frolicking bison

i probably should have waited on the last post, until i knew the full extent of the situation. new stuff has come to light.

  1. the steal frame of the airstream is an excellent thermal bridge. keeping the pipes from freezing inside the trailer, including the p-trap under the shower has been an ongoing challenge. a small heater under the sink and a heat lamp outside under the shower have gotten me through, but i’m a bit surprised that i didn’t consider this when putting the trailer together.
  2. you probably didn’t notice the tractor tire in the last post was flat. neither did i. i drove on it and quickly unseated it from the rim. after some good advice (thanks andy!!) i jacked it up, and used a ratchet strap to make it bulge enough that my compressor could get air into it. before and after: 
  3. the driveway still isn’t plowed, as the tractor wouldn’t start. which stinks because we’re supposed to get more snow tonight, the driveway is in a bad state, temperatures are supposed to drop significantly for the next week, and i’m worried the tire might deflate again. i spent an hour with a heat gun and heat lamp but eventually gave up. tomorrow i’ll be trying to purchase a block heater.
  4. friday morning the truck wouldn’t start. i think the cold slightly ruptured a fuel line. after an hour or so of messing around in the darkness and rain i found i just needed to pump the fuel filter a few times to pressurize it, which was a nice quick bandage, but will need a long term fix in the near future.
  5. we got above freezing for a few hours friday morning and had some rain. this rain came off the roof and directly on to the propane regulator. temperatures dropped a few hours later, freezing the regulator. this cut off my access to hot water. it took a while to figure this out, including getting a full new tank (the other tank is frozen to the ground, so i had no way to know if it was full or not). but then i just used the  heat gun to warm and dry it up. i was able to cook on the wood stove throughout, which was a very nice option to have.
  6. beer on the porch is slushing up somewhere near 15F, but is not exploding. it takes an unfortunately long time to thaw out in this state.
  7. on my way into town i watched some bison chasing each other in the snow. they looked extremely happy. it was one of the more appealing things i have seen in a long time. most critters have some sort of nest or den for the winter. bison don’t. it occurred to me that to thrive in this environment, without a  shelter, you literally need to be built like a bison — huge, hoofed, and covered in thick wool. the rest of us have to carry on making fires and fixing leaks.

all in all this has been a relatively minor cold streak, and i’ve spent most of my non-working hours just trying to keep basic things functioning. the fixes have all turned out to be relatively easy, but now i’m expecting to babysit them for at least another month. needless to say, i did not get that rustic farmhouse deck table built for cait today.

despite this list, i should note that my spirits have been reasonably high throughout. we don’t really have any other options. it’s too cold to be sad. i guess the only thing appealing about the situation is the struggle. and, unlike the summer heat, this is a surmountable struggle.


the forecast over the christmas weekend was for a couple inches of snow the night before departure and one overnight low to be 6F, with the rest somewhere around 20F.

despite getting more than a couple inches of snow we thought, no big deal, left two heaters on for the cats, and drove away.

from a distance we watched the temperatures drop to less than -10F. we saw days not breaking out of single digits. when i finally arrived here tuesday morning it had climbed to 0F. the trailer was frozen solid and the cats were pissed. if not for our neighbor checking in, i certainly would have needed to come back over.

the water line has heat tape on it, and never froze. however, as soon as i had unstuck the ice plug coming in the copper joint started leaking pretty badly. i had to quickly re-plumb the water to the sink: 

since then i have been trying to get the rest of the lines unfrozen, and i did have a little success, only to have the outflow pipes freeze. i dumped a bunch of salt down the shower, and i have a seedling mat strapped to the exterior pipe now, but my hopes are low. the temperature is supposed to keep climbing to the low 30s in the next few days, which should help. though, i’m feeling i will still need to get a little more creative.

UPDATE: with a few good ideas — siphon+boiling water and a heat lamp under the trailer water is once again exiting the trailer.

roof almost finished

during a gloomy, gloomy week i chipped away at the roofing and the electrical setup. we’re now fully covered, i just have the gables and one last ridge piece to slip into place. i will be glad when the roofing part of this is completely over.

we also go the sub panel installation finished up. the trailer is now able to consume a full 30 amps. we can run an oil heater and the instant pot at the same time. i also fed an additional 20 amp outlet for general outdoor use.

we’re letting a neighbor use our west field. he turned that over with a huge tractor. it took him 5+ hours to plow (4 bottom plow) a 14 acre field with a 200 hp tractor. he’ll still need to disc and probably drag harrow it. i’m glad it wasn’t me doing it.

we’re not sure what he’s going to do with it yet, but the soil looked pretty good, despite a little clay higher up.