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Getting Prepared for Winter on the Homestead

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Frigid temperatures, along with ice, and snow can present a ton of challenges for homesteaders and it’s even worse when you haven’t planned ahead to be ready when mother nature strikes.  

In this episode of Pantry Chat, Josh and Carolyn talk through the 7 basic areas you need to focus on in order to get prepared for winter on the homestead.  

In this Episode

  • Carolyn has been making a lot of cheddar cheese while Josh has been getting stores of firewood ready and prepping the garden for winter. (Tutorial on garden prepping available in the resources section.) 
  • Why it’s important for you to slowly build your skill set over time and try not to add too many skills at once. 
  • If you have animals, why you need to have windbreaks, trees, or something to make sure they are protected. 
  • What do you need to look for when designing your pump system so you can continue to supply water to your house and animals in the event of bad weather?  
  • What are the alternatives and backup options you can use for heat in the event of a power outage and why a wood-burning stove is a must-have? 
  • The importance of stocking up on bulk food, toiletries, and essentials now. 
  • Why having a couple of “grab and go” meals are good options to have on hand and what foods should they be. 
  • What backup sources do you need in the event of power outages and how do you hook them up? 
  • What are your backup power options if you live in the city? 
  • How to ensure you can still have adequate lighting in your house using battery backup power, rechargeable batteries, and LED options.   
  • What are the basic medical supplies you should have on hand? 
  • What are the communication items you should have in case phone lines go down or there are satellite interruptions due to inclement weather?  
  • Question of the day: Amanda W. asks Carolyn how do you keep your patience when your brain has to keep track of everything, especially when it comes to managing all your preserved food? 


More Pantry Chats You May Enjoy

Josh: Hey, guys. This is Josh.

Carolyn: And Carolyn.

Josh: With Homesteading Family, and welcome to this week's episode of the Pantry Chat, Food for Thought. This week we are covering getting prepared for winter on the homestead and beyond.

Josh: This week's episode of the Pantry Chat is brought to you by BCS Two-Wheel Tractors. Now you may have already heard of the legendary versatility of BCS Two-Wheel tractor for small farms and homesteads. We love ours here on Riverbend. It's the most efficient and time-saving choice for a small acreage. Building raised beds with a rotary pile attachment, mixing in soil amendments with the power harrow, and shredding cover crops in place with the flail mower. But a BCS Two-Wheel tractor is more than just a gardening tool. BCS powers more than 40 high quality PTO driven attachments, each with the power and performance of an all gear drive transmission. Blow snow with the BCS' snow thrower. Chip and shred limbs and sticks with the chipper shredder. Clean up your property with the pressure washer, all up to 1100 pounds, including yourself, with a ride on utility tractor, and even spread compost over 30 inch beds with the spreader attachment.

Josh: Yep. BCS is pretty much the Swiss Army Knife of power equipment for your homestead. Check out to see the full range of tractors and attachments and find your nearest BCS dealer today. That's

Carolyn: So, this is really applicable to us this week.

Josh: Absolutely.

Carolyn: This month.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: This year, I don't know. We have hard winters up here in the far north of Idaho, if you haven't been following us for very long. And so, we definitely get snow. So, some of what we're talking about will be specific to cold weather places, but there's things we're going to be talking about that everybody should be taking stock of.

Josh: Right. There is general preparedness activities to be doing, but this definitely has the angle towards thinking about winter, heavy winter, and the things we've got to deal with, the lack of movement sometimes.

Carolyn: Yes.

Josh: The possibility and probability of extended power outages. And even for us, road outages, as we're back 11 miles from the highway, and there's a lot of trees, a lot of different things that can happen.

Carolyn: Yes, absolutely.

Josh: But first, before we get to that, what have you been up to?

Carolyn: So, I've been making a lot of cheese. And this is an interesting thing that happens this time of year, because as the season changes, the milk changes when it's coming from a milk cow. So, the season's changing, the feed is changing, all sorts of different things are changing.

Josh: It's getting colder.

Carolyn: It's getting colder.

Josh: That affects the cow, and she's getting switched over to more dry feed.

Carolyn: More dry feed. And so, all of a sudden, I am getting less cream in my milk. So, what does that have to do with cheese? It has to do with the fact that when I skim the milk, less milk, less is coming out as cream that's going to be made into butter. And so, I end up with more milk in the refrigerator. And when you're already getting about five gallons a day, that actually adds up really quickly, meaning you have to make cheese more often every week to keep up with the milk. So, I've been really making a lot of cheddar cheese lately.

Josh: You've been doing more than that. I mean, you're getting cheese-

Carolyn: Oh, I am doing more than that.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: More than cheddar cheese, yes. Yeah. So, we just have the constant trickle of the food preserving from the harvest. There's always something left. There's things that got put in the freezer that now need to come out and get turned into a preserve that sits on the shelf instead.

Josh: Still riping up some of those tomatoes.

Carolyn: Oh, tomatoes are coming on, but that's another thing is that you then have your food stores, and your vegetables, and different things that are in common storage or in root cellar, or anything like that, and now they need to be managed. So, you don't just set them into the root cellar and then forget about them until you want to have dinner. You do need to regularly be going through your stores, checking the state of them, making sure things are in good condition. Otherwise, knowing before they go bad that you need to get them and either eat them or preserve them in a different way. So, the whole activity starts shifting once the food is all harvested and in the house, to managing that preserved food.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: So, it's a whole different set of activities.

Josh: It is.

Carolyn: Keeps you busy.

Josh: And I'm going to answer a question right now because you brought up the root cellar. So, people are going to ask us about our reseller.

Carolyn: Do you have a root cellar?

Josh: Do you have a root cellar? We want to see it. So, we actually don't have a root cellar, and we want to encourage you that you can still put up your roots. We don't have a technical root cellar. We have a place for them that's quite cool. We still treat it like a root cellar. It won't hold as long, the temperature's not as cool.

Carolyn: Yes.

Josh: As a technical root cellar. That's on our list to build and get in to this property in the next couple of years. So, with that, we don't have a picture of one for you, but we want to also encourage you that you can put up your root crops without a root cellar. They're not going to store as long without the right conditions, but there are all kinds of spaces from the basement, to under the house, to things you can build with straw bales to make an impromptu annual root cellar. There's a lot of different things you can do. So, don't let the fact that you don't have a root cellar ever stop you from growing root crops and putting up what you can.

Carolyn: Yeah, absolutely. Good. So, that's what I've been doing. What have you been doing?

Josh: Getting ready winter. Getting the firewood in.

Carolyn: Yes.

Josh: Getting the garden prepped and put to bed for winter. Video out last week on that, if you guys haven't seen that, we'll put a link to it at the end.

Carolyn: That is so good. That just makes, not only does it make winter better for the garden because you get better health in your soil from having that done, but it makes spring so much easier. Much better.

Josh: Absolutely. Get all the stuff out now, condition your soil, give it a good blanket of mulch, protect all the little beasties in the soil.

Carolyn: Your buddies.

Josh: All my buddies, those guys are working for you. And so, when you take care of your garden in the winter and get it all prepped, and feed them, and mulch them, they are going to work for you in the spring before you're ever even thinking about being in the garden.

Carolyn: Right. Yeah.

Josh: And so, really, really important. And yeah, so putting the garden up, getting firewood in, getting hay in and bedding for the barn, and checking over the property and just [crosstalk 00:06:59].

Carolyn: It sounds like things we're just about to talk about.

Josh: It is. Yeah. Good segue. Okay. So, question of the day.

Carolyn: All right. On to a question.

Josh: That's right, by Amanda W. from Preserving Day, A Three Minute Tour. That was a quick little tour on preserving day that I filmed.

Carolyn: Right. You came to the kitchen, we were all working.

Josh: All you guys were going out, right.

Carolyn: Yep.

Josh: And Amanda W, asks, "I have to ask, though. Carolyn, how you keep your patience when your brain is trying to follow 10 different things at once?"

Carolyn: Yeah. That's a really good question. In fact, people ask me this question a lot when I sit down with them in person. When I end up talking to people in person, this is the number one question that I get about doing so many different things and keeping track of it and keeping patience, actually. And I really liken this to-

Josh: She's just amazing.

Carolyn: You just have to be a superhero. That's all.

Josh: You are.

Carolyn: No, no. But when you have your first child, you get one child, most of the time, and you feel super stressed out with one child, and you just can't manage to get anything done. And then a while later, you're starting to feel comfortable and you end up with two children. And if you're like us, you end up with three children, and then four children, and more and more. And each level you go, "This is crazy. I can't do this," but then you adjust to it. And you get to know how to do it, what you can do, what you can't do, and things like that. Learning skills in the kitchen is the exact same way. You don't start with 10, please don't start with 10. You will never do any of them again, you'll be so frustrated. You start with the one, and you get so good at the first one that you start going, "Oh, you know what? I have this little gap of time here. I can go ahead and do this thing because I'm not really thinking about the first project."

Carolyn: And before long, you're incorporating children into that. We really encourage people, and for ourselves, we've been really intentional about just bringing the children in right from day one, doing less, but bringing the kids in. Well, before long, the kids know what's going on, and they're actually adding positiveness to it, not just mess. And so, yes, your patience grows, but more than that, as your skill grows, you don't need to think as hard about each thing that you're managing, because it's just goes on automatic and you [learn 00:09:25] it.

Josh: And that's a great segue, or a thought, about how we often encourage people just in homesteading in general, not to dive in too deep at once.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Build a couple of skills at a time. Work on things in one area, start to get that down. Sometimes people are gung ho to do this lifestyle. A lot of us that are living this lifestyle, we're doers, we're go getters. We're willing to work hard and make it happen and do everything, but things crash sometimes when you try to do too much. So, it's just a great, that was a really great explanation of just really the way to approach the whole life is build over time. Don't think you're just going to throw a lot of money at it.

Carolyn: Absolutely.

Josh: Or just going to work 20 hours a day and make it all happen.

Carolyn: If you have any questions about this, go talk to somebody who had twins first. That was not us, thankfully, but adding too many skills at once causes, is a really hard, it's just really hard.

Josh: Sure is. All right. So, getting onto today's topic on getting prepared for winter.

Carolyn: Yeah. And this is a good topic, even if you're in those warmer weathers, where you're not going to be blanketed by a bit of snow, because it gives you a moment to really take an assessment of just where you're at. Where your property's at, where you're at, what's going on.

Josh: And most places are going to experience some kind of winter and some kind of season change. And there needs to be preparation to one level or another besides just generally being prepared.

Carolyn: Right. Yeah.

Josh: So, let's dive in.

Carolyn: Okay. Jump right in?

Josh: Yeah. So, we just have an order of topics that just goes along with basic preparedness, no matter where you're at. And the first thing is shelter, taking care of your shelter. Now, obviously, we're not in a wild survival situation trying to find shelter, but we do need to take care of the shelter we have.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: And there's things inside and outside that we need to be doing.

Carolyn: Yeah. Going into this change of seasons and colder weather is a really good time to be taking real strong note, maybe fixing maintenance items that need to be dealt with, especially that deal with weather. Protecting you from weather, protecting your structures from weather.

Josh: Right. So, we want to be checking our roofs. We want to be checking the exterior of the house. Are there any door, window problems that we've had? Hopefully we don't have any leaks, and we're fixing that or preventing that. The gutters are clean and working. The chimney is swept. Also, if you're dealing with snow, how are you going to move that snow? Do you need de-icer? Is your snowplow, snow-

Carolyn: Blower.

Josh: Blower, right. I was trying to find, I was getting stuck on words, snowblower working. Do you have your hand tool shovels? I'm just thinking of the immediate area around the house.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: Those are things that you would be thinking of for the exterior. Any kind of hazards that might come from heavy snow, heavy rain. But what about wind? We don't have a lot of wind here, but we did live in an area at one time that was very, very windy. And there were a lot of things we had to chain down to the ground, or take down, or remove and put away because of the wind. So, everybody's situation is going to be different, but you want to be thinking about those pieces, along with the barn and your animals and their shelter.

Carolyn: Right. If you have animals, you want to make sure, especially if you're going to go into a cold winter, that you have dry and hopefully wind-free or some wind protection for them, at least.

Josh: Right. And that's more important than an enclosed, fully enclosed structure. That's nice if you can that. We have wintered all kinds of animals without a formal structure, but having windbreaks, trees. They need something. They need something for cover and preferably a roof and a couple of sides that protect from the wind, and rain, and snow. And mud is another one.

Carolyn: Yeah. That's a bad one.

Josh: That's a bad one. That can be real bad on their hooves. So, let's see. That's covering some of our, just general shelter, making sure your general shelter is working, functioning, and you're not hopefully having to make emergency repairs in the middle of a storm, or in the middle of winter, unless you have something unforeseen like a tree blow down, or lighting, or something like that.

Carolyn: Yeah, absolutely.

Josh: Any others that you think of in your area, when it comes to the shelter?

Carolyn: I think on shelter, that's pretty good, except for maybe heat. Making sure that we have heat cover.

Josh: Right. And we do cover that.

Carolyn: Oh, we talk about that later. Okay.

Josh: Yeah. Absolutely.

Carolyn: So yeah, I think that's pretty good on the shelter. Just making sure you, the less that you can be out crawling under the muddy part of the house in a freezing storm, the better, so for everybody.

Josh: Absolutely. And the thing is with winter and with weather, unknowns can happen and will happen. And so, I have to tell my boys all the time just about doing work and different jobs, that we want to do them in a certain order, in a certain way, and always be ahead a little bit on things, because somewhere we're going to get tripped up. Somewhere or something's going to happen. Schedule goes bad. Somebody gets hurt. In the case of this kind of preparedness, a tree gets blown down.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: Something, waterline breaks, there's things that are unforeseen. So, the more steps we take now, the less those kinds of things happen, and the better prepared we are when they do happen. So, another element that just, for me, is almost second nature, is just knowing where our tools are.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: And the tools to fix things like a roof, or a chimney, or different structures. Having those at hand, easy to get to.

Carolyn: Absolutely. Yeah. Water. Water takes on a whole different element when it comes to winter, because for us, it's not water, it's ice.

Josh: It freezes.

Carolyn: It freezes really hard. But for some people, their biggest concern about water in the winter time is the loss of power. And if you have a well with a pump, you need to make sure you can get water out of that well, even when you don't have power.

Josh: Yeah. So, you need a way to continue to pump. You need a backup generator. You may need a switch that helps you switch that pump house from the power grid to your generator.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: Also good to have backup stores of water. We're fortunate to be in a situation that we have gravity flow, and we can actually circumvent our pump system if we have to, and at least get a gravity flow. So, if you're designing a system past just bottled storage and backup power, if you are designing a system like a well, it's great to have water storage up high that you can pull from via gravity. That's another great way as a backup. And you can also collect roof rain water. We don't have to do that here, but that is another excellent tool for having running water, in the case of breakage or freezes.

Carolyn: Well, and the place that we lived at before, we didn't get water if the power went out. So, even though we were on a piece of property that had a ton of water on it, our backup water, in that case, was to go and bring in buckets of water.

Josh: From the pond.

Carolyn: From the pond.

Josh: Or worse, snow.

Carolyn: Which we'd have to break into for snow.

Josh: Snow takes a lot to melt down, so it's not a great backup plan.

Carolyn: Believe me, if you were in that situation, you are going to be really thankful that you have some backup stored water. And you can can your own water. This is something that most people don't think about. If you're running your canner and you have some empty spaces in it where you aren't filling it filled with jars, can some water. It just helps you get enough to get through a short power outage without having to go melt snow.

Josh: Yeah. Or even help you get onto the, that's going to work for a couple of people. If you've got a larger situation, you need more volume.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: And so, you need-

Carolyn: It's not the long term [inaudible 00:17:16].

Josh: Right. That's a good step one. Keeps you in some ready to go water, especially for drinking that's clean, in case you have to start pulling water from the pond and boiling it, or filtering it, or whatever. So, have backup plans for access to water. Whether you are in an urban environment with municipal water, then you've got several things, one way you need to handle that. But even if you're on a homestead, like we are, with a lot of water, we have plenty of water here, but we have to make sure that our systems will work and get that water to the house.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: And is really, really important.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Things stop functioning quick on all levels from our own need for water, to cooking, to laundry. The animals is another one, making sure that you have adequate water and the ability to get that water to the animals. We've spent a lot of years draining hoses, having a system of being able to hook up hoses, water things, water the animals, drain them, so they don't ice up and are full of water. We're very thankful this year to have gotten water to the barn with freeze proof bibs.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: That's a great strategy,

Carolyn: [crosstalk 00:18:22].

Josh: But make sure you're thinking about how you're going to keep your water, your sorry, your animals in water as well.

Carolyn: Yeah. Well, and just in everyday practicality of winter preparedness is, if you're in a place where your outdoor waters are going to ice over, you can certainly go out and break them up every day, depending on the temperature, but sometimes those water tank heaters are very handy. So, if you can get those in place, have some sort of heated structure there that will help to keep you from having to go out and chuck holes in your water, which we have done plenty of.

Josh: Plenty of. And keep a backup and an axe handy in case the power goes out.

Carolyn: Just in case it goes out. That's right. Yeah. Because they have to have water. You cannot leave your animals to lick ice or to eat snow. They've got to have water.

Josh: Another thing you can do is have a small generator. We have several small generators and we'll get into power in a minute. But for, instead of having to break up ice, if you can have a small generator that will run in your barn for a little bit, that's another strategy. You could run some de-icers.

Carolyn: With that, once a day or something.

Josh: With that once a day. Yeah. Or yeah, for a few hours in the evening or in the morning. Yeah.

Carolyn: That's a good way to [crosstalk 00:19:33].

Josh: So, be creative everybody's situation is different. And what's important is to think through these things in your situation, what will help you solve your problems?

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: Good.

Josh: Okay. So, we get through water and really, we want to hit heat source there.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: Got to stay warm.

Josh: And that is, some of you may not experience that, but really even getting pretty south in our country, in a lot of places it still gets pretty cool, and you need to be thinking about heat, both for yourself and for cooking.

Carolyn: Right. So, you want your everyday heat, and we always look to have a good backup.

Josh: Yes.

Carolyn: In whatever we're doing. If it's coming off of a propane tank, get the biggest propane tank you can, and make sure that thing is full when you go into winter. If you're working on firewood, you often try to get us an entire year ahead on firewood.

Josh: I try to have two years worth of firewood. We're not there yet moving into this place last year. And we're getting a little bit ahead this winter, getting it in. And by the time we go into next winter, the plan is to have two years.

Carolyn: Two full years.

Josh: Two years bucked up and ready, hopefully with logs in the background. But definitely filling up your firewood, whatever your fuel sources are. If you're on municipal type sources and then you have backups, you want to make sure that you're stocked up on whatever those backups are.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: And you really want backup heat. You don't want to just be relying on electricity or propane.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: It's great in a preparing situation to have a diversity of lines of resources. And so, two to three is great. And so, a wood source is another level to go. And we take that for granted that a lot of people don't don't have that, but really encourage you to install some sort of wood burning stove, and especially wood burning cookstove.

Carolyn: Yeah. And I really want to emphasize, I guess, that this is not just for preppers, or for preparing for some massive disaster. This is just being prepared for life, because things happen that we don't expect.

Josh: Absolutely.

Carolyn: Storms are going to come in and take out the power. You're going to have a cold snap and a pipe is going to freeze. Something's going to happen that throws you, even if it's your own personal medical emergency. If you're in the middle of winter, those things take a very different spin.

Josh: And they always happen at a bad time. They never happen when you're sitting around, rested.

Carolyn: And emergency tends to breed emergency.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: I've got to say, once the power goes out, that's the time you're going to have that one emergency medical thing of the whole year.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: And it just, it happens that way. And so, if you can be prepared to just keep on and not need outside backup assistance in the event of an emergency like that, the better you're going to fare through everything. The more it's just going to work.

Josh: Absolutely.

Carolyn: So, it's just a standard of living when you're preparing for yourself.

Josh: Yep.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: You got it.

Carolyn: He was talking about the heat, the other one that we really work on is food.

Josh: Well, and that's the next one in line. You're working through your shelter, your water, your heat. Next is to secure your food.

Carolyn: Yep.

Josh: And we want to make that as easy as possible. Obviously, in a homesteading lifestyle, we're gardening, we're raising animals. So, fall is the time to do that. But even if you're not doing those things, it is good to be as stocked up as possible. It's also a great entry into the homesteading lifestyle. And the homesteading mentality is, even if you're not raising all of your own, learning how to buy in bulk and stock up. And doing that for winters is a great place to start.

Carolyn: Oh, it really is. And even if you're not facing massive winter storms, it's a good thing to always have your food, just a store of food, on hand. And so, for us, of course, we have the preserved garden. We have the meat that we've butchered. We have those things on hand as we go into winter, just by nature of the season it is. We've just come out of gardening season. But we also try to really stock up on the things that we buy in from the store regularly, the wheat, a little sugar, some rice, some oats, different things like that. A lot of them are grain items. We try to make sure we bring those in. We bring them in in enough bulk that it decreases our shopping the rest of the year too, which is nice. Because it ends up saving us a lot of time throughout the year, by just having things [crosstalk 00:23:58].

Josh: Along with a lot of money, the economics of buying in bulk-

Carolyn: Absolutely. Much cheaper.

Josh: Often you can buy for a better price and you are spending less time actually driving to and from. And so, this is just part of the skill set and part of the mentality of living this lifestyle, whether you're on a full working homestead, or you're just learning to be prepared and thinking about this type of lifestyle in an urban environment, all of these things are really good about food, for both, for going into winter. Just going into is the great time. That's the time that we do that.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: That we beef up our stores and have them ready, not just for winter, but for getting through the whole year.

Carolyn: Just for life, yeah.

Josh: And I think I'd add to that is, around food, is other supplies.

Carolyn: Yeah. Definitely.

Josh: Other non-food supplies that you're going to have to go out and get. And I know we all have Amazon these days, and people can deliver to your door, and that's great, but-

Carolyn: UPS comes no matter what the weather is.

Josh: So then say, there's going to come a day.

Carolyn: Not always.

Josh: There's going to come a day. And so, having a lot of your other supplies, your toiletries, as it were, having those stocked up and ahead, and not just being on that on demand, I'll get it at the grocery store at the end of the week or wait for Amazon to come, but getting ahead with those things is just another part of that, that nobody really talks about.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: But when you think about food, you think about shopping. It's good to be beefing up on all of those.

Carolyn: Yeah. Very good. Always good, I like to always have a couple of days worth of meals ready that don't need to be cooked, just in case we're in an emergency, whether it's a time emergency for us because somebody is running off to an emergency room or something like that, or it's a backup power emergency, whatever it is, but convenience foods.

Josh: So, examples of foods that don't need, you said don't need to be cooked, specifically.

Carolyn: Don't need to be cooked. Don't need to be heated. You can eat-

Josh: So, it's an example, that's grab and go.

Carolyn: That's grab and go.

Josh: Some examples.

Carolyn: You can eat a can of beans cold. It may not be exciting, but you can have a can of beans cold. You can eat meat, canned meats. Those can turn into a chicken salad cold, no problem. You don't have to actually use energy to end up using them.

Josh: Dry foods, as well. A lot of your dried fruits.

Carolyn: Dried fruits. Things like jerky.

Josh: Veggies. Yeah.

Carolyn: Things like that.

Josh: Meats. Yeah.

Carolyn: So, it's always good, and that's not a major part of our food storage, but I try to have a few days of those set aside, just in case we were to need that [inaudible 00:26:25].

Josh: Well, in the next level of that is something that you do is the convenience foods. And that's one step beyond, because those are a meal that takes heating, but they're all cooked and ready to go. And while we tend to think of those as convenience for a day where we've worked really hard, or we've had something go and we need a quick meal. That's great, but that's also a great, if you've got an emergency, if you're dealing with something because of winter issues or whatever, having something that you can take out, that next level, and just heat it up real quick, but still homemade, still nutrient dense, still real good, is great. And you cover that real well in your canning series.

Carolyn: Right. Yeah. We really talk about that in the canning class, but having a beef stew on the shelf, a barbecue pork on the shelf, something that you can just take down, heat up. I mean, technically that could be something you could eat cold too. Although most of us like warm beef stew, not cold. But have something that's just for a quick meal, but still healthy, and it just sits on your shelf. So, I love those canned, because they're just sitting on your shelf. They're not in the freezer. They don't need any energy in order to store them.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: So, yeah. That's a good one.

Josh: Absolutely. And next is power, and some of you are probably waiting for that thinking that was going to come a little higher on the list, but we want to take care of some of the other basic elements first.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: If we're hydrated, if we've got good shelter, if we're warm, we've got food, we can do really, really well. But we do need water and power.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: And so, we need to be thinking about our power sources and how we're going to get through the winter, and what we're going to do if we have lack of power because of snowstorms, windstorms, floods, whatever it may be.

Carolyn: Ice storms.

Josh: Ice storms. Again, for us, we're 11 miles up a road, of a very wooded road. It does generally get plowed, but snow can get very deep and very heavy, trees can come down on it.

Carolyn: Sometimes it's not for a day or two that it gets plowed, if the rest of everybody else needs it first.

Josh: Yeah. Well, and if there was a large problem, it could take quite a while.

Carolyn: It could, yeah.

Josh: And we would not be getting out. And so, really important to have backup power sources. And that's where we want to go with that. So, generators, obviously, backup generators and a way to hook things up to them. It can be as simple as a couple of small generators that keep your freezers going, that run some basic appliances for you, like laundry, that can run a few lights. There's easier things to do with lights than just relying on that, to as advanced as an inline backup generator.

Carolyn: Yeah. That's a really huge one.

Josh: Runs on a fuel source. I know if you're in the city, that can be very difficult. I tried to do that for my mom once. In Carlsbad, I wanted to get her house set up on an inline generator that has [inaudible 00:29:16] fuel source, and the codes just didn't leave any room to do it. So, in that case, you need portable. You probably want quiet, and you want portable and a strategy to run cords and run the essentials that you need in your house. Again, that's going to be different for everybody.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: And so, that's part of it. What else do you think of?

Carolyn: Well, I think along with this, and I don't know if this really goes with the power, but it's thinking of lighting, and having backup lighting.

Josh: Right. So, that goes into battery backup power. And a lot of people think for light, in talking about homesteading, and we've dealt with this a lot with having candles and oil lanterns, and we have those and those are great to have-

Carolyn: Yeah. They're good to have on hand.

Josh: They don't need to be your first backup go-to, though. They do have their problems, and they're safety issues. And we have such good quality batteries, and such good LED lighting now, that we can have a good store of batteries.

Carolyn: Yeah, rechargeable.

Josh: Rechargeable. So, those can then be charged on the generator or by solar. And you can power a lot of lights from little lights to take around the house, two headlamps, two flashlights. And so, that's an essential within the power that's dealing with that light issue. So, there's no reason we really have to go without good quality light, at all, really.

Carolyn: Yeah. Absolutely. And you really want it in the winter in those dark days. You want to be able to have some light.

Josh: Yeah, you really do. And you also want to be thinking about that with whatever you have to do out in your barns with your animals.

Carolyn: Yeah. You need to be able to see.

Josh: Yeah. You need to be able to see. Do you need to be able to melt ice if it gets really bad? What are your issues there that you've got to deal with in making sure that those places have power? Same with the pump house. We talked about that with water.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: Making sure you have a way to get power to those essentials. Water's essential, so you want to keep it flowing one way or the other.

Carolyn: Right. Good.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah. Real good.

Josh: Okay. So, we're hitting the biggies.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: But there's still a couple more here that are pretty essential, and the next one would be basic medical supplies.

Carolyn: Okay. Yeah. Making sure that you're stocked up on that. And that's something that really should always be stocked up in your house. But this is just a great time of year to take a look at that, and go over what you have for your first aid kit, what you need, what you need to get. Usually, honestly, for us, it's the stuff that we just fly through are the little BAND-AIDs, and the medical tape, and things like that.

Josh: The wraps.

Carolyn: So, you want to have the basics on hand, but of course you always want to be building your larger first aid kit too.

Josh: Well, and wound treatment. I mean, we have two. We deal with most things naturally where we can, and so you have two things that you use for wound treatment. The salve.

Carolyn: Yeah. We have our salve.

Josh: And the people's paste, we call it.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: Both of those are our go to.

Carolyn: That's [crosstalk 00:32:11] powder.

Josh: They can handle a fairly good level of wounds and injuries.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: And so, something like that is great to have. Otherwise, your regular Neosporin, or whatever.

Carolyn: Yeah. We don't tend to keep that on hand very much.

Josh: Well, we don't because you have a good natural source, but whatever it is, you want to make sure that you're well stocked up on all of that, along with skill to use those things.

Carolyn: Yeah. Good.

Josh: Okay.

Carolyn: Great.

Josh: Alrighty. And one of the last main ones on our list is communication, the ability to communicate. And this is a really relevant for us. So, a lot of folks today, you got a cell phone and you think, "Well, it doesn't matter if power goes out, phone goes down, I've got a cell phone. I'm going to have service." And that may be true, especially in an urban environment, probably a lot of those services have their own backup generators.

Carolyn: Probably.

Josh: Hopefully so, but that is a probably.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: And if you live out further, like we do, where we have had our phone lines go down for an extended amount of time.

Carolyn: We have.

Josh: And we have satellite internet, which does have weather related problems, even when we're not having problems. Matter of fact, another part of the country.

Carolyn: Yeah. Sometimes it's worse when other parts of the country are having problems.

Josh: Right. So, when you've got an 11 mile road into the woods with-

Carolyn: No cell phones.

Josh: The power for the phone to go out, no cell service where we're at, we just happen to be in a spot that we just can't get it, and satellite, it becomes very important to think of other communication devices, which is primarily radio, and having radios that can work. And then even hand-crank radios, if you have, hopefully you've got enough power supply and everything else to run a radio, but having a hand crank radio is a great-

Carolyn: As a weather radio, so you can hear what's going on.

Josh: As a weather radio, and having a little bit of diversity there. And no matter where you're at, some level of that is really, really important and good.

Carolyn: Right. Good.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: That's good.

Josh: So, that hits my list. I think we've covered the basics. This is certainly not an exhaustive prepping video.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: But if you take these general topics of shelter, water, heat, food, power, medical supplies, and communications, and you figure out what you need, you can be very, very prepared going into winter, and very confident that you're going to be able to deal with most of what comes at you.

Carolyn: Good.

Josh: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Pantry Chat, Food for Thought. If you've enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review.

Carolyn: To view the show notes, and any other resources mentioned on this episode, you can learn more at

Josh: We'll see you soon.

Carolyn: Goodbye.

A man and wife smiling.

Welcome to Homesteading Family!

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