We recently moved from the city to 5 acres of rural property in a cold climate and let’s just say after two winters (this winter being harsh!), we have some snow removal tips to share with those in need!
While our first winter was mild and we only had snow on the ground for about a month, this winter we’re going on two full months of having snow on the ground, we’ve had many feet, and we’ve had sustained low temperatures for weeks on end!
We’re happy to report that snow has been a non-issue for us and we’re loving every minute of it due to both experience and careful planning!
Here’s a fun video of snow removal on our property but be sure to read the full blog post for extra snow removal tips!
Use a Sturdy Truck Plow for Driveway Snow Removal
Our first winter we didn’t have a snow plow or any other means to remove snow, and somehow we lucked out. Our neighbor did plow us out once which was nice, but we would’ve been fine without it!
This winter is a different story. We’ve had deep snow on our long driveway multiple times, and shoveling it by hand is an exhausting workout to say the least.
This year, we’ve had the opportunity to plow out our driveway a total of four times and WOW, it’s made all of the difference! Plowing our entire driveway as well as living area on the flat spot of our land takes no time at all… and it really helps us to stay on top of the snow.
The thing with snow is that it’s really ideal to remove it ASAP on areas you need to keep tidy. Otherwise, temperatures warm up, snow melts turning into a mush mess, and then it can even freeze again turning your property into a skating rink.
We know folks that have let the snow on their driveway get up to three feet deep and then the rains come, making the snow almost impossible to remove with a home plow. Lesson learned… if you have the means (or can find the means) to remove snow right away, do it, and your future self will thank you!
There are many economical plows on the market for home use such as the HomePlow by Meyer which is the one we have access too and seems to be working great so far.
While these may be an investment up front, the idea is that they last for many, many years and can benefit many families (heck, you might even be able to make an extra buck or two by plowing out neighbors!).
Have an Easy-to-Push Snow Scoop
One of the best tools on our property in winter is our snow scoop. Jesse actually grew up in an area where snow could be 10 feet deep in winter, and this was a tool that the locals used!
This snow scoop is ridiculously easy to push when the snow is nice and fluffy and it makes clearing larger areas of snow a breeze.
I think these would be ideal for clearing small driveways, walkways, sidewalks or other small areas you wish to not have a pile up of snow.
Before we had access to a snow plow, we were clearing our long driveway with this but it would take over an hour of repetitive work – a great workout when you’re feeling “fluffy” in winter!
BONUS TIP: If you find snow to be a bit sticky in the scoop, feel free to squirt some WD40 inside of the scoop. It should help the snow slide off more easily.
Have a Quality Snow Shovel or Snow Pusher
Even with a snow plow and a snow scoop, it’s essential to have a shovel that’s good for shoveling snow.
Even though we do our best to put things away before snow arrives, sometimes we have to unbury things such as hoses or pipe! Plows and scoops aren’t good for such tasks because they aren’t very precise.
You could use a shovel like this which works great for pushing dry snow, but if the snow gets too wet or icy as has happened to us already, you may need to use a a sturdy shovel that’s built for dirt!
Again… when shoveling snow, the key is to do it early and do it often so that the snow doesn’t have a chance to build up or melt! Nothing is worse than removing wet, heavy snow!
Here are additional snow shoveling tips if you’re interested.
Keep Plenty of Salt on Hand
Depending on the winter, it can be a great idea to have large buckets of salt on hand.
Even though we keep our driveway and walking paths plowed, sometimes the temperatures warm up, melt the sow, and then it re-freezes in the form of ice.
This makes for a nice ice skating rink on the driveway, but you can imagine that it’s a good way to land flat on your back (yes, it’s happened to us more than once).
Do yourself a favor and keep some salt around when things are extremely precarious! Ideally you would remove the snow before it has the chance to turn into an ice skating rink, but sometimes it’s just not possible.
Plan Ahead on Where to Dump Excess Snow
Another thing that is easy to not think about until it’s too late is where to dump your excess snow that’s been removed. In urban areas this can be more difficult, but we’re lucky to have a decent amount of space on our rural property.
We have a couple of different areas where we dump our snow but both are completely out of the way of vehicle traffic on the property.
These snow piles can grow quite large over the winter so plan wisely!
That said, this past weekend we got 30″ of snow in two days, and we had to quickly put snow wherever it would fit! We ended up pushing heaps of snow in front of our reserve firewood pile (already have plans on where to put the pile next year to avoid this)! Do as we say… not as we do!
Here you can see some of our heaps of snow. Hope we don’t need that firewood this year!
Keep an Ice Scraper In Your Car
If you’re accustomed to living in a cold climate, this is probably a no-brainer for you, but it wasn’t for me my first year living in an area that actually gets weather!
Ice on the windshield is no bueno. Since we live off the grid (we aren’t tied into public utilities) we have solar power, and it’s critical to keep the solar panels clear! Ice scrapers work great on these so that we can remove ice without damaging them, and so that we can continue to get free power from the sun.
Ice scrapers often have two sides: a blade and a brush. The blade is great for ice and the brush is great for powdery snow… our favorite when temps are cold!
Put Stakes Along Driveway
Depending on how much snow you get and how your driveway is laid out on your property, staking the driveway with stakes such as these can be a great idea!
Jesse’s aunt actually surprised us by putting reflectors along our driveway, and they surprisingly come in handy in the snow as we can really see where the edge of the driveway ends!
Remove Snow Quickly & Remove Snow Often
The #1 snow removal tip we could truly offer is to do your snow removal quickly and often. Nothing is worse than having heaps of snow in areas it shouldn’t be when the temperatures warm up.
Also, snow plows and snow scoops work great but not if there are feet upon feet of snow to be removed! It’s best if you’re only plowing a few inches at a time which should be manageable for most climates!
As soon as we get a decent snow, we get to work clearing the driveway, clearing the walking paths, clearing snow off of our outside deck, and clearing snow off of any outdoor stairs.
This really does keep snow manageable so that it doesn’t build up and ice over time! Don’t be lazy…
Use a Heavy Duty Ice Scraper on Solid Ice
Despite our best efforts to keep critical areas snow and ice-free, the best of intentions don’t always end with desirable circumstances.
We’ve had ice build up around our lawn tools as well as in our kitty’s cat hole (how he enters and exits our cabin) so we use something like this to break it up!
This option is really a last resort, but can be a great way to un-stick a frozen shovel from the ground or chip away at small sections of ice as to reduce accidents.
Have Durable Work-Worthy Winter Clothing on Hand
Because snow removal is part of our life in the winter months, we were sure to invest in quality winter clothing. We don’t want to feel restricted by our clothing but instead invest in items that help us do our job better.
Some things we have this winter that helped us to be comfortable while removing snow at all hours of day or night include:
- Bogs, Muck Boots or similar boots: We have these boots that come up fairly high on our calves. They are super insulated are rated for as low as -40 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. We actually gifted these to Jesse’s sister as well who removes snow all day every day for work, and she gives them the thumbs up as well.
- Lined pants: Jesse is cold-blooded, but I get cold easily so I invested in a pair of these these fleece-lined pants… combined with long underwear, I can easily get too toasty when doing snow removal.. a good problem to have.
- Durable jacket: Jesse and I each have durable jackets (me this one and Jesse this one) that keep us warm for our winter chores.
- Wool socks: We each have a few pairs of wool socks with the highest wool percentage we could find! These are my favorite… over 80% wool! This combined with Bogs keep my feet incredibly warm, sometimes too warm.
- Dress in layers: No specific articles to mention here, but in addition to the basics, be sure to dress in layers! Here’s some of Alyssa’s favorite winter clothing. You can always strip down but start with a good amount of layers on so that you don’t dread stepping out into the cold to do winter chores.
Bonus Tip: Remove Snow During the Coldest Times of Days
We can’t stress this enough… work smarter, not harder. Don’t remove snow when it’s warm outside, even if it means you need to do your snow removal at night or early in the morning!
We frequently are outside after dark pushing snow and the surprising thing is we actually enjoy it! It’s great to get some exercise in winter when we’re cooped up inside all day working on our businesses.
Summing it Up
In the end, all tips aside, we keep coming back to the idea of removing snow quickly and often. If you do it as soon as it snows, it shouldn’t pile up on you too quickly, unless you are in a snowpocalypse as we were last weekend!
We hope you find these tips useful and if you have your own, feel free to share! We’re happy to take some of those ideas and add to this page to make it the best resource possible!
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I was going to start a homestead in Idaho, I’m thinking Florida now!! I love what you guy’s are doing and you make great video’s as well.
We are wishing for snow like that back here in england. My daughter who is 6 hasnt experienced a proper winter which is sad.
A sledge purchased 3 years ago hasnt been used yet!
Many years ago 1950’s I lived in Pa. We used paraffin on our shovels and ski’s. We kept the snow shovel’s clean, and warmed them up before we rubbed a bar of paraffin on them. It worked well.
Many years ago we lived in the burbs of Kansas City you all are giving good information. Glad you are getting good pics too. Hopefully this won’t happen again for a while. Here in Texas we are in the 80s and tommrow they think we may hit 90! But them the bottom drops out and we may see rain and ice. P s the only thing I would add is a back brace belt, they are good no matter your age. After all that you all might need pancakes or corn bread with your wonderful preserves to recover. Bea
Great video. You should get the same type snow plow for your atv to make moving the snow around home site a lot easier.
We lived on 10 acres with a very long (1/4 mile) lane in NW Illinois for thirty years. For the first 25 or so I used an old farm tractor and bucket (trip bucket unfortunately) but then purchased the biggest snow blower Sears had and goodness we could move a lot of snow quickly and without having to worry about piles. That thing would shoot snow 50 feet away from the lane making drifts (our biggest problem and we had lots of strong prairie winds) much less likely to form. I also put up about 800 feet of snow fence, which if erected properly can make a world of difference. The snow blower cost less than the truck plow, used little gasoline and eliminated the big piles of snow a plow leaves.
Doug Snowden says
I am so envious of you two! I look forward to the emails detailing what you’re up to next. Tell me, did you buy the snow plow for your friend? It appeared you mounted it on his truck?
PS I loved the aerial shots of the plowing.
Donald Boys says
I’ve spent the entire afternoon watching your videos – and I will likely do it again soon! Fascinating!
Daniel E Luma says
That’s some deep snow you have there. If it gets to cold anything below zero make sure you have a scarf on to cover your face cause you can freeze your lungs please keep this in mind I ware Carhartt’s full suit easy to get into and out of . you guys got all the snow just think if you had a snowmobile . Jess if you plan on stay in that cabin you should paint the roof black so the snow doesn’t stick will help cabin stay warmer plus I’d invest in a wood shed and a log splitter it also will keep your back safe. by the way where is the snowman at…
Ralph Flolden says
I got hooked on your site while following two sailing series, Sailing SV Delos and Sailing La Vagabond. This homesteading is very interesting to me. You guys are doing a fantastic job. I am looking forward to seeing you progress in the summer.
Dan Y. says
Hi Jesse and Alyssa,
I just wanted to say that I have REALLY enjoy your YouTube channel and I am happy to finally see your blog. You are both obviously very smart, charming, talented, and hard working, and it is so good to see you pursuing your dreams together. You seem like a great couple, and I wish you the best of luck going forward.
I have a few questions/observations from the comfort of my “on grid” life . . . so please take them or leave them.
In the battery resurrection video I watched last night, Jesse mentioned that you are both busier now than you ever have been in your life. I am afraid that you might end up burning out. Have you considered draining the hot tub, or bringing your batteries inside the shed to reduce your workload?
Does the “project creep” that you seem to be experiencing, make you want to slow down and reassess priorities at all? Watching other YouTube channels about homesteading, it seems that most of the regrets regarding the first few years involve:
1. not concentrating on building the house sooner
2. working on the garden too soon
3. getting caught up in peripheral projects and expenses that tend to eat up too much time and too many resources (which can often lead to burn out, and a waning of enthusiasm.)
Do you think there may be some truth to that?
Another observation, is that you aren’t REALLY living OFF grid. From my vantage point, it appears that you rely heavily on the amenities of the GRID, without any of the centralized efficiencies OF the GRID. Meaning that you either need to truck parts of the GRID back to your property periodically, or you need to truck YOURSELVES out to access parts of the GRID elsewhere. (Just an observation . . . not a criticism.) Seems that creating localized GRID LIKE systems would reduce the amount of trucking that you would need to do. For example, have you considered a GRID TIE Solar system . . . so you don’t need to mess with the batteries . . . and so that your Solar System can PAY YOU? (i.e. is hauling gas for the generator cheaper than the electric bill?)
I think you’ve seen the improvement in efficiency, since you installed the septic system. That will pay for itself since you no longer have to tow your trailer around to dump the tanks. Awesome!
I am also curious about the real WHY you want to live OFF GRID? I am curious about some of your underlying assumptions about the world, and your view of humanity. You both seem so outgoing and charming, yet there seems to be some worry about civil unrest. Do you believe in a zombie apocalypse or something? You mentioned in several videos that “locks keep honest people honest” – then why have them? What are your underlying beliefs there? Are people inherently dishonest?
I know this may sound like I am being trite, but that is not really my intention. I was raised by a single mother, who was a member of a Christian sect that didn’t celebrate holidays or birthdays, and believed that Armageddon was going to occur any day now. It has taken me many decades to try an overcome this “project creep” myself. The death of my father in 2010 kinda’ ripped the veil off a bit. I still struggle with perfectionism, hoarding, and scarcity . . . and I am curious to know if do too.
Finally, I am curious if you have considered an “earthship” style of dwelling. Are you looking to live more sustainably, or are you more of the “prepper” mindset?
I know this is a lot . . . I am so interested in what you have to say . . . I think you’re doing GREAT work . . . and people seem to be REALLY responding to you! This summer you should host a volunteer week, and have some of your followers come out and work for you! Many hands make quick work!
Hugs to both of you . . . and keep up the GREAT work!
Jeff Muha says
I love watching the videos! I’m an operator for a petro chemical pipeline company working midnights and find myself spending most of my 12 hour shifts watching your videos. Keep up the great work! I look forward to following your guys journey. You two are a wonderful team .
I lived on 22 acres and was working toward living off the grid. Had goats, chickens, ducks, and pigs! I got injured and had to give up my dream! Make sure to take care of your health and back. Think ahead before doing something so not to get injured. Have a plan so if you do get injured you can get help. Never do something risky by yourself. Sucks when your in the woods and can’t walk. I had to have 3 level cervical fusion and destroyed my L3-L5. Now, I live in the city and can reach out my window and touch my neighbors house, but am glad I’m alive. Love your videos, brings back some great memories. Good Luck!
Jeff Rose says
Hey guys, check out Joe and Zachs Survival channel on YT. He has his own hobby farm, feeder pigs, ducks,turkeys ect. Which he started from scratch, so he’s done all the research for you. He also has videos on processing said live animals. His second channel is Northern seclusion where he explains alot on everything from bldg. to butchering.
Tyler Woods says
Good advice, thanks. We’ve lived in colder climates and snow removal is hard work. It’s also very hard on a truck’s drive-train. When buying used vehicles from state auction, it’s really important to know if the truck was used for plowing. Generally those trucks aren’t worth a bid as everything is on the cusp of breakdown.
A less truck-a-gedon solution is a “more expensive” snow blower plow. It’s only more expensive when you forget to account for buying a new truck. They crunch the snow and blow it far to the side, eliminating a restrictive buildup. It’s another more expensive thing to consider when living ‘deep rural’ but if this were a typical snow load for where you are (it’s not) stepping up to a ‘blow-snower’ would be a good option.
Lenard Wahlert says
I grew up in Colorado and know what shoveling snow is all about. You made it fun; but I know what a foot of new snow means. You are absolutely right about getting out immediately!!!! And shovel the “new” snow. Nothing worse that wet, heavy, frozen snow. A voice of experience here.
Living in SoCal and watching rain water go down the gutter is pretty easy. Admire your energy. This video and the new snow plow for the neighbor’s was a blast to watch.
Keep up the good work. Spring is on the way….. Yay
Some recent pictures would be great to see what your acreage looks like on March 18th.
You guys inspire me to get out and also have my creative juices flowing (thinking about a hot tub like you made- maybe an oval though?) I have a gear recommendation. I work on the Chesapeake Bay doing research every month and although we don’t get much snow, there have been times we had to salt the boat ramp and deck of the open boat we use to melt the ice. We wear Grundens to shed the water and stop the wind (think bright orange PVC bibs and jackets) You don’t need those, but when it’s really cold I wear a pair of insulated (neoprene) hip waders. They are waterproof, warm and have two other benefits. The cushioning of the waders helps if I’m working on the deck and forgot my kneepads and best of all if I start to get hot I just fold them down to mid calf height. They are tapered, so you just grab the knee on either side and push it straight down to the ankle. Then if I get chilled I pull them back up. Only downside for you is they would be heavy for periods of long walking or hiking. They also need to be well dried out- store them hanging by the boots if possible. I also wear them when I plow our road and driveway (Wiliiamsburg, VA) on a 4 wheeler, and when sledding with our boys.
Love your videos. So much of what we do on the boat is “experiential knowledge” based- meaning that there was no way to teach or read to learn the things we need to know. They were things that accumulate over time from just starting and trying something. I’m glad that ya’ll are taking small bites and acquiring the skills and knowledge to do it right and be safe.
Really admire the way ya’ll are positive and supportive toward each other. And engaged with your community. You GET IT. Not everybody does.
Looking forward to whatever is next.
Best to All,
Ron Eriksen says
The snow is so beautiful… for the first couple of months. Then it’s a job! I recommend a snow blower with tire chains for clearing walking paths and driveways. Not much fun on windy days though. To stay dry, neoprene waders or snow bibs like skiers use are perfect. Dress in layers so you can peel off as you warm up, frequent breaks and pace yourself! Cheers!