Throughout the United States, you may notice the change in seasons from summer to fall is happening at a much faster rate than normal. The UK Daily Mail published a piece about this and explains how fall is occurring about a month earlier than it normally begins. This is evidenced in the way deciduous tree foliage is changing its leaf colors almost a month ahead of schedule.
In Montana, I have noticed that the flocks of geese have already started their migrations, and this is also about a month earlier than normal. Other things here locally have occurred, such as drops in temperatures, domestic animals (dogs, cats, and horses) have begun to grow in their winter coats, and normal cycles of plants (such as pine pollen) either haven’t happened or are “off”.
Not to steal the thunder from the cited article, but in a nutshell, the decreases in sunspots mean we are approaching a solar minimum: lower heat produced by the sun in a cycle that occurs every 11 years. This is the kind of thing that (when prolonged) heralds a condition called a “mini-ice-age ,” such as the one that occurred from 1645 to 1715. This caused changes in the seasons and food shortages.
10 Ways to Prepare for a Solar Minimum
What can you do about it when the sun changes during this cycle? You can do plenty of things. Let’s go over a few of them.
- Refrigerated Food Supply: I wrote several articles on seasonal changes you should make to your food supply, both refrigerated and in the pantry. Now that winter is approaching, take the majority of your food in the freezer, and cook it. With power gone, it’s better to heat up food that’s already been cooked and eat it than waste time, fuel, and energy cooking it from the raw.
- Pantry: Ensure that your Mason jars are wide-mouthed jars (that take a freeze), as much as possible. Ensure that all of your dry and canned goods are able to be warmed by a wood stove  or moved into a room with a fireplace if there should be a power loss.
- Overall Food Supply: this encompasses canned and dry goods, as well as dehydrated, high-protein foods , is the way to go.
- Water: remember that water in the winter under 32 degrees F is ice. Allow for some headspace (about ¼) in your water containers to allow for freezing. Move any water stored that is in danger of being frozen into an area above the freezing temperature. Have a way to take the ice and turn it into the water, and purify it.
- Winter Fuel: For years I have advocated cutting wood  in the spring and curing it to cut and section in the fall. You should break out the chainsaws (see my article on them) and if there are fire restrictions prohibiting its use, get out the ax and bow saw for a good workout along with the wood gathering. Any dead trees on your property and any fallen dead timber or standing dead timber (with a permit in a national or state forest) is fair game. Cut it now, while the cutting is possible.
- “Snivel” Gear: that’s what we called it in the Army. I’m talking about my favorite – the Gore-Tex  – and all of the polypro long underwear you can pick up. Plan on that Gore-Tex exterior and all layers beneath, top and bottom. Don’t forget the boots! Dry and warm, and as much Thinsulate as you can obtain. Don’t forget good sleeping bags (Extreme Cold Weather bags  ) and a good Gore-Tex cover for the outside…enables it to lock in heat yet still exude moisture.
- Vehicles Weatherized and Prepped: Now is a good time to top off all of the fluids, perform any maintenance, and get that vehicle ready  to be your tool in the winter. Extra blankets and clothing in the car along with your BOB (bug-out bag) and supplies are necessary. Don’t forget a food supply that is either dehydrated or one that can take a freeze.
- Thermoses and Hot Food Containers: Can’t be overstated. As I wrote in other articles , here in Montana, an auto disaster or a sudden storm that stops you can mean death. You need to have a supply of hot water and a hot meal if you can swing it. Please refer to the articles I wrote on the subject in the past on these techniques.
- Commo: Yes, communications gear. Prep by investing in Motorolas  for the family, CB radios for the vehicles and a base station, or long-range radios and a base station as well. Don’t forget to support it all with a generator and solar panels to charge batteries and to run radios from.
- Defense: Archery equipment and firearms are necessary for both hunting game, and also making sure that two-legged hunters don’t make your supplies their game if it hits the fan and there is a prolonged collapse. ‘Nuff said there.
The final thoughts are you need to address this list for the winter and a solar minimum event, as well as continued readiness if things fall apart and a collapse occurs. A solar minimum could also cause a cascading power failure if too much drain is placed on the supply. This could cause catastrophic conditions that you don’t want to happen prior to taking the correct measures. As Ben Franklin termed it, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” He was right. Stay in the game by staying ahead of it, and prepare long in advance of something happening. JJ out!