Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Looking Back over November 2016

Posted by: Rick

As I write this it is 10° outside and the wind is blowing snow sideways. Winter weather has arrived.

October spoiled us with unusually warm and dry weather. Early November was nice too, but mid-month Mother Nature did a 180 and brought frigid weather and frequent snow. So far, the snow fall has been light. Just a few inches each time. But, it has given us a chance to actually benefit from the summer's hard work. I've even cleared the driveway with the snow blower a couple of times, but think a blade on the Ranger would work better for small snow amounts.

The completed and somewhat filled wood shed.

We finished a few of our projects. I built a rack to hold the canoes and keep them from blowing into the valley. The storage shed got fully insulated (and is heated by the propane fridge keeping it relatively toasty). And, we got the wood shed painted (and filled with wood). We also now have an electric circuit running to the barn. Now, I don't have to start up a generator every time I need electricity  for a few minutes.

We did our provisioning shopping. There is a whole blog post on that topic. Other than meat, which we'll get sometime soon, we have plenty of supplies to rely upon if/when we get snowed in.

Ready for winter!

More...

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Griggs-Putnam Index

Posted by: Rick

The shape of trees has been used as a way to assess weather conditions for many years. Ever heard of the Griggs-Putnam Index of Deformity? It is often used by people in the wind energy industry to assess dominate wind direction and average speeds.

You can read more about using trees as a local climate indicator in this technical paper that summarizes the practice.

Here are a few photos of trees on our property. They show a dominant wind direction from the southwest with average speeds in the 9 to 13 mph range. Of course, we do get much higher wind speeds here, ranging up to or over 100 mph during a "wind event". The last photo is a bit of an anomaly.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Heading into Town

Posted by: Lynne

I thought I would share the sights we saw when we went into town yesterday to pick up a few supplies for the coming cold snap.

There is something special about the colors of the West in the transistion of season.

The immaure bald eagle again, same spot!

And on the way back we finally got our bald eagle wish! Two balds were sitting by a kill — a dead antelope — and I only was able to get ready for the photo as one of them took flight.

They are truly magnificent looking birds, so BIG. 

So majestic against a backdrop of snow covered mountains. If you are thinking we have a boring 45-minute drive into town you'd be wrong. I've given up taking photos of all the antelope. Right now they are all herded up and as plentiful as cows.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Snow Management 101

Posted by: Rick

As Lynne mentioned in her previous post, we need to learn "snow management" for the winter. While we've been up here many times in the winter, it was either snowed in or blown dry. We have not had the opportunity to experience the full life-cycle of a snow storm. So, we were not sure where the snow would melt, would drift, would turn to ice, etc. After this last storm with about 5" of snow, and the fact we did nothing to manage it, we now have a better idea. 

One snow management task is to brush the snow off the solar panels. One set is on the ground and easy to reach. The other set is on the roof and requires a ladder. In both cases a 15' extension broom is essential. Lynne is not happy about the idea of leaving the ladder set up all winter, but I don't necessarilly want to be putting it up and down for every storm.

I was once counseled by a wise man who had lived up here many years. His counsel was to "leave the snow alone until you absolutely have to move it". He had the same philosophy on dead trees. That is what I decided to do this time. That might have worked for him in his location where he got lots of sun and wind. But, our driveway is sheltered from wind and sun by trees. So, I am probably not going to follow that advice next time.

Instead, I think we will have a list of snow chores to do at the end of each storm:

  • Verify generator airflow is not blocked
  • Verify propane system vent is not covered at the regulator
  • Clear off decks
  • Clear off solar panels
  • Run snow blower on driveway
  • Use snowshoes to pack down trail for dog duties
  • Take a drive in the Ranger

It is supposed to snow again today and tomorrow, and again several times over the coming weeks. We'll see how that goes.

Of course, this is only snow management at the cabin site. We'll also need to learn to manage getting in and out of Sand Creek Park, which will mean managing the snow on the roads. Chains, jacks, tow ropes, shovels...can't wait.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Ready!Set!Winter?

Posted by: Lynne

Home Sweet Home

We think we are ready:

Wood all cut, split and stacked.? CHECK.

Woodshed painted? CHECK.

Winter tracks on the Ranger? CHECK.

Small shed insulated? CHECK.

T@B stowed away in her winter slot for better driveway access in snowy conditions? CHECK.

Rick's snowshoe stitched back up after varmit gnawed on it? IN PROGRESS.

Acrylic windows installed over screens on front porch? CHECK. (Working beautifully, I might add.)

Winter lay-in of supplies from Sam's Club purchased? CHECK.

The only thing missing is Ole Man Winter himself. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous for two weeks now. No wind, and clear blue skies. We've had some really pretty sunsets along the way as well.

Yes, we had some colder weather in October with a couple of dusting of snow, but nothing very significant. 

And so, we wait.

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