After a hot summer, the cool evenings of early Fall are a welcome change. Neighbors are in the fields harvesting soybeans, dried and golden in the sun. Fields of corn are drying up too, and the sunflowers all have their heads turned to the ground, hardly able to hold up under the weight of the seed heads.
I love the subtle color changes. The greens in the trees are lightening to more yellow green. The undergrowth is showing shades of purple and gold and rust. I find it a glorious celebration of the changing season. Nature says, hey, slow down, look around you, and watch the show.
Having been raised in the country on a small farm, it was impressed upon me that Fall was the time to ‘stock up’. Vegetables and fruit were harvested and there was a lot of canning and freezing going on. I don’t do as much now as I did when I was younger, but there’s still that urge. Like a squirrel gathering nuts, I stock up my pantry. I make sure I have lamp oil and fuel for the generator in case lights (and the furnace) go out. I insulate doors and windows against the wind that blows across the fields and at the house.
Fall is also a time to take stock of other things around the home. Things you need to do before winter sets in. Not many of us are truly house bound during winter like in the old days, but things do happen (power outages, blizzards, pandemics) that make staying in the safe thing to do. So I thought I’d make a list of some things to take stock of or do before winter. I call it my Fall To Do List.
Fall To Do List
(aka Winter Preparedness Checklist)
- Go thru the pantry, frig and freezer, and then make a grocery list of items needed to make meals for however long you want – 3 days, 10 days, 30 days…whatever makes you comfortable. Can/freeze/buy what you need.
- Plan for a lights-out, no furnace storm – have an alternate heat source…fireplace, kerosene heater, generator, etc. Have fuel stored for at least 3 days. Also think about alternate lights – kerosene lamps, battery powered lamps, candles. But…be very careful of fire. People lose their homes every year to candles or heaters used incorrectly. Be safe. Follow directions. I always put metal trays under candles or lamps.
- Go thru the garden and harvest what’s left. Some people like to clean out all the leftover plants and vines, some people leave that for spring. Mulch any perennial plants for winter.
- Go thru flower beds, mulch perennials, cover roses, etc.
- Insulate doors and windows if you get drafts. Doesn’t matter if the house is newish or oldish, they still get drafty. Buy plastic kits (3M, Frostking – buy at any Walmart or Lowe’s) and apply to windows. The plastic is taped to the window frame and then you use a hairdryer to shrink it to fit exactly. It works. You can buy foam strips to put around drafty doors and long plastic strips that attach to the bottoms of doors to help keep out the draft. Also, cute draft dodgers work too. You can make one easy enough with a couple old tube socks – fill with stuffing and sew together at the tops to make a long tube.
- Bring in any flower pots or containers, garden hoses or sprinklers, and any patio furniture you want inside for the winter. Wipe them off. Store in the garage or barn.
- Cover your A/C unit. I know not everyone does this, but I do. It insulates, and at the very least keeps dirt out for part of the year.
- If you have livestock, make sure you have food and bedding and water stored. I used to buy a years worth of hay in the summer, so I didn’t have to worry about it again til next year. If you buy bagged feed, set aside enough to last a few days at least, and then don’t use that unless in an emergency.
- Keep a little water handy in case lights go out and the pump doesn’t work. A gallon a day per person is a good amount. Remember pets and livestock too. Store water for them too if you don’t have an outdoor hand pump that you can use.
- Get out your winter quilts and blankets. Air out on the line or wash as needed.
- Swap out seasonal clothing – wash and pack up shorts and tanks and get out the sweaters and boots. I wear boots all the time…but not everyone is that way. I love sweaters…they cover up for a multitude of hershey bars eaten.
- Go thru winter coats, hang on the line to air out or have dry cleaned if necessary. Check out your supply of scarves, hats, and gloves too. Toss gloves full of rips and holes, make sure everyone has at least 2 pair.
- Give the car or truck a once-over to make sure everything’s in working order. Nothing like a hard frost to make old batteries bite the dust or a worn serpentine belt to break. Check tread on tires.
- Make a winter kit for your car – just in case you get stuck somewhere. Find a large tub or backpack, and put inside it an extra sweater and blanket, warm gloves, boots, a flashlight, a battery pack for your cell phone, a snack and a bottle of water, a flare, matches, etc. Better to be prepared and not need it then the other way around. Carry a bag of kitty litter, it’s great for getting traction on ice if you get stuck.
- Think ahead to the Holidays…now is the time to stock up on decor items or Christmas lights before they get picked over. Also, it’s a good idea to get grocery items for those holiday meals now.
- Think about scheduling a family portrait, carpet cleaning, furnace checkup, etc. The time to do those things is before everyone else thinks of it.
- Ok, this is gonna sound wierd maybe…but when all that candy is out for Halloween, you might wanna stock up on some of your favorites. Some of those fun size candy bars are only available now.
- Plan for some down time. Are you a winter sports person? Then you can look forward to sledding or skating or snowmobiling. Are you not a winter person? Then plan some projects to keep you busy when the weather is not so nice. Whether a craft project or a home remodeling project, find something that you’ll look forward to doing during those cold days. Instead of getting depressed at the short days and cold, you’ll be energized and productive.
- Remember to keep your gas tank over 1/2 full. If you get stuck somewhere, you want to know you’ve got enough gas to keep the engine running for a while. I sound like my Mom…not that that’s a bad thing.
- Another thing, keep your cell phone charged. If you need it in an emergency, it’s no good if it’s out of power.
These are just some of the things that are on my Fall To Do List. What’s on yours?
I know as women we’re always taking care of everyone else, just make sure you also take care of you.
I find that knowing I’m prepared gives me a little more confidence. I don’t have to freak out if the local news says a winter storm is coming. I have what I need and I can take what comes. I don’t have to rush to the grocery store and stand in line to buy a gallon of milk.
I can cozy up by the fire with a good read and my favorite ginger cookies, my dog at my side.
So let’s get what we need, and then when we’ve stocked up, we can relax and enjoy nature’s show. Let’s head to the pumpkin farm, enjoy a festival or fleamarket, and just look around and enjoy the trees and the blue sky.
We can even enjoy the darker, bluer clouds as they bring that cold air down from Canada. Those brisk mornings when you open the door to let the dog out and get a blast of fresh crisp air that makes your toes curl up.
So I’ll pull out those sweaters and boots, and enjoy being chilly.
At least until January…when I’ve had enough of it. But that’s another post.