Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Thursday, October 06, 2016

A Sign of Things to Come

We woke this morning to a bit of snow on the ground and a fine powder of snow still falling from the sky. It was predicted, and won't be enough to "bother" us in any way. It is really pretty outside, but a sign of things to come.

This is looking up our driveway.

One nice thing about snow is you can see the tracks of animals. It was clear that a coyote had been behind the cabin walking around sometime since the snow fell, for example.

You can see in the photo above that we've got a large pile of about 4 cords of wood covered by a brown tarp. And, more wood ready to be cut. That was to be today's chore, but may wait for the weekend.

We have continued to make progress on our winter preparations. We now have a second refrigerator running off propane in the storage shed. We will be stocking that shed with supplies for the winter soon. The list is still being refined and we are polling others that live up here year-round how they prepare. I guess toilet paper and pet food are at the top of the list. The wood shed is done--even beyond my previous post--as I've put up some trim so it really looks nice. Just needs paint now. We've ordered the tracks for the Ranger, and they should be here in a couple of weeks. And, we are pondering whether it makes sense to get a snow blade also. Inputs welcomed.

Here are a couple of other photos I took on my phone while letting the dogs out this morning. Lynne may add a photo or two and commentary too, so watch for that.


Okay, Lynne here now! Rick is right, this is just a sign of things yet to come. Last week we had a glorious Indian Summer week of weather. Perfection! Now Mother Nature is messing with us and we've had snow showers that looked like a blinding blizzard but didn't end up sticking much on Monday, high winds and much cooler temps all week long. Good old Mother Nature is sending us a sign that we'd better get busy and wrap everything up that we've started and not as yet finished because if she so desires, she will bring her fury on us. 

Am I ready? Hmmm...not really. Not mentally anyway. I have to admit to being a little apprehensive if I have to be honest. I have this idyllis little scene playing in my head: Rick and I sitting around by the toasty wood stove reading, knitting, maybe watching a movie as the snow falls outside. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing when the weather breaks. Somehow I bet it doesn't really play out like that.

But I do think that we've just about done everything physically that we can to be ready. We need to fill up the new wood shed, get the tracks on the Ranger when they come in and make a provisioning trip to Sam's Club. The rest will have to wait.

The dogs are certainly ready. Destin had a blast in the fresh snow this morning and we had a hard time rounding him up to come inside.

All in all, the beauty up here in the winter will be something to experience. 

Sunday, October 09, 2016

It’s Snow Fun!

Destin: "lickety" split through the snow.

The dogs love snow. So, basically this is just a post with photos of dogs enjoying the fresh snow that we got a few days back.

Well, okay, and one gratuitous pic of aspens!

Good smells!

Scary Destin.



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Just Clouds

The other day thanks to high winds aloft, the clouds were pretty spectacular. 

I have been just posting my photos to Facebook without doing an OtG entry for them, but then you blog readers and non-Facebook folks never see them. So today begins the change! If you don't mind too much, will you please leave your comment on the blog instead of Facebook? That way we can keep track of comments, whereas on Facebook it's transitory. Mind you, you don't have to, it would just be nice. smile

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Looking Back on September 2016

I think I've said it before, September is a huge transition month in the mountains. Unlike New Jersey where we had four seasons, all of roughly the same length and well defined by the weather trends and flora, here we have two seasons--winter and summer with a few weeks in between. September is our Fall season and we transition from Summer to Winter quickly. 

Fall color in the Laramie River Valley.

Average daytime and nighttime temperatures are now 20 degrees cooler. We've had a number of frosty mornings and even a couple of snow showers. The leaves, mostly aspen but also some willows and cottonwoods, have turned to bright warm autumn colors, then fallen off. The wildlife we see has changed, with fewer moose and a lot fewer birds.

We had a couple of snow showers in September.

It is pack rat season. September is when they start working on a nest for winter hibernation. And, they seem to like it under the hoods of the trucks, in the storage shed, or other cozy places. We caught one in a live trap and released it. Two more fell victim to regular rat traps. After those three were eliminated, it seems we don't have any more this year. Knock on wood.

It has been a productive month for us. We got the propane generator installed and wired to provide backup power in case the PV system can't keep up over several stormy days. The same propane tank is now also hooked up to our (old) refrigerator in the storage shed. That shed is outfitted with shelves ready to hold winter food and other supplies. The shed is mostly insulated (with a bit more to do) and has a fresh coat of paint. It still needs a new roof.

We built a wood shed. I am very proud of the result. We now have a place within steps of our "back" door where we can store several cords of wood and keep it dry. We might even sacrifice some wood storage to keep the snow blower in there. Not sure yet. The shed is done, nicely trimmed and painted, even beyond past photos documenting our progress. We don't like the paint color, so will still need to do a coat or two to change it.

And, we've cut several more cords of wood, some now in the wood shed. There is more to go. Assuming we burn an average of 5 square feet of wood each day over a 200 day fall/winter/spring, we'll need about 1000 square feet of wood. A cord is 128 square feet, so that is about 8 cords. I think we have about 5 cut, split and stacked.  My goal was to have 7-8 cords by the end of September, so we did not meet that goal. But, we are in very good shape and it is possible to continue to harvest and cut wood through much of the winter.

Starting to fill the wood shed!

I have learned a lot about my chain saws. John at the Hegge Lumber Saw Shop has showed me how to better sharpen the chains. And, I now have multiple chains for each saw and can change them quickly. It makes a huge difference cutting wood with a sharp saw!

We've started using some of the wood with early morning fires to get rid of the overnight chill in the cabin. We keep the propane heater set to 65 degrees, and it has started running once or twice a night.

I had some acrylic panels made to fit in the screened-in porch windows. We are hoping that by blocking off the porch to the outside air with these panels, we will be able to extend the time we can spend on the porch. In any case, these panels will keep the wind and snow off the porch. We have a portable propane heater, too, that might help keep it warm. It won't be completely closed off, but enough to be comfortable  (we hope). I still need to cut trim to use to secure the panels in the window openings and get them installed. Maybe a good project for this weekend.

We ordered a set of Camoplast tracks for the Ranger. I got word today that they are in, so we need to arrange to take the Ranger into town to have them installed. That will mean no more day trips in the Ranger, at least until we get snow. The tracks are four season tracks, so it is okay to use them on the dry roads, but the experience would not be as fun as with tires. So, we can still use the Ranger to gather wood, etc, but not recreationally. With the tracks installed, we can be highly confident in our ability to get out of here even if the roads are closed due to snow.

We plan to leave one of our trucks at the state line, especially when there is a forecast of heavy snow. We still need to be introduced to the person who owns the property where we'd like to leave it.

Destin continues to grow and bring us joy. He is now 75 pounds at just over 6 months of age. He thinks the whole mountain is his yard and will roam freely anywhere we've taken walks. Often, he'd rather roam that come to us when called, so we need to work on that. Meantime, with hunting season starting, he and the other dogs wear blaze orange scarves and coats when we go outside. 

Destin in his blaze orange vest, ready for hunting season.

We took Destin to a dog show in Greeley, Colorado early in the month. He did not do well, but it was great to see a lot of our "dog show" friends that we had not seen in 10 years.

Destin, second from the left, with his brothers and sisters at the Greeley Dog Show.

Last month we took delivery of and installed some new appliances. We now have a shiny new propane refrigerator and stove. We've had some trouble getting them working right. The refrigerator would not start and we finally got someone from town to come out and fix it. The manufacturer reimburse the cost of that. And, now the range is giving us problems. The stove and broiler just won't light. The manufacturer thinks it is a switch and they are sending me a replacement. Once we get everything working, I think they will be great appliances--far better than the 16 year old versions we had.

Football season has started. I am enjoying taking Sunday afternoons off and just sitting in front of the TV and rooting for the Broncos. I did not watch football weekly for the past 10 years. It is not Lynne's favorite thing, but she stays occupied reading or knitting.

We got a couple of day trips in last month. One day we packed up all the dogs and went in a big circle through Red Feather Lakes and home by Deadman Road. It was a multi-hour trip, all on dirt roads. It was very windy, so we did not really get out of the truck other than to grab some lunch in Red Feather Lakes. But, the aspen trees were in full color in many places and it was fun to make the circle. Bella does not like riding in the truck, but we made her go.

Aspen trees just starting to change on Deadman Road.

On another day trip, also leaf peeping, we went up the Laramie River to Chambers Lake on CO Hwy 14, then down to Walden, up to Woods Landing, the back up the Laramie River Valley to Sand Creek Pass and home. Destin and Hailey had a good time and even got to sit with us as we ate lunch at a cafe in Walden. Bella stayed home.

We now have Colorado drivers' licenses. And, the trucks are registered. Ouch, it costs a lot to register a vehicle in Colorado. We also registered to vote.

Still Struggling with FedEx Deliveries

While we have had some success with FedEx deliveries, over the past few days they have regressed.

If you recall, we get our USPS mail as well as UPS deliveries to a row of mailboxes at the Wooden Shoe Ranch close to the state line south of Laramie. That is going very well. Sometimes a package is too big to fit in the mail box or package drop boxes, and we have to meet the UPS driver or pick up a package at the post office in Laramie. But, most of the time the deliveries are available for pickup at the mail boxes.

FedEx delivers directly to our door--or, has so far while the weather has been good. But, sometimes if a package is routed through Cheyenne, they think the address is not valid. Somehow, they come up with an alternative address often using our physical address in Red Feather Lakes. This results in phone calls from the FedEx delivery guy in Red Feather Lakes asking how to find us. Lengthy and sometimes multiple conversations occur until we convince them to just send the package to Laramie and it will find its way to us.

This photo shows the results of one of those recent conversations. It is on its second "corrected address" label, correcting it back to the original address.

Yesterday, something from Amazon got rerouted and we finally got on the phone to FedEx to try to straighten it out. We'll see if we get a package today!

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    Posted to: ‘Off-the-Grid is Now Off-the-Air’ by Alica Humphryson on 03/06/2018

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