Under the spell of the Polar Vortex, we’ve experienced temperatures of -40° F every night with highs often reaching, perhaps -13°. Today was a heat wave! It only got to 40 below last night and warmed up to a balmy, sunny, -4°. So it’s a constant battle trying to keep the livestock comfortable and taking care of us too. It’s amazing how much more hay the stock eats when it’s this cold. And we have been burning twice the amount of firewood we usually do in the winter. Fortunately, we did put up a lot of firewood so having enough is not a problem at all. We just keep stuffing it into the wood stoves. We try to warm up the log walls during the day as they absorb a lot of heat, releasing it slowly at night when the fire is not as hot. For Christmas, David bought us a heat-powered fan that sits on the living room stove. The hotter the stove gets, the faster it turns. No power needed. And that little fan sure does improve the overall temperature around the house. We do close off the spare bedroom door as there’s no need to heat that with it only used for storage right now.

For Valentine’s Day, Will and I loaded up a couple of steers to go to butcher the next morning. But when morning came, the butcher called early and said it was too cold, at -40 to haul cattle and also for him to work outside, doing the initial butchering and skinning. I sure don’t blame him a bit! So Will threw some more logs on the fires and came back to bed. He’ll haul them today as the temperature is supposed to be a little better for everyone.

Lately, twenty below seems like a heat wave with temperatures diving down to -40° F.

Besides packing seeds to send out to folks, I’ve been concentrating on plotting out our various (9) gardens, trying to make the best use out of all of them. I’ll tell you, that’s a challenging task, figuring out how to isolate various crops of the same species so the seeds we save stay pure, make the best use out of each garden. Some are new, like the Wolf garden, where some are more established like the Main garden and North gardens. Most need a liberal spreading of rotted manure this spring, as early as we can get it done. And we sure have a lot since Will was unable to spread the compost mountain in the winter cow lot last fall like he wanted to due to all the fall rains we got.

I don’t know about you, but I’m starved for some color and flowers too!

I know I’m looking forward to seeing flowers, colors, and green again. Stay warm everyone and stay safe! — Jackie


  1. Oh goodness, you have had the cold. We live in Southern Mo. Real close to Arkansas. The hardest thing we have had to endure this winter is we ran out of wood and had to turn on the propane furnace on. Propane has nearly doubled in price this winter. But even worse is our 2 year old dog contracted limes disease and been so sick, He can hardly walk and taking him out in this cold had been very concerning. Glad things have warmed up.

  2. Sorry I worried you; had a 24 hour stomach bug plus trying to keep up with seed orders. All’s well. Awww a bloom viola. How wonderful! They are the very first flowers to bloom around here. The purple wild ones are the size of your thumb (the PLANT) and the blooms tiny but so very welcome.

  3. That fan sounds great, would love to know more about it. We have a wood stove and sounds like something that would be helpful to have! I’ve never heard of something like that, that would work without power. What a great gift! (OK) We’re supposed to warm up above freezing next week. hope you all do too. My husbands been cutting holes in the ice for the cows all week long. Getting back above freezing will sure be nice!

    • To check out the fan, type heat powered wood stove fan into your browser and you’ll find a bunch of them. Our cold is ending as our low last night was 1 degree ABOVE zero for the first time in weeks! Yes!!!

  4. Been in the teens here all day, well the wind chill, terrible cold… but thankful I am warm and cozy… lots without power, going to put a backup gas heater in soon… propane… be prepared… we got snow but not much, but pretty while it was falling… not much ice…

    • The propane heater is a good idea for everyone. We’ve had a wall model and also an Empire space heater which both kept the house warm when we couldn’t be home to watch the wood stove. Neither requires electricity; a bonus when the power goes out too.

  5. Wow= that is brutal cold, for me in Southwestern Wisconsin our low was -19, today sun is shining now 12 degrees and it feels like a heat wave. I must complement you as you are the ONLY seed company to have shipped me my seeds. I have email they others and they are overwhelmed. Some of the seeds I’ll be needing soon ie 3 weeks to start plants. We got the two baby goats (cast off males) and they are thriving and jumping around. I did put up the tall cattle panels in the barn. They are fun to watch and love the heat lamp. Time to load my stove, stay warm.

    • Oh yes! We’ve sure gone through the wood in the last two weeks but then we have lots!! Thank God for that. Our buckling, Nuevo, is growing like a weed. I’m thinking he’ll have to be a pet wether in the future.
      As we’re a small seed company, we don’t have the volume of orders larger companies do. I’m glad we don’t as we couldn’t handle them, either, as we have no employees other than friends, Mike, Dara, and Alisha, who come some days to help out. It helps that we’re “preppers”, always trying to foresee future problems. I started stocking up on bulk seeds way last summer and never let up. And boy, am I glad I did as we sure didn’t expect so many folks getting serious about gardening this year! Good for them.

  6. Watching the snow fly and kids play on their sleds here in Spokane, WA. I bought tomato seeds from you and am wondering when I should try to start them to grow in the front window? This is the first year I have tried to grow tomatoes from seeds but I have grown them from starter plants. I am not sure about the timing of it all. The ground is still frozen around here. Perhaps I should ask the local nurseries?

    • That would be a good idea; or ask gardening neighbors. Generally, you’ll start your tomatoes about 8 weeks before your LAST spring frost date is expected. Of course this depends on your climate. Here our last spring frost date is about June 10th or so. Most areas it’s much earlier in the year than that. Ask around. Or go on the computer and Google it!

  7. Well, as I figured, the weather forecast was indeed wrong for my area in coastal Alabama. We had torrential rain yesterday and the radar was showing snow & ice inching my way. About 45 miles west of me the ice/snow pulled up and started heading NNE and went right over our heads not dropping a bit of frozen precipitation! We were VERY fortunate as states west of me were pounded with LOTS of snow & ice. But as the rain ended, so did the nice warm temps. The wind picked up and we started getting HARD FREEZE & SEVERE WIND CHILL WARNINGS. Last I checked around 4:00 am it was 23(F) with a wind chill temp of 14(F). As of noon, it is only 32(F) with temps expected to plunge back down into the mid-’20s again tonight. Then we have a warm-up, more rain, and two more days of 25-30(F) temps. Guess it is the second part of the storm I’ve been hearing about. But after that the temps warm back up to the mid 60’s daytime and mid/upper 40’s nighttime. I am so glad I did most of the prep work for the frigid cold a couple of days prior as that wind cut thru you like a cold knife when the temps started dropping. I’m hoping everything survived this Polar Vortex as most trees, bushes, and flowers were already budding out and some blooming. I will be so disappointed not having my delicious wild blueberries and huckleberries to make jams/jellies. They were already in full bloom with their dainty little pinkish-white elongated flowers! I covered as much of them as I could but it is impossible to get them all being that they are wild. Regardless, I will be thankful to get what I do, if they survived. I picked the last of my eggplant in my mini hoop house with the Christmas tree lights as I knew they would turn to a soft mush if they froze. They will be on the menu for supper tonight so they will not go to waste. I can’t imagine all the work involved day after day that you & Will have to contend with your frigid temps. My prayers are with you and the 1,000’s of others going thru the same issues. It is a tremendous amount of work, even for my little homestead for the short period of cold we are having so I can only imagine what you have to do daily and HAVE DONE and will CONTINUE to do for a while till spring arrives. But we all do what we have to do to keep our homesteads running & our animals & OURSELVES safe! STAY WARM, SAFE, and many blessings to you. Keep those visions of PRETTY FLOWERS and GREEN ALIVE…they will come before you know it! Lots of love…

    • And back at you Bonnie! We’re in a warm-up now with a low last night of only one degree ABOVE zero. I did a happy dance this morning at chores and took the last of two goat coats off of our little buckling, Nuevo. Such a relief. I’d sure hate to be in Texas right now. Nasty weather and the effects thereof!! I can’t wait for spring, even if it is a lot of work. It’s work I love!

  8. My chickens have been so sad. Looks like they may get to come out by weeks end. Can’t wait for some green myself. I’m hoping you’ll still have the Hopi grey squash seeds, I’d love to try them.
    Until then it’s just occupying our time with different tasks.

    • We’re lucky; the seed business is keeping us busy as little beavers. No boredom here! Yes, we have a good supply of Hopi Pale Grey seeds, thanks to friend, Vala, in Wyoming, who is saving our butts this year by donating her seeds as she cooks up her squash.
      My chickens have been going out on all but the coldest of days and seem to love sitting in the sun on the south side of their coop, singing.

  9. Guess I won’t complain about the 8″ of snow Saturday in Kingston, WA. It’s melting, but not fast enough! Burning lots of wood too! Take care of yourselves!

    • We went from one wheelbarrow of firewood a day or two days to a heaped up wheelbarrow, plus several armloads EVERY day during that -40 crap. What a relief to see temps above zero after two weeks of sub-zero. Whew!

  10. We are below zero in southern Missouri!….for the third day! At least we have sunshine today…and the wind has died. Thanks for the update on your winter activities…..and especially for the gorgeous flower. Dreaming here. Blessings.

    • Wow, I’ve seen your temps are really down there! And I sure hope that cold moves on somewhere it won’t hurt folks. This time of year, we sure need COLOR and the hope of spring again.

  11. Glad that you’re able to do so much in spite of the bitter cold! We’ve seen slightly below zero here in mid-lower Michigan and it’s warmed to 20° so far today with sunshine. That’s after getting 8 more inches of snow last night. Shoveling and plowing is done and now we’ll set down for a warm lunch while a dinner roast makes the house smell wonderful. Stay warm and thanks for the update!

    • We’re in for a warm-up here and we’re sure ready for it. Doesn’t a roast smell great though??? Even thinking about it makes my mouth water. Guess what I’m going to make for dinner tomorrow. Thanks for the idea!

  12. Wow! I just can’t imagine living in that kind of cold. It’s +28 here today and that is cold to us in western NC. Glad you have plenty of wood to keep you warm. Thanks you for the blog. I look forward to it every week. I missed you last week but I figured you just wanted to show off that beautiful grand baby a little longer. Be encouraged, spring is just around the bend.

    • I am from Western NC also and yes we are very blessed when it comes to weather right now when you look at the rest of the country! Prayers for the people in the path of this polar vortex!!

    • When it gets 28 degrees out, I think I’ll run around buck naked outside!!! Maybe not; the UPS guy may show up. But that would be so nice after a long time of -30 to -40. It does get tiring. Last week I had a 24 hour stomach bug and got real intimate with the toilet. Trust me, that food tasted much better going down than up! But I was better the next morning but tired. All fine, now.
      I cringe when I see what folks down south are going through. At least we are experienced with dealing with intense cold and snow.

  13. So glad you are warm and safe. Was a bit worried when you had posted all week, but I am sure that with keeping everyone fed and warm, there wasn’t much time for anything else. Here in Utah we are finally getting snow, esp in the mountains, we need that snow pack for our water. Not much snow here in the valley, even tho we are at 4000 ft, high desert. I too am anxious for spring and color, I did see a tiny viola blooming in the rocks around my patio and in the snow !! Hardy little plant.

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