Thursday, January 25, 2018
DAY TO DAY WINTER SURVIVAL IN BIG SKY COUNTRY
Greetings from the top of the Rockies! I had intended on writing this post a month ago, but we've been too busy just trying to survive the harsh winter we are having this winter. We have had more snow this winter than we have seen since the winter of '96.
When we think of survival and survival gear, we usually think in terms of surviving camping or hiking trips, or civil unrest and such. I doubt many of us think of survival on a daily basis. The fact of the matter is, anything you do that contributes to you living to see tomorrow is an act of survival.
In these modern times, nearly all of us, whether you are a city mouse or a country mouse, must earn money to keep a roof over our heads and to keep us warm and fed. Whatever you do to earn that money is a survival skill. For most city folks, day to day survival simply means keeping the mortgage and utility bills paid on time and stopping by the grocery store when you need to restock the fridge and pantry and perhaps throw a survival kit in the car trunk.
For country folk, there is likely to be a bit more required besides just paying the bills. If you rely on propane to heat your home, you must monitor the propane level in your tank and order more before you run out. In my neck of the woods, most of us make a lot less money than folks in the city, which requires us to do more for ourselves and plan further in advance. For example, most of us around here heat our homes primarily or solely with wood. What that requires is securing our firewood in late Spring, Summer, and early Fall. Those of us that grow our own vegetables must begin in early Spring to grow food for the upcoming Winter several months away. Fall is the time to harvest enough meat to last us until the next Fall. Life here is very much like the story of the "Ant and the Grasshopper".
This year I have been more like the Grasshopper than the Ant. Mother Nature had a bit to do with this but it still could have been avoided. Instead of making firewood a priority in the Spring, I put off gathering it, thinking I would have more time in Summer and Fall. As luck would have it, we pretty much went right from spring to drought and wildfires, which implemented "Hoot Owl" restrictions, which prohibits operating chainsaws in the woods after 2pm. During Summer my job as a Fishing Outfitter and Guide requires me to work most mornings. By the time I would get home it was too late get wood. Those few days I did not have to guide, what did I do? I went fishing instead of putting up wood. No problem; I'll just have to do it in the Fall. An early snowstorm shut me down before I had enough wood put up to get me through the winter. On to plan "B" - get wood with the snowmobile and sled.
That worked "ok" till we got another big dump of snow that was too much even for the snowmobile. It took a couple weeks of snow "settling" before I could even leave the yard. Back on track - hauled a couple sled loads, then the snowmobile broke down. That's when I remembered that the previous winter I was having problems with it due to ethanol in the gas deteriorating the plastic fuel lines. I had intended on replacing them before this winter but forgot all about it. After several days and a 150- mile round trip to town for parts, I finally got it all fixed and running again just in time...I was down to my last few sticks of wood.
This winter has been a wake-up call for me. Here I am; a guy entirely confident and skilled at surviving outdoors for weeks on end, and getting paid to ensure my clients survive our expeditions, and I came close to not surviving this winter in my own home. Rest assured I will not make this mistake again - I've been humbled and have learned my lesson.
I hope those of you reading this will learn from my mistakes and plan ahead for your survival, whether it be just "daily life", a road trip, outdoor excursion, civil unrest, disaster, or any other type of scenario that may put your survival in jeopardy. Proper advance planning is a major factor in your ability to survive no matter where you are or what you are doing.
I am making a new commitment to myself to put down on paper my "Annual Survival Plan" for daily survival as well as "excursion survival", and utilize checklists to ensure I do not forget or omit tasks and survival gear items I may need to survive any scenario. I encourage you to do the same by writing down your own "Annual Survival Plan" that is tailored to you and your needs and circumstances. Furthermore, just writing it down is not enough. We must then muster up the self-discipline to work on and fulfill your survival goals. This year I will be an Ant. Being a Grasshopper is far too stressful. I will get the chores done first, then go fishing!