This Month On The Homestead: Hermit-Making Temperatures Followed By Snow

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 and enjoy the best and worst (ok, mostly the worst) moments of our first year on the homestead here.

December 2017

December 1: a snowless ‘scape

December blew in a fury of temperatures so cold we started to think of anything above zero as “warm.” The month began without a scrap of snow, a fact I wouldn’t believe if I hadn’t taken the photo at right on December 1. This happened last year too, so I’m starting to think of December as the demarcation between the crackle of late fall and the snow-muffle of winter.

By the end of the month, we had several feet of snow lounging around, languidly draped over firs and blackberry vines, coating rooftops and concealing all the sins of undone summer and fall projects. Everything is dormant under these constantly replenishing layers. All the gardening we didn’t do, all the fences we didn’t mend (I mean this in a literal sense), all the bare earth that wasn’t planted. All hidden now. In this way, snow is the great absolution maker. The equalizer. And our master for the next few months.

Snow Clearing

As my previous words might’ve implied, the thing about having a lot of snow is that you then must clear a lot of snow. And by “you” I mean my husband and by “a lot of snow” I mean a veritable deluge. One of the more frustrating intriguing elements of our homestead is that we have a quarter-mile long, hilly driveway, which is our sole responsibility to maintain as it’s not shared with anyone else.

Our ski jump of a driveway

This is totes not a problem most of the year and it’s not a problem in the winter, more a representation of a great deal of work. When we moved here, we made the decision to ensure that we could maintain our driveway ourselves to avoid incurring the ongoing cost of hiring someone to manage it for us, which, as it turns out, is a largely year-round affair:

  • In warmer and rainier months, the driveway must be graded and any ruts that develop as a result of rain must be flattened out.
  • In the summer, the driveway needs to be crowned, which means making the center of the driveway higher than the edges so that rain sheets off the sides and into the ditch, as opposed to pooling in the center of the driveway, thus creating more ruts.
  • At any time of year, trees have a penchant for falling across the driveway and must be cleared by Mr. FW via chainsaw.
  • And then in the winter, snow must be snowblown off the driveway to allow us to drive in and out of our home. It’s an interesting proposition to know that you can’t leave your home unless you remove your snow.

All of this work can be done with a tractor and fortunately, the previous owners of our home included their tractor in the sale of the property, which was a fabulous decision for us. A tractor, as it turns out, is a remarkably useful tool when one lives on 66 acres of wild, wild woods. For all you tractor enthusiasts out there, we have a Kubota L4400 with a hydrostatic transmission, a 45 horsepower 3-cylinder diesel engine, four-wheel drive, R4 tires, and H-bar chains on the rear tires, which are filled. In case you’re wondering, in addition to doing all of the above work (not to mention serving as Mr. FW’s logging and trail-building companion), the tractor is the best toddler entertainment device the world has ever seen. Riding on the tractor, discussing the tractor, touching the tractor, watching the tractor, walking out to the barn to visit the tractor… two-year-old Babywoods gets a lot of mileage out of this machine.

Our Beast Of A Snowblower

Babywoods’ favorite outdoor activity: tractor rides!

Now back to the issue at hand: snow! We have an MK Martin 72-inch pull-type snowblower, which attaches to the back of the tractor. Weighing in at 900 pounds, this snowblower is a beast that’s rather difficult to take on and off the tractor, so Mr. FW tries to only make the switch once a year. He has to line up the tractor precisely to where the blower is in order to attach it and there’s very little room for error.

Our other tractor attachments (box blade, tiller, bush hog, and grader blade) aren’t as heavy and are able to be moved around a tad in order to join up with the tractor. Not so much the blower. The snowblower receives its power from the tractor as its gearbox is connected to the power take off (or PTO) of the tractor. In addition to the obvious application of the snowblower to clear the driveway of snow, Mr. FW also uses the tractor’s bucket to move snow around as needed; in particular, to dig out around our mailbox.

If the snow isn’t too deep, Mr. FW can drive the tractor (with snowblower attached) at about 5-6 MPH, but when the snow gets deep, he has to go at a much slower pace. In addition to the driveway itself, his clearing regime includes making a path across our yard from where our cars are parked, past our front door and down to the barn. This allows us to easily walk to our cars and barn and also gives Frugal Hound a nice path to traverse on her walks as greyhounds are not exactly adept at (or happy about) walking in deep snow.

Frugal Hound’s walking track, freshly plowed by Mr. FW

Speaking of our cars, we don’t have a garage as is the case with most Vermont homes, so Mr. FW also removes snow from the cars and then moves the cars themselves in order to blow away the snow from underneath the cars. It’s in our plans to build a garage in the next few years to reduce the wear and tear of winter on our vehicles and also the inherent hassle of clearing snow off of them. Anyone want to come over and help us build it :)?

All told, if Mr. FW does what he terms a “really thorough job” of clearing the driveway, the mailbox, the cars, and our walking paths through the yard, the whole process takes him a full two hours. But if we just need a quick clearing in order to drive out of the driveway, the minimum viable option takes around 25 minutes or less. I also must toot Mr. FW’s horn as he is markedly faster at clearing this year than he was last year. He likens it to mowing the lawn in that the first time you do it, you have to test out different patterns and pathways, but after a few mows, you know the best and most efficient routes.

The Upsides Of Clearing One’s Own Snow

Mr. FW on snow removal detail

The overarching pros of doing all this snow removal ourselves is the saved money and also the convenience. We had to hire someone to plow our driveway for us once last winter when we were out of town and it cost a whopping $75. For one plow. Not including clearing around our cars or the pathways in front of our house. So far, in the month of December alone, Mr. FW cleared our driveway eight different times. In a single month. Of one single winter. If we were paying someone to do this work for us, we’d be out $600 for December alone! Hence, despite the start-up costs of plowing for ourselves and the ongoing maintence of the tractor as well as the labor hours, we feel like we come out ahead.

Perhaps more crucially, we have control over when our driveway is plowed. Conversely if we hired someone, we’d be at the mercy of their plow schedule, which might not align with when we want to leave the house. A great example of this came a few Sundays ago when Mr. FW was able to plow us out at circa 7am on a Sunday so that we could go to church that morning. Not exactly a typical plowing time for a plow company.

Snow on snow on snow

There’s also profound peace of mind in knowing that we’re in control of our own driveway, primarily in light of the fact that we have a second baby on the way. In the event that I go into labor in the middle of the night in the middle of a snowstorm, Mr. FW can hop on the tractor and have us ready to drive out in 30 minutes. Ideal for my pregnant peace of mind.

It’s also true that clearing our own snow is an element of the self-sufficiency and self-reliance we hope to embody through our lives out here. We’re not yet terribly self-sufficient in many areas related to homesteading, but it’s nice to know we’re working in that direction by insourcing as many tasks as we can.

Perhaps most importantly of all, Mr. FW enjoys driving his tractor. It is, as he describes it, “a thrumming diesel engine” that he gets a kick out of maneuvering. So if that’s not living the dream, I don’t know what is ;). In all seriousness, we chose this lifestyle in part due to my husband’s enduring love of heavy machinery and equipment so who am I to deprive the man? And I’ll be honest, the tractor IS really fun to drive… (if you come help us build our garage, we’ll let you drive it).

The Joy Of, And Need For, Community In Winter

Our snowy shed and one of our woodpiles

Despite these hermit-making temperatures and incessant need to clear snow out of our pathways, we were some social creatures last month! One of the most rewarding, fulfilling, and joyous elements of our rural life is the intergenerational community of friends and neighbors we’ve become part of. December, being a month of merriment and festivity, gave us many opportunities to get together. Back in the city, we had friends who we greatly enjoyed spending time with, but we didn’t have a true community life. Out here, where everything (even weddings!) is a potluck and age is immaterial to who your friends are and neighbors just drop by your house to say hello, we’ve discovered what we didn’t know we were missing: a vibrant community.

Creating and fostering these connections was an important part of our move out here and it fills me with happiness to no end that we’ve been able to integrate into community life. Before we moved out to these wild, wild woods, I worried that we’d be lonely or friendless or just plain isolated. Now, however, I’m delighted to report that our experience is the exact opposite. I’m overwhelmed at how friendly everyone is, how often we get together with friends and neighbors, and how unrelentingly helpful everyone is.

Snowy driveway walk

A great example is the upcoming birth of our second baby. If we were having a second kid in the city and didn’t have family members nearby, I’d be panicking about what we’d do with Babywoods and Frugal Hound. Out here, however, we have a vast network of people willing to help us out and who’ve repeatedly told us to call in the middle of the night and that they’ll be right over. I am deeply grateful and deeply relieved since I fully intend on taking them up on their offers.

Frugality is, of course, interwoven in this fabric of community life as we all do favors for one another, lend stuff back and forth, provide meals for each other, and just generally help out our neighbors. The ethos of barter and trade is alive and well out here and it’s something we greatly appreciate about rural living. But if you don’t live rurally, don’t despair! According to a ton of Frugalwoods readers, barter and trade is alive and well in all parts of the country (and world). Read all about it here and learn how to incorporate this community-minded ethos into your own life: How Barter and Trade Enhances Frugality and Community.

Want More Fotos?!

Sunrise as documented from our back porch

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–usually daily! 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 me if you do…

Onward to January, frugal comrades!

P.S. I WROTE A BOOK! I’m a little bit excited, can you tell?!? My book is now available to be pre-ordered, for which I will mail you a signed bookplate. Check out this post for all the details.

How was December on your own personal homestead?

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69 Responses

  1. I thought that I had a lot of snow to clear with my driveway. You put me to shame 🙂 Although I have to admit all the grown up toys that your husband has looks like a ton of fun 🙂

  2. Wow, I can imagine it’s frustrating having to deal with all that snow but it sure does look beautiful! I missed the only snowfall we had in the UK this year!

    Sounds like you have a real community feel around there too which sounds great and something really valuable.

    • Louise says:

      I am really jealous of the community feel. It’s pretty weird that I have less of that in the city – I have 1 or 2 neighbors I could count on to help me a little, but not something like, call me in the middle of the night or drop by without calling! Even though we share walls (I live in a row house).

      I wish I had a community – I felt more like that at work but the second you leave a job, those friends you had were gone! All that was really keeping you together was seeing each other every day to earn a living.

  3. Our 2018 didn’t come with snow! Suprised! I swear last year, it looked almost as piled on as your photos this year. Having a community is important, unfortunately, we live in a city so the emotions here are different. Everyone is a little more on edge I think! I can’t imagine bartering my neighbor for mid day use of his parking spot. Yikes!

  4. Dynise says:

    With the “Hermit Making” title, I totally thought this post would include a cookie recipe 😉 Fun for this frugal city girl to read about your country life. This winter has been hermit making for urban and rural dwellers alike. That’s a lot of snow!

    I actually enjoyed December, though winter is not my favorite. But I’ve had enough of this recent blast of frigid air & worry about the feral cat colony I help care for here. Stay warm!

  5. I’ll totally help build the garage! I can do most of my work on the internet which you have an abundance of, and won’t have a corporate job to hinder me. I’m told I’m also a fair hand with babies and would be happy to include babysitting in that offer as well. Just feed me in return!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      You’re hired!! We’ve partially convinced Mr. 1500 to help too, so if you come as well I think we’ll be on the right track!

  6. Jim Wang says:

    So far the snowfall as fortunately been light in Maryland but we have a similar stretch of driveway that, at the moment, is our responsibility alone. it’s about 0.2 of a mile of gravel that drains well on its own. We have to repair the minor ruts but since it’s just our car driving it (and we avoid making small ruts into big ones), it’s usually fewer than half a dozen each year.

    There’s something liberating about maintaining your own stuff because it gives you greater appreciation for it. We have a super old Kubota B7100 with a plow blade in the front but have found it doesn’t work well with more than a foot of snow on the ground. The pleasures of learning things on the go! 🙂

  7. Evans says:

    We have matching Kubota’s and nothing could make my husband happier——except his new log splitter. The bucket does make an excellent log hauler—-sometimes right to the back door. My daughter is 25 and still wants tractor rides—Or now drive the tractor. But no need for snowblower in Tennessee—we get about an inch of snow a year. Love your blog.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, yes! My husband also loves his log splitter! And the bucket is indeed a fabulous log hauler–it gets used for that a lot :).

  8. Wow that is a lot of work to clear the snow, but hey when you’re financially independent and don’t have to go to a job everyday you have time to do it!

    I just spent some time up in your neck of the woods on an ice climbing trip in the Adirondacks. Funny enough, we need it to be cold to go ice climbing, but it was almost too cold. When we left last Saturday it was -18. In those kind of temperatures we were only able to last a few hours before we had to go back inside.

    Looks like you have a little bit of a warming trend now and some relief, good luck!

  9. Oh geez, I don’t know how you are able to clear all that snow. We have trouble clearing our driveway, and it’s probably only 0.00001% of yours 🙂 And we are lucky the city plows our walkway since there’s a bus stop across the street 🙂

  10. Jean says:

    We also live in a rural area with a similar length gravel driveway. My husband has a blade that attaches to his pickup truck hydraulically so can be attached and detached quickly. I think it’s a Hustler Super Z. Clearing snow with this is so much faster than a tractor as the speed of the blade against the snow is what helps to pick up and throw it. My husband not only does our long driveway but the road to our neighbors’ and their driveway as well—in about 25 minutes. As for building a garage, some home improvement stores sell them preassembled and just have them delivered on your property.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yes! We go back and forth on whether or not we want to buy a front plow attachment (and/or a truck!)–it’s an ongoing consideration ;).

      • Mary Grace says:

        We call it *Tractor Therapy*.. 😊 there is a certain pleasure from being able to operate a big machine and the accomplishment of clearing the snow and saving money in the process.

        We have expanded our snow removal equipment.. , our driveway is about 1/2 the length of yours, we started with a push broom and a regular square shovel, then added a scoop shovel, then a walk behind snow blower.. ( i felt we were really moving up in the world when we bought this one! ) , then our tractor, which is much like yours!, we still have it but we also now have a couple of *toys* that we also use for snow removal.. adds another element of Fun while we work. Can Am Commander Side by Side with a front plow attachment. Since my hubby works long hours as a nurse and i am a homemaker, i am usually the one out clearing the snow.. i love being able to use the tractor or the sxs ( side by side) to assure that we can get in and out as needed, as well as it feels good when i am able to help a neighbor too!

  11. Sandra, Italy says:

    Love reading about your winter endeavours! Moving from Sweden to Italy 13 years ago put an end to True Winter – boy, how I miss the snow when I look at your pictures! 😍

  12. Wow that does look like A LOT of snow! It just snowed where we live (DC) a couple of days ago, and I freaked out

    I was constantly thinking about a power outage or the heater breaking. I was also afraid that Baby FAF would get sick or that we would get sick and not be able to go to work. I think I worry too much. It hasn’t snowed a lot this year. But we’re expecting another snow storm this weekend (as Mr. FAF told me this morning).

    I’m glad you have such a great network in Vermont. Stay warm!

  13. Mrs. LSF says:

    I am so envious of your snow! I live in Minnesota and we’ve had barely any snow this year, no shortage of sub zero temps though. At least you seem to appreciate the beauty of the snow, even with the trouble and work it can create!

  14. Anne says:

    When the kids are older, try dumping a bunch of the snow into a big pile and dig tunnels/caves in it!

  15. Lindy says:

    Dear Mrs. Frugalwoods,
    I am new to your blog and truly enjoy the way you share your life with us. The humour keeps me coming back! It may be that I must read a lot farther back but I wonder if you have deer, a moose and black bears that you share your homestead with?? I would like to see how others deal with these beautiful creatures while keeping most of the produce from the garden for themselves!! Zero budget for fencing and I finagle my way around a wonky knee and back. The crazy brain is here to stay. Yes, please laugh with me, it is fun. Safe delivery to you and may you be blessed with a wee one that actually sleeps! That last request, Mother Nature will likely ignore.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hi there! Thank you so much for reading! Yes, we have lots of critters on our land–including moose, deer, and black bears–and you can check out my past installments of This Month On The Homestead for a rundown on how we interact (or mostly, don’t!) with these lovely beasts.

  16. Whymances says:

    Though our driveway growing up wasn’t nearly as long as yours, it was quite long and having our own plow would’ve been great. Instead we shovelled it by hand. It took hours but a good way to keep us kids busy!

    One of my best friends parent’s built a ‘tree house’ above the garage. I say that in quotes because it was more of a bare room, with a door and a light. We could spend endless roaming the woods and hanging out there. It became the de-facto sleepover spot. Your kids are young and a long way off from that but it’s a thought!

  17. Jackie says:

    Barn raising at the Frugalwoods’!

  18. Maire Ni L says:

    Hi there, Mrs.F,
    Are you aware of Woofers and Woofing?
    Workers On Organic Farms is a world wide “thing”, where people volunteer to work for free for a period of time, in return for learning about “alternative” ways of life. Fr’example, people – mostly in their twenties, -would opt to come to your place and help build that garage.
    In return they would be fed, and learn about garage building and * – DA DAM – * Frugality.
    You would also of course give them sleeping quarters (in your barn, upstairs??)and washing facilities. Done.
    Another system which works exactly the same is called WorkAway.
    Never be at a loss for workers in a situation such as yours again.
    All the best,
    Máire

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yes, Woofing is an awesome program! We don’t really have enough “farm,” however (no animals; not enough crops) to qualify ;), although we could certainly offer financial lessons ;).

      • Wow… I had the same thought… I was totally about to write a comment and suggest woofers.

        The program can be rather broad… it’s not just farming, there are offers for beekeeping, and other construction projects, like building a garage. So as long as Mr. FW is willing to do the research and play the instructor, you could totally do this. And it might be an interesting springboard to the AirBnB space you mentioned creating back when you bought the place (although that might feel like a distant dream right now…)

        Lovely photos!

        • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

          Yeah, the AirBnB thing is certainly still a possibility, but right now we’re a bit occupied with our kid(s) and the land :)! That’s the beauty though of planning to live here for a long time–we envision many different iterations of our lives out here.

  19. Nora says:

    My husband is also on a garage building kick but he already has one so I’m putting that plan off. $75 is also a bargain for that driveway! My husband plows in the winter and I price out the driveways and we charged $100 minimum for driveways in a recent storm. However, in a lesson in failing to plan, those who booked early were $40 and those who booked late were $100 as his time become more valuable at 12am when he was very grumpy, it was a lot more snow by then, and it was a lot harder to clear, vs. those who called early and scheduled ahead. I would note that it probably takes him 15 minutes to plow our small driveway so 25 minutes with your tractor snowblower is awesome! He really wants a tractor but our 1 acre does not need that.

  20. Reece says:

    I’m really surprised that garage’s aren’t really a thing in VT simply because of the amount of snow you typically receive. Do most people have barns or what do they do with their vehicles?
    Also–are you considering paving your driveway at any point? Why or why not? It would certainly cut down on the summer maintenance….but might be a huge expense.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I share your surprise that garages aren’t a thing in Vermont! You’d think they would be, but nope, most people simply park outside and clear their cars off–it’s a rugged bunch of folks who live up here :). That being said, I think we will very much enjoy having one once we build it. Paving the driveway is actually cost-prohibitive and not a good longterm plan, although I had the exact same question myself when we first moved here!

  21. Carissa says:

    My brother-in-law was born in March of 1978, an infamously snowy year in Michigan. If I’m remembering correctly, my mother-in-law caught a ride to the hospital on a neighbor’s snowmobile!

  22. Wow! That sunrise photo is beautiful with the way the sun cascades over the snow. Living in Phoenix I can’t fathom that much snow or the work it takes just to go somewhere. My wife, rightfully so, was anxious about certain things while pregnant but being able to get to a hospital is pretty serious business when going into labor. Glad you guys are able to handle this yourselves. Hoping for a smooth delivery for you. Regarding being a hermit we go through a similar thing in the summer with 115+ degree temperatures but you can at least go swimming and get out. It is just so draining to go run a few errands in what feels like the oven on low. You get very tired of it after a while and stay in at a certain point. We aren’t physically stuck though! It would be interesting to experience that side of winter though and maybe someday I will after we reach FI!

  23. Mrs. COD says:

    I adore these gorgeous winter photos! We are enjoying warmer temps in KY, but do somewhat miss the beauty of snow! Even when we returned to IL and WI for Christmas, we had snow, but the temps were too cold for the kiddos–boo! As always, I really enjoy your homestead updates and certainly aspire to be more self-sufficient as well. Glad you all are finding such deep community connections in Vermont (and not really being hermits, ha)!

  24. Soggysuzzi says:

    What a fun post! Your language keeps getting more and more literary and is a pleasure to read and enjoy. You must be almost beside yourself with the new kiddo and book. Good for you. I expect that you will be running around the country on book tours in the not too distant future since your publisher seems to already have a marketing plan in place. Get a lot of sleep before you go as you won’t get much on the tour.

    Love your photos. You’ve become a real expert at following the light, etc.. Much jealousy out here in reader land.

    A truck? Hummm? And here I had a bet with myself that your next biggie would be a sawmill. Why not? With the wood shed, the garage, the possible future air b&b rentals, it only makes sense. Not to mention an outdoor kitchen for canning in the summer, a roof over the sawmill to protect it from the weather, playhouse for the kids, a drying shed for the sale of wood down the line etc. etc. Best from here whatever you decide to do.

    By the way if you decide to start pressure canning do yourself a favor and get an All American canner. They ain’t cheap but I got a different brand that I don’t much like and will probably upgrade next year.. Amazon had them on sale on black Friday this year so I will start looking at that next year and hope they do it again. The All American is the top of the line but for pressure canning it can’t be beat. You can also use it over a wood fire outside which you can’t do with the others. It’s just made extremely well.

    Hope the hound is still doing well – she’s a cutie pie.

  25. Kathryn says:

    Learning how to build a garage and helping you guys out with it sounds like a lot of fun! If you still have room for more hands around when do you plan on doing it? (if it’s warm enough I could sleep in my hammock in your yard so I don’t need a place to sleep)

  26. Torrie says:

    That garage will be worth every drop of sweat equity and every dollar you put into it—after having lived in a very snowy part of Northern Utah for over ten years without a garage, we moved last year to our very first home (which has a garage), and it has been LIFE-CHANGING. I never realized before how much I chose not to leave the house just because I didn’t want to clear off the car, ha ha. I’ll be interested to see how you “frugalize” that process as much as possible!

  27. Bev says:

    Hi Liz. I haven’t commented in a while, but I still enjoy reading your posts. We’re Vermonters, as you know, and we have the same driveway and road situation and we share the same tractor. One thing my husband does to help maneuver all his tractor toys was to buy flat dollies (we use wood ones with big wheels) to rest the equipment on. We do, however, have an outside garage with a cement floor, but if you ever have this or have decent flooring in your barn, the dollies work great. They hold all of his tractor toys, (snow blower in summer), scraper, digger…don’t know these technical terms, but it’s all heavy equipment. He has different size dollies and it makes maneuvering the equipment around the garage a breeze, or at least possible. The metal dollies didn’t work because of rusting and scraping, and he just didn’t like them. But gosh, it wouldn’t take much to build them with heavy industrial wheels attached to some cut wood pieces. Just a thought if it might help you. My husband also loves his tractor we enjoy it all year with snow removal, moving downed trees, yard work, etc. They’re a godsend when you live a rural lifestyle.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      You’ve touched on one of our crucial problems: we have no poured concrete or flat surfaces anywhere on our property! Hence, the attachments are on pallets on uneven ground. You are so right that some poured concrete would be most helpful and it’s one of the things we’re considering building out in the near future :)! Good to hear from you, Bev!

  28. Brenda says:

    Liz, what are you going to do if heaven forbid Mr. FW is temporarily disabled for any amount of time? I hope there are people you can call to clear your driveway, fetch your wood, etc.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      See the section I wrote in this post on our amazing community :). We are beyond fortunate to be surrounded by a caring, loving community of neighbors.

  29. Anna says:

    I am new to subscribing to Frugalwoods and I’m not disappointed today by your post on homesteading. Sometimes I dream about what it would be like to move to the country. The community life sounds like just what I had in mind. But I forget how much self-sufficiency is required without the local government taking care of things like plowing (though, still wouldn’t help your driveway) and mosquito abatement. I’ll continue to live vicariously through your updates! It’s almost as good.

    P.S. Sounds like Mr. Frugalwoods has a potential side hustle in plowing if he ever wanted a side hobby that makes him extra $$$

  30. We live in Georgia where everything shuts down when it snows. I cannot imagine having to plow my driveway for weeks on end just to leave. And my driveway is fairly short. I don’t like cold weather very much, and, to me, snow is only pretty from a warm living room or in short bursts for playing.

  31. Wow. . .

    “For all you tractor enthusiasts out there, we have a Kubota L4400 with a hydrostatic transmission, a 45 horsepower 3-cylinder diesel engine, four-wheel drive, R4 tires, and H-bar chains on the rear tires, which are filled.”

    That whole sentence was just for me right? 🙂 Am I the only one who reads Tractorbynet and Frugalwoods? Surely not. We have a Kubota B7610 (with filled rears) box blade, post hole digger, pallet forks, FEL, HST, 4wd, ASAP with TLC. It’s fun.

    It’s so wonderful that you guys have found what sounds like an excellent community of friends and neighbors. I would love to retire to a farm/homestead, and we may yet, but I do have those same concerns you mentioned about finding ourselves becoming lonely or feeling isolated.

    I would love to help with the barn. We have lots of nail guns . . .and safety glasses.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s awesome! I like that you have a post hole digger–we’re still digging by hand for that particular chore. Oh, forgot to mention our pallet forks :)!

  32. Erica says:

    We got a bucketload of snow in Whitehorse this past week, and I would have loved that tractor 🙂 Shovelling by hand is the pits.

    I don’t know much about building a garage, but I can swing a hammer and use both a drill and a handsaw. A trip from the Yukon to Vermont during the summer would give me an opportunity to test-drive my truck camping set-up and learn something new 🙂

  33. Laura Schmitz says:

    I’d love to help you build a garage!

  34. Elizabeth says:

    Those pictures of your snowy property are beautiful!

    I’ve been really struck by the ongoing description you provide of the type of community you have in rural Vermont! I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on why true community in this particular area seems to be so alive and well. I dream of this kind of community! Where I live, potlucks and intergenerational friendships are not the norm. Though we’re not in a position to do so, moving up to rural Vermont sounds very appealing!

    I so enjoy reading about your experiences since you have made the move from city to country.

  35. JJ says:

    Wow, it looks beautiful, but I know I would not be a fan of all that snow. (I’m out here in the SoCal desert, loving the warmth. For the next few months anyway.) The community sounds awesome, though.

  36. They are some amazing photos. I’m in Australia so we don’t really get snow at all (other than in spots such as the Blue Mountains in NSW.)
    It looks like a lot of hard work to keep the driveway and other areas clean.

  37. Sounds like another great month on the ol’ homestead! Jinkies, I had no clue that snow plow services were so expensive! Sounds like I got the wrong job. 😉

    December was a great month. We both received bonuses from our companies, which enabled us to nearly double our December debt payment. We also had a zero-budget-impact-Christmas thanks to using cashback credit card rewards to pay for everyone’s gifts.

  38. Nora says:

    Until you have a full garage, is a carport a possibility? I know next to nothing about construction, but is it possible to get some kind of roof over the cars for the first step, with the walls and paved floor to follow? Is it even possible to build a roof that won’t buckle under the weight of snow without walls? Just wondering if that kind of band-aid would be worth it.

  39. Mrs. Kiwi says:

    Two civil engineers are waving their hands to volunteer to help build your garage! Lots of concrete experience!

    Love hearing the tails of the driveway and rural life!

  40. I don’t know why, but this was such an encouraging read. It reminded me a lot of growing up in a semi-rural (ok, pretty much rural) area where removing snow is a absolute requirement to get anywhere. It is very true that neighbours are very different in the city/rural as well. We’d call farmers two fields away our neighbours in the country, but in the city? We don’t even know their names!

    Can’t wait to get back to a more rural setting as soon as our finances allow!

  41. Jill says:

    We’re in rural Nova Scotia and are SO lucky that the wind blows most of our snow out of our (comparably short!) driveway. Our industrious five year old takes care of the rest, with great pride. His other specialty is shoveling the deck, and random parts of the yard.
    I love your posts each month about the homestead. We were in Vermont over the holidays for a family road trip, as part of our “give experiences, not stuff” practice, and fell in love with how wonderfully wintery everything was. So cold, so much snow, and shockingly good road conditions. We also hit Quebec on our way to Vermont, and found the same.
    I wanted to mention that we’ve been talking more with our kids about finances, and how useful and fun they find it. We discussed all of our trip expenses with our 10 year old, and he was really interested in the breakdown and understood more about why we would focus on bringing food, using grocery stores and mostly avoiding big sit-down meals. He also understood when we looked at the costs of things like visiting Valcartier (massive outdoor snow-tubing park, and equally large indoor water park) and skating through the forest in Quebec, that spending our funds on really cool stuff like that was – to us at least – more worthwhile than buying him umpteen hockey stickers, or another Winnipeg Jets t-shirt that he’d wear for a few months and then not be excited about anymore, or any other ‘thing’.
    Lastly, our youngest has started pre-primary this year, and the classroom is desperate for toys, so we’ve been donating some of ours. The kids get so excited about the new-to-them toys, and our little guy is so proud to be sharing, and our house is much less cluttered. Everyone wins!
    I feel like I’m constantly learning things from your blog and the community that comments, so thank you for that 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That is wonderful! I love that you’re instilling these money lessons early in your kids–that will serve them well and set them up for a lifetime of financial literacy!

  42. Jenn Meyers says:

    Wow! I am so fascinated that Vermont is known for it’s garage-lessness. Garages come standard here, but I don’t have one. This has led me to complain about having to scrape ice off in the frigid temps once or twice a week, but seeing you have to do it almost daily certainly makes my complaints seem a little over-inflated!

  43. JD says:

    I live in North Florida, and I spent a day last week scraping a thick coat of ice off my car after an ice storm, while my daughter, living an hour away, sent pictures of the huge snowflakes falling at her house. Her snow only lasted a few minutes, but some people in her area got enough to make a few snowballs or tiny snowmen. Living with the feet of snow as you do in Vermont would be quite a change, though. Wow.
    I wonder why people in Vermont don’t usually have garages? It seems as though a garage would be so practical.
    I loved the pictures of the snow. I used to live in an area with an actual ( if mild-ish) winter, so I typically saw at least a couple of snows each winter. I miss looking outside in the morning at the perfect landscape presented by a thick covering of snow. The pictures did me good!
    I was thrilled to get my bookplates in the mail. I’ll be even more thrilled to get the books!

  44. Justin says:

    “Burn it with FIRE!!!” <– my take on all that snow 🙂

    We got maybe an inch and that was more than enough for 1 winter.

  45. We came back from three weeks in South America to a New Hampshire backyard piled high with snow! And to your point about the beauty of community, our neighbor had plowed our (much shorter than yours) driveway and our other neighbor had shoveled the path from the driveway to our front door every time it snowed. 🙂 I love your description of snow in the winter–it’s exactly how I feel! The snow covers everything, so I can forget about the many garden projects I didn’t get to in the summer, or the mossy patch in the lawn we need to replant, etc. It’s a nice reprieve for a few months! Hope you guys have a great rest of January preparing for Babywoods #2!!! 🙂

  46. Kris says:

    That is a lot of snow Mrs. Frugalwoods, hopefully you can clear most of it at the homestead. With all that snow, it’s an opportunity to take great scenic shots.
    Being from California, I have no experience dealing with snow, only to ski/snowboard in it.

  47. I feel like there should be an industrial-sized, snow-blowing Roomba out that can do the work for you! You guys must have the best snowball fights!

  48. Kristen says:

    I live in the Gaineau Hills. We get a lot of snow. We have a reasonable driveway we can clear ourselves. We live in a private road where we contribute to road clearing (which our neighbour does). I regularly walk the dogs before 6 am and the only vehicles we see are all the local pickup trucks with ploughs, clearing driveways. I guess they get out earlier here!

  49. Helen says:

    A quarter-mile hilly driveway, wow. That does need a snow plow tractor to do the job. People living in New England are probably more used to the snow. The snow scenery is so pretty. Staying at the warm home, sitting next to the window and in the sunshine, with a cup of hot chocolate, enjoy a book, “what a wonderful world!”

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