11 Things to Get Done Before Winter

Winter is coming.. well in the next month or so, what are you doing to get ready for it? Well I'll let you know what our winter checklist looks like

  1. Make sure the house is buttoned up: You don't want any drafts or cold snow getting in your house. If you live in a trailer like we do, make sure you don't have any loose skirting. Make sure there are no loose shingles on your roof, and replace any leaks. If you've done any renovations to exterior walls make sure you test for cold air when it starts getting cold. You may need to get some insulation.
  2. Same goes for your out buildings: We have to put a new roof on our shop before it gets too cold!
  3. Cut firewood: If your using a wood stove as your alternative heat source, this will take up a fair chunk of your time. Tip: try to only cut down dead standing trees that can be used without having to split it, this will save you a good deal of time.
  4. Check your pantry and freezers: Make sure everything is still good, any food that is close to going bad make sure you use that right away. Be sure to stock everything up before any storms hit. This could save your life.
  5. Check your outdoor clothing: Make sure all your winter clothing still fits, particularly for children, they may need new items.
  6. Water Source: make sure you have some water stored up in your home. We have an electric pump on our well, and if the power goes off, we have nothing. We always have a jug and a case of water bottles. You may need more depending on the size of your family and whether or not you have animals
  7. Winterize your Animals: I don't have any animals currently so this is not something I am familiar with, but I do know that it is an important step. You may need to have winter blankets, insulate their sleeping quarter and have warm water readily available (as drinking cold water or snow lowers body heat). 
  8. Check your equipment: If you are planning on using a tractor through the winter for your livestock or for plowing snow, be sure to inspect hydraulic lines, check for leaks, change the oil (you don't want to be doing that when its -40C), check the tires etc. A general go-around is needed especially for older equipment.
  9. Snowmobiles: My favorite part of winter! Make sure that they are up and running and have fresh fluids in them. Check for leaks, and do any necessary repairs before it gets too cold. Do this for any small equipment you may be using for an alternative mode of transportation (see my other blog post about that)
  10. Pets: If you have any indoor pets don't forget about these guys, also have food on stock for them in case of emergencies.
  11. Cars/ Trucks: Make sure they are running smoothly, change tires to winter tires, oil changes, and make sure the antifreeze level is high and make sure it is good until about how cold it gets in your area. This is done with antifreeze or coolant tester, they are pretty cheap and you really don't want it to freeze in there and crack your block. Then you have no vehicle. We always make sure it's good until -40C, you can do this by buying the stuff that is concentrated and adding water, I believe the premixed 50/50 stuff is only good until -25C.
What else am I missing here? Let me know in the comments!

Alternative Modes of Transportation

Here in Canada the weather can get pretty crazy. I don't know about where you live but here we get some pretty crazy winter storms (and summer ones for that matter). I live 2 miles off the highway, and 1 mile of that is a road that only we travel, with the occasional snowmobile (there is a trail near us). So when we get those crazy winter storms where the plow doesn't come, sometimes you need an alternative mode of transportation.

I know some of you preppers are thinking well I have enough food and water to last quite a while here, why do I need a different type of transportation? Well someone could get sick, and need medical attention, you might want to help remove snow at friends, families or neighbours homes, you may just have to get to work, but below I have listed a few items that you should think about getting before winter.

  1. Plow truck: We do have a plow on the front of our farm truck come winter. They are relatively easy to install (via winch or hydraulic), and once you've plowed your lane and possibly a good portion of the road, you can drive your car or your regular everyday vehicle. However the main cost of the blade can be rather expensive, but you can find used ones occasionally. Beware though, you may have to plow a far amount of road, possibly the entire way you have to go. Make sure you have enough fuel.
  2. Snowmobile: These are our preferred way of traveling in the winter up here (watch out for fences though), and they are pretty easy to learn how to drive. Assuming you are mechanically inclined you can probably pick up a used one for around $500 here in Canada, but it may need repairs. Watch out for ones that don't start while you are there, and check to see if the engine compartment is hot before they start it. Some people like to boost them using ether etc. to get it going before you get there and then they usually start pretty easy when it's warm. You want something that will also start when its cold! If you aren't mechanically inclined, go for something newer. Electric start is good for people that have shoulder issues or smaller children, it can be hard to pull start them. We actually go these two beauts from the dump (be careful with that though, your local dump may not allow picking)

  3. Sled Dogs: These are probably something that is not going to be your best option. Husky's or other sled dogs can be very expensive, and they are expensive to train. That being said, a husky will run on that dog sled until it dies, they are very committed and loyal. Probably your best option in an extreme emergency, and you don't have to worry about fuel for them. If you live somewhere that gets pretty hot in the summer though, not your best bet, as they do have really thick fur.
  4. Quad: A 4x4 quad will get you through light snow, heck you can even get blades for these now, which I'm sure can be installed fairly easily like on your truck. If you only get small snow falls this will be your better option, as they are a good farm vehicle in general, and can be used at all times of the year. So depending on your climate, this may be your best option.
  5. Snowshoes: These are pretty cheap and easy to learn how to use, they are readily available at most outdoors stores and sports stores. Also a great way to stay in shape.
Personally we have a truck with a plow, snowmobiles, and a quad, and we are planning on buying snowshoes this year, so we are pretty much ready for any winter storms that come our way. Let me know in the comments below, what you use for alternative modes of transportation at your homestead?

Slow Cooker Stuffing

If you read my last post, you know that I spent this last few weeks with no oven, but you see I've already bought 3 used ovens in the last 6 months so I'm hesitant to buy another used one.. So I'm saving up for a brand new one.

Anyways, with Canadian Thanksgiving a few weekends ago, and American Thanksgiving still coming up, and then Christmas after that, I figured might as well share this fantastic stuffing recipe with you all.

Now you will have to be careful because it does tend to stick to the sides of the slow cooker, you'll want to do this one while your at home.

Slow Cooker Stuffing

Cook Time: 3 - 4 hours

  • 2 loaves of bread, cubed and dried
  • 1 Tbsp Savory
  • 1 Tbsp Sage
  • 1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp Dill
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 stalks of celery chopped
  • 1/4 package of thick cut bacon precooked 
  • Handful of chopped mushrooms
  • 1 to 2 cups chicken or turkey broth
  • 1 egg, whisked
In a large bowl, combine the bread, the dry ingredients, the onion, celery, bacon and mushrooms. Let this sit for 20 - 30 minutes and let the flavours combine. 

Now put the bread mixture into your slow cooker, and add your egg, toss it with your hands to get everything coated. Next, slowly add your broth, you don't want it to be too wet, but not too dry, remember you can always add more but you can't take any away.

Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. This is one slow cooker recipe that you will need to keep an eye on though, as it will stick to the sides, and it needs to be stirred every now and then.

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp

Yes I know I am currently going crazy for my slow cooker, I just never realized all the wonderful things you can make with it!!

So a few weekends ago was Thanksgiving here in Canada, and I made this recipe as dessert, so that I would have time to focus more on the main course. I hosted a 14 person dinner this year and it was my first one! It was a success! Everyone was wanting another piece of this apple crisp! Made with my own apples right from my yard. I decided to make it in the slow cooker because right after I invited everyone over to Thanksgiving my oven died. So hear I was with no oven and 14 people wanting one of the largest meals of the year. Luckily my family lives within 10 minutes of me and I just used one of their ovens for the turkey. But everything else I made on the stove top or in the slow cooker. I'm posting a slow cooker stuffing right after this!

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp

I had previously harvested these, peeled them, cut them and froze them so they were all ready to go, this is a great step if you are picking them off of your trees and not buying them from the store. Then you can use them whenever you want to.

Cook Time: 3 1/2 Hours
Prep Time: approx 15mins


For the Apple Mixture
  • 8 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and cut into thick slices
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
For the Crisp Topping
  • 1 cup of oats
  • 3/4 cup white or whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes


  • Place the slices apples in the slow cooker. Add brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir. 
  • Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Stir until well combined. Using your fingertips, work the butter into the oat mixture until the mixture starts to clump together. Note: a potato masher works great to get the mixture started, but you will need to finish it off with your hands
  • Stir the apple mixture one more time and the spread apples out into an even layer. Sprinkle on the crisp topping
  • Cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 3 1/2 hours, until apples are soft. Turn off heat and let stand for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired. 

Beef Roast Slow Cooker Recipe, with Veg

Lately I've been finding myself short on time with all that there is to do around the house, the yard, etc to get everything buttoned up for winter and make sure we have enough food and fuel for winter. So my boyfriend and I have been using the slow cooker a lot these days. So I'm going to share with you this wonderful recipe that had all my coworkers drooling with jealousy when I brought in leftovers.

Beef Roast Slow Cooker Recipe with Vegetables

Cook Time: 5-6 hours
Prep Time: 30 minutes


2 lb Beef Roast 
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce 
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
2 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 Carton Beef Broth or Oxo cubs with water (enough to cover everything)
Salt and pepper to taste 
4 Potatoes cubed
2 Carrots sliced
1/2 onion diced or slivered
1 Celery diced

(Note: I use two crock pots for this recipe, you many not be able to fit it all in yours)

Rub the roast down with the 1/2 of the dry seasonings a let it sit while you are cutting your vegetables (note: you can let it marinade as long as you want to). Add the roast and a good amount of vegetables to the slow cooker. Fill with broth and liquid seasonings, enough to cover everything. In your second crock pot (if you are just using one large one ignore this step), put the rest of the vegetables and the dry seasonings, mix around. Next fill with broth and the liquid seasonings. 

Cook on high for 2 hours and then low for 4-6 (depending on the size of your roast and how you like your roast cooked). Note: you may have to turn down the one that is just vegetables before the roast as they cook faster.

To make gravy: add just enough corn starch or flour to the liquid from the crock pot to thicken it, it already has an excellent flavour. If you like a darker gravy, add a bit of coffee grinds to it.

Back in the game

Man it sure has been a while since I posted, but I'm hoping to get back into it now after a few rocky years. Well I finally did it, we bought an acreage with a trailer on it, which we are in the middle of renovating at the moment. We have a total of 5 acres and our nearest neighbour is a mile away, which is pretty great, can't see or hear them. We are surrounded by bush and field, and slews, so it's always beautiful out here. We are right in the middle of getting ready for winter, as we are about 2 miles off of the highway, the gravel doesn't get plowed much and the possibility of getting stuck in for a few days is real, especially since the road leading to our house dead ends at our house! So we're cutting wood, making sure the vehicles are up to date on maintenance, getting the house buttoned up, getting the snowmobiles ready and pretty soon we will be putting the plow on the truck (got our first dusting of snow here this morning!). I supposed I will make a list below of a few things I've learned on my 6 month journey as a real homesteader.

  1. Make a list: There are tons of things that have to get done, and tons of things you want to get done, and they are all flying around in your head, right it down and start crossing things off!
  2. Slow cookers are your friend: With all the stuff you have to get done, make supper, lunch and breakfast easier just by using the slow cooker, there are thousands of recipes out there for these things, and you can freeze leftovers. I bet you can probably make jam in there, haven't tried it yet though, and I've heard it said that you can make bread in there, which I am going to try this weekend. 
  3. Don't go overboard on fruit trees and a giant garden the second you have room for them: The place that we bought had so many fruit trees, I was so excited to make jams, jellys, pie fillings etc. I had apples, crab apples, plums, choke cherrys, black currents, raspberrys and two other fruits that I haven't identified yet (one matured too fast, I almost didn't see them, next time I went out they were all gone, and the other seemed like it never ripened, but it was a really dry year here) Needless to say I was consistently checking them throughout the summer, all ready to go with my canning set, but when the time came, they all came at once, and man do those things ever take a long time to harvest!!! I ended up only making a black current raspberry jam and apple crisp because I just didn't have the time! But I am also working full time, and I have no kids to help, I did manage to get my boyfriend out there a few times, but he was more interested in the final product haha! Not to mention since it was such a dry year here my garden did nothing, only weeds grew (but lets be honest, the weeds were over 6ft high there before I decided that would be a perfect spot for the garden since the grass was already broken, and I never sprayed it with anything so they ALL CAME BACK!! terrible.
  4. Buying used items isn't always best: Apparently around where I live you have to be careful buying used items now because so many people are selling junk. We have bought 3 used stoves in 6 months and they all died! So now I've suspicious of all good deals, which sucks because I love a good deal. So don't just take peoples word for it, test it out, and if they make a huge deal about it, then there is probably something wrong with it.
  5. There is no such thing as a small reno: at least not at our house, I swear every time we take something down/apart to fix something, ten more problems show up. Example 1: Part of the drywall was crumbling on one wall, so we decided to cut 4 feet up and replace that section, we got the drywall off and the insulation was full of mouse droppings, and was moldy (fun!!!), took that all out to replace it, and found a hole in the exterior of the house, rotten 2x4's that were structural and so an afternoon project turned into at least a 3 day project. Example 2: There was a really nice set up for a wood stove at the house when we moved in (one of the selling features for us) but someone had put down laminate on top, well we decided we will just take that off, replace the osb with plywood and put some bricks on top. But no, they had previously cut holes in the outside of the house (in addition, under the trailer so we couldn't see them) with a cup saw (perfect circles), and then proceeded to cut holes in the wood structure of the thing so literally tons of mice got in there, there was an entire nest, it was so nasty

Well that's all my wisdom for now, hopefully will get another post up on Monday after the weekend here, hoping to get lots done, I'm enlisting my siblings help!

Homemade Bread

I've always loved making bread, but I've never really been good at it. I think it was a mixture of having old ingredients and having...