Relative indicators: cold, colder, coldest!

Saying this winter is cold is an understatement.  We may not be in the negative digits as those to the north of us are suffering, yet I believe it is all relative.  Let me explain that statement.

The serious bits…

We are all facing a propane shortage.  Because of this shortage, the Governor of our state has declared a state of emergency.  This will protect us from price gouging.  Cold below freezing will hurt you, and if you can’t keep your house heated, then sadly, it doesn’t matter how many degrees below freezing you are, below freezing is going to hurt you.  I had no idea about the propane shortage when I called to have our tank filled yesterday, and I am grateful that it is full now, because we don’t have a fireplace here.  Normally we get through the winter with only one fill up.  This was our second!

We in the eastern portion of the nation, and this does include the deep south, are facing unseasonably cold winter weather!  Homes built in the south are not accustomed to prolonged freezing temperatures.  We are near the Tennessee border and our walls are pretty thin.  The further down towards the gulf you go, the thinner and less insulated your home will be.  When it gets this cold you might as well be living in a cracker box!  This also means higher energy costs. Few living in the south have a home that was built to be protected from frozen pipe damage or insulated well enough for sustained freezing temperatures.

For all the water we have here in the form of rivers, lakes streams and reservoirs, it may seem quite odd that there were some localities that experienced a water shortage.  This was due to all the households running their taps at night to keep their pipes from freezing.  No one wants to waste water,  yet in weather like this, it has to be done.

Then there are the animals that are affected.  I’m not so worried about my own, because I have provided them with a heat source, unfrozen water, and warm, protected shelter.

On realizing that we were headed into the deep freeze, with possible windchill factors below zero, we put up a wind break for the poultry.  It works really well for the chickens, but for the most part, the geese seem to ignore it and wander about the yard looking for anything that is still edible (not freeze-dried  😉 ).  Well, I suppose they do have a layer of fat and all that down to keep them warm.

P1068404-2“What!  You gave the chickens a heater? Where’s our heater?”

Ever wonder where the wild things go to find food and water?  Well, apparently here in N. Alabama,  they are getting it from my chickens and geese!

On keeping a sense of humor…

Now it must be said that even in all this cold, there is still some fun to be had!  Remember the property across the way with the derelict house on it?  Well, now that it is cleared, and a proper berm tractored into place, we have a smallish catch basin.   (It is kind of a swamp really, but the frogs will think its grand in the summer.)  For now, it is frozen over and the neighbor kids have begun using it as an ad hoc skating rink!

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Did you ever wonder:  “How do the little squirrels stay warm?”

They move FAST!

This squirrel has a scratch feed addiction!  😉


No matter where we are in this cold season, and whatever the circumstances we face, we have to be aware, be safe, help others in need, try to stay warm, and if possible, to keep our sense of humor intact.


Sending blessings out to all who are suffering in this weird weather!  


52 thoughts on “Relative indicators: cold, colder, coldest!

    • Lynda says:

      Yes, they are! Although when the wind was whipping by at 25 to 35 miles an hour, and we never broke freezing, I think they were feeling it. It was their feet.

      The sillies had plenty of space to sit and keep them warm (leaf piles, the straw I laid out for them behind the wind break) but Noooo… they kept sitting in front of the water buckets where the earth was frozen solid and had a shell of ice from the drippings they left after bathing that morning! Go figure.

  1. katechiconi says:

    Reading this, I start to wonder what life would be like if cold like yours hit our tropical style house. And then I start to plan where the woodstove would go, a different kind of storm shutter for the windows….. Perhaps cyclones are enough for now! Stay warm and safe.

  2. Littlesundog says:

    Nice post, Lynda! FD’s mom has a heater in the barn for the chickens this year. FD saw Daisy deer this morning, nestled in some tall, dried grasses over at the neighbor’s backyard (he rarely mows his yard anymore). I suppose the weeds offer shelter from the wind and some warmth maybe from the ground. We are seeing a lot of deer at the feeders this year. The local farmer did not plant wheat in the fall, so the three fields the deer normally grazed on the last years, are laying fallow. I’m worried they’ll nibble my blackberry shrubs to nothing. They eat bark and tender twigs this time of year when greens are scant. We’ve even seen deer up top here at night nibbling on weeds that are poking through the dried grass. We’ve never seen them do that before. Craziest winter I can remember!

    • Lynda says:

      Lori, I’ve seen many fields left fallow when they were intensively planted over successive years. Do you have a place on your land to over seed with plants that Daisy and her friends would care for? I am hoping to do that up on the mountain when we get there. 🙂
      Can you fence in your blackberries?

  3. tootlepedal says:

    They have stopped reporting your weather over here because newspapers get easily bored so I thought things had warmed up. It sounds really tough. But you sound pretty tough too.

    • Lynda says:

      Thank you, Tom. I am thankful that we don’t have the snow and ice to deal with like further north is suffering through. Here, it is just too dang cold!

    • Lynda says:

      Fran, I agree!
      Although I am a little worried about spring after this severe winter. We seem to have a history of serious tornadic activity that follows these conditions. I am praying I am wrong.

  4. Playamart - Zeebra Designs says:

    at times when gas and water are in short supply here in ecuador, i ponder what would happen if those supplies remained ’empty’ for months and momths… even in a mil climate, things could get ugly fast when one needs pure water and gas for cooking (as most use here)…

    i had not thought of draining the public water systems because of running the water to keep the pipes from freezing! everyone must be weary of this extreme cold! i always said that february was the most brutal month of winter in mississippi – that’s when the ice storms seemed to hit… may all of these extremes remind everyone that we’re so dependent on public utilities for our survival.

    sending you warm weather wishes and an extra dose of flowers in the ‘flower drop’ this week! z


    • Lynda says:

      Thank you, Lisa.
      I almost hate to say it, but they are predicting even lower for Tuesday into Wednesday… with a possible high of only 10 degrees on one of them. 😯

      Looking to the skies for your flowers!

      • Playamart - Zeebra Designs says:

        yesterday i replied via email post, and i see where it inserts weird marks! weird marks are better than zero comment, i suppose, as i wrestle with slow/no internet!
        someone wrote from gulfport to say that it’s really cold there as well, and predictions of possible snow and ice in the southern part of the state! brrrrrrr. stay warm and embrace the springtime when it arriveis!

        • Lynda says:

          Yes, Lisa, it has been snowing deep into Texas, and in Louisiana too! The weird marks didn’t show up on the blog post. 😉

          Hurry up spring, and no tornadic shenanigans because of the very frigid winter either! (think April 2011)

  5. Marlene says:

    Here in Arkansas its been colder than I ever remember and I’m getting on up there in years. 🙂 We have the ability to keep ourselves warm (both a gas and a wood fireplace, gas hot water heater and gas cook stove, as well as a generator) but I worry so much about those who don’t have that. All electric homes are wonderful until this happens. Lots of older folks here have that type home and now way to help themselves in times when the power goes out. blessings, marlene

    • Lynda says:

      Marlene, first let me say that I hope your back heals quickly! I have been where you are… it is not pretty. Seems such a cheat that as we get older, smarter/wiser, and more talented, that we break down and have such a hard time enjoying all those perks! (I’m not far behind you at 60) Praying for your healing!

      We just replaced our lemon of a stove (thank you Sears extended warranty) with a dual fuel model. Electric convection baking below and gas cooking on top. Now if we loose power for several days, like in April of 2011, we will be able to at least cook our meals! We also have a generator and had the power in the garage wired to accept it and send it on over to the house if needed. Our heating system is LP, but in the cold we would need electric power to run it. Seems that when mother nature is involved you really can’t cover all the bases and scenarios, but we try. 😀

  6. wildninja says:

    Wow, this all seems so weird when we’re having Spring-like weather here in Seattle. I caution people against envy, though, because we’re also the ones most likely to have a catastrophic earthquake, and the new underground tunnel/highway along the Seattle waterfront is being built in a liquefaction zone…

    You brought up squirrels at a great time– January 21st was just Squirrel Appreciation Day,

    I am sorry for the suffering many in the east are going through and am glad that you take such good care of your furry and feathered charges.

    • Lynda says:

      Thank you, Wind Ninja!
      I do remember the earthquakes of the west coast, and I prefer them to the Tornadoes we get here! That said, you mentioned…

      “the new underground tunnel/highway along the Seattle waterfront is being built in a liquefaction zone…”

      SERIOUSLY? (!!!)

      • wildninja says:

        Yup. The stretch of land along the waterfront in downtown Seattle is a liquefaction zone. Public agencies have produced simulations showing what would happen down there in a strong enough earthquake.

        I’m assuming engineers think the tunnel is safer that the never-ending overpass that is Highway 99, though. I know there has to be some highway through the downtown area and it either has to be above the city like it is now or below… doesn’t seem to be a good alternative. I’d just like to know how they’re planning on rescuing anyone trapped in the tunnel (if they haven’t drowned first).

        Bertha, the tunnel digging machine, has her own Twitter account, She’s pretty funny. Lately she’s been at a standstill because there’s something in her way.

        For those who don’t know, Seattle underwent a tremendous amount of landscaping in its early days and I wonder how much longer we can get away with radical alterations of its foundation. See for an example.

        • Lynda says:

          So, calling the city planners idiots wouldn’t be too harsh then? Good grief! If I ever find myself there I think I will be looking to ride the 99 at all costs, because unlike bad weather you can’t see an earthquake comming!

          • wildninja says:

            I was reminded that I should be referring to the stretch of Highway 99 being replaced as the Alaskan Way Viaduct. It’s a couple mile stretch going through downtown. So the tunnel will replace the current elevated highway. Seattle has other tunnels; I just question the sanity of anything done along the waterfront although there has to be something. The surface streets are nightmare enough.

  7. Vicki says:

    ….and here am I wishing it was cooler as Melbourne faces another ‘scorching’ few days in the coming week. Our early heat waves, (which usually occur in February), are just as bad as your extra freezing cold winter on your side of the world.

    I believe even northern Europe which is under snow for some two-thirds of the year are getting extra cold snow drifts and storms. I feel sorry for those living in areas where their homes are just not built to face these below freezing temps.

    Those who don’t believe in Global Warming really must sit up and take notice of these extraordinary weather conditions.

    Keep Warm, Lynda – I’m thinking of you.

    • Lynda says:

      Vicki, It is certainly a topsy-turvy state of affairs. I have been hearing about your heat wave there in Ausie land! So, I’ll reciprocate in kind by wishing you a bit of cooler temperatures. 🙂

  8. Mary Strong-Spaid says:

    We have propane heat too. Have been keeping the house at 55 degrees, which is cold…but not as cold as it is outside. Virginia is usually not this cold. Last week, there was 5 and 6 degree weather (with an ever greater wind chill). So I have spent a lot of time inside the house under many blankets, reading books. Tomorrow’s forecast is 44 degrees during the day and 13 degrees at night. That’s quite a swing. Tuesday is supposed to be 21 during the day and 12 degrees at night. I hear tell that there is a possibility that the “Polar Vortex” ate “Global Warming” for breakfast, with a side order of frozen waffles.

    • Lynda says:

      Mary, in the north-east corner there were some minus degree temps, but it didn’t matter here because of the winds whipping in at 25 mpi! It still felt like minus degrees with the windchill. I am dreading and looking forward to spring. I want the warmer weather but worry about tornadoes! In the past, tornado storms have happened after unnaturally cold winters here in the south. The one in 2011 was just such an example!

      BTW, our propane man tried to tell me that lowering my room temperature burns just as much propane as keeping it warmer. I’m not certain I am convinced. We keep it about 64 to 68 here during the day, and turn it down to 60 when we sleep. I just can’t sleep (sinus) with the heater running all night… though with these temps it pretty much has been going all night. 😛

      • Mary Strong-Spaid says:

        The propane man isn’t telling the whole truth. People who turn their heat down to 50 degrees during the day and then turn up the heat to 68 degrees when they get home in the afternoon—might. burn the same amount because the heater has to work twice as hard to get back up to 68 degrees. But turning it down to 60 degrees when you sleep, is only 4 to 8 degrees different. I bet you are saving money by doing this.
        We leave it at 55 degrees for the whole house—and use the electric ceramic space heaters to heat the room or rooms we happen to be using (there are only 2 of us here). We saved over a thousand dollars doing that last year, because electricity is currently way cheaper than propane. So, we are doing it again this year.

  9. dogear6 says:

    It’s been really cold here in Virginia too. We noticed the same thing about the homes not being adequately insulated – we stayed warmer in Minnesota than we do here.

    I’m glad for Grandma’s fur coat – I’ve been wearing it quite a lot lately!


    • Lynda says:

      Nancy, we are still working on our home on the mountain and thinking up ideas for insulation that do not involve mold and mildew in the walls, because of the humidity here in the deep south…

      Recently, we found that the water main under the house had broken up there (water was off at the time thank goodness!) and when we took our jug of water in to use the privy, well it was frozen too! 😯

      C-c-c-c-cold I tell ya!
      (Enjoying the thought of your Grandma’s fur coat)

      • dogear6 says:

        The problems just aren’t ending for you – I’m so sorry to hear it! My employer is starting big layoffs. My VP got it last week as have many others. We’re waiting to see who’s next.

        Grandma’s coat has been wonderfully warm lately!

  10. Steve Schwartzman says:

    When we lived in our previous house, about 20 years ago there came several days of temperatures in the teens. Not surprisingly, the water pipe that led out to the washing machine in an uninsulated shed on our carport burst. A friend volunteered to fix it, but then with his welding torch he inadvertently caught the shed on fire; a quick dash to the valve at the street to turn the water back on prevented any real damage. You can never get away from things going wrong when you own a house.

  11. evilsquirrel13 says:

    Ack! This must have been posted during one of the times I got behind on my reading and didn’t fully catch up!

    My squirrels move quite fast as well, and they have plenty of reason to since it’s even colder up here! They are even too quick for my nice new camera it seems! Great shots! At least he finally had the manners to make some eye contact in the last one!

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