Winter Preparations: The Squirrels Know

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gray squirrel holding something small

Getting ready for winter is the business we get into in autumn. Our winter preparations are essential for being snug and warm while the world around us gets cold and forbidding. Here are some thoughts on how to get ready for literal and figurative winter.

Make your home snug

I’m in northern Vermont, quite close to the Canadian border.  We get beautiful autumns here and serious winter weather too.  When the cold winds come out of the north and west, we need to have the house nice and tight and ready.

Fall is the time to start taking stock.  Do you need to get weatherstripping for doors?  Clean and put up storm windows?  Clear out gutters?  Brace the shrubbery against snow load?  Start getting that together and putting it in.    Frost will be along soon, so get ready to put the garden to bed for the winter.

With fall comes produce from the garden to be preserved.  That means making relishes and applesauce, and all sorts of pies.  Freezing and canning take up some of my weekends each fall as we cope with the bounty of the yard.  But it’s so nice to have these foods in winter.

I prebuy my fuel for heating in summer.  If you have seasonal deals on heating fuel it’s time to get on them!  We also get some wood in each fall from our property where there are storm-damaged trees.  Have to get the furnace and water heater serviced and the chimney cleaned so we can avoid mishaps when it’s too cold for them.

Don’t forget the clothes and bed linens.  Your cold-weather clothing needs to be checked over for missing buttons, repairs, and for what fits.  You’ll need to get rid of anything the moths have been into because there will just be more of them if you don’t.  And the same checking goes for your winter bedding.

Fall events and treats

Fall brings the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival.  I have to go to that to pick up some special items I can’t find anywhere else.  Besides, they have so much to see and some great fair food too!  What a fun day out!

Last but not least, it’s time to get together a box to take to the consignment shop for crafts.  I’ve knitted a whole lot of hats and scarves to sell.  I need to consign them because the foliage tourists are the beginning of the warm-clothing market.  Gotta love the “leaf-peepers”!

And besides, I want to go leaf-peeping too when it gets good.  Then pick up some cider and homemade doughnuts and have a snug evening in with a wood fire to take off the chill when it rains.

Saving up for winter

Getting property taxes paid in fall leaves us a little thin for winter if we aren’t prudent.

Right before winter we have to have our snow tires put on up here.  That costs a good bit of money if they need replacing.  Winterizing the car with the proper coolant and so on is a really good idea too, with new wiper blades and such.  I give my ride a lot of attention before winter to avoid being stuck on the side of the road, even though I have food and blankets and bags of dirt in it for emergencies.

For many there are plowing costs up here.  Plus we have to make sure of fuel for the stove, for the generator, and for the snowblower at all times.  We need to be able to come up with these survival items before there’s a demand and keep them stocked.

Christmas is slowly dwindling at our place.  We have fewer relatives every year and have made a bunch of pacts not to buy gifts with some of them.  The Internet is slowly killing off Christmas cards, but some still send them and I like to, too.  The main thing is a trip to the in-laws each year, which is fun.  It doesn’t hurt that we can make a lot of the gifts.

Figurative winter preparations

Thinking of winter makes me think of retirement too, as well as the occasional emergency.  Ice storms that knock out power for a week aren’t impossible here.  There have been times we saved the food by throwing it out on the deck, and used water in gallon jugs when the pump couldn’t work.

Retirement will also have its moments when things come up.  For those times it would be good to squirrel away some extra cash apart from the retirement funds, just so it is handy and not taxed as income.

For that reason I have been putting extra money away in a savings account, to take care of some of the expenses I mentioned here, as well as spring and summer ones, if I need to.  After all, after I retire it’s not certain how much other income I will have to work with or how the economy will be.

My goal is to have at least a year of seasonal expenses saved when I finally retire, on top of whatever I have in the retirement plan.  It will make for a nice transition and leave me some emergency cash left over after I start taking distributions.  You never know what the world will come up with to cost money, only that it will!

The squirrels get it–put away plenty of whatever and you’ll be better off in winter.  But enjoy some of fall’s beauty and bounty while it’s there, too.

What are some ways you get ready for winter?



squirrel holding small objectstovewood needs to be splita quantity of ripe apples


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