Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Winter Provisioning is Done!

Posted by: Rick

Today, we went into Laramie and did our "final" shopping for emergency provisions for this coming winter.

While we can quite likely always get into town within a week or so of any major storm, it is also possible that back-to-back storms with high winds could strand us at the cabin for several weeks in a row. We have heard that year-around residents in previous years have gone as long as 7 to 8 weeks without being able to get into town. The last thing you want in that situation is hearing your spouse yelling "Crap, we are out of toilet paper!"

The back of the truck after our first provisioning trip to Sam's Club for bulk items.

If you follow this blog, you know we've taken a few steps to ensure our ability to get out in an emergency--such as putting tracks on the Polaris Ranger. However, absent an emergency, it would be best to just hunker down and ride out any bad storms.

The highest likelihood for such storms is in February, March and April of next year. But, we decided to create a list of non-perishable items that we could use to create dozens of meals, and stock up on those items "just in case". Maybe we can highlight some of those recipes in the future. For now, here is a copy of our winter provisioning list. Feel free to suggest additions in the comments.

A few weeks ago we drove to Sam's Club in Cheyenne where we purchased items we needed in bulk. Today, we shopped at the WalMart in Laramie to get the items we only needed one or two of. It was a heavy load as most items are canned. There are some frozen items and dry ingredients too, of course.

And, as you know, I have fully insulated and sealed up the storage shed just outside our back door. Most of these items go in there. Because there is a propane refrigerator and electric freezer also in there (giving off heat), it is staying around 40°, even when the temperatures outside are in the teens. (We are about to get some single-digit temperatures next week, se we'll see how it goes.) Here are a couple of photos of the stocked-up storage shed.

 

Obviously, we can't have fresh vegetables, so we have some canned and frozen. We do have potatoes and onions. They are in the laundry basket on the bottom shelf. I am hoping that storing them in that cool, dark place with the open air will keep them fresh. I hate soggy, limp potatoes. Again, a learning experience.

Items that might be chewed upon by critters (although I think I have the storage shed critter-proof), go into plastic storage bins (flour, boxed items, etc.) Everything else goes onto the shelves in what I hope is an organized way. We are not making an inventory of the shed (like we do the freezer). Instead, we can refer to the original shopping list to remind us what we have bought, and then rumage around to find it.

Now, if we don't get snowed in and are able to buy groceries weekly for planned meals, we'll have all this stuff stored and we will need to then eat from that stock next spring. We will keep you informed.

If you are also provisioning for winter and have suggestions for us, or questions about our strategy, shoot us an email at otg@rickandlynne.com.

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.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Revisiting Cabin Photos

Posted by: Lynne

For the rest of the week while I am in the middle of a chaotic house and dreaming of what will be, I've decided to share a photo per day of scenes from around our 70 acres.

Trees do whatever they can to survive the deluge of snow on Avalanche Slope. Depending on the snowfall, many trees end up buried under the heavy snow, hence the lean.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

La Vie en Rose ... or maybe not

Posted by: Lynne

Antelope herd

I am sure by now that you have this idyllic little picture in your head, as we do, of life at the cabin. In the summer fishing and taking long hikes. The dogs romping off-lead. Wildflowers everywhere. In the winter you can see us tucked into our cabin sitting in front of a fire while snowflakes drift lazily past the windows. La Vie en Rose for sure! Well, at least for us it is. I can't speak for the rest of you.

Let's just take off the rose-colored glasses for a moment, shall we? They are several things that interfere with this life of bliss. The worst offender is The Wind. It deserves capitalization and respect. The Wind is both friend and foe. A friend first because it gives us power through our wind generator (seen here). 

The wind is a good source of energy for us. It fills up our little battery-powered home quickly. The one big drawback to the wind generator is the furling process. When the wind blows too hard the generator turns its tail to the wind to save itself (called furling), and when it does it makes the most god-awful noise! It sounds like a helicopter just landed on the roof. It can get very annoying to say the least. I suppose when you hear it all the time you will cease to notice after a while. Kind of like parents with screaming children. 

The wind is not our friend when it blows the snow into huge drifts and makes the roads impassable. Up here you can't really go through the drifts, you have to go over them or around them, hence the need for an all-terrain vehicle like the Polaris we are going to buy that has switchable treads; one for snow and one for normal use.

Out for a walk

The wind is sneaky. You can have a clear blue sky and still get snowed in. How you might ask? Whiteout conditions. Snow that is on the surface and not packed down is lifted up and carried by the wind. It will fill in any and every crevice (such as your newly plowed driveway) in a matter of a few minutes. We know, we've been stuck in those conditions once. 

 

See that greenish blip in the above photo? That's Larry, one of our neighbors, in his big green John Deere snowplow/snowblower making a path for us to follow in. I can tell you that the snow was filling our tracks in behind us as quickly as we left them. Scary. Of course, we needed to get out because Rick needed to be at work and we couldn't wait it out. In the future we will just stay where we are!

Did I mention that we live seven miles in from a road that is plowed by the state of Wyoming? Many people leave their vehicles at the house of a person who lives on the Wyoming side and drive their all-terrain vehicles to his house, then leave it there and take their normal vehicle into town or to get the mail.

And yes, there are times when we could be snowed in for weeks at a time. You just have to prepare in advance.

If all else fails at least you have snow as a reliable source of keeping your wine cool.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Around Sand Creek Park: “Blue & White”

Posted by: Lynne

Taken on our property.

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