Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Monday, March 06, 2017

Snow Fence Experiment

Posted by: Rick

A couple of weeks ago, I strung some 4' high, 50' long snow fence through the trees on the west side of our driveway.

The hope was that this would capture the snow that was clogging up the driveway whenever the wind blew after a snow storm. You can see the fence and the open driveway in the photo above.

There is a "rule of thumb" for installing snowfence in this part of the country based on the typical wind speeds. It is a pretty easy calculation. The area upwind of the fence is call the "fetch". If you have an "infinite" fetch, in other words there is nothing upwind of the fence to catch and disrupt the blowing snow, then the fence should be set back by 34 times the height of the fence to avoid any snow on the area you want to keep clear. With my 4' high fence, that would be 136'. But, I have trees in the fetch, plus did not have the luxury of putting fence poles exactly where I needed them and had to use existing trees to mount the fence. So, my fence is only about 30' from the road. But, I thought it was worth a try.

The good news is that the fence works. It captures a lot of blowing snow.

Just look at the drift it created on the downwind side! That is snow that would be in the driveway.

However, it is not far enough back from the driveway to keep it clear. I need to install an additional fence further to the upwind side to create a shorter fetch for this fence. And, there are still places where there is no fence because I'd need to put fence poles in the frozen ground to mount it. 

In the photo above, you can see the amount of snow the fence is capturing, but you can also see that the driveway is filled with about 2' of snow again. 

We are just going to leave it this way for now. We don't really need truck access to the cabin. This spot is only a few hundred feet from the cabin. And, we can always use the Ranger to ferry from open roads to the cabin. Later in the Spring when we are unlikely to get bad snows and high winds we'll open the driveway back up again.

This coming summer we'll put posts in the ground and put the snow fence up in the right locations. Still, I think the experiment was successful in that we can see just how well the fence can function if placed appropriately.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Happy Birthday to Lynne!

Posted by: Rick

Before you panic in fear that you forgot Lynne's birthday, you haven't. Her birthday is in late December. Since Christmas and the birthday are close together, they tend to get muddled up and Lynne does not get the birthday attention she deserves. So, I've decided we will also celebrate her birthday on June 28th. Why not?

We were recently introduced to the artwork of Tim Cox. And, one painting in particular reminds us of a favorite song from Dave Stamey, "Come Ride With Me". It is entitled "As Good As It Gets".

I decided to buy a canvas transfer of this painting for Lynne for her June birthday. Luckily, I got the last one they had in stock. And, I arranged to have it shipped to our neighbor's address here in Sand Creek Park. The neighbor was then going to hold it for me until I could get it framed and then give it to Lynne later this year.

A week after I saw the payment transaction come through, the painting had still not been delivered. So, I contacted the artist--well, his wife Suzie, actually--and inquired about the shipment. She assured me that the package had been shipped and was delivered by UPS. The delivery notice said "Left at front door". Hmmm.

While we used to have success with FedEx delivering to our door, UPS does not. They leave packages in a drop box at the Wooden Shoe Ranch across the state line in Wyoming. Further, since we are snowed in no vehicle can get to our cabin. There is no way the package was left at our front door. And, the neighbors had not seen it either.

So, I panicked. I contacted Suzie and told her that there was no way it was delivered to our front door. That I would look into it from my side, but maybe she should start a claim with UPS on her side.

The next day, I heard from our neighbor. The UPS driver, probably Roy, saw that the package was way too big to put in the drop box. (It is a large transfer onto stretched canvas.) So, he delivered it to our neighbor's brother who lives in Laramie. The brother had called to tell them he had a large package for me, but addressed to them. Whew.

A couple of days later, my neighbor called me and told me he was coming home from a few days away and that he had the package for me. Well, I stupidly said out loud on the phone "just take it to your house". This was stupid for two reasons. One is that he called me to arrange for me to pick him up in the tracked vehicle and take him home since the road was closed at the "trap", so I could have talked to him about it then. Also, Lynne overheard me and immediately started drilling me with "what did you mean by 'just take it to your house'? What is he supposed to take to his house?", etc. I was busted.

So, I brought the painting home and gave it to her right away. An early, early birthday present.

Living in a small community has these advantages. If the UPS guy can't deliver to us, he often calls and arranges to meet us on the road. Or, in this case he took the pragmatic choice of leaving it with a relative.

The USPS is equally helpful. We knew we had some oversized packages to be delivered by the Post Office the other day. So, I called the postal delivery guy who had previously given us his phone number. I left him a message, "You won't be able to get those packages scheduled for delivery today into our mailbox, or even the big yellow barrel for overflow mail. So, give us a call when you leave Laramie on the Wooden Shoe delivery route, and we'll meet you at the mailboxes." Turns out, using the tracked vehicle to access our truck at Mr. H's and then driving to the mailboxes takes about the same amount of time as the drive from Laramie to the mailboxes. 

We got a call early in the afternoon. It was not from our regular mail carrier, but the guy who delivers on Mondays only. He told us he was on his way, so we rushed to the Ranger and drove toward town. Sure enough, when we arrived at the mailboxes, he was there and hand-delivered two large packages to us. This kept him from having to return them to the post office. And, it kept us from having to drive into town to retrieve them within a few days. 

Where else in the world do you get that kind of service from UPS and the USPS?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Untitled Late February Post

Posted by: Lynne

Thoughts from Sunday:

There is no title for this entry, no real subject matter, so no title either. For two days we've been basically trapped inside these fours walls due to high wind, blowing snow and frigid temperatures. S'no fun folks. We had about 10 inches of fresh new snow on Thursday and a smidge on Friday. Since then the wind has been blowing pretty much non-stop. Not even the dogs want to to stay outside longer than to do their doggie business. 

However ... I have to admit there is a different feel to the air, even though we've had frigid temps in the single and low double digits. What makes me say that given that I've just said the temps are frigid and the windchill is nil and below? Well, just things. I can't explain it really. Maybe it's the birds. We've started seeing different birds and they are singing when their feathers aren't being blown off their bodies. We now have pine siskins and juncos on a daily basis, and on a walk the other day (before the wind) we saw this little Horned Lark. We had to look him up as we didn't know what it was and it's behavior flying and on the ground was odd. He had Destin intrigued.

Maybe it's that scent of spring way off in the distance. Lord knows there is no scent of spring right now as we are still covered in a foot of snow + around the cabin. It was beginning to feel like all this winteriness was shaking loose just last week. But it's coming, I can feel it. Like I said, it's just a feeling in my bones and in the land around me. Winter just does not seem to have the icy grip it had back in January. Maybe it's just wishful thinking. Then again, maybe not.

Does this look like Spring to you? 

The wind is not so bad if the temperatures are not in the single digits and teens. Last week we managed to take several nice long walks with the dogs even though the wind was pretty bad. Here Bella is an example of how hard the wind was blowing. Just look at her hair and the feathers on her legs, all being blown in the opposite direction! But, it was warm and therefore not all that bad to be out in. This is also an example of how much melting had occurred before this last storm. 

But now the roads are closed once again and we can't get through unless we use the Ranger. At least we can get out but it makes trips into town so difficult by adding another 45 mintues to the trip, when just last week we were making the trip into town in 45 mintues total. Rick and our neighbor might be able to clear a path through "the trap" but when we took the Ranger out yesterday on a reconnaissance mission it did not look good. The wind really packs the snow down hard so it won't be easy to blow. Maybe they can move it with the tractor. Don't know. 

We've had a Hairy Woodpecker pecking at our logs outside! From inside the cabin it sounds very strange. We keep chasing him away but he keeps coming back. So far no damage that we can see except some caulking between a couple of logs up close to the roof. Cheeky bird.

Thoughts on Tuesday:

Well....yesterday we had more snow. About six inches or so. Sigh. And to think that just last week we were able to sit out on the porch several times with a nice glass of wine with just a sweater on and the space heater running. It was wonderful!

Our driveway is blown in again too despite the snow fencing that Rick put up last week. It would have drifted worse if not for the fencing, but the wind came from a strange and not normal direction. Rick was not able to blow it out as soon as it fell because of the nasty wind. So it's packed in again and we aren't going to try and move it this time around since the winds are supposed to pick up again over the next few days to about 20 to 30mph. Mother Nature will move the snow for us, but not in any of the places we'd like her to put it. He would just be spinning the snowblower's wheels and wasting gas since it would just fill back in again. After all, our main goal was to get Lex out and he is, safe and sound at H's house. 

At least Destin thinks the new snow is cool.

Rick and I have taken up a new hobby: weaving! We bought a rigid heddle Cricket Loom in town at Cowgirl Yarn and we've both finished a project scarf. Well, Rick has actually made two scarfs to my one. Here are pics of both scarves.

Rick's second scarf.

My scarf.

You can see we went for different patterns. Rick did stripes and I used a variegated yarn and didn't set the loom (warp actually) up for stripes. I want to make another scarf now just for practice as I need to work on getting my selvedges in better shape. It's easy and relaxing to do. There are so many possibilities with different yarns, textures and patterns. Rick wants to try making placemats for the new RV. When Spring finally does arrive we'll probably both take a few weaving classes in town. Cowgirl Yarn is heavily into weaving, lucky for us.

Looking outside right now at the snow covered trees and even deeper snow levels and drifts in places we've never had drifts before, I am now wondering where in the world I ever got the notion that Spring was headed our way.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Road Closure and Updates

Posted by: Lynne

Hidden Meadows Lane is still closed and it looks like it will be for a while. Some progress has been made however, because a week ago the post on the right was barely sticking up above the snow. There are two other big reasons why the road will remain impassable for a long time. BIG reasons.

These poor beetle-killed pines have fallen across the road and will need to be removed. The big drift on Avalanche Slope will have to melt first though since we can't get the Ranger down there to do anything about them. No hurry, no one is going to be using the road until June anyway. Maybe some time in May, it just depends. They will make a couple of cords of firewood, at least. Easy pickings too. 

The weather has been rather glorious if I say so myself. It's teasing us with that hint of spring, and the other day along the road to town we even spotted a bluebird! Other birds are on the move too as we've seen Pine Siskins, Juncos, and a White-Breasted Nuthatch (which were a dime a dozen in New Jersey but less seen here). The usual crowd of Steller Jays, Camp Robbers, Magpies and Chickadees are still here and busy.

We took advantage of the melting snow and the nice weather to take several long walks with the dogs. Hailey amazes us at her ability to keep up with us and even get in some runs at the old age of 13. Go Hailey!!

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have Lex in our driveway. Any time we want we can go out and get in him and drive to town —right from our driveway! We were so giddy the other day we loaded up Hailey and Destin and drove to get the mail. (Bella hates riding in the truck, go figure.) We've also made several (pretty much unnecessary) trips into town, just because we could. We took Destin in with us on Saturday and although he had to wait in the truck while we shopped in several places he did go into Ace Hardware to see his buddies that have coo-cooed him since he was a pup. He also got to walk around Laramie a bit and sit with Rick on a bench outside the yarn shop (where I was) and even licked a little baby's face (the parents wanted to introduce their baby to him!). Oh, and he also got to lick Rick's ice cream cone. It was so nice! The sun was shining, it was warm, and just a beautiful day.

On Friday we actually went out to dinner to Wood's Landing. Woohoo, aren't we the jet setters!

It's a good thing we did what we could while we could because this week there is "the potential for a major snowstorm." Bummer. Just when all the piles around the cabin are melting and the roads are clear. It sounds like we could get close to a foot of snow. So, no more last-minute jaunts to get the mail, etc. We will have to trade out trucks at H's house and leave Lex there and pick up the Suburban which we have chains for, and leave the Suburban at the top of the hill at our neighbor's. 

We'll make one more trip in to town before that arrives to get whatever we think we may need for the next week and then we'll be housebound again for a while. Maybe it won't be as bad as predicted, we'll just have to wait and see.

Destin says he doesn't care as he loves the snow!

We'll keep you posted!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Ironic, Right?

Posted by: Rick

I guess it is pretty ironic that after working so hard to get the Expedition away from the cabin, see this post and this one too, that we recently spent a couple of days getting it back in. As you'll recall, we got past all the different segments of the trip down the hill except a few hundred yards of Hidden Meadows Lane which were plugged with several feet of hard-packed snow and ice. But, a few hours of work with a tractor, and we got that open.

Lynne, who has always wanted to drive heavy equipment, is doing a superb job of clearing the snow.

A pretty good load!

Making a snow fence of snow. These piles should help prevent the driveway from filling up during the next snow and blow.

So, now the Expedition is parked at the cabin site again, and we can go directly from the back door to the truck to check mail or get into town. All sections of the road are open, even those that we usually have to bypass with a route on back roads.

The road is open!

And, the Expedition is now parked at the cabin.

The forecast is for us to get snow and wind starting again next week. So, on Monday or Tuesday, we'll exchange the Expedition for the Suburban, parked at Mr. H's, and we'll park the Suburban at the top of the hill on our neighbor's property.

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