In our household, we always have this time period when it is still pretty hot outside where we get into the mode of what we need to take care of before the temps start plummeting and then the rains and snows come.
I use it as an excuse for deep cleaning everything and getting comfortable for a winter spent working on outside projects as we can and days where the weather is foul, we get a lot of writing and prepping projects done with a bit of downtime mixed in there. This winter I want to get a ton of writing done so I am in the mode of getting my household in good order.
Last year we did really good during bad weather events that left us at home for a week. This year our goal is to get our well so that we can use it when the power is out. This will be accomplished via solar panels and a good 12v system but it is a milestone for us because it is one of the major things that keeps us from being comfortable in a power outage. At the moment I run a lot of containers full of water and then we have some water catchment barrels that we could use if we caught the water and filtered it.
While we would still not have hot water, we would at least have flowing water that we could heat on our propane stove. Maybe one day we could just have a good on-demand propane hot water heater for backup. Yes I know that is fossil fuel dependent but during relatively good times when I can keep some extra propane one hand, it would mean we would really not notice even a fairly extended power outage in our area.
Here is what we do when we first start getting a hint that Fall is around the corner
Inspect and service wood stove and chimney as needed
Look for obstructions and soot. We try to clean our chimney out at the end of the season but that doesn’t mean we don’t inspect it again at the beginning of fire season just to be safe. Any rusty spots on your stove can be buffed and painted with stove paint or oiled as needed.
After using the firelogs that are supposed to keep creosote and such from building up in your chimney, I am going to say that I don’t think that they really work. We found that we were burning a lot of smaller fires which leads to more creosote, especially if you have a stove that has a 6 inch chimney.
I thought that if we just burned one of the $5 chimney cleaning logs every month or so we would be fine. The truth is that it didn’t really seem to help. You just have to keep your chimney clean and make sure that you burn hotter fires at least part of the time.
Put back extra food for dogs, cats, and livestock.
We use plastic juice barrels with locking lids to store extra foods with. If you just have a few pets, you can put back a lot of food in a small space and keep it safe from bugs and other vermin.
Inspect and make a list of house maintenance and repairs.
You may find that you need to prioritize which repairs get done first. The repairs that matter the most tend to be those that keep out water, intruders, and vermin. Roof and doorway repairs, for example, would be a high priority compared to repairing trim work or paint scuffing.
Consider what we need for entertainment and education. I furnish a few shelves of books to read on throughout the fall and winter. I might buy more during this time but it is nice to have a good base of books to go into the season. Yes I know I can just buy an ebook if I am snowed in and have a little bit of internet but I like to read paper books a lot of the time.
I have this fear of brain rot and since I am not in school, I just make sure I read a significant amount of books on many subjects. I mix up fiction and non fiction but I have to admit I read more non fiction than fiction at times. If I need an escape and to take my mind off the hard reality of what is going on in the world today, I like to lose myself in fiction or at least some humorous non fiction.
How much food do you have?
Do you have enough food to stay at home for a week or two minimum? If you do not then I advise adding to what you have until you do. I say a week or two because you have to start somewhere but I do not think that is where you should stop. Ideally you will have enough food to stay at home for a lot longer than a month. I think a good rule of thumb is to consider what you need to maintain the level of comfort and convenience you are used to for at least two weeks and preferably longer. I go for longer but I know all preppers are not the same and I never want to make someone just getting started intimidated and overwhelmed. If you ever feel like you are not doing enough, remember that if you have more than 72 hours worth of supplies on hand you are more prepared than the average person in the USA today. This is not a contest. Be as prepared as you can given your means and remember that small steps equal big results.
Review the preps that you may rely on the most during the cooler times of the year and watch for deals.
I know that folks have limited funds to put towards prepping. At the same time you might consider trying to have some funds set aside for those great deals you may run into. I do quite well for our household by purchasing items out of season. While I know the death of retail brick and mortar has a multitude of effects, if you have a store that starts liquidating merchandise you can do really good on shopping a few times. Matt and I recently walked into a local variety store and found steep discounts so we threw a little extra at preps and household items we needed while the sales were good.
Look around your home for items to donate to charity or that you no longer use and can sell.
For those of you that do not already know, Matt and I live in a house that is 480 sq ft on the first story. On the second story we have about 160 sq ft split between bedroom area and a small office. We do have some storage besides our house but you have to keep in mind that we have a farm and we are attempting to start a winery on that same farm. We have to make good choices about what we choose to store and keep in our home. When Spring starts or Fall starts we look around us to see what doesn’t need to stick around. At this point we always have very little because we don’t accumulate a lot of things we don’t just wear out or use. Over time we have had less to dispose of every year.
It is so much easier to keep it simple. For example I never have clothing to donate because I wear things out. My jeans are from Goodwill anyway because there are a ton of women’s pants that get sent there in new or like new condition.
Most donations are tax deductible as well. Any thrift store will give you a receipt. They often offer without you asking them.
Consider and make a list of work and projects that are suitable for Fall and Winter weather
Some projects get tossed to the side so that we can take on more immediate demands. Fall and winter can be a good time to take care of things that have been overlooked. In a lot of areas, you have at least some good days where you can take care of outdoor chores and tasks as well.
Holiday grind prep
The holidays are not as far off as they might seem. For some of us, there is not a lot of preparation to take care of but if you have a big family or you are in charge of organizing a lot of things, then you may want to start thinking about what is needed. Even though Matt and I have a very small and simple holiday, we start gathering up small items for gifts well before the beginning of the season.
You won’t catch me at a crowded place buying gifts. I like to think about what I am giving and put together gift bags or baskets of meaningful items. If I gather things throughout the year or at least in the Fall, I can give better items because I can catch deals on more expensive goods.
Now is an excellent time to get major cleaning tasks done so you can have an easier time of it further on into the winter. I know that after the warm months, my house desperately needs that deep cleaning no matter how well we take care of things during the summer. I also know how long it takes to make any measurable progress even in a small house like ours.
Vacuum out your heating ducts and change your furnace filter
I use our Shop Vac and hose to clean out the heating ducts in our house. We don’t use our system for cooling so it stays off for all the warm months so at the start of the season we always put in a fresh filter. If you don’t keep air filters around for your furnace, I advise buying a 6 pk or 12 pk and just keeping them around. This makes it more likely that you will change them when needed and it will save you some money on filter costs. A heating system with a very dirty filter simply doesn’t work as well as one that is changed out regularly.
Evaluate your firewood supply and consider your backup heat options.
It is always a good idea to have some type of backup heat available during the colder months. Firewood is very handy if you can have a wood stove. At the same time, Fall is when you need to be honest with yourself and see if you have enough firewood to get you through the season. If you do not, it is better to buy sooner rather than later. When it is cold and firewood is in demand more, the price may be higher. You don’t want to wait until your local woodcutter is sold out or prices are through the roof.
Heating oil is sometimes slightly less expensive if bought in the warmer months too. Check your tank and see how much you will need.
Make a list of needed clothing and footwear.
I don’t like finding out I need something right when I need it. Every season I evaluate our clothing and then compile a list of items that are needed. This gives me a chance to buy when I find a good sale rather than in a rush. Going through our clothes also gives me the opportunity to throw clothes in the rag bag that have no business getting stored for another season.
Matt and I basically never have any clothing for Goodwill donations because by the time we are done with it there is no way anyone else is going to get any use out of it.
Some people like to do clothing exchanges and similar. This can be a really good idea for those that have kids and teens because you can trade clothing around and save some money too. It is also a good way to add something different to your wardrobe. Just a few new to you pieces will give you a lot more clothing versatility.
Do you have any pipes or other areas where you want to avoid freezing temperatures? Now is the time to get pipes wrapped and to seal any cracks and crevices around your home. Well heads are another thing that needs to be insulated well.
Use your time wisely and don’t forget to plan in some fun things too.
Fall means that your time for doing some things outside is drawing to a close. This is more true for some than others of course since some live in areas where the temperatures stay more moderate while still others know that they are going to be spending months inside. So get outside and get some Fall camping and fishing in or take a few extra hikes with a buddy.
Make a list of skills you want to learn
Skills are very important. There are plenty of people that survive bad situations because they have a lot of skills to offer and they use them well. Fall and winter is a great time to set goals to learn new skills. There are so many things you can do inside and a great deal that you can practice in your backyard as well.
Skills don’t have to cost a fortune to learn either. Check out books at the library or look up videos on Youtube. Basic supplies for bushcraft projects and learning skills are often things you have laying around or at least items that cost very little and you need for your bug out bag anyway.
Evaluate and make a list of winter car prep
Before you know it you will be driving in winter weather conditions. Now is the time to survey your car and see what needs to be done to get through the Fall and Winter in safety and comfort. If you have been putting off a major repair, you may want to try to get that take care of now. Breaking down on the side of the road is one thing but doing it during a winter storm can be more problematic.
You need to make sure you have some supplies in case you break down and now is a good time to check out your tire fix kit and make sure your spare is actually inflated. If you normally keep some emergency supplies in your vehicle you should still look over them in case something needs to be replaced. Did you get into those emergency granola bars when you were stuck in traffic? Is your water still sound and not leaking?
Go through your medical kits and restock them well. Refill any prescriptions you can.
Medical kits can get used and items not replaced in as timely of a manner as they should. Before it turns colder, take some time to go through any medical kits and your medicine cabinet. Throw out old packaging that is taking up space and keep a notebook handy to make a list of what is lacking in each kit. Order or buy supplies the next time you shop.
Don’t forget about your everyday remedy medicines either. I keep a few things to help boost the immune system around in the winter time because that is when we tend to get any colds or flu-like viruses. You want to have that stuff so you can start using it as soon as you start to feel low and you don’t want to be in a position of being stuck in a weather event with nothing that can offer some relief of symptoms.
If you take prescription meds or are responsible for ordering and administering them to anyone, then you should take the time to order and refill as soon as you can so that you are never just a few days away from running out. I understand that with some medications this is not possible but for a lot of chronic conditions, you can get up to a 90 day supply at once.
Well, that is just a drop in the bucket as far as the ton of chores and activities going on around our place. I hope this helps you get started and encourages you to be a little more organized. It is a daily struggle for all of us.
Stay safe out there folks and best wishes to you and your family for the coming Fall and Winter seasons!