Here It Comes Again!

                                         The Tobacco Roots, in autumn snow

Winterizing, Montana Style

Yes, the second snow of the season just blew in this morning, but this time I was ready. Ready with wood cut for the wood stove, ready with my toys safely tucked away in the garage, ready with some new insulating fabrics inside my cabin to keep the heat in and the cold out. Just in time, too… it really did blow in, just not as bad as they predicted. Now there’s a switch…

Actually, the whole preparation for winter thing began back in August. B and I took my old truck, Iron Jack, up into the high country outside of town and cut a load of wood on a beautiful day, then had a picnic up there when the work was done.

August and September are great months to get wood… the flies and mosquitos are down by then, the air is warm and all the trails up in the hills are accessible by then.
I say “by then,” because sometimes some of our high-country roads don’t lose their snow until the second week of July, and several are usually closed until July 6-10th. Not that it can’t snow here in August… it can, and it has.

I use a medium-size Husqvarna chain saw to cut the dead fallen into movable chunks to throw into the truck. Back at the cabin, I cut them again, into stove-size pieces. The thicker pieces have to be chopped into smaller size so they’ll burn easier.

After the first snow, I throw a tarp over the wood to keep it dry. As I get it cut up, I bring it inside the cabin and stack it in several storage places I’ve devised in past years.


There’s usually enough wood inside the cabin to keep us toasty for at least 5 days. A small electric EdenPure is the only other heat source I use.  The wood stove does a beautiful job.


Look at the beautiful curtains B made for the cabin this summer. They are perfect for the ambiance of the place, plus I can close them on the colder nights to keep the windows from radiating the cold into the room.









Aren’t they double-pane windows? Yes, but they’re also 32 years old, and the technology has changed considerably.










Betty also made two big blankets for me to wrap up in when she’s not here with me. Plus, she made this blanket that now resides on the couch. Is that not a beauty? She’s amazing…

Sealing up the cracks around the windows and doors also helps to hold the heat in.. especially when the wind is howling and the temp is around zero. What to seal them with?? Why, duct tape, of course!









By the time November rolls around up here, one knows the snow can blow in any day. So November 4th I pulled the ATV up to the plow and hooked it on… I’ve had to do it in the snow before, and believe me, it was much easier this way.

Earlier this week I spent most of my time cutting wood and bringing it inside. But when the weatherman warned of a big storm rolling in over the weekend, I knew I had to get the garage ready for winter. A three-stage affair, really… move the winter stuff out, clean up and re-arrange it, then move the summer stuff inside. Sounds simple? It wasn’t.

First the snowmobiles had to be moved to the doorway, off their skids, started up for the first time in six months, and parked outside. I towed them over to the door with my ATV, then got them started and parked by the cabin. That in itself took an hour.

Then I had to hang the kayak where it would be out of the way for the winter, all the while trying to make enough room for Rox Anne, my ’59 Chevy pickup, and the ATV. Roxie is a big truck, and takes up much of the working area of the garage.

I don’t work in the garage much during the winter, as there’s no heat out there. But I do need to get to my tools, the battery chargers and the air compressor, and things have to be shifted around so Roxie can get her big butt in there. Sorry, Roxie, but jeez… look at it!!

Somehow it all worked out and I got Roxie, the kayak and the ATV all parked in there. The ATV was the biggest problem, as I need to access it after the bigger storms to plow my driveway. Not sure how I wedged it in there, but there it is. Soon enough we’ll see if I can get it out of there.

Winter is long here, six months, with an additional month or so of rain/snow, plenty of mud and occasional flooding during the snow run-off. The average summer here runs from around June 20th to October 20th. We’re told the winter of 2011-2012 is another La Nina year, so we’re once again expecting a lot of snow and cold weather. Our average day-night temperature in winter is 30-15. Last winter I remember a stretch of over a month when it never got above freezing. Funny… after awhile you don’t notice it much. The joke up here is that we all should live to a ripe old age, because everyone knows that if you want to preserve something… freeze it!

Steve Hulse


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