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Old 08-16-2016, 03:06 PM
 
Location: Palm Desert, CA
3 posts, read 2,818 times
Reputation: 10

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Hello folks,
this is my first post and would like to get some feedback if I could.
I was born and raised in Minnesota but have lived in Southern California since 1982(to take care of my dad until he passed and to attend college). I'm planning on heading back to the Midwest, either Minnesota or Iowa, to get a small Hobby Farm. I'm leaning towards middle-western Iowa because the growing season is a bit longer and the Winters are a tad bit less brutal.

I have a lot of Farmers in my family's past and I'm beginning to get the pull to grow my own food and be as self-sufficient as I can. California real estate prices are way beyond my pocketbook's size so back to the Midwest fits my finances very well.

There are many things you miss about the Midwest when you move to a desert(water, real green grass, lighting a bonfire in the woods, crisp, clean air, plus many others...). The one thing I had a real hard time with was Winter though.

I'm here close to Palm Springs, and for pretty close to 5 months out of the year you have to stay inside because of the oppressive heat(it was 119 yesterday). If you've never experienced that kind of heat for that long a period it can be very overwhelming. The intensive heat just sucks all the energy out of you. Even if you get up early and get as many things done as quickly as you can, by noon your body is running on empty.

But I don't want to swap 5 months of heat lock-up for 5 months of cold lock-up. The one thing I truly liked doing in the Winter was riding an ATV all through the woods and trials. But what I'm looking for is some other Winter activities that can get me through the Winters, and I thought I would ask and see what you Winter folks do. I plan on preserving all my grown food, and really like to cook(I'm a former Chef in another life) so that will help; and will have a greenhouse for year-round veggies, so that will help too.

Thanks for any feedback, and I really look forward to heading back to my roots.

Charlie
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Old 08-16-2016, 03:47 PM
 
Location: Des Moines Metro
5,105 posts, read 6,656,370 times
Reputation: 9679
Hi, Charlie!

The entire winter isn't brutal. While there are occasionally ice storms in late November, most of the extreme cold (-5 and below) and heavy snow lasts from January to early March. Last winter, there were only three days where the driving was really dicey in Central Iowa. Most of the storms went north.

I'm a huge fan of lightweight thermo underwear made for sports. I'm not talking about the traditional white heavy long johns sold in the farm stores, although those have their place. For women, one brand is Cuddle Duds. For men, I think it's Under Armour (the long type).

Armed with a proper base layer, wool socks, and the right jacket and hat, winter is not a problem most days. I add slip-on cleats to my hiking boots when it's really icy, and I can walk around outside in comfort except for some really raw, windy days in January and February.

I quit riding my bicycle outside around Thanksgiving, but there have been dry days in December when I could have ridden. With the proper clothing, you can certainly go three-wheeling much of the winter with the right tires.

I don't know about NW Iowa. If they get more snow, cross-country skiing would be possible. I used to do that in Michigan, but I sold my boots and skis when I first moved to Ohio and never replaced them. Central Ohio gets tons of ice.

My winter activities outside are walking/bird watching, skating, and keeping the drive shoveled. (:

I swim during the winter at the heated pool in the hospital (I have joint problems). There are also a number of affordable gyms in Des Moines, as well as weekend activities at the Expo Center and around town. I can't speak to what's available in other areas.

Lastly, the winters here are brighter than around the Great Lakes. I used to have SAD, and I don't anymore. There's plenty of light for me. Others say that they have problems and need more sun.

I hope that gets you started. Try to get out here for a visit in February between snowstorms so that you can judge for yourself, and keep in mind that it'll probably take you two winters to get your system used to the cold, again.

Added: I stress proper dress because most of the women I know who complain endlessly about winter are running around in lightweight clothing. They refuse to layer because they think they look too fat. In the meantime, they shiver endlessly. I think they are fools.
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Old 08-16-2016, 03:52 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
3,287 posts, read 1,764,653 times
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When it's hot, find the water. Simple system.
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Old 08-17-2016, 10:54 AM
 
49 posts, read 43,105 times
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Hunting and Ice Fishing!
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Old 08-17-2016, 02:55 PM
 
6,064 posts, read 5,665,853 times
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It kind of depends on where you end up living.

I know you said you are interested in middle to western Iowa, but I'd like to put in a plug for Northeastern Iowa, especially the Decorah area, since you're interested in small self sufficient farming There are many small organic and specialty farms in Northeastern Iowa, and many people who live as self-sufficiently as possible, so you'd have a lot of support with your endeavors. The Decorah area also has tons of things to do in the winter: classes, lectures, concerts, visiting artists and authors, and so on. Outside you can hike, Nordic ski, snowmobile, and etc. You'd also be able to visit with other small farmers at the food co-op and other places.

Take a look at: Decorah Now – Building Local Community Through Arts, Cultural, and Recreational Events, and the Exchange of Goods and Services

Oh - if you're a social conservative the Decorah area may not be right for you.
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Old 08-17-2016, 09:18 PM
 
Location: Palm Desert, CA
3 posts, read 2,818 times
Reputation: 10
Default Thanks much.

Thanks Meemur for the tips. I have a Recumbent Bicycle that I love to ride so that would be great if I could ride when those Winter days allow. I also plan on getting a Fat Tire bike & would like to ride that in the snow if weather permits. And being able to swim in an indoor pool sounds great too. I have a little brother who has a small farm close to Morris, Mn. and I can remember him calling me in February a few years ago saying it was 50 degrees outside. I don't think the Winters are quite like they were when I grew up in Minnesota in the 60's & 70's, so that will help.
I've always dressed warm but still could get cold real fast(I'm a redhead and have really light skin and I think that adds to the quick discomfort from the cold), so hand and feet warmers may be a good addition this time.

And thanks 601halfdozen0theother for your tips. I'm very open to settling in a good self-sufficient community if I can find what I'm looking for, so I will check the Decorah area for sure.

I'm a Moderate when it comes to politics. I've voted both Democrat & Republican depending on whom I think is best for the job

Charlie
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Old 08-19-2016, 05:23 PM
 
4,759 posts, read 6,441,308 times
Reputation: 6065
Where do people come up with 5 months of winter?

Real winter is about 10-12 weeks.
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Old 08-19-2016, 06:13 PM
 
Location: Des Moines Metro
5,105 posts, read 6,656,370 times
Reputation: 9679
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dport7674 View Post
Where do people come up with 5 months of winter?
Real winter is about 10-12 weeks.
I won't answer for the OP, but I'm in my late 50s. Winters were harder when I was a child. It used to snow Halloween or soon after and the snow would stick around until early April. More recently, it seems like there are longer thaw cycles, and I've been able to grill out for the last few years during my birthday in early February. That wasn't possible when I was a young 20-something. Temps were usually in the single digits.
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Old 08-23-2016, 03:01 AM
 
Location: Rock Hill, SC
158 posts, read 139,634 times
Reputation: 98
I live in Iowa. I was born and raised here. I like Iowa, I like that it's not overcrowded, love the cool summer nights with the windows open, love riding my Harley on county roads with rarely any interaction with other vehicles, love how green it gets in the spring and summer, love the fall colors.

Having said all of that, I STAY IN THE HOUSE ALL WINTER!! I HATE WINTER!!! I hate how gloomy it gets here, from November when the trees lose their last leaves, until about the end of May/beginning of April. I find it very depressing.

My wife and I lived in Georgia for 4 years about 20 years ago. We have been researching South Carolina and are planning a move there. I cannot do the long winters any more. SC is a great compromise because it still has 4 seasons and the mountains and ocean are both a couple hour drive. Location, location, location. I love having 4 seasons I just don't like Winter being the longest one.

Best wishes.
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Old 08-23-2016, 03:04 AM
 
Location: Rock Hill, SC
158 posts, read 139,634 times
Reputation: 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meemur View Post
I won't answer for the OP, but I'm in my late 50s. Winters were harder when I was a child. It used to snow Halloween or soon after and the snow would stick around until early April. More recently, it seems like there are longer thaw cycles, and I've been able to grill out for the last few years during my birthday in early February. That wasn't possible when I was a young 20-something. Temps were usually in the single digits.

I agree that we have "thaws". I remember having more snow when I was a kid (I'm 42). Let's not forget about the bone chilling below zero wind chills that we have to deal with. Yes it seems warmer with less snow but we still get these cold spells that are brutal.
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