I can't remember the last time it was forty below here at our homestead, but that is what the thermometer is reading tonight. Br. Usually we see several weeks of twenty below and a handful of days at thirty below, unlike town and low lying properties which have several weeks of thirty below, and often a couple weeks of forty to fifty below zero. In the hill we are above the "ice fog" which blankets town heavily, reducing visibility and polluting the air. We usually have a significant temperature inversion, but then there are times like today, that we do not.
At forty below we do not leave the house unless there is some sort of emergency. Usually because if it is forty below here it is sixty below in town with zero visibility. Also, cars just don't run well - if you can get them started, they are sluggish and stiff, sometimes the tires freeze flat where they were resting on the ground and it takes a while for them to round out as you slowly drive down the driveway. Plastic breaks easily, trim, knobs, handles, sometimes doors don't open properly or unlock - so you just don't want to force anything when it is this cold.
At forty below we keep the fires burning, we toss hay indoors for the goats, we reset their light timers to stay on during the day and later into the night, and we put down bedding and toss extra Alfalfa. Splitting wood at these temperatures is very satisfying as it splits so easy, however you've got to move fast to keep warm, and the hands and face get cold easily. This morning I was showing our house sitter the current chore routine, and talking and breathing in the cold air without covering my face was hurting/ chilling my chest - that doesn't happen at twenty below. Nose hairs and eyelashes frost over with ice crystals, and if you head outside to do chores without your jacket and your warmest gloves, as did yesterday and today, you won't get more than a few steps before you come back in to search for them.
The house doesn't stay quite as warm as usual when it is this cold out. There are little drafts here and there, mostly near the french doors.When the front door get's opened long enough for someone to go out it, you can feel the cold draft thirty feet away. My hands get chilled easier when I'm cooking and washing dishes. When I'm done with kitchen chores I enjoy putting on my fingerless mittens and my silky cowl. I try and get the kids to wear there slippers, but they are still going bare foot. Not me.
So what do we do on a forty below weekend? Yesterday we had friends over for an afternoon play date/visit. After which we ate chicken and vegetables in gravy with biscuits. Last night Dustin took the kids downstairs so I could have some relaxing time in front of the fire with a good book. Then D, Noah and I played several games of pool together while Avery watched and cheered. D and I watched a movie last night. We started off today with pancakes. I spent the afternoon trying to get beyond my normal tidy/sweeping spree to some deep cleaning. We were supposed to have friends up for sushi night, but they cancelled, so we went ahead with sushi (which I've just finally learned how to make) then we had homemade vanilla pudding (which I know, does not go with sushi - but it's cheap when you have lots of milk and eggs on hand), and then we played Uno and bingo till story time.
The kids have been in a winter funk, and having play dates every few days is essential. Having D around this time of year is awesome as we are able to split the kids up and give them breaks from each other. We are counting down the days till we get a break from winter. We aren't thinking or talking of much else other than our upcoming escape to sun, sand and ocean. That being said, if I could get a little more peace to myself on these frosty, winter afternoons, I would be reveling in their still blue beauty as I dream about garden and livestock summer plans. I'm trying to enjoy this quiet time before life begins to pick up pace again. By the time we get back it will be late winter and the sun will be sparkling on snowbanks everywhere, and the sky will be the bright blue of March and September days.
If you are well prepared and have plenty of wood and water and a well stocked pantry, and you don't have to go anywhere or battle frozen cars and extension cords, forty below can be a special time to just hunker down and enjoy your home and family.