One of the main things to occupy any spare time is getting ready for winter.....
There are many layers to the preparation and i feel we are a little behind the ball this year for some reason....maybe the time spent in Australia and the fact it seems winter is coming early after an almost non existent summer.... but there is a sense of too much to do and not enough time to do it in.
Clothing wise it is time to dig out last years winter clothes for the boys and see what fits what can be passed down and what needs replacing. Drew is growing so fast that he needs new/replacement clothes fairly frequently at the moment. Track pants time to purchase and go through the snow clothing, mittens, hats, gloves and thermals in readiness. Socks too..... need more socks in winter and time to actually recycle for rags the thinning and dead socks... (well they are boys).
Bedding needs to be revisited and that means winter weight doonas and down comforter time. Wool blankets and addressing the need for slippers dressing gowns and everything to do with staying warm when asleep. At this point I usually also go through the linen cupboard and give it a once over since that is where we also keep the sleeping bags which we use a lot during spring/summer/autumn. Airing and sunning the blankets and doonas is a must. Best time to do it is NOW while we still have some dry sunshine days. Need to buy some flannel sheets this year!
Another thing to do is make sure everyone gets significant outdoor time as getting vitamin d from the sun is so important. Lots of activity outside while we can and keeping the house aired and open for as long as is possible....even just a few hours in the day as long as we can is worth doing. Keeping that inside air quality high. Getting used to cooler weather by adding a jacket or another layer means we can put off adding heat to the house (maybe sometimes at night we light it but really during the day just add another layer). Getting back into the habit of taking jackets out with us for unexpected weather changes..... it is all about behaviour and habit.
House Preparations Inside
The first thing to do is seal up the air vents from the cellar (from the furnace) which we do not use very often so we seal the vents off with a sheet of reflective bubble insulation to prevent heat loss and restrict cold air from the cellar from coming up to the first floor. Each piece is cut to fit the vent and pops inside the cavity under the grill. It makes a HUGE difference and is easily removed when we want to turn the furnace on. Since we heat with wood it is maybe once or twice a winter that we need to do this (if we go away for a weekend for example) and we need to have the furnace on low to stop pipes freezing and we are not home to run the woodstove. Another thing i do is inspect and clean all the window seals and runners. Cleaning them ensures a better air tight fit. Cleaning and checking all window treatments and minimising dust is a must for winter when air quality is tantamount to people health. This is the last chance to clean rugs and any carpet we have ... time to think about the stair carpets and give them a once over. Windows with single pane (there is still 3 even though we have the windows to replace them we did not get time so far this year....hopefully we can still fit it in but i do not think it is likely.... if not we will plastic up those windows again. Another thing i need to do is refit the roof access door in the back of my wardrobe.... it is loose fitting at the moment..... needs attention! So it is basically time to walk around and check for any minor repairs and maintenance issues that need time and attention. We also inspect the Carbon Monoxide alarms and replace the batteries. Lastly it is time to set up the kitty litter tray for our 4 cats for the winter months. While they still go outside a little.... there are days it is not possible and we have a converted plastic dog kennel we use.....located in the cellar it is perfect to house 4 cats toiletary needs. LOL! Time to buy kitty litter and bi carb..... makes a huge difference.
Mostly the winterising is to do with machinery and wood. Collecting splitting and stacking it in the last bay of the garage....and filling up the wood holder in the front porch. Last year the wheelbarrow took a bit of a beating and often had a flat tyre. We replaced it with a solid one as it makes a huge difference when it just WORKS. We collect fallen branches for kindling and stack it up in grey bins in the porch as well. Machinery wise it is time to clear the bays in the shed to make sure that we can fit vehicles inside and relocate summer things to the upstairs level. Connect the snow plow to the tractor .... still a WIP but Patrick is onto it. Start increasing the bedding in the chicken coup and working out how to keep their water from freezing.... never had to do that before so that will be a real learning curve for me. Crossing fingers.... Cleaning both chimneys is something else on the list.... safety first! I am also looking into window quilts this year as i believe it will make a significant difference to the top floor rooms comfortableness.
Time to clear the garden beds and add hay for the winter over the plants to protect. It works fantastically well and last year my leeks survived an entire winter of snow and were PERFECT. It was merely an experiment..... but it did work well. Relocate delicate plants inside.... and time to crank up the sprouter for winter greens. Still a lot more i could do in this area......next spring.....a greenhouse! The harvest goes into the cellar either canned, frozen or whole out of the light. Potatoes and onions and pumpkin and dried herbs. The berries are all frozen. It takes time to accomplish and organize. It is also time to take stock of the pantry contents and fill any holes and make sure things are being rotated effectively. So far so good on the system. Before the first frost it is also time to bring inside the hoses that would otherwise freeze and deteriorate. They go into the shed. Time to plant the garlic for next year too.
I am sure there is a LOT more...... but for now.... this is what we do!