Possumhaw: Early preparations for winter



Shannon Bardwell



"My favorite winter activity is going back inside and putting my pajamas on."






Just when I was busy flipping closets from summer to fall, hanging the door wreath and pinning orange, red and yellow silk leaves to the cedar lapboards, all in an effort to welcome in the autumn season, winter hit overnight. Temperatures plummeted to 15 degrees by morning.


Beforehand, heat lamps went into the greenhouse, outside water spigots were covered or turned off, the propane stove was lit, extra-thick knitted afghans were scattered about the sitting areas. Kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors were left open, the bunny house was covered with sleeping bags and a light bulb was added for a bit of heat. Ditto a light in the well house.


These are all the usual preparations for winter but usually not by mid-November while acorns are still pinging off the tin roof. The cats were in and out frequently as their outside water bowls froze. The ducks were fed extra and went on their merry way. The goldfish and the bream were OK. One rabbit's water bottle froze. I thawed it out in the kitchen sink and moved the bottle closer to the lightbulb for the next night.


Looks like the forecast is for more nights in the 30s. The preview of freezing temperatures has us pretty much ready. There was a time when we had electric heat, propane heat and a woodstove. The woodstove finally went the way of the bag phone after Sam retired. Chopping and hauling wood, stoking fires at midnight and cleaning out ashes had lost its charm. The propane fireplace with its fixed logs works fine and gives the room a coziness without all the labor.


Part of the split rail fence was knocked down the night of the heavy winds, so Sam ventured to town to pick up supplies. I requested birdseed, chopped duck corn, and deer corn while he was heading that way. We don't always put out deer corn as it's an attractant for any and every thing. I suggested the timer on the deer feeder be set for a short time just before twilight. That way we could see the deer, which is the whole point, but it would be unlikely varmints would come out that early. I've seen deer lurking along the tree line at twilight.


In the cold of night, the Prairie petunias bit the dust and every leaf from the Hachiya persimmon tree was gone. The persimmons hang alone like Christmas balls on a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I plucked two persimmons and fed them to the rabbits. The rabbits ate every bit. It's a good use for frozen Hachiya persimmons.


If the weather stays really cold, it will be time to think of some indoor activities. I like to check back with Gladys Tabor in her book "Stillmeadow Daybook." Cold temperatures bring time for puzzles, board games, card games, conversations, birdwatching, reading, listening to music, knitting, sewing, painting, fly-tying, woodworking, whittling, or any engaging activity that suits your fancy.


Email reaches Shannon Bardwell of Columbus at [email protected]



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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