I woke up at 3:56 a.m. Saturday, which is very unusual for me as I usually sleep straight through the night. I figured I was worried about frozen pipes, so I padded into the bathroom flushed the toilet and ran some water in the sink. It was 48 degrees in there. Brrr!
I remembered years back when I lived in an apartment I rented for $150 a month while I was a junior in college. It was so cold inside you could see your breath in the bathroom. When you bathed, you had to run the water on hot long enough that the steam would fill the room. Only then could you dare to undress. This wasn’t quite so bad in our bathroom, but it sure wasn’t good.
I went to college close enough to Canada that you could drive there to buy beer. That year, it snowed every day in January. We don’t expect that kind of weather here, but both my wife and I have plenty of experience living in cold weather. It’s just not recent experience. Still, we wanted to move somewhere it wasn’t so hot. Looks like we can check off that box.
At 4 a.m. the upstairs fireplace was still burning merrily, so I added two more logs, ran downstairs, popped more wood in the stove, and went back to bed. Thankfully, the covers were still warm, and I quickly fell back to sleep.
When my wife work up a few hours later, it was 4 degrees outside. The fires were still smoldering and putting out warmth. It was 67 upstairs in the main room and 68 downstairs in my man cave. I am happy to report that no pipes froze. Not too bad, all things considered.
Our Fascination with the Temperature
I apologize to any readers who may feel I’ve been writing too much about warmth, firewood, and indoor and outdoor temperatures over the past days and weeks. When you are living in a cold, snowy environment where you cannot get out and emergency services cannot get in, keeping warm is very important. With this being our first winter in the house, we are learning not only the local climate and weather patterns, but how the house performs in the cold. We also have to plan how much wood to store, as well as figuring out where to store it. (I already wish I had purchased two more cords this summer.)
When it’s below zero, the weather can kill you faster than a lack of food or even a lack of water. As preppers, knowing that the basement will stay 46 or above when it is bitterly cold outside is vaguely reassuring. If the power goes out, we need to know what we are facing. Thus, our fascination with the temperature inside and out.
Moving to a house with a gravity-fed water system resolved the “water” part of the prepping equation, but it has added firewood to the “shelter” aspect. I am resolved to work on firewood int he coming months.
Feeding the Fire
Keeping the stove running is a constant undercurrent to our lives. I have to stop what I am doing and feed the fire throughout the day.
“How’s the fire look?” I call up to my wife from time to time. “Fine!” she’ll tell me, or maybe she’ll ask me to put more wood on it. She can do it herself, of course, but who wants to interrupt working in the kitchen to throw another log on the fire when I’m happy to do it? I have more experience with wood stoves and wood heat, having grown up with a wood stove during the 1970s oils crisis and having used the one at our retreat. This gives me a better understanding of how to arrange the logs for an optimal burn. She doesn’t quite get that adding one log doesn’t really do it, or that two logs just the right distance apart will be more than twice as effective as a single log.
To continue with the weather theme, it warmed up to the 20s by mid-morning, and by afternoon the sun was melting the snow off the roof, causing the gutters to fill and the downspouts to run. We took advantage of this warming episode to shovel the snow off the deck and bring in more firewood.
Christmas Dinner Postponed, Again
Our Christmas dinner with the neighbors that was rescheduled for Saturday was postponed another day to ensure everyone can get there and back safely. Looks like we’ll be going Sunday after church.
Now that my daughter is gone, I’ve eaten most of the chocolate, all of the side dishes, and all we have left is ham, I decided it was time to get back to work. I put on thermal underwear and headed into the garage to do some more unpacking in my workshop, which is shaping up quite well. I finished unpacking plumbing supplies. Then I unpacked more electrical gear like outlets, switches, wall plates, and boxes. Many of the outlets and switches are the wrong color and style for this house, so I kept what will work and the rest will go off to Restore.
I started unpacking the paint-related items but the rollers, trays, and brushes were taking up so much space that I decided to leave them in a box and store them on a shelf. I did unpack all the sandpaper, which has many uses beyond painting.
The two large cabinets are now full. This is good, because everything is neat, much of it is labeled, and I know exactly where to find so many items that I used to have to dig through boxes to find. Unfortunately, filling the cabinets is also bad because I wish I had more space. I have decided that on Monday I will call the manufacturer and see if they can sell me two more shelves. If not, I can build my own, but that would mean putting wooden shelves in a steel cabinet. I’d rather stick with original shelves, if I can get them.
I’ve got enough wooden shelves to build on my to do list already.