Prepper Diary January 16: Preparing for the Storm

Roughly a cord of firewood stacked to dry
This is roughly a cord of firewood stacked to dry. The two poles are 10 feet apart and the stack is more than five feet high.

It’s been a busy couple of days on the Pickled Prepper Property as we prepare for the coming storm.

Now you can interpret that as the metaphorical storm brought on by Inauguration Day or the physical storm that the Weather Channel has named “Winter Storm Malcom,” but the truth is that our preps are pretty much the same for either one: Stock up, batten down, and prepare to ride it out.

More Snow is Coming

This is one of those storms that is expected to blanket our mountainous region even as the lower elevations may see more rain than snow.  This storm had blizzard-like conditions in Minnesota down to Missouri; we are not expecting the same high winds, but the temperatures have fallen and may not rise above freezing tomorrow.

The peak snow season for the Northeast is actually right now through mid-February, so we are braced for more.

As the temperatures drop I’m running water every time I think of it.  It’s a weird paradigm – normally we are programmed to conserve water, but the threat of frozen pipes is enough to force us to run water whenever it drops significantly below freezing.  I’m encouraging my wife to run the dishwasher late at night.  Before I go to bed, I flush every toilet in the house, then I run the kitchen faucet for a few minutes and set it to drip all night long.  So far, so good, but this weekend’s cold snap will be the real test.

Heating with Fire is a Full Time Job

My preps dealt mostly with firewood.  We bought our largest load of firewood yet, and it included some old, punky oak logs that are not only well-seasoned but probably over seasoned.  Nonetheless, they burn just great.  By mixing these with the less-dry wood, we can keep the fire going.

I did not anticipate what a time suck heating with fire is.  On Friday, I spent more than an hour stacking firewood.  This resulted in 20-linear feet of wood five feet high, plus whatever we brought into the house.  Then I split more kindling.  Then I dumped the ash that had been sitting in our ash bucket for a few days. 

For most of this week, we have used only the basement stove and let its warm air rise up and heat the rest of the house.  As the temperatures fell today, we lit the fireplace insert as well.  Hopefully, both will burn all night.

On the plus side, I am becoming quite the fire expert, learning to identify the wood and judging how moist or dry they are by weight, touch and appearance.  I am also learning to mix species to get a hot, longer lasting fire.  Most of our oak is not seasoned enough to burn well all by itself, but add beech, elm, popular, or another wood and it performs much better.

A Friendly Visit

We had a friend who lives about 90 minutes away text and saying he would be pass through our area, so he wanted to stop by and see the house.  (In this case, “passing through” meant he was about 20 minutes away, but in this neck of the woods, that’s close.)  This was only our second guest, if you don’t count family, so we were delighted.  It even motivated me to straighten up my man cave and put away a few boxes.

He made it in good time, got the grand tour, admired all the things you hope someone would admire, and enjoyed the warmth of the stove while we had hot beverages and sugary treats. 

Best of all, he is a fellow prepper, so we were not worried about hiding the store room or anything like that.

Shopping Excursion

My wife went on her first solo shopping journey as part of our storm prep.  She actually did all the errands: Dropped of the garbage and recycling, went to the post office, went to the grocery store, and picked up something for me at the local hardware store.  It took her about 4 hours, but a good 90 minutes of that was driving there and back.  Getting her comfortable with making the trip on her own is an important step in increasing her comfort level.