Batten down the hatches winter is coming

When the nights get colder and frost starts appearing in the mornings it’s time to take action

We’ve already had some cool nights, frosty mornings and even a light snow fall already this October in the North Thompson Valley. The migrating birds have flown south and the resident squirrels and chipmunks are still busy stocking their larders.

When I feed our horses and cattle in the mornings I see their thick coats starting to fluff out to hold in their body warmth and many a morning their breath is visible in the frosty air.

The same is true for the deer who fre-quent our yard – they have fattened up and grown a rich coat in preparation for the cold to come.

These are all signs that Old Man Winter is just around the corner. Signs that those who live here have been paying attention to since man first walked the valley.

Back then if you didn’t heed the signs you most likely would not survive the winter that was coming. Fall always brought a hectic pace of readying for the colder months ahead. Back then temperatures were often recorded in the minus -40° degrees or worse. The river froze solid every year, and people were able to ride or walk across it on a daily basis in many areas. Children walked across the river ice to attend school.

Fall gardens and crops had to be harvested, and cool dark root cellars were stuffed with potatoes, turnips, apples and all manner of produce, including grains and seeds that could be preserved through the coming months. Dried fish was canned, hung, or wrapped and stored as safely as possible to keep it away from the ever-present pests of mice and pack rats.

Houses and cabins smelled wonderfully inviting as the women of the house (and sometimes the men) cooked up huge pots of preserves, stews, pickled eggs and more that would fill each of the shelves in their pantry long before winter blew into the valley.

The men hunted. It was their job to bring back the meat. Moose, deer, a fat rich bear, all provided enough meat to feed a family for quite sometime. Not just the meat, but the hides, the tallow – everything was utilized.

There were trips to the forest to harvest wood for heating and cooking. Then haul the firewood back to the homestead, split and stack it, and then head out for another load until you had enough wood to take you through the winter and at least well into springtime.

Those with livestock had to make sure all of the cattle were down from the high country and that there was plenty of hay in the barn or stacks to feed all of the hungry animals who would be staying there. Pastured livestock had to be brought closer to the homestead where feed and water was available to them. Chicken coops were prepared for cold weather blasts and nest boxes well-bedded with straw.

Warm clothes, mittens, caps and scarves were brought out of storage, and a lineup of warm boots appeared by the door.

Staples such as flour, dried beans, salt, sugar, molasses, coffee and tea were purchased in large amounts, along with spices, seasonings and of course yeast. In later years, before electricity came through the valley, homes also needed a good supply of fuel for lanterns, and if you were lucky enough to have a tractor, vehicle or generator you needed fuel for that as well.

The roof was checked, the chimney cleaned, and any spaces with a draft coming in was plugged.

Finally, the front porch was seen to be sporting a pile of firewood, an ax and a pick ax, a snow shovel, a toboggan, ice skates, snowshoes, crosscountry skis, a couple of buckets, and an old rug or pile of sacking for the dog.

Here in the valley in 2017, although we are still preparing for the cold weather to come, most of us have transportation, electricity or solar power, the convenience of shopping close to our homes for most of our needs, telephones, cell phones, the internet, medical services, First Responders, and so much more.

Now our winter preparations are about getting our snow tires on by October 1, bringing in firewood if we need it (or you can have it delivered), or getting wood pellets delivered, hitting the case lot sales at the grocery store, going hunting or not, canning and preserving produce from your garden – or not, plugging in the tractor or vehicle so it will start in the morning, plugging in the stock tank heaters and the heated dog house, winterizing the RV, putting antifreeze in the vehicles, taking the tarp off the snowmobile, and maybe purchasing new felt liners for your snow boots.

Don’t you think the folks who prepared for winter here so long ago would truly be amazed at how we get ready today?

I do!

Stay warm.

Just Posted

NDSS students present progress report on space mission project

Three NDSS student teams to present projects under review by NASA for space-station mission

No current flood risk for Nanaimo River

Flooding has been reported in French Creek, but not for Nanaimo River

Suspects crawl under fence to steal generator

A red Honda generator was stolen Nov. 9 from Raylec Power on Maughan Road

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP seeks secret ballot to save abandoned vessels bill

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson is seeking a secret ballot to save her private member’s bill.

Committee of the whole meetings will move back to conference centre

City of Nanaimo’s COW meetings are currently held at the service and resource centre

Cross on the Rock cyclocross series ends season in Nanaimo

Hot Cross Bunnies race took place at Beban Park on Saturday

David Cassidy, teen idol and ‘Partridge Family’ star, dies at 67

Cassidy announced earlier this year he had been diagnosed with dementia

Pedestrian struck in Victoria after receiving safety reflector

Man treated for minor injures by police who were handing out reflectors in downtown Sidney

Nanaimo show dancers compete at world championships

Dancers Lucy Trepanier and Halle Ebdrup to make their first and second appearances at worlds

Police seeking assistance with missing Courtenay teen

Jenna Usipuik was last seen Nov. 16

Deceased man found near Courtenay school

The man was identified as a 34-year-old Courtenay resident

Vigil held for woman whose remains were found on Shuswap farm

Family and friends remember Vernon resident Traci Genereaux and along with five other missing women

E-town hall meeting will focus on city financial plan

Residents can participate in the the city’s 2018-2022 financial plan process at a meeting Dec. 4

Brewers create anti-fascist ale

Not For Nazis Nut Brown Ale made in the Shuswap will be ready in time for Christmas

Most Read