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Chronicle

Day 1233 and Heat

I have been enjoying the mild weather of May. I’ve not had any extremes which is a sort of pleasant surprise. Climate and weather intersect poorly too often these days.

I was explaining to a mutual how we’d settled on Montana to buy land and much of the calculation was about the pleasures of a cold, dry and mountainous climate. It’s sunny without much in the way of humidity which makes for enjoyable winters even when it gets cold.

I am not much of a fan of humidity. It hurts my joints and reminds me of my ankylosis. I’m much more prone to trouble with inflammation when it’s damp.

Whenever I encounter a coastal climate I struggle a bit. Others may love a riviera but I’ve never found one I liked. I’ve been to a reasonably diverse array from San Francisco to coastal Mediterranean and I can do without.

The weather is however about to change. Soon it will be the season of air conditioning. I’ll be going through Texas for a conference at the end of May. I’m not looking forward to the heat.

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Aesthetics Homesteading

Day 1179 and All Good Seasons

While the Spring equinox has come to pass, we have had a couple late snowstorms this week in Montana. I am always wishing we’d get just a few more weeks of winter. It’s my favorite season here.

Of course, there are no bad seasons to be had in the Gallatin Valley if your preference is dry, crisp and bright. It’s never too wet or too dreary here. Our mountains feel close to the sun at our altitude. Maybe some of April qualify as the muddy season but the sun is our friend here.

Our summers are long and bright with intermittent thunderstorms. Our winters are cold, snowy but most crucially sunny. We get 300 days of sun on average a year in Bozeman.

Something about the Southwest Rocky Mountains in Montana keeps them from the unfortunate damp wetness of the rainy Pacific Northwest forests that begin closer to Missoula on towards Washington.

Alex standing in front of our solar array

The sunniness has made our solar grid in the front pasture particularly efficient for us.

Already melting into nothing

Just a few hours ago it was snowing fluffy powder. The sun is already melting it away within hours as the clouds pass over the foothills and the sun begins to shine again.

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Homesteading Preparedness

Day 1108 and Frozen

It’s cold in Montana. I woke up at 6am as the forecast predicted the coldest weather would be around dawn. I was not disappointed. . We have a personal weather station so we can get a read right outside our home.

The station measures wind direction, wind speed, wind gust, UV & light, temperature and humidity, as well as precipitation measurements (though that works much better with rain than snow).

The weather station feeds all the data to the display screen, which then pushes the data to our home automation system as well.

Our EcoWitt showing it as -40F outside Bozeman Montana on January 13th 2024

Two interesting details you may notice. The humidity was 73% outside which looks misty when it’s that cold. The other is our house was down to 61F. That is quite a spread of temperatures even still. Also fun fact, -40F is also -40 Celsius. It’s where we Americans finally agree with the rest of the world.

I’ve definitely felt the weather in my body. The pain in my spine is worse. But I feel it elsewhere in subtle ways. My joints hurt. My skin is dry. Even my sinuses are dry. It wears a bit heavier. I won’t mind when we get back to a more normal sunny and 30F.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 1104 and Storm Systems

It’s finally time for severe winter weather alerts. Much of America is under various forms of extreme weather watches.

We got half a foot of snow in southwest Montana in Gallatin county but it looks as if we’ve more on the way with plenty of gusting wind and temperatures dropping to -10 Fahrenheit.

We’ve got a number of habits around storm preparations in our family. I like to take a shower, run a few loads of laundry and run the dishwasher. Cleaning up yourself and your house before a storm is a good habit.

The idea is that if you lose power for an extended period you will appreciate having a clean home. In the cold and dark you don’t want to be surrounded dirty dishes. The extra time to feel you live in a clean house is well worth it.

Day 364 and Before The Storm

Losing grid power isn’t something we need to worry about as we’ve got a number of redundancies for both power and heat. We’ve got a solar array and wood burning stove for backups.

Alex stacking up wood

However the weather plays out, we should be I good shape.

Categories
Chronicle

Day 995 and Finally Fall

Maybe it’s the sheer busyness of day to day life but I didn’t notice it becoming fall. I felt as if I was in the clutches of summer forever. But then the first day past after the autumnal equinox we turned on the heat.

I woke up to the comforting sounds husband building a fire in our wood stove. What a relief to have a chill in the air. You’d think in Montana we’d have scant need for air conditioning but we easily had two straight months of running it daily this summer.

We installed mini-splits this year because we got caught in a heatwave last summer without so much as a window unit. It was brutal. Air conditioning just isn’t a standard feature in Montana because it didn’t have to be. But it sure seems like going forward it will be. Invest in HVAC companies if you are looking for a growth sector.

I’m happy for the reprieve. I don’t intend to be anywhere hot anytime in the near future. My travel for the remainder of the fall will involve colder climates. The seasons will favor me till April. That old aphorism “make hay while the sun shines” doesn’t apply well to me. I’m more of a “do business when it’s dark and cold” type.

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Chronicle

Day 933 and Hot Hot Heat

It would seem that we’ve officially entered the high season of summer that even northern latitudes like Montana cannot escaped entirely.

I wish I had the capacity to work out a circadian rhythm that entirely accounted for how miserable long hot days can be even if you are inside in the shade. Siestas and late evenings could work but I’ve got the hang of it. I need my eight hours.

I never get cabin fever in the winter. Even the worst storm usually abates within a couple days. I can happily layer up and enjoy being in the cold and dark. I can be outside if it’s cooler, darker and clearer. If it’s not I’m basically a caged animal.

But there is nothing to be down about the sun being out till 10pm and with temperatures crossing over the 90F/32C degree mark, all that is left is escape indoors to a cold dark place and wait out the season.

Last year on July 21 I wrote about summer season affective disorder so it’s clearly a pattern I notice around this time. I’m simply grateful it’s starter later than it did when I lived in Colorado where hot streaks are beginning even earlier.

With Montana summers, I go to sleep when the sun is still out and I wake up and it’s already sunrise. If the heat weren’t so intense I think it would be bearable but the heat domes are becoming pretty common. I remain grateful it’s only six to eight weeks unlike most of continent where summer is longer and crueler.

Another factor in all of this is how challenging fire season can be for spending time outside comfortably even if it’s not combined with a heatwave. I went out this morning before temperatures climbed to get some sun and exercise. The air quality was still decent but multiple fires are popping off in Montana and I expect this to change shortly. I suspect I’ll need to find a way to manage more time indoors as the summer rages on.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 757 and Hunker Down

I really missed the cold and snow while I was in Prague. You might be confused. Isn’t Prague known for its cold winters? Well maybe not this winter. As it turns out, the unseasonably warm winter in Eastern Europe is good for the energy crisis on the continent, but bad for someone who prefers the cold.

Thankfully we’ve got a massive snowstorm bearing down on the Gallatin Valley that has a polar vortex of arctic air coming along as a chaser. We are expected to get a foot of fresh powder over the next 24 hours and then extreme cold (another -30 with the wind chill situation) will hit us on Sunday into Monday. Looking out on our back porch we have some accumulation but it has been melting earlier.

Several layers of snow on the back porch of our farmhouse looking out across our pasture

Alex and I have a standard storm routine that we follow that is part of our habit of preparedness. The best storm preparedness tip I’ve ever gotten was to clean your house. Wash dishes, do the laundry, take a shower, and anything else that requires power and running water. You will appreciate the clean house no matter what and it extends your ability to cope with something bad happening.

I am currently feeling very fancy as I did my Sunday grooming routine today and my skin and hair are looking fantastic. If we get socked in at least I’ll be clean and pretty. I used a hair glossing seal from BeautyPie and a Mediheal collagen mask and I recommend them both.

A shockingly long receipt from Rosaurs

I also did a massive grocery run yesterday as in addition to the storm we have a houseguest coming up. The receipt was so long I had to take a picture of it surrounded by a partial haul as it’s practically CVS length. Our guest is gluten free so I did some stocking up on options for him, along with a bunch of snacks because why not?

Categories
Homesteading Preparedness

756 and Weather Station

We live outside of town. We’ve learned that means the weather that is being reported isn’t always accurate for us as the various weather stations are mostly at the university or downtown. So what does a pair of homesteaders do? Buy our own weather station! It’s an Ecowitt 2553.

Ecowitt 2553 Ambient Weather Station installed on our side pasture fence to monitor our Montana weather at the homestead

In the US, Ecowitt weather stations are rebranded as Ambient Weather Stations but we were able to order from shop.ecowitt.com and buy it direct, which saved about 40% which we appreciated as it typically runs about $289.

Ecowitt 2553 Ambient Weather Station

The station measures wind direction, wind speed, wind gust, UV & light, temperature and humidity, as well as precipitation measurements (though that works much better with rain than snow).

The weather station feeds all the data to the display screen, which then pushes the data to our home automation system as well. Alex has quite the home automation installation so I’ll leave those details for another day but it is quite fun to know your house is heated based on the actual weather.

Ecowitt 2553 Ambient Weather Station Display

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 638 and Environment

We’ve had an unseasonably warm week in the Gallatin Valley. We pulled out our two air conditioners from the window installations and went to Costco to install our snow tires. Both activities felt a little bit ridiculous as the temperatures touched 80 degrees.

But finally this morning the last bits of summer felt like they might be behind us. We had a beautiful warm sunny evening last night and yet we woke up to clouds and a damp chill. I was relieved if I’m honest.

Almost overnight our cottonwood trees began to turn to pleasant yellows. The aspen groves showed some signs of change as well. When I went for a walk yesterday beyond the property line I spotted apple trees with maturing fruit. I had only been gone a week from my usual walking route and was surprised to see so much progress into fall happening what felt like overnight.

An apple tree alongside one of our country roads beginning to show fruit.

With temperatures safely back into the 40s and 50s, it felt like it was time to unpack some of our winter clothing. I spent some of this morning sorting through sweaters, scarves, hats and gloves.

It was dusty enough inside the the moving boxes I started to break out with a few itchy patches of red inflamed skin. I took a Benadryl and hoped a cup of coffee would overcome the anti-histamine’s fatigue.

The environment around me is tugging on my body and it’s control systems. But I’m grateful for the change even, if some of the required activities have brought up the stress of change. I love fall. I love the cold. I’m a big fan of winter too. And I’m excited to see where this weather takes us. Call me crazy but I can’t wait for my first winter in Montana.