This winter onset is early and the Wooly Worms said it would be a bad one. I had almost finished my pre-planning and set-ups for winter then I got sick. I never get sick; I have not had a cold or sniffles in twenty years. But here I was, flat on my back snargling and hacking. It struck that quick, and I am Mr. Vitamin C. Now after five days of progressive invasive herbs and rest I am ready to go back to the farm labors tomorrow. I had thought you would like a first hand on what to do, how to prevent and what we organic devotees recommend.
First of all is where you sleep at night. If your bed is adjoining an outside wall your bed warmth and body heat is pulled away from you and you get chilled in the wee hours. So you dress in night clothes- flannels and woolies with a watch cap on. Socks too. Now this may not sound romantic, or in keeping with Home Beautiful people, but who is going to see you at night anyway. You will be the healthy one delivering the fruit care package to the sickest.
Now that you have turned your bed around- away from the wall you need warm coverings. Most of what is offered today is micro fiber blankets. These really hold the heat, but they also trap body moisture, which accumulates through the night till about 3AM and you start to feel cold. Real wool blankets are the best and they need not be fancy- try Sportsmans Guide and Harbor Freight. You will need a blanket or flannel sheets under you as well as over you. Electric blankets and under heating pads are great (Except for pregnant women) until the power shuts off in the night. Sleeping bags are especially good for the young people and I still like them. The down-feather fill is the best followed by a synthetic fill. The feather types are breathable-the synthetic fibers may not be and in and case with blankets, sleeping bags of micro fibers toss them in the dryer before bed time and dry and warm them.
If you are rugged and still camping out you will need more under you than on top as the ground, and thin mattresses pull heat from the body. If the kids are curled in a ball it is most likely they are sleeping cold.
Wal*Mart and sporting goods stores offer heat tabs which really work. Just crunch them up and they generate necessary warmth. I like the toe warmers best. Diane has a camo hand warmer bag (they used to be called a hand warmer muff) with two tabs inside and when she rides in my truck I have a 12VDC Blanket to wrap around her-she is a cold bunny.
When I was nine it was my job to empty the chamber pots and start the morning kitchen stove fire. I can remember it was so cold that your breath condensed on the walls and you had frost.
Most people have frilly dilly winter beautiful thin window coverings. In the old and more practical days you did not have rugs. Tapestries and blankets were hung on the walls to insulate. Now keeping the thought about drafts from the doorway, and the two windows you are in that draft and moving eddy currents of cold. Kixx helped me by tearing down one thin decorative window curtain, and I thanked him for motivating me, I bought two micro fiber blankets from Big Lots and round curtain clips from Amazon.com and hung the two blankets across the windows and the room improved in warmth. They sold color prints as well as solids.
Let’s look at clothing. You can shower each night- good and hot. Then put on fresh dry flannels and a watch cap. Slide into your pre-heated bed (with electric bed warmer shut it off if you are pregnant), turn out all the lights as science says you sleep better in a dark room. Have a flashlight handy for power outages when you have to get up. You will notice if you are cold you have to make bathroom trips more often; hence the commode under the bed.
I do think that a wood stove in the room is great, since this will be running all the day and night you will want to back the stove up with oak and/or coal if it is a coal rated stove. Beware the Chinese imports that are barely decorative and will burn through with hot oak and coal. I have seen many house fires in my lifetime and it is usually from candles on a XMAS tree or the bottom of the stove burning through to the wood floor. On a more positive note the stove will probably have a window and you will have the flicker of low intensity light, which is relaxing- not a constant night-light. Always keep a BIG fire extinguisher in each room PLUS a smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarm over the door jam. Install fresh batteries every June and Xmas. Easy dates to remember.
Alas, the house is a sick room of drips and wheezes. Do you remember the story of Typhoid Mary? She was a carrier of Typhoid but exhibited no symptoms. She was finally locked away for the common good although it is interesting to note that in today’s Boards of Health such powers no longer exist and you can gleefully spread anything that is contagious. In fact this implies that you must be cautious when eating out and shopping in the crowds. People breath on you and you inhale. You touch snotty doorknobs and run your fingers to your eyes and nose. VIRUSES are easily transmitted and as they pass from one host to the other they mutate- usually stronger and meaner. Use hand gel and wash your hands before eating and at the table use hand gel-again.
The big killer of course is pneumonia. There is a five-year inoculation for pneumonia you can get which I certainly recommend. Once your lungs fill up you are a goner. Flu shots are pretty safe now a days and I encourage all- especially old folks to get one free on their Medicare card.
Proper attire is necessary in this weather. Let’s start with sox. The warmest sox you can get are Carhartt Merino Wool. Others also offer Merino wool sox, which are found in the sporting goods section. You will need two pair to wear. Lesser quality wool sox are worn underneath/inside; the Marino Wool helps transfer moisture. Change to clean dry sox each day. Sleep with warm sox. Wear warm sheepskin slippers during the day inside the house.
Moving up the body think LAYERING of flannels, wools or silk. This traps heat. Recall from our Diabetic article series that the feet and lower extremities have small veins and therefore get colder quicker. Some 30% of body heat is lost through the head. The brain uses that blood to keep functioning. Wear a wool watch cap.
Suspenders are better than belts but only old men wear them since their hips shrink and their trousers fall down. But with suspenders you are not cinching up a horse and you can, with suspenders, pack the tails of the layered shirts into the butt.
A proper outdoor 30 below zero insulated blaze orange coverall is wonderful or at least a Thinsulate™ coat. I prefer down filled but some of the new man made fibers work well. Gloves are necessary and battery electric gloves and battery socks are available in the sporting goods sections and catalogs. You will appreciate this when you are trudging along behind a snow blower.
When outside, a ski mask covering for the face and head is wonderful plus a hood to pull over your noggin. I also like a long wool 5’ neck scarf to wrap up in and the tails to lie down against the chest.
Lastly for the great outdoors if you are NOT chain sawing purchase a pair of felt lined 100 below rubber bottom pack boots and a spare set of liners. Sportsmans Guide has the best with a BOB pointed no slip sole. Now your feet will be toasty. You cannot wear summer boots in the winter. Also note for the serious outside worker you want to keep healthy-there are electric shoetrees to dry the boots overnight. If you have no electricity and are using the wood stove, lay the boot open mouthed on the floor not under the stove or the leather will be come like metal sheets.
Tell people where you are going so if you slip and do not make it back they can find you. A cell phone helps. Always carry waterproof matches, a pocketknife, whistle, and a flashlight. And dress properly.
Now for the big moment: what did I treat my self with as an herbalist. Colds and sore holes usually run 2 or more weeks. This means your immune system is compromised- not working – and it needs warm rest, sleep, hot chicken soup- lots of soup for the liquids and health. In addition I use Echinacea 3 squirts 3X day. I also use Lomatium at 3 squirts a day 3X a day. I think a decongestant is good. I use a prepared lung, heart supplement, plus an Advil only when the head ache is intolerable. I take lots of vitamins and eat a pure diet. Lots of soups. I was very sick from both ends last Tuesday and today Friday I am almost cured.
You can read more on herbs powers in the archives on Flus- Bird Flus etc. Quite often cold bunnies have a low active thyroid. The Thyroid Gland serves in temperature regulation. A daily supplement of KELP as recommended on the bottle may bring your body temperature up, although having a physician do a blood panel is the best idea.
I must add that vegetarians mostly would be vegetarians, do not eat right. In fact 28% of children go to bed hungry each night in the USA. Most people live on a fast food or bread diet with little pure unadulterated real meat, no fats and no veggies. I know it is expensive to eat correctly and not always convenient to have to cook for yourself and others. But this has to be done. I trained Christina from day one to cook, she is a great cook and I always get deluxe when she is home. My cooking sucks so I am lucky I have a wonderful dedicated wife who told me years back: “Women had best learn to cook as that is what they will always be doing-long after the man is retired.” Pay heed young husbands, give the gift that keeps on cooking- a good stove and good pots and pans. Throw in a dishwasher too as it will sterilize the dishes wherein sink washing is not really sterile.
Sick people do not need to eat with the family and spread bacteria and virus. They are in the sick room. Yes, in the old days the solarium was the sick room, lots of sunlight, fresh air and quiet. No TV, no X Box. Just rest. After the family meal, the dishes are gathered and the table is wiped down with a bleach solution which will kill even AIDS. Also wipe down doorknobs; toilet seats as such need to be bleached. Do not pour bleach down the toilet or you will kill your septic system. Just a wipe hither and yon. Wash your hands all the time. No kissing babies-unless you are the healthy mother.
COPYRIGHT: 2010, Back2theLand.com, Mark Steel