!) new ones, we usually find some new favorites. It’s so much fun.

  8. We have a couple Honda 2000e’s and keep one under the kitchen table to carry out to charge our battery bank or heat and jump a truck or tractor. We usually run one about three hours three times a week on the batteries in winter. The trucks usually start down to minus 25 with out any help.
    Its really been a weird winter. We had the usual below zero in late November, then two weeks where it never got below 28 with rain and heavy wet snow then 10 days when it didn’t get above zero now it’s up to 30 and supposed to Rain! One day this week we were colder than Barrow up on the North slope by 20 degrees.
    Happy New Year

    • Yes, it has been a weird winter! We haven’t seen thawing for quite awhile. Heck, when it “warmed” up to -20 I was thrilled! Our vehicles usually start between -20 to -25 but when it gets lower, some only groan, as do we. Happy New Year to you, too!

  9. SO COLD!! In my neck of the woods it’s been around 0 C and I think that’s cold!( on the west coast of Vancouver Island BC) Ours is damp cold- not much sun.
    I remember my homestead days and there is never a dull moment! Stay warm!

  10. Glad you all had two wonderful Christmases! Your Jess Hazzard series was an amazing Christmas surprise for my husband who NEVER reads novels. (Except for required reading in high school, and he is a semi retired engineer now!) This series is so detailed, believable,and realistic, they reminded us of time spent in MT/WY areas. We can not wait to read your Spring of the Vultures. We also have and use all of your homesteading and recipe books. We will be placing our seed order soon. Please keep writing, we have long winters!

    • I’m glad the Jess Hazzard series was a hit with your husband. The setting of the books is a real place, although just a bit of literary license was used. I’ve hiked, ridden horseback and fished that area on many occasions as we just love it. I had an elderly friend who lived in that area, whose husband’s ancestors came across Union Pass with a team of oxen and settled there.
      I’m just finishing the cover of Spring of the Vultures and am also doing a quick, final, final edit. We like to catch any typos etc. as our readers are very quick.

    • We’re always warm; when we’re doing chores and other outdoor activities, we take great care to do it in stages; windchill when it’s well below zero is nothing to fool around with. When we’re indoors, we just toss another log on the fire and enjoy life.

  11. My old Bonneville had the battery behind the driver under the passenger seat. That was the weirdest thing I ever saw. In all the 11 years we had that care we never had to get a new battery.

Comments are closed.