Winter Prep – Fail Report! (Success too!)

Winter is officially upon us here in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan!  This week we had our first Winter Storm Warning.

WinterStormWarning.jpg
7-10 inches on the way!

The warning came a day in advance so the morning before we hustled and bustled to get all the final details ready for a big snow. This included mostly:

1.) (Tim) Fixing the steering on the tractor so that it can be used to snowblow. All the parts came in the day before and Tim spent the cold evening in the garage making the repair.

2.) (Lisa) Panicking about how much wood we need to have inside in case the storm hits for days. I hauled in bin after bin.

3.) (Lisa) Completing the bags of winter emergency items to be kept in each vehicle through the winter. This included extra hats, scarfs, mittens, snacks, flashlights, blankets, and rags. Final supplies were sorted and completed the evening before.

The few odds and ends that we had on our minds were completed before the storm – SUCCESS!

Well, the storm came and dumped a whopping inch. Yes, ONE inch. Oh man, I was having such a laugh at myself about my storm prep anxiety. (About 20 miles from here it did snow 7+ inches, we just lucked out!) But, I am also thankful it was only an inch, it made for a slower transition to winter and also some beautiful scenery and bird watching (the birds were busy preparing with many visits to our bird feeders).

The snow stopped, but some fairly nasty weather conditions continued and that’s where the success portion of our winterizing ended. The wind picked up considerably and the temperature dropped to around 15 degrees. No matter what I did to keep the wood stove hot, I simply couldn’t keep myself warm throughout the yurt. The temperature outside was dropping and so was the temperature inside. At 59 degrees inside, I started to panic..how exactly are we going to be keeping ourselves warm this winter?

After the kids went to bed, Tim and I worked together to assess what the heck was going on. The wood stove is performing just fine, so why the super cold? Since we just moved in June, this is our first winter here. Yes, it’s new construction and should be well insulated (which it is), but also we need to keep in mind that living in a yurt is a non-traditional home, so perhaps we’d need to do some better work on winterizing along with coming up with unique solutions for winterizing.

Yurt in Snow
Home Sweet Yurt, nestled in the fresh snow.

First, we felt around for drafts, and yes, we found some.

Second we used our infrared thermometer to check the temperature on varying parts of the yurt: floor, block wall, windows, walls, ceiling and dome.

Doing so, we found 3 spots that seemed to be leaking cold air. The culprits included the threshold on one door, the space where the walls meet the sloped ceiling, and the space where the window dome meets the ceiling.

Time to get to work.

First, the threshold on the doorway is adjustable, so Tim quickly eliminated that draft.

Second, Tim used rope caulk to stuff the tiny space between the walls and ceiling. He also adjusted some pieces in our ceiling planks and double checked for any settling in the insulation that may have left gaps.

Lastly, the space around the dome has been caulked.

The temperature outside has risen about 10 degrees and the wind has calmed , so we aren’t working with exactly the same conditions, but so far we have recognized a much less drafty home, and the ability to hold a comfortable temperature between 66 and 68 has become fully and easily attainable.

We are looking at a few more changes on our secondary heating system, which is in-floor (for more efficiency and cost savings), adding an eco-fan to our woodstove to help push heat around along with implementing some indoor changes to help trap heat in and keep cold out.

These adaptations we’ve had to make the past few days I believe are part of the adventure of yurt living in the Keweenaw Peninsula! With a positive homesteading attitude, simple home repair knowledge, and creative problem solving, we can keep moving ahead rather than getting stuck in a situation we don’t know how to fix. For a moment I had a sort of “the sky is falling” attitude, but then I remembered this quote I had heard a while back: “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali.  In other words, there is no perfection. Work with the moment, do the best you can, and relish the fun in finding solutions to problems.

Any low-budget tips you can share with us on keeping warm all winter?  We want to hear! Comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page.

Peace, love, and nature,

-Lisa

 

Cleaning Up The Homestead

One benefit of buying and building on raw wooded land is that it’s growing wild.  One downfall of buying and building on raw wooded land is that it’s growing wild.  We love how untamed and natural our woods are, yet, as we began to wander around the closest areas to our yurt where we need to keep areas and pathways accessible, we started to see certain sections that could use a trim.

At the end of the path to our yurt, there was a huge, gnarly patch of pin cherry growing. This is where we decided to store our wood, so that patch of pin cherry would need to be removed.

The view from our kitchen table to the garden and chickens was a mixed patch of tag alder and pin cherry.  Once we realized how much this obstructed our view, this patch would be better removed.

Once the roses along the path to our yurt came in full bloom, we recognized how many wild plums were growing in that patch. They were not growing in a manner that would allow them to produce fruit nicely, so we decided to thin that out.  The outcome would give us a much more favorable view of the beautiful roses.

There were no large trees in any of these areas, so it was more like clearing out a lot of branches that are growing out of the ground.

It was time for me to get to work, which went like this:

  • put on work clothes, bug spray, and sunscreen (necessary starting point for all homesteading tasks)
  • use chainsaw or use pruners to drop the branches, get Tim’s assistance in areas I was not comfortable with (look, I’m a novice chainsaw operator….at least for now)
  • drag branches out of the area
  • manicure the branches – branches large enough for fire wood were kept, twigs were not saved so I had to pile them up in another wooded area creating a brush pile for wildlife (more on this, keep reading)
  • enlist help from Flora to drag twigs and branches to the brush pile (she was great!)
  • stack any longer logs for further cutting into a size for burning
  • regret not wearing long sleeves, especially after the wild plums were are full of thorns

The outcome?  Cleared space, two heaping brush piles for wildlife, small amount of firewood, and hundreds of small scratches all over my arms.

35671072692_3ae39fb634_o

35192189264_85e45e02a9_o
Wild Plums cleared out, gives the roses the focus they deserve!

So, what’s with the wildlife brush piles? Instead of burning or chipping up the wood, why not create a little haven for our animal friends? According to yardmap.org: “Wildlife need snug hiding places like those found in log or brush piles, and we don’t just mean birds. Butterflies overwinter in them, rabbits seek shelter there, snakes hunt for rodents and invertebrates in their cover, and chipmunks conceal their seed cache in their depths. If snags are nature’s apartment buildings, then brush piles are her hotels.”

We’ve also seen that deer chew on them in winter and use them to rub antlers.  In just a few years, the brush pile breaks down to a point of barely even being able to tell that it existed.  In the first few days of our brush pile, the kids and I watched a family of chipmunks play in the brush pile and eat the pin cherries that were still forming on some of the cut branches.

The next big project? Start hauling wood from around the property to our new wood storage area. Perhaps I’ll choose long sleeves for this project. 🙂

Wishing you Peace, Love, and Nature,

-L

 

 

Move (mostly) complete!

Hear ye, hear ye.  Or, perhaps since we now live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan it should be, “Ya Der Hey, Ya Der Hey!” Really, I write that with nothing but love for the stereotypical “yooper” accent.

Well, we made the leap in our decision (read more here if you missed it), and now we are officially moved from Wrightstown, WI to the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan. As with any move, there were a lot of details.  But I’ll spare you.  Here are the amazing highlights:

We had a going away party.  Friends and family showed up.  We ate good food, had good stories, and made new memories.  It was a great send-off.

I finished my last day at work (after almost 13 years) and was surprised with an AMAZING 30-minute “The Office” themed going away video.  What an thoughtful project completed by co-workers.  I was feeling the love, big time – still am.  Thank goodness for technology to keep in touch.  Final day selfie stick photo below.

34211405874_fd66440e60_o.jpg

I had a great final lunch with Joe and Danica, the owners of Prophit Marketing. They have provided me an amazing experience and wonderful work family over the past 12+ years.

Lunch with Joe and Danica.

Flora finished off her almost 3 year run with Conquer Martial Arts by being part of the Little Chute Cheesefest Parade (yes, this is a festival…..about cheese). She’s excited to start her new karate school here in the Copper Country.

34958737172_d2d31fce43_o

Our home was sold! Insert HUGE sigh of relief. We hope this home and neighborhood is everything to the new couple moving in that it has been to us. We will miss that amazing Fox River view and access, but we’ve moved on to something better suited for us 🙂 If you need a realtor in the Green Bay or Fox Valley area, call the guy below (Mike Pritzl).  He was so diligent, honest, and organized.  Thank you Mike!

Home Sold

We packed and packed and packed and…..

Ugh.

But it got done, and on Friday, 6/9/17, off we went!

34381317794_ebc1edd6a6_o.jpg

About 5 hours later we arrived and promptly unpacked.

35225336195_ee31c93665_o.jpg

We are still finishing up some odds and ends of unpacking, so future post to be made on how our yurt looks inside as our home and not a construction zone 🙂

It hasn’t been even a week yet, but I can say, it feels right. Today, Flora said “I’m so glad we moved here.” Ditto my love.  Ditto.