Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First cold spell

Well we are getting ready for the our first real cold spell of the winter. Today it is zero at our homestead, although I'm guessing it is more like ten below zero in town and in the low lying areas. They are forecasting lows ranging from fifteen to thirty-five below zero over the coming days. Luckily we live in the hills, and we face away from the Tanana Valley, which makes a big difference as far as temperatures go this time of year. The cold tends to settle in the valleys and the warm air rises. Also, the south facing hills that butt up against the expansive low lying valleys are at the fore front of the cold air. Whereas those of us further back in the hills are buffered from the extreme cold - a small comfort this time of year as we fore-go the few hours of direct sun which south facing properties still receive.

Cold temperatures in the forecast have most of us thinking, yep guess it's about time, we are in Fairbanks, Alaska after all. At least we have a good six to eight inches of snow cover on the ground to protect the perennial plants. When it gets really cold we hunker down, keep the wood stove blazing, eat lots of hot food, and don't leave the house unless we have to. Tomorrow I'll be taking the kids to the library for our weekly story time, regardless of temperatures - small children must leave house occasionally for everyone's peace of mind.

I've been getting the kids outside each afternoon, even if it is just to get all their gear on and toss them out till their hands get too cold (in Avery's case; ten minutes). Yesterday the kids and I cleared the snow off the back porch and then went sledding. The snow was too deep for good sledding, but we worked on packing down a trail. I pulled Noah on the sled while running with Avery (who was fussy but didn't want to go inside) on my hip.

Today we are receiving Azure Standard and Frontier ordered goods. I have been eagerly awaiting the Frontier order. It is the first order I've placed since realizing how great of deals we could get through the wholesale buying club. I ordered a couple hundred dollars of essential oils to use in making lotions, lip balm, bug repellent, tooth paste, mouth wash, cleaning products, soap, and various other skin products and herbal treatments. First on my list to make is a nourishing and gentle face cream, followed by lip balm. My skin is fine most of the year without any special care, but this time of year my face and lips are more dry and irritated than usual. I've been out of most of the essential oils I rely on, as I've been holding out on buying any for this big order. Essential oils not only add fragrance to products, but depending on the oil, some have antibacterial and antifungal properties, in addition to providing various other therapeutic qualities.

Other than starting some crafts and gift ideas for the Holidays, I won't be doing too much exciting around here other than hunkering down and enjoying the beauty of winter from indoors, where we are toasty warm and well fed.


Plickety Cat said...

Lucky you up in the hills! We're down in the valley closer to the river and it's 20-below on the porch right now... that's in the full sun and blocked from the wind. Brrrrrr

At least we have lots of sun though, helps warm up the south wall of the tent a little... can't wait until we get the cabin closed in!

The cold has been wreaking havoc with my lips and cheeks as well. They're so cold-chapped that it feels sunburned and the corners of my mouth are cracking. I need to find a good moisturizing combination that will do the trick without making me feel all greasy. My old cucumber and chamomile lotion from WA just doesn't cut here in AK in the winter!

Enjoy storytime and sledding with the kiddies... won't be long before it's too dark and cold to play outside much ;)

Emily said...

I'd trade our warmer temperatures for direct sun, but better yet I'd like to find a protected south slope that is warmer and sunny. I just recently have become addicted to a stick of cocoa butter. I bought it for three bucks, and I've been using it on my lips, face and hands. I still have chapped lips, but they are doing better than when I was using burts bees chapstick.

The year we were building our house we didn't have insulation in our walls nor a wood stove until the end of November...You must have a wall tent with a woodstove?

Steve & Paula said...

Hello from down south!
Its getting to about zero at noght here now, as well.

So, I have a question. It looks like goats are arriving here in a few days, and I need to know from another Alaskan how much hay the average goat eats per week in our cold winters?
I do not plan on giving much grain, except as treats, and for lactating does.
I will be bringing them shrubs to munch on.

Emily said...

Paula, feels like a loaded question. Currently I'm feeding close to fifty pounds per day to the does, that is a little over six pounds per goat, six full sized goats and two doelings. If you have plenty of feeder space you can feed less, I'm tossing some hay on the ground as I need a larger feeder. The bucks eat more in the summer before they go into rut, they are eating less now, about six pounds per day.

Kids eat less, does further in their gestation or lactating eat more. It is always nice to round high, and have hay leftover in early summer than run out in the winter. Goats never eat all of their hay, so we use the leftovers for bedding, even though straw does make a better insulator. Also, they prefer leafy hay to stemmy or fine hay. You may want to look into feeding some alfalfa or alfalfa pellets to your bred does up until the last month of gestation, as a calcium supplement, which is lacking in our hay up here. I'm going to be writing more on feeding goats hay and supplements here soon. Hope that helps, Emily

Steve & Paula said...

Thank you Emily! You answered my question exactly.

Anonymous said...

Hi! We recently moved to the area and I have been killing myself trying to find a food co-op in the area. You mentioned Azure and that is the one I used to use in Arizona! Could you PLEASE give me info on how/when/where you get their stuff? We have a large family and going to Sam's and buying 87 boxes of quick oats is not cuttin' it anymore. =) Thanks!

Emily said...

Oliveplantmommy, send me your email or send me an email, emilycstahl@gmail and I'll get you the contact info for the lady who runs our buyers club with Azure standard. Depending where you are located there are different buyers clubs in the Interior. The pick up for this club is on Chena Ridge, but that doesn't mean you have to live nearby, it is just convenient for those of us who do. Emily