This Month On The Homestead: From Leaves to Snow

Fall homestead!

Fall homestead!

If you’re just tuning in, this is a recurring series in which I document each month of our lives out here on our 66-acre Vermont homestead. After leaving urban Cambridge, MA in May 2016 to chart this wholly different life, we’re experiencing a constant learning curve of exploration (and plenty of stupid novice moments). Check out last month’s installment here.

October will always have special meaning for our family because it’s the anniversary of us seeing our homestead for the very first time. Last year, Mr. Frugalwoods and I trekked up here from Cambridge, while nine (yes, NINE) months pregnant with Babywoods because we’d seen this amazing property online and HAD to come see it in person.

We fell in love with the land and the rest is all shared right here. It was an emotional experience for us as last fall represented the fruition of two of our longest held, and most deeply desired, wishes: a child and a homestead. It’s surreal to me that this was just one short year ago. In many ways, this year feels far, far longer.

The Swift Progression Of Fall

Apple trees in the foreground; forest in the back

Apple trees in the foreground; forest in the back

October brought a swift change in seasons. The trees underwent their most magnificent transformation from green to reds, oranges, and yellows. I’m an unabashed fall devotee and was enchanted with the gradations of color in our woods. Pretty sure I maxed out my camera with all of my leaf-stalker photos. If you hate fall leaves, my Instagram is not for you.

The advent of fall also reinforced for me why we moved here. Experiencing the seasons in such an overwhelmingly fresh way–and not in miniature–makes me realize how much I appreciate this connection to nature. The luxury of walking out our front door and up a wooded path where I can monitor the color changes is incredible to a former urbanite like me. It’s also shocking how quickly the trees move through the machinations of fall. After just a few weeks, the leaves completed their cycle and dropped.

Except for the beech leaves! They’re still hanging on strong. And a few other tardy examples. But for the most part, October bore witness to the full leaf metamorphosis and we’re now staring down stark trees readying themselves for winter. Each new season erases the memories of what came before. It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago, our yard was awash in flowers. Now, everything is dormant and bracing for the depths of winter.

Snow!

Snow!

October also brought us an unexpected, and rather early, snowfall. It was only a few inches and it melted quickly, but it certainly served as a harbinger of what’s to come. We just didn’t think it would come so quickly… two days later, 6 inches of heavy, wet snow fell, which had the benefit of being gorgeous.

Snow isn’t completely unexpected in October, but this magnitude it a tad abnormal (according to our local sources and the internet). Our property is positioned at the top of a hill–it’s a gradual incline, so you might not even realize it, but we’re at a good 1,800 feet of elevation up here.

Our little town, and most of our neighbors, are down at around 1,200 feet. This doesn’t sound like a substantial difference–and we didn’t think much of it–until this snowfall. Turns out, we were the recipients of a great deal more snow than most of our neighbors. Just the luck of our location. Secretly (or I guess not so secretly now), Mr. Frugalwoods and I love this! We’re what you might call snow/winter fanatics, which you might recall from our revelry at the serial blizzards in Boston a few years ago.

Early Snow = Unprepared Frugalwoods

Our driveway: hill-tastic

Our driveway: hill-tastic

Despite our warm feelings towards the snow, it caught us unprepared. Which led us to another learning experience: there is no model that accurately predicts the weather here in our microclimate. Not a single one. Mr. FW–a meteorology geek and former storm chaser on the prairies of Kansas–installed a weather station here on our property, but it’s not predictive, it only reports current conditions.

He reads the weather satellites and does his level best to cobble together weather predictions for us, but it’s not a perfect science. I like to think of it as another way that rural life is teaching us that we’re not in control. In the city, we could manage nature and bend it to our will a lot more easily, what with all of our concrete and snow melt and professional meteorologists. But out here? We are nature’s guests. And there’s something liberating and peaceful in that knowledge.

Plus, in classic city-person fashion, we hadn’t put snow tires on either of our cars prior to this freak snowstorm and so, we couldn’t drive out of our quarter-mile long (not to mention hilly!) driveway. Nope. Since snow tires reduce gas mileage and wear out more quickly in warmer temperatures, we wanted to wait as long as possible to put them on for the season. We clearly waited too long.

Babywoods and I were supposed to go over to a friend’s house for a playdate that morning and we’d also planned on going to the town potluck supper that night (I’d even baked pies!), but it wasn’t going to happen. Mr. FW, inveterate DIY problem-solver, got out there in the snow and tried to change the tires on our Subaru himself.

The beginning of the snowfall

The beginning of the snowfall

Now would be a good time to share that we don’t have a garage, or a poured concrete pad, or a covered parking spot. Hence, he was getting snowed on heavily and the car is parked on uneven dirt road. Despite his best grunt work, the lug nuts on one of the tires wouldn’t come off. He didn’t have a breaker bar or a pipe to lever the lug nut and although he tried using the sledgehammer, nothing doing.

He then drove the tractor up and down the driveway a few times in an attempt to carve out channels with the tractor tires, which… did not work. Next, he attached the snowblower to the tractor and attempted to snowblow the driveway thinking we could drive out with regular tires on a cleared driveway. This too, was thwarted. The snow was of the incredibly heavy, wet variety and it clogged the blower post haste. Of course this was after the hourlong process of attaching and adjusting the snowblower in the freezing snow/sleet situation.

Following snowblower failure, he surrendered and we decided to call it a snow day. The next day, Mr. FW took the car to the mechanic down the road and was vindicated by the fact that the impact gun at the mechanic’s couldn’t loosen two of the lug nuts without letting them soak in penetrating oil first. Although it pained us to pay $25 to have the tires switched over, the Subaru is now fully outfitted for winter travails.

We’ll Be Ready Next Time (maybe… )

Porch is clear; wood is stacked

Porch is clear; wood is stacked

In order to avoid outsourcing this twice yearly (fall and spring) tire switcharoo on both cars, we bought several tools to enable us to perform this feat ourselves: a breaker bar (a super long wrench to give you leverage on the lug nuts) and a torque wrench (which allows you to tighten lug nuts to their exact tightness specification).

Although this micro storm only kept us homebound for a single day, it made me grateful that we keep a stockpile of bulk foods in our pantry and freezer. It also made me grateful that we heat with wood and thus wouldn’t freeze in a power outage–we could even cook on top of our woodstove. The main issue with a power outage is that our well pump wouldn’t work, but I reckon we could melt snow. Also, I’m now going to store some drinking water in the basement.

This precocious snow made us realize we’d probably better winterize the house too. We cleared all the patio furniture off the porch and spirited it away to the barn. And, Mr. FW changed out our window and door screens for glass storm covers, which we found helpfully stowed in the barn. No longer are we enjoying cool breezes through our open doors and windows. Instead, we are cozied up next to…

The Woodstove!

Feel the bern

Feel the burn

I can’t tell you how excited we are to have the woodstove cranking. Ok, actually I can: we’re SUPER excited!!! Heating with wood was a central homesteading goal for us and I’m delighted we’re making it happen. For those of you following Mr. FW’s summertime wood harvesting adventures (which will continue on into the winter), we’re now reaping those rewards. Well, not quite because we’re currently burning our wood leftover from last winter–of which there’s a fair amount–when we were at the homestead only on weekends.

This month’s wood-related lesson (I know you just love how I keep doing these!) is about… woodstoves! Our woodstove, which came with the house (woot!), was locally made at a factory just 40 minutes from our house. And, wouldn’t you know it, the factory hosted an open house (with free food) this month. You can guess who went… yep, it was us. Babywoods got to eat her first BBQ and we got to tour their factory. It’s amazing to see such beautiful pieces of craftsmanship made right here in the USA! We’re delighted to own this stove and delighted to support a hyper-local business.

We are fortunate that our stove is a modern, super efficient catalytic soapstone woodstove. For woodstove aficionados (of which I’ve learned there are plenty), we have the Woodstock company’s Fireview model. As a catalytic stove, it burns not only the wood we put inside, but–get this–also the smoke! When the stove is burning at its most efficient, no smoke goes out the chimney and there’s no odor of smoke outside (or inside) the house. Amaze.

Touring the woodstove factory!

Touring the woodstove factory!

This is ideal because it means: 1) a lower environmental impact; 2) we use less wood. Since it’s a closed stove (meaning there’s no open flame like a fireplace), there are very low emissions into our home, which is key for promoting clean air and healthy lungs. Although open fireplaces are gorgeous, they’re both inefficient at heating and their emissions are pretty bad for you.

Per our woodstove company, “For the last 20 years, our wood stoves have met the clean air standard the EPA has proposed for 5 years from now (2020)!” Warmth, efficiency and environmental friendliness–yet another instance of frugality serving a multitude of masters.

Since we’re heating with wood we harvested from our own property, this is essentially a free source of heat. Of course it’s not free in terms of labor. As my previous “wood lessons” demonstrated, Mr. FW has to first fell a tree in our forest, then buck it, skid it, split it, stack it, and last of all, carry it into the house and load it into the stove. But it is, for him, a labor he loves. Plus, using trees as fuel is an efficient way of managing our forest–dying, over-crowded, and hazardous trees need to be brought down anyway. Burning them as fuel is a beautiful way to complete their life cycle. Speaking of completed life cycles, this month also brought about the end of our….

Garden! (sort of… )

Found these crates at the dump, btw

Found these crates at the dump, btw

We gleefully harvested our bounty of tomatoes (there were like 8), our bevy of basil (ok there was actually a fair amount of that), our outrageously successful squash (uh, all 2 of them), our phenomenal pepper (yep, one singular pepper), and absolutely zero brussels sprouts (tragic victims of cabbage worms). It’s a darn good thing we’re not dependent on this garden to feed us all winter…

The high note of this first year garden was the basil, which was plentiful enough to make pesto. Mr. FW whipped some up in our trusty food processor (we use that thing for everything) and froze it in ice cube trays.

As you might recall, the fact that we got this garden in at all was a great accomplishment for us. Moving here in mid-May gave us scant time to plant and, we had to first clear out the waist-high jungle of weeds that had taken up residence in and around our raised beds. I’m pleased that we gave it a shot and we’ll now retreat for the winter to devise plans for next year’s gardening escapades.

October was also apple harvestin’ time and we gamely picked apples high (using our sweet fruit pickers) and low (using our much less interesting arms). There were only a few instances of accidentally beaning each other with errant apples during the harvest.

Basil bounty

Basil bounty

I think picking apples with Mr. FW (while Babywoods took an afternoon nap) is one of the highlights of this month–and possibly year–for me. It was the perfect articulation of why I like this life–working together on our land, in a gorgeous setting, with fantastic fall weather.

Our trees didn’t produce much this year since last year was an aberrantly awesome apple year. Several of our trees didn’t even set fruit! Although we did prune the trees ourselves in the spring (thank you, YouTube pruning tutorials) we want to get serious next year about managing these trees more productively.

Community Update

Fall festival goat

Fall festival goat

Our town held its annual Fall Festival in October, a delightful gathering at the town center epitomizing Rockwellian Americana. There was a cider press pressing local apples, homemade soup in a caldron on an open fire, a petting zoo containing one goat, local goods for sale, a mini flea market, an apple pie contest, kids’ games, a quilt raffle, and general revelry.

Babywoods and the other babies of the town primarily enjoyed crawling around in the grass eating leaves while various adults took turns corralling them. The dogs of the town enjoyed sniffing the babies of the town and everyone had a wonderful time. Our gratitude for how awesome our little town and its occupants are once again spilled over this month.

First Year!

Woodpile represent

Woodpile represent

Mr. FW and I like to say “first year!” to each other a lot, which is our short hand for acknowledging that we need to be forgiving of our many (and still accruing) novice mistakes. From waiting too long to put on our snow tires, to failing to swap out our screens, to not digging up our herbs to re-pot before the first killing frost (apologies, sage, rosemary, and thyme… no parsley), every week gives us new opportunities to learn and to be humbled.

We may have known how to live in the city like the bosses we were, but we have no clue what we’re doing out here. We read, we research, we talk to our neighbors (the best resources of all), and we try things out. As I said last month, there is no teacher like doing (and then messing up and re-doing).

Want More Fotos?!

4 of our 8 tomatoes...

4 of our 8 tomatoes…

While I only document homestead life once a month here on the blog, I post photos to Instagram and updates to Facebook with much greater regularity. Join me there if you want more of our frugal woods!

And if you want to make sure you don’t miss a post here, sign up for our handy dandy email list in the box below. You’ll get a message from Frugal Hound if you do…

Onward to November, frugal comrades!

How was October on your own personal homestead?

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96 Responses

  1. Woon says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog and your homestead is literally my dream house! Really hope to visit it for real one day. I love autumn but sadly there’s no four seasons here 🙁

  2. I don’t know that any of my city boss skills would translate to the homestead. I tried to grow basil in a self watering pot on my windowsill in NYC, and even THAT failed 😉 Glad you’re enjoying yourselves though. The photos are stunning!

  3. Susan Cook says:

    Interesting reading of your homestead lives! Similarly we are full time residents in the boreal forest of Saskatchewan Canada since June 2016.
    We also experienced an unusual heavy snowfall in early October to our chagrin.
    Thank goodness our upcoming week forecast is for temperature highs of over +10 degree Celsius!

  4. Erin says:

    No Frugal Hound photo?!

  5. Mary Ann Gonsalves says:

    I love reading your blog, and commend you on all your endeavors. I grew up on a farm,in central California and can just imagine the learning curve. You are doing great! Keep your wonderful stories coming. I’ve loved them all!

  6. Bob. Frugal+as+dirt. says:

    Ok, you don’t have a garage? Now I can quit being so darned jealous! That needs to change, and a freestanding garage will make a great dyi project. Wood storage on the side, oh yeah.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      A garage is on our longterm list :). We’re going to try our first winter without one and see how we feel. We never had a garage (or even a driveway or parking space) in the city and you’d be surprised how many folks up here don’t have one.

      • Kara says:

        My husband built a garage! If you’re interested in trying your hand, here’s what we did: We had a contractor lay the foundation for us (because that’s something we can’t do) and then we went to Menards (cheaper version of Home Depot here in the Midwest) and laid out plans for the garage we wanted. Their computer system figured out what materials we would need (plywood, headers, nails, shingles, etc.) and delivered it all to our house and dropped it off in our front yard. Then we started putting it all together! It’s been a really big project, but wayyyyy cheaper than if we contracted it all out. I know you guys are really busy with your homestead, though, so to you, it might be worth it to get someone to do it for you. To be honest, it’s taken us a lot longer than we had expected, and we’re still not fully done. But it’s something you might consider if you’re feeling particularly strong/frugal/crazy like we were a year ago when we started the project! lol

      • Debbie says:

        My guess is that if this coming winter is a bad one weather wise, the garage will move to the top of that wish list. Question: Are you going to plow that driveway yourselves? Daunting!

        • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

          Yep, Mr. FW plans to plow it himself with our tractor. No one moves out here if they’re deterred by winter weather, that’s for sure :)!

  7. Nora says:

    Having your mechanic hand tighten tires also makes it more likely you can remove them yourself later on. My husband is trying to justify keeping his massive mechanic’s tool collection for our future car repairs but we’ll see…

  8. Ohhhhh my goshhhhh the homestead looks beauuutiful. I am so jealous! We don’t get fall colors in Texas–one day all of the trees just suddenly die, and that’s it.

    Good lord, look at that snow! Not for me, but glad y’all are enjoying it. 🙂 It’s tough to know what to prepare for when you’re living out in the country, but it’s safe to start prepping the season ahead. My fam is from the Oklahoma boonies, so we always had to prep for tornado season–lots of canning and chopping wood!

    Oooh, good call on the pesto! I love that stuff, but pine nuts are always so pricey. I’m hoping that once our basil takes off I can make a walnut pesto (I bought walnuts at $6 a pound a few months ago and froze them).

    Aww the community festival looks fun! We just had one in our new town as well. They were handing out free (!!) tree saplings, so we picked up two. The plus is that they’re drought-tolerant, native, and will give us some fabulous blooms/shade once they mature. Huzzah!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yeah, we made our pesto with walnuts–way cheaper!

      • Monica says:

        I sometimes buy pesto at Capone’s in Somerville, Ma (great italian food store in union square). When my kids were young I wanted to send the to daycare with pesto and was thrilled to learn that Capones makes their pesto without ANY NUTS at all – basically just oil, cheese and basil. It was delicious, obviously fugal and great for making sure no nut allergy problems!

  9. so fun to read about fall and the snow. it’s my favorite time but here in VA on the farm, we only get snow in winter which rarely comes before december if then, so it’s a treat just seeing your photos! wood is the way to go but let me warn you, don’t try burning it green….doesn’t work. take it from one who knows. stoves do eat a LOT of wood. like you, we are able to avail ourselves of dead trees everywhere and in summer take down those that are in bad spots for the following winter. it dries out nicely in the wood shed meaning we are always a season ahead. which is nice. terrific seeing your fall pics. love love love!

  10. Cindi says:

    I loved reading this as it brought back memories of our first years after we moved from Texas to Colorado. I love that each season has tasks that need to be done. I still get a little excited when it’s time to put up the patio furniture or mulch the garden beds — and excited again in the spring when we take out the furniture and rake back the mulch. BTW — many of your herbs will over-winter if you mulch them deeply with leaves. I have successfully over-wintered oregano, sage, and thyme and I’m at 8000 feet in the mountains. Don’t feel bad about the brussels sprouts — I am an experienced gardener and after the brussels sprouts succumbed to either cabbage worms or aphids (or both!) for four years in a row, I gave up. We have a soapstone stove too and love it! There’s nothing like heating with wood — it’s very cheap and you can really stay warm! (Before we had a wood stove, we kept the thermostat low to save money — but we were always cold.)

  11. Kara says:

    This makes me miss New England winter! Living in TX for the past few years, I forgot all about the actual work one needs to do with the change of the seasons. Life sounds exciting and you’ll never lack for learning opportunities!

  12. That fireplace looks COZY! It will be amazing over the holidays. So glad to read how you’ve found community and have busy social schedules. The average city dweller wouldn’t expect to find community so easily in such a remote place!

  13. Ms. Montana says:

    I love the seasons. And winter is one of my favorite because it involves REST. After you first year, you have probably felt that never ending to do list or want to do list. And then the snow falls. Lots of snow. And I look out the window, and say, “Today is a good day for reading a book!” There is still a bit of fun and work to be had, but there is also a fair amount of rest.

  14. Miranda says:

    Fantastic fall photos! Fall color had been kind of a dud here in Missouri, so I’m living vicariously through the internet.

    I love these updates, as I would love to live a more rural, self sufficient life some day. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Wood stoves seem a lot more fun now than they did when I was a kid and had to help my dad and grandfather cut, chop, and stack all that wood! How well does the wood stove heat the upstairs?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Shockingly well! We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well the air circulates and heats the whole house. We haven’t had to use our oil yet at all!

  16. Jackie says:

    I highly recommend a log splitter. Perhaps you can share the expense with a neighbor. My dad has a 34 ton and it is a glorious invention. You guys are young and may enjoy manual splitting now, but this may change. With our spiffy, state of the art new wood stove, they recommend 4″ wood, which requires more splitting. Supposedly helps it burn hotter and keep down the chimney buildup. Also don’t burn green wood.

  17. sfmitch says:

    Another very enjoyable update. If you keep writing, we’ll keep reading.

  18. Joe Freedom says:

    Thanks for the gorgeous photos and lovely prose. I thoroughly enjoyed the 5-minute vicarious walk through the Vermont woods that I just took.

  19. Your homestead is beautiful. I remember exploring in winter when I lived on the East Coast, and it was like the season brought a whole new city. Without the leaves to hide them, new buildings and sights revealed themselves for a few months before returning to their hiding spots in the spring.

  20. Josh says:

    Fun reading your updates. We just moved out to some acreage here in the Southeast portion of the U.S. We still have unseasonably high temps in the 80s this week, normally its in the 60s.

    We just bought a wood stove today and excited to try it out. I’m not sure how much we will burn this winter as we haven’t had time to acquire any real amount of wood and we are mostly working toward next winter. Mostly we found a good deal on the stove and wanted to buy it as we had money set aside.

  21. Michele Amy says:

    Dear Mrs. Frugalwoods. I stumbled upon your blog about a month ago, and have subsequently read every past post from the start, and and then got all “fan-girl” and talked about it to many friends. Today, I was on Facebook and actually got excited that there was a new article. As a 30 year veteran of teaching English Language Arts here in Canada, I enjoy your engaging writing style, and as an individual actively pursuing financial and social independence, I have been inspired by your story and your journey. Thank you for sharing your gifts so widely via the internet.

  22. Caroline says:

    Wow, sounds like a very interesting month, congrats on your ”anniversary”… soon Estelle will be one and officially a toddler!

    One question though, in the various buildings and places on your property, surely a garage for your vehicles is a priority? Given the weather and given that housing them out of the elements will prolong their lives, I’d have thought that would be on the priorities list. Is it? I cannot visualise the patience and forbearance it must have taken to have tried, and tried, and tried… and failed… in the snow and sleet to get those snow tyres on, kudos to Mr Frugalwoods for his methodical, creative approach, even if it didn’t actually work out this time…

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      A garage is one of those things on our long term list ;). We’re going to try our first winter without one and see how we feel. You’d be surprised how many folks don’t have one up here. And, we never had one in the city–in fact, we didn’t even have a driveway or a parking spot there–so this is an upgrade ;).

  23. Mary Ann says:

    Another great post and the pictures are beautiful.

  24. eclare says:

    I loved this! It was nearly a play-by-play of our 1st fall at our homestead (6 years ago, with 2 babies), right down to the early snow. My husband still loves (LOVES!) doing firewood, which I don’t understand, but appreciate.

    May I offer a tip? Maybe you’ve discovered this, but most of the old-timers grow much bigger gardens and orchards than they need, so don’t be afraid to ask if you can glean their extra tomatoes/zucchini/beans/pears when they’ve preserved all they need. And of course they’ll give you all you want, not just the cast offs. Hunting season is another good time to put out the word that you want cast offs… I made quarts and quarts of (free!) bone broth this year from elk bones that a hunter was just going to leave in the woods. Same with the organs… not my first choice of meat, but the price is right! (By the way, I canned all of the above in a free pressure canner from a farmwife who had 3.)

  25. vicky says:

    Very nice October post. I’d dig up the rosemary and put it in a pot in a sunny window in the basement for eventual re-planing outside next year (only water it once a month or so. pretty much ignore it until you realize you haven’t watered in a while). One frost won’t kill it, it’s a tender perennial.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Uh, it was more than one frost… it looks pretty sad 🙁

      • Anne says:

        For next year, if you run out of time to dig up the plants for the first frost, throw an old sheet over the plants you want to save. This should get them through the first frost or two. Pumpkins and root vegetables will be fine as is.

  26. Marcia says:

    Any plans to install a garage? I don’t have a garage, but I live in So Cal.

    I grew up in the Northeast. Pretty much everyone had a garage. I think you might want one.

    • Christine K says:

      We didn’t have a garage when we lived in MA and I can attest to the fact that that was unpleasant. For sure a garage is a lovely thing in the Northeast.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      It’s one of those things that’s on our long term list ;). We’re going to try the first winter without one and then see how badly we want one. You’d be surprised how many folks up here don’t have a garage.

  27. Money Beagle says:

    I’m really interested to see how your winter goes. I know that as much as you prepared, things will surprise you, both in delightful ways and ways that you’ll need to make adjustments for.

  28. Diane C says:

    Love the update! I have a statement and then a question or two for you. DH is a painting contractor and always notices (and comments) when people stack wood directly against their house. Seems it’s an invitation for critters to start munching on your dwelling or thinking they’d be better off inside. Is this an issue where you are? Does the cold air kill off the critters? Have you installed some kind of barrier between the wood and the house? (Can’t tell from the photo.)

    I have no experience with wood stacking or cold climes, but if my asking saves a you passel of trouble, I’ll be happy. Otherwise, I’ll just put my hands behind my back, whistle a little tune and stroll off casually…

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      So we’re still figuring out how and where we want to stack our wood, but if it stays on the porch, we’re going to build a rack for it so that it’s not resting directly on the porch. The cold kills the critters (although some will reanimate inside!), but the issue is that the wood shouldn’t rest on the porch for the long term. A work in progress 🙂

  29. Ginny Humber says:

    Been reading you guys for a couple of years now, and am continually encouraged by your honesty and wit. I am in the process of building my own small cabin/homestead in the middle of the woods in Alabama, and it’s been so dry and hot that we’re in a dust bowl-like situation and still seeing the high-80s during the day. Would love to see the colors you’re seeing, but everything is just basically dead. Maybe next year. I am going to adopt your “First Year!” mantra whenever I flub something up (which is like, all the time), so thanks for that 🙂 Carry on, Frugalwoods!

  30. Jen Jones says:

    I had some serious fall leaf envy with that awesome driveway picture (your photos have very nice composition, BTW). Also, somehow, the front of the house looks like it is on fire in the snowy picture.

  31. Joseph Moody says:

    You probably already own this book but if not, check out The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible (https://www.amazon.com/Vegetable-Gardeners-Bible-2nd-ebook/dp/B003PGQK1O/ref=la_B001K8MMM0_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478109620&sr=1-1).

    The author’s garden is based on Vermont so his advice will be spot on for you guys (it is roughly 94% spot on for south Georgia).

    Good luck with the garden next year!

  32. Christine K says:

    Have you considered getting a generator to run your pump in the case of a prolonged power outage? Having spent a not-so-delightful 6 days at our house in NH with no power (and therefore no water) during winter break one year growing up, I can definitely say that having a generator that runs the well is a good investment lol. Nobody likes chopping a hole in the ice to get water to flush the toilet :/ We did get a generator after that experience BTW!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yeah, we go back and forth on whether or not to get a generator… probably we’ll get one after we have to endure a week without power or something 😉

      • Kate says:

        I don’t know if this is the case for you, but when I was growing up with a well the biggest issue was when the power went out, no running water bc the well pump didn’t work. I remember my dad melting buckets of snow to flush toilets during one long winter storm.

        I love reading about your adventures. Living vicariously through you!

      • Erica says:

        I was going to ask that too. A generator for water and the blower on your wood stove (and maybe fridge too if power outages are frequent in spring thunderstorms). Where we are in the Philly burbs, there are so many tall trees that homes here even use generators because they don’t have the no-power-needed heat source and power outages can be a lengthy after a tree-knocking-down storm.

  33. Sharon says:

    Fall festival goat…too cute!

  34. Lori says:

    There’s a learning curve with everything new you attempt. You’re doing a great job! What’s your plan for snow removal on the driveway this winter? Did you get a snow blade for your tractor? Your property is beautiful! Thanks for sharing photos!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! Yes, we have a snowblower tractor attachment for the driveway and we’re probably going to get a plow attachment as well 🙂

  35. Jane says:

    This is so inspiring for me! My husband and I are planning to leave the big city, where we live with our toddler and two cats, and move to a smaller town in the next six months. While it’s not as drastic a change as moving to a homestead in Vermont, I already can’t wait to get back out in nature more, go hiking, get involved in community and cultural events more, and, and, and. The funny thing is, we could do all of that now, but the logistics of getting around in the city, or trying to drive out of the city in traffic to get to the beach or mountains, plus the fact that we don’t seem to have much time to do any of that while trying to work enough to pay our bills in the city mean that we don’t tend to do these things as much.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing your story with us!

  36. The Roamer says:

    Those are some stunning pictures especially the one of the driveway. It’s also a good thing neither of you really needed to be anywhere on that snow day. I’m sure the internet help complete any “must” tasks.

    Also Basil!!!! It’s so tasty. Is the stuff in the basket trimmed or is it in dirt and you are just bringing it in doors.

    So how is parenting going now that babywoods is mobile. How is that changing your routine?

  37. Susan D. says:

    Don’t forget to save “flushing” water along with the drinking water. You will need it!

  38. Paula Minger says:

    I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. My husband is a disabled Vietnam Vet and has been pretty ill in the past year. So I really look forward to reading the stories of your lifestyle. Your photos are beautiful as are the Baby and your sweet Hound 🙂

    Thanks again for bring sunshine!

  39. christina says:

    I hope youre moving that wood in somewhere or its going to be buried under snow and wet. Vermont is a place I always wanted to live except for the snow and mud. Your place is very pretty.

  40. Kathy E. says:

    Try wunderground.com for your local weather forecast. It works well for our mountain neighborhood weather forecast in Colorado. We live at 9000 feet, and it’s pretty accurate.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yep, we love wunderground, but it still doesn’t cover our area accurately! It’s a pretty funny little microclimate we have here 🙂

  41. Gorgeous photos, and wow–how interesting about the snowfall in your microclimate! It’s been unseasonably warm here, and I’m happy to say today was the first time I’ve ever worn shorts in November! We still have a few cherry tomatoes hanging around, and a couple sugar snaps. I thought my daughter was eating grass in the yard today but she swore it was a pea and it was!

  42. Great post as always Frugal Woods. Those fall color pictures are great! But snow already? Geeze!

    That’s really cool that your fireplace was made locally. I love to go on factory tours when we travel!

  43. What a great month! And I can’t believe it has been a year already, too! I’m amazed by all you’ve picked up in the first year on the Homestead, I wouldn’t worry one bit about the few minor “first year” mishaps.

    I think our highlight of the month was our family trip to the pumpkin patch. The little one had a blast and it was gorgeous weather here in Charlotte (we are originally from the upper Midwest and don’t miss the seasons as much).

    Thanks for the update.

  44. Linda says:

    Love your posts. The Homestead is amazing! Been following you since the beginning. You said you will both retire by 33. When is that? Soon? I see you are a work-at-home mom and your husband also works. We are curious.

    Warm and cozy winter wishes to you and your family.

  45. lou says:

    You could create a lean too along side of your existing barn to shelter a vehicle…

  46. Kayla says:

    Love all of this, you guys are living the dream. I can’t wait to read more about the coming seasons and see more photos.

  47. kat says:

    Its good you enjoy winter, you’re in the right place for that. Wish I did, its coming here too.

  48. Deb says:

    When we moved out from city to country 18 years ago, I thought we had run out of water the first night because electricity went out and pump was not working. My husband just laughed at me. I was quite upset. We eventually had to get a generator because we are also at the top of a hill an hour outside Buffalo New York and power goes out quite a bit because of the trees and weight of snow. Now when power goes out, we plug generator in for frig and well–not hot water, but still water. It was a great investment. We have the wood stove for heat. M neighbors have told me horror stories about electricity used to be out for “weeks at a time”. Of course, the town and country out by me has grown up quite a bit in the years we have been there. Never been that long, only a day or two, so far. Enjoy your first winter.

  49. Ilene Anna says:

    This post was so entertaining! I didn’t want it to end. I live in a small house on a short street in a tiny town but I grew up on a farm and your adventures bring back fantastic memories. Thank you!!

  50. Ilene Anna says:

    I loved reading this post!! I didn’t want it to end. I live in a small house on a short street in a tiny town but I grew up on a farm and your adventures bring back so many happy memories!! Thank you!!

  51. Ilene Anna says:

    Sorry about that…this senior is dangerous on a computer.

  52. Melinda says:

    I may have missed it, but you said if you lose power, you can’t pump your well water? A generator is something that we put in the first year we moved onto our land. We have only used it 3 times, with the longest cycle for 6 hours!!! We could have done without it, but that was one of those things we made a mistake and learned on the expensive side. I would think though that your home would be a good candidate. Maybe you already have one. LOVE your posts! Thank you!

  53. CorinaP says:

    Great photos! The one with Babywoods and the goat is so funny. I also love the fireplace and the pile of wood on the porch. It looks so cosy!
    At our previous home we didn’t have a garage and we didn’ t miss it. Our new home (not so new anymore, we’ve purchased it 8 years ago) is in a quite crowded area and sometimes it is difficult to find parking, so we’ve bought a parking place in our buiding, thinking that it would increase the value of our apartment one day ( only a few spots were available-now they are sold). Our city is very, very cold in winter and there’s plenty of snow. And so, after years of working on defrosting the car in the morning (snow boots, snow jacket, ski gloves then changed all that for an office look), I discovered the confort of taking a nice clean car with the perfect temperature inside. Now I wouldn’t change that, it makes my life so much easier, especially with two kids. On the other hand I must say that we sometimes have to clean out snow in front of the garage in order to get the cars out 🙂 but usually there are more neighbours working on that, so it is a quite easy task just enough to taste the joy of the season.
    Using wallnuts (or nothing instead) for the pesto sauce is a great idea, thanks, I got big plans for my basil pot in my kitchen this week!

  54. Awesome goat! I moved into a one-bedroom in October with my 2 kids. Not much of a “homestead” per se, but I try to let my home still be a place of production as well as consumption. I sew, for instance.

    No snow here in Denver yet–still 60s and sunny. Haven’t got my snow tires on yet because I am about to go shopping for a replacement for the Auto Paragon (age: 17). Now that I am a single parent, my grandfather (Frugal Patriarch) wants to gift me some money for an updated used vehicle. Yes, please! I am tempted by Outbacks but a Fit with snow tires will probably be adequate for city living. My kids are too little to take very into the mountains in the snow.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      We debated getting a Fit too! That’s actually what we would’ve gotten if we’d stayed in the city. They seem to be great cars. We love our Outback, but we got it primarily for the AWD to handle dirt roads, snow, etc. We also love our used Prius–more expensive than a used Fit, but the gas mileage is amazing. Good luck with the search!

  55. anna says:

    I thought you had a garage, with inclined roof, right next to the barn..?

  56. David (thegoblinchief) says:

    Cool update, I can’t wait until we get out in the country and can see the fall colors better. Crazy on the early snow. I know it’s coming here (Wisconsin) soon enough but it seems like every year fall gets warmer and longer, while the following spring gets shorter and colder. I’m in a city with the urban heat island effect so we haven’t even gotten a frost yet.

    What brand of snow tires do you have?

  57. That’s it! I will officially be visiting next fall!! I can smell the wood-burning fireplace right now. I LOOOOVE that smell. You’re actually making me miss the snow. Of course from 70 degree California you can’t actually FEEL the cold through the pictures. 🙂

  58. Darcy says:

    I so enjoy living vicariously from my work computer each morning and am always elated when there’s a new post. So thank you for the little boost you provide. RE: your plants. I live in a zone 5b/6 climate- very different than yours- but my experience with rosemary is that it does not take kindly to being transplanted. At all. Ask me how I know. Nor to freezing weather (I lost my child-sized bush a few years back during an abnormally cold winter here and I still can’t talk about it.)
    My (unsolicited) advice is to plant it in a VERY large, very lightweight pot and move it inside each winter. It will get quite large and be a fabulous addition to recipes. There is a soil product that is used on rooftop gardens that is INCREDIBLY lightweight yet robust and would be PERFECT for rosemary. I covet some of my own but it’s expensive and tends to be sold, as far as I can tell, in very large volumes (hello, rooftop.) But you might have some source! Local architect? Anyway- that’s what I would do!!! Keep us posted!

  59. Sandra & the 2 Spaniels says:

    I LOVED this post! You two really have moved to “Rockwellian Americana”! Lemme make a couple of comments:
    1-Fear Not the Subaru! I plowed through snow a lot deeper than your first snowfall, and my Subaru never made a slip. Now, it could be that the snow we have in the West is lighter and fluffier; like ice in the Pacific. (I learned this on my Alaska trip.) Ice in the Pacific is full of oxygen and therefore is lighter and floats. Ice in the Atlantic is heavier, and more dense, so it slips beneath the water. But I don’t even know people in Tahoe who snowtire it up. So, is it a local thing, or is the snow really different? I don’t know, but at least you two now have the tools to make the switches.
    2-Babywoods and the missing Frugal Hound should have their own yearly calendar! Too adorable!
    3-A Vermont soapstone woodstove? Gosh, I am jealous! They are just gorgeous, and provide heat, a place to cook, and even if they run out of wood, the soapstone continues to release heat! You guys were blessed to find this place.
    4-I think that you had an awesome harvest, considering that this is your first year! I love that basil-pesto is my favorite thing in pasta and chicken.
    5-You can get a hand pump installed, right along side your electric well pump. Have a professional do it, because your hand pump can really tweak things in the initial installation. I had one in the Sierras, and they are very handy when the power goes. You could also think about hooking up solar power to it. Just remember, your solar needs to be stand alone. A lot of people go with the grid hookup. If the power goes out, grid hookups still have no power. Any output goes on down the line.
    Your blog is just fabulous! I feel like I get a letter from my favorite cousin, every month!

  60. Mary in+Maryland says:

    Wood heat is dry. No need to bother with an electric humidifier. Wet towels drying on racks can keep things moist. You need to do some research on towel capacity–my beach towels each hold four cups without dripping on the floor. I put the top of the towel in the sink and pour on the water. The water distributes itself when I hang the towel.

  61. Emma says:

    So, you know how to use the internet? now you need to learn how to use your locals. If you go to some sort of community groups, church, kid dates, library events, whatever, ask around. In my hometown it is common knowledge that you can set out your tomato plants two weeks before memorial day, while up where my mother lives (20 miles and 1,000 ft up hill) you cannot set them out until memorial day. Old timers here will tell you what type of corn to grow, what flowers will help you with aphids, and why blueberries only grow in the mountains. One of the best parts of winter is planing your garden and dreaming about spring. Happy planning! Now go ask a neighbor, they will tell you to cut your trees down, let them lay for a year, then chainsaw them into rounds, throw them in the pickup, and split them at the house. burn the limb slash piles out in the woods. 🙂 actually, you had better ask around, this is all west coast east of the cascades advice.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yes, we’re incredibly grateful for our amazing neighbors, who we ask these questions of all the time :). As I’ve discussed in previous “This Month On the Homestead” posts, we’re very fortunate that we’ve been able to become involved in our local church and community center. Our neighbors are absolutely a wealth of knowledge :)!

  62. Bethany Bresee & Paul Reed says:

    I found your blog a few days ago and am thoroughly enjoying reading it not only for your tips and knowledge, but your view on your lifestyle such as you are now “nature’s guests”. We made a leap this past spring by selling our home and buying a 300 square foot fifth wheel to travel and live in. We’ve had to learn to be very forgiving of ourselves (like your exclamation of “first year” to each other) while we are best learning how to successfully live this lifestyle as well as everyday issues (like the small electrical fire we had last week or learning that caulk is our best friend in an RV).
    To live our life exactly as we want is our definition of freedom and happiness.
    Thanks for sharing!

  63. I really look forward to these updates every month. So awesome to hear your family’s ongoing story. It’s really inspiring to get the dream you two identified together and see you achieve it. Thank you for sharing!

  64. Here in NC we had our first actual cold week. Up until now, you could still wear shorts outside! I love reading about your homestead life in the woods!

  65. What a beautiful home you have! My wife and I live in Chicago and we just started discussing the idea of moving to Vermont! We have a friend who lives in Northern Vermont on a lovely farm and we find it to be the most serene place on earth. 66 acres is a lot of land too! I really hope we can also escape the city life. I am sharing this post with my wife to get her excited! I look forward to continuing to follow your Vermont journey.

  66. Lyna Rizor says:

    Have you considered converting the grass in the open areas far from the house to wildflower meadows? Once established, you mow the meadow once per year to keep the trees and brush down. Eventually you could regularly mow the lawn only in the areas than are play areas or get foot traffic around the buildings.
    University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science
    Successful Wildflower Meadows
    Dr. Leonard P. Perry, Extension Professor
    http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/pubs/oh84mead.htm
    “A properly constructed meadow is aesthetic, yet results in less maintenance than lawns and gardens. Less maintenance also means less inputs such as from water and fertilizers, which in turn means less expense and less potential for pollution. Better water infiltration means less erosion. A good meadow increases biodiversity, resulting in fewer pest and disease crises, and more attraction to wildlife. …”

  67. Lisa-Michelle says:

    What does “changing out the screens” mean Mrs Frugalwoods?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      We change the screens on our windows from screen to glass. The screens are wonderful in the summer when we open our doors and windows for the breeze and the glass is ideal in wintertime as it provides another layer of insulation :).

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