Fall in Alaska – Getting Ready for Winter

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You almost can’t even count it as a season as fall in Alaska is so short! But it’s a wonderful time of the year here and we’re busy getting ready for winter. Here’s what we’re up to during fall.

While typing this, we have already had a few inches of snowfall and temperatures below freezing. It seems that fall was so short this year and winter is upon us. But technically, it’s still fall.

When winter gets here in full force, we’ll be ready. We spend the fall in Alaska making sure we’re all set for winter with various tasks in and outside the house.

Fall in Alaska-Getting the Animals Ready for Winter

While making the transition from summer to winter, we have a few tasks to accomplish in the barn. We want to make sure that all of our animals are ready for the snow and cold temperatures.

We start by purchasing extra bales of straw for bedding. The chickens and waterfowl appreciate the generous layers of straw, which helps to insulate their bedding and laying areas. The cows have an abundance of hay so we give them a good layer of straw as well, but not quite as much.

2 cows standing in the snow outside a barn

Everyone’s water heaters must be hooked up and tested, the water is already starting to freeze here. We keep them on timers so they’re off and on throughout the day.

The chickens have a heated plate that their water container sits on. The waterfowl have a heated bucket so they’re able to dip their heads in as needed. The cows have a livestock water heater that sits at the bottom of their trough.

The hose just be stored in the garage from now on and only pulled out when we refill everyone’s water in the evenings.

a cow looking into a water trough with a heater in it

You can read all about our fall beekeeping tasks in this post. Our bees are still outside, wrapped in insulation. We have to remove their top feeders a bit early this year due to the temperature drop and we already put their candy boards on.

We will wait a little longer while the temperature is still just around zero before we put them away for the winter. But in the next week or two, they will be moved to their winter home.

beehive with insulation in the snow

Getting the Outside Ready for Winter

There are several preparations to be made outside before the snow comes. One of our biggest tasks every year is gathering enough wood for the winter. We heat our home using a wood-burning stove as well as heating oil.

We need quite a bit of wood to last us for so many months so it takes a while to get it all ready. First, we have to gather the wood. We were fortunate this year as the Army base here had to clear a lot of land for an airstrip. They allowed anyone to come and pick up the cut down trees.

A long stack of split wood

Next, my husband had to cut the trunks down into rounds with his chainsaw. This allowed us to run the rounds through a log splitter that we rented for a weekend. It took hours and two days to split it all. The girls were in charge of stacking it all up in a few different areas on our property.

Pieces of wood sitting on a porch

Other outdoor chores include:

  • Filling the oil tank
  • Cleaning up any wayward items outside so they don’t get buried under the snow
  • Hooking up the snow plow
  • Putting yer four-wheelers away and getting out the snow-machine
  • Checking over the generator so it’s ready for any winter power outages
  • Taking down the garden fence and cleaning it up

Getting the Inside Ready for Winter

While my husband is usually busy getting the outdoor tasks done, I’m getting the inside of our home ready for winter. The garden must be put to bed, including digging up the last of the crops. The potatoes are dried and stored in burlap sacks. The carrots are in crates of dirt.

Burlap sacks full of potatoes

The beets have been pickled and canned as well as the cucumbers. The honey has been extracted and bottled up. Our shelves are now full of canned goods including the salmon we smoked a few months ago. I also stock up on wheat berries and flour for bread all winter.

Home-canned foods in jars including pickled beets, honey, and dill pickles.

A log home seems to be made for this time of year. The deep colors and dimmer lighting offers a cozy atmosphere when it’s time to come inside from the cold.

The girls sewed a set of fall cloth napkins for us to use at meals and a few other fall decorations are scattered around. The quilts and throws are out on the couch and candles are starting to be lit as we lose daylight.

A stack of cloth napkins.

We’re eating some of our favorite, hearty meals including wild game pot pie and stroganoff.

We are using our wood stove but keep it very low most of the time as it’s not that cold out yet. The girls keep the porch stocked with wood so I can easily grab a few pieces throughout the day to keep it going.

A wood stove with a crock next to it full of birch wood.

Fall in Alaska is a really wonderful time of year. It’s so beautiful here as the transition is made from summer to winter. Although short in duration, there’s plenty of time to get everything done so we’re ready when winter really gets here, which won’t be long.

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