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!

And, we've managed to reduce our trips into town to about 1 per week. Now that we don't need to run in for various project supplies, we are able to survive with one shopping trip each week for food, wine, library and miscellaneous stuff. I've found that as long as we don't drive into town, we don't spend much money.

Although, I'm not sure what we'd do without Amazon. Now, if we could only get FedEx to figure out where we live.

November saw us shift from preparation to usage. The frantic pace of the summer and fall is now much more leisurely and I find I am doing things that I thought I'd do in retirement. I've even take up rug hooking in order to create a Christmas decoration. I'm sure I'll post the result soon.

Early in the month we had several problems. Hailey was sick; our Internet service went on the blink; and our new appliances were giving us fits either not starting or, once started, shutting down after a while. I'm glad to say that Hailey is now fine. Better than fine, really. She still insists on going for walks with us, even in the ever-deeper snow. The Internet service finally got straightened out (re-registering the modem with the satellite service did the trick). And, we've made progress with the appliances. At least the range is working adequately. (Still trying to keep the damned fridge running, though.)

Hailey is feeling great. She does amazingly well for a dog almost 13 years old.

One of our winter preparations was to install a propane backup generator. We saw it go into action in November after almost a week of cloudy weather resulted in exhausted batteries. And, detecting this, our system automatically started the generator and the batteries got a charge. It has kicked on several more times since. In fact, it is running right now. It is great to see everything work as designed and know we are secure with plenty of electricity regardless of the weather. Still, it does make me long for a modest wind turbine contribution.

A pic of the generator (before the snow started flying).

We bought a couple of new pieces of furniture. One goes under the TV (which is mounted to the wall). It holds DVDs, VHS tapes, video games, etc. The DirecTV receiver, combo VHS/DVD player/recorder, and wireless router sit on top. It looks great and really helped "clean up" the mess we had in that corner of the cabin. The other piece is a cocktail table (I grew up calling them coffee tables, must be a sign of the times) that has a lift top. When the top is down, it is a normal cocktail table. But, lift the top up and it not only rises but swings toward the couch making a perfect eating surface where we can sit on the couch and watch TV while eating.

We installed a couple of additional game cameras, but the game has been scarce. I think they know that most of November is still hunting season. 

What a beauty!

While we have lots of wood cut, we seem to be using it at a rate greater than I expected. It has been cold, and will stay that way for a while. So, maybe that is the reason. Of course, now is the time to start monitoring our usage of "stuff" to see if we've estimated right. We have 6 cords put up to last us through April/May, and I think we used a cord in November. A cord a month will be cutting it close. The heater does run at night now. It will run 2-3 times during the night (while the thermostat is set to 60°), then for about an hour starting at 6:00 a.m. to bring the cabin up to 65°. It rarely runs during the day when we have a fire in the wood stove going. We are slowly seeking out all cold air leaks around the cabin and patching them to reduce the need for the heater at night.

And, we are monitoring propane. We have a 1000 gallon tank for the cabin (hot water, refrigerator, range, heater). Of course, it can only hold 800 gallons when full, and we had it filled in late October. It is now down to about 680 gallons, so I think we are okay to make it until the brief typical mid-January warm-up when we could get another delivery. Propane for the generator and shed does not seem to have moved much, using maybe 10 gallons or so in November.

The biggest news for the month is that on a walk on November 28th, Destin lifted his leg to pee on a tree! Now we have to deal with doggie testosterone all winter.

Destin avoiding pee on his feet.

Oh yeah. Donald Trump got elected as our next president. 

Comments:

cool smirk Those last two items in comparison are fantastic!

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