January 31, 2014

January - In like a Polar Bear & Out like a Polar Bear [Five Facts]

We entered January with colder than our normal cold temps & wind chills, and we're going out with the same.   
It's been just too cold to go outside & do much for recreation, be it snowshoeing, photography, or play, so while I sit by the fire, I'm indulging in photos of winters past.
Five facts from "The Coldest Area in the Country":

1.  We have three heat sources in our home.  A big off-peak electric storage unit in our basement.  It does little more than take the edge off winter, so we installed a Jøtul Oslo wood stove in our living room several years ago.  It's awesome.  We now have a second wood furnace on the other end of the house and they've all been running non-stop.  Thankful for the firewood we're flying through.

(The Barn in Winter)

2.  It's normal to walk and even drive on frozen lakes here for a few solid months every year. 
We aren't all that big on ice fishing, but the lakes around us are dotted - some of them covered - with fish houses.  When I was a small kid, my dad would tie a rope around me so I didn't fall in the spear fishing hole.  My dad was big on safety, we were fluent in "Danger School."

(Lilly & Beau on Dinner Pail Lake)

3.  School isn't canceled due to the cold temps here very often.  It may be delayed a couple of hours if buses are having trouble starting in the morning, or more likely due to a heap of heavy snow.  But we've had multiple cancellations both early & late this month due to extreme & dangerous cold.  We've enjoyed the extra time home together and have been playing a lot of Yahtzee.  
(Fact: Our kids go outside for recess all winter as long as it's above 0°F.)

(Snowshoeing last year.  I haven't been out this year, darnit.)

4.  I have to be careful getting fresh fruit home from the grocery store in the winter.
On our coldest evening back on Jan. 6th, when we were colder than the North Pole & South Pole, I had to venture out to town for much needed supplies & groceries.  (I hadn't been to town since Christmas Eve.)  I triple bagged my bananas and then zipped them up in the front of my winter coat for the drive home.  I looked pregnant with produce.  It worked.

(Last April: The Winter That Wouldn't End. Hoping for an earlier spring.)

5.  Lilly has been doing a fantastic job with her chicken chores every day, no matter the conditions.  Her trio of hens have pulled through the harsh winter well so far.  As my aunt said when we were visiting for a family fun day a couple of weeks ago, they can handle the cold as long as they have water.  Lilly heads out with a fresh bucket every day, along with a bucket of household treats. 
(The view out our back door.)

While I speak lightly of Yahtzee & carrying bunches of bananas marsupial style, it's definitely not all fun & games.  This winter has been a hardship for many - fuel oil & propane costs are dreadful.
Monday, the Governor of MN declared a state of peacetime emergency in response to the persistent cold weather and the increased risk that households may run out of heating fuel. 
Tonight, residents of our nearby small town lost their home & everything in it to fire, caused by a space heater. 
We may not be doing many of our usual winter activities this winter, but we've been safe and we're warm, and I am grateful.

Sharing with Our World TuesdayRandom 5 Friday

31 comments:

  1. Your photos are lovely, as usual. I thought our few dips down to 12* were bad. I can't imagine having prolonged temps as low as you do. I'm glad you have some alternative heat sources. We sure enjoyed our years of having a wood stove and miss it now.

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  2. It's hard for me to imagine living like you do. Keeping fruit warm so it doesn't freeze??? - unthinkable here. Reminds me of The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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  3. We have had some bitter cold in Western PA but you folks in MN always have it much worse than we do...when I read about some of your temp extremes I am amazed. Beautiful photos and post :)

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  4. ...and this makes me feel like a total jerk! I've been complaining of temps around here in South Texas where it's been hovering in the mid to low thirties some days this past month...

    Hope all will warm up soon for you. Glad to hear the Chickens are doing okay [and your daughter's good work!], but sad to know someone lost their home.

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  5. Oh, Amanda -- how I admire you folks who live in the "frozen northland" ... I don't think I could do it. I'm too used to hot! Stay safe and warm. I did enjoy your photos and stories ... especially "pregnant with bananas"! Kudos to Lilly and her chickens.

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  6. Your photos are beautiful and I love the angle you used with the kids on the lake! :)
    I can't even imagine how you folks up north are dealing with all this crazy weather. We have had above normal temps all this month and no rain.

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  7. I am so glad you are warm and safe. That's so scary about the home burning down from a space heater. I love your pictures so much! Thank you for sharing your home and hearth with me. :-)

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  8. (i remember lily trying to push that snow boulder from last year - so cute!)

    sadly, we had a neighbor lose their mobile home to fire this week, too. lost everything but the clothes on their backs, their vehicle and their cat (their dog perished).

    i do feel so bad for folks dealing with the extreme temps - and that fuel shortage just makes me furious. what a racket for companies to make more $$.

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  9. Wow...Amanda! It's certainly beautiful, but I can't even imagine.

    Enjoy your weekend, friend! XO!

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  10. I enjoyed seeing your photos from winters past. I really like your first photo of the barn -- it's very beautiful. Reading about what you're going through up there helps me get through our Tennessee winter. We really don't have it so bad, although today is the first time this week that temperatures are supposed to get above freezing. Schools here have been closed for all but two days over the past two weeks. We only got a couple of inches of snow, but some of these mountain roads don't get enough sunlight to get rid of snow and ice, and we just don't have the road equipment necessary to do the job. I'll be glad when Spring comes.

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  11. I love it, in like a polar bear and out like one too! Perfectly put. I am envious of your wood burning stove. Our house was build in 1890, and was the first one in the area with central heat. I guess the original owner felt that no fireplace was necessary, and it is the one thing that I dearly miss. A wood burning stove is on the wish list. Stay warm! I hear that our projections for February are similar...we will only appreciate the spring that much more!

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  12. Glad to hear you and your family are keeping safe and warm. It's been a brutal winter out your way. Yes, I remember driving our cars onto frozen lakes and ice fishing when I lived in South Dakota. Don't miss that cold weather at all!

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  13. I think Minnesota residents have to be very tough to handle those kinds of brutal winters. Not sure if I could do it! I do hope that your fuel supplies don't run out. Stay safe and warm!

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  14. A fantastic portrait of your barn. Winter here is harsh this year as well, we are lucky that our house is heated by Natural Gas. I read in the news that the Great Lakes are almost completely frozen over!

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  15. Very glad to hear you are weathering this extreme winter and still have your sense of humor and optimism. Your photos are wonderful and I love the pops of color in the coats. We used to live in Omaha in the 80s and had -20 temps with -30 wind chills all winter one year. When it warmed to 0, we all ditched the jackets! :-)
    Visiting from R5F

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  16. They have been talking about the shortage of propane around here, too. And of all times, my hubby needs some for his forge. Guess he will do without it for a while. Love that picture of your barn...I keep telling myself to hang in there, spring is coming.

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  17. that is a lot of snow. so pretty & fluffy too!! wow ... i think around here the kids play in the gym when cold outside. usually when it is warmer they will play, run or march outside. on the track & field. they would be afraid to make the parents angry for sending them outside in the cold weather. ( :

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    1. Our school's policy is that if it's zero or above, they go out for recess. But if it's below zero they play in the gym.. and we've had plenty of days this winter when it hasn't gotten above zero!

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  18. Glad your kids are hardier than most. It has been extremely cold here to.

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    1. Great great photos!
      LOL I laughed at your banana story .... but I totally understand. There is nothing worse than getting bananas home that have been damaged from the cold. Dang!
      Have a toasty weekend!
      diane @ thoughts and shots

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  19. Oh boy - it's been cold where you are - I loved your banana story! It's good you're able to keep warm, but I do feel terrible for your neighbors who lost their home - it's so unfortunate. You must be very proud of Lilly for doing such a wonderful job with her chickens!

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  20. I checked to see where you lived and realize now why you have so much snow and harsh winters. Brrr.....your post made me cold thinking about all that snow but also grateful for a nice warm home with Gas Heat. We've only had a little snow this winter but it snowed today and I actually took my mom's dog for a short snowy walk. - Kids here do not go out in really cold weather for recess at all. Stay warm and hopefully spring will arrive soon.

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  21. I had to laugh at the one about produce! That is funny! Sounds like Lilly is a great chicken mama! It is so true that chickens can do fine in cold weather. Just need water like you mentioned, and also somewhere to stay dry. Glad to hear yours are doing just fine!

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  22. We heat with wood, fortunately -- we do have a couple of propane heating units on the walls, but never use them. I think we filled up the tank about 10 years ago -- I can't remember what the price was back then...

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  23. That is one big snowball! I can't believe these temps. Cold is cold, but this has been beyond that.

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  24. Great post - so much snow!

    We are having problems at the other end of the scale - record runs of very hot days - although we have a wonderfully cool evening here today - every window and door open - and there is even some rain!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    PS: thanks for you kind words about my wordy posts!

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  25. wonderful post and photos about your winter world in MN ~ love the 'snow shoe' photo ~ for OWT ~
    carol,xxx
    www.acreativeharbor.com

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  26. Stay warm and safe, fellow Minne-snow-tan! It looks just like that out my back door and I don't think I've been warm since November. The heat's in, but the walls stay so cold!

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  27. I think my jaw just hit the floor with the photo of all that snow on your deck...sheesh!!! Love the pops of color from your kids snowsuits in all that snow and that snow shoe! visiting from Nancy and aRJ

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  28. So much snow - how lovely! And a gorgeous shot of your barn.

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  29. Truly amazing, Amanda... I just cannot imagine it! BUT--glad your home is warm and you all are safe. We about freeze here when it gets down to zero or a little below (we've had 10 below twice this winter --which is rare for us). I don't think the homes are made as good as yours --even with insulation. AND--I definitely don't have the right winter clothes to stay warm in extreme temps... My hands/fingers just ACHE.... It would take a lot for me to get used to temps like that if I moved up there... I can't even imagine driving in it... AND--I cannot believe that wildlife --including your chickens can live in weather like that... Is their pen heated?

    I never would have thought about bananas freezing on the way home from the store... Mercy Me... I am learning so much today from your post... NOW---I need to go and get another cup of coffee and warm up.... ha

    Be SAFE.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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