Our home heating is very poor and our house is old and drafty – or, more charitably – full of Victorian charm. Before the cold set in, we taped over the windows in the master bedroom to conserve heat, then opened the door to the room next door where the heating works better.
We also cut up a bunch of pallets yesterday so we could light the fireplace in the bedroom. This gave us two somewhat warm rooms, so Rachel and I camped out with seven out of ten children. The remaining three decided to brave the cold in their own rooms.
The power went out some time in the night. When we got up, the main area of the house was down to the mid-30s. We banked the fire up in our room again, then I found an old cast-iron kettle and we made instant coffee in the fireplace. The kids in their own rooms had survived under piles of blankets and we all got together and drank coffee and thawed out by the fire as the morning light streamed in through the plastic-covered windows.
Outside our warm rooms, things got very cold even in the areas I didn’t expect would get that cold. Some of the tropical plants in the enclosed porch actually froze stiff – like my aloe. I doubt it’s going to live. But all the citrus inside the hallway seems to be fine.
In the yard, the cows and chickens didn’t mind the cold at all, though we had to smash through ice in order to get water from the trough for the birds.
With a couple of hours, it was re-freezing.
This is cold weather for a South Florida family…
Anywhere there was water in the yard, it froze hard – like in this tire rut in the cow pasture:
In the gardens, the radishes that were covered with sheets seem to be okay. We didn’t have quite enough sheets to cover all of them, and you can really see the difference a thrift store sheet cane make.
On the left, the radishes were uncovered. On the right, they were under a thin cotton sheet.
My children ran a sprinkler overnight in their play area:
Up close, it’s really cool:
And the grass under the sprinkler is magical:
In the row gardens, some of the leaves blew off the cabbages and broccoli, but they should be mostly okay, judging by how the radishes did.
It’s rarely this cold down here. We didn’t get snow, but this was nasty by Lower Alabama standards.
The power came back on during the day but tonight will be icy cold again. Hope you all are doing okay. We’re really not set up for this kind of weather. It’s a good test to tell us how we need to prepare better. This is our first winter on this property and we’ve got to learn as we go.
It’s a blessing to be together, cold or no cold, and we know many others have had a much worse time through this wickedly cold weather.
God bless you guys! If my brother and nephew hadn’t done a lot of work on my old farmhouse over the last few months, it would have been below freezing in here even with the electricity on! We are currently heating with electric space heaters, and right now it’s up to 57 in my office, one of the warmest rooms in the house. If you plug away at it, you should be able to get your house better prepared before the next one of these cold snaps comes along. My house was leakier than a sieve (still has some leaks, but the worst ones have been fixed) and only had insulation in the roof. Gradually, one room at a time, getting it insulated.
We did have a back-up plan in case the power went out — my brother and his wife live here on the property now, and have a big motor-home that can run on propane and/or a generator. So we decided if the power went off, we’d all huddle up in there to stay warm. But by next winter, I should have a wood stove in my house. (Their house is all electric, so then if the power goes off, they’ll have to come over here!)
In freezing weather, I like the black rubber buckets and pans for watering everybody, because you can bash them against a tree or something to break the ice without damaging the pans at all.
I hope you don’t loose too many of your plants. Here in south-central KY, I think we may have lost our three figs that we planted earlier this year. But the chickens and the goats are doing fine — tough little critters!
Grew up in Alaska, so giggling a little at your fascination with the ice!
I didn’t even see snow fall until I was 24… it’s definitely different. I bet your figs come back from the roots.
Port Charlotte FL – 31 at 6am, never got above 48. We’ve been here for 20 years and it’s the coldest we remember. Garden in containers – brought bush beans under cover & will remain till Tuesday. My very big Christmas cactus is holding its 100s of blossoms due to the cold – only good I can come up with 🙂 Found a leaky window during Ian and totally forgot to fix it – that room was really cold 63 & of course it’s ‘my’ computer room. It’ll pass in a couple of days but know we have things to fix. BTW we never turn on the central heat but do use a couple of space heater sparingly and lots of layers to keep warm.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Winston Salem, NC – Friday night / Saturday morning got down to 7, about the same for us we get some colder temps but with the windchills it felt like it was negative most of the day despite the high of 15. We fortunately didn’t loose power as I had a nasty cold but we had the propane Mr Heater ready to go. Garden did ok, some damage but what we had left over made it through.
Agreed on the being together part, we missed not seeing our church family the last two days but glad the three of us got to be together!
Merry Christmas to y’all!
Not much further north, but was down to 15 in Seale, AL. Kept a heat lamp on in the greenhouse for the grapefruit. Started them from seed over the past year and hoping to keep them going. One actually has a bloom right now.
One of the books I love to think about in the winter is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book The Long Winter, about surviving this blizzards in 1888 in South Dakota. I grew up in a house that was built about that time and it was drafty in the winter, for all that it had electricity and plumbing. At times we would lose power in storms and we would have the fireplace for heat.
My wife sometimes tells me about when she was a little girl and would steal some sugar from the kitchen to mix it with water in a saucer in the winter, so she could put the saucer on the inside window sill in her room so she could have sweet ice to suck on when it froze. She thinks having the lanterns and the propane stove handy as well as a pile of firewood is a good idea.
A quarter inch of ice making a state-sized skating rink was not good, but I don’t think we have lost any trees so far this year. If we do, I guess I will have more easy firewood. If the cold nipped off last year’s grafts, I guess that gives me a chance to do them right this time.
I hope you had a merry Christmas, and your new year brings you blessings and success.
That is really an amazing story – the kids and I were talking about it around the fire a couple of days ago.