Jan 2 – Wow, really cold day. We woke up at 5am and it was -30C; so cold our Starlink satellite wouldn’t turn on. To conserve solar power, we automatically have our internet turn off at 11pm and power back on at 5am. Since it was so cold this morning, our internet wasn’t available until 10:30am. Oh well, lots of things to do that don’t require being online. As we barely generate 1kwh of power a day, we ran our generator extra long in hopes that tonight we’ll try to keep the internet on so we don’t have a repeat of this morning. One power savings now that it is so cold is we’ve unplugged our chest freezer. Fortunately the freezer is in the garage with all the windows open. At -15C, the garage is cool enough that there is no risk of food going bad in the freezer.
Made a trip to the woodshed for a few bundles of wood. Surprising how hard it was to breathe the cold air even if it was just a short walk. We’re going through a fair amount of wood at the moment, but this cold snap should only be around for another couple weeks.
Really excited after watching a video of another off-grid person who discovered a washing machine made for off-grid use. It is a low power washer – not a lot of bells and whistles, but looks like it does a decent job of washing light loads. So I ordered the machine off Amazon and expected delivery is next week. This could be a game changer for us as it’ll mean less trips to the laundromat. And, it’ll be more convenient especially in summer when I can hang laundry to dry.
Jan 6 – Not much has been going on as it’s been pretty cold the past week. Temperatures during the day have hovered around -20C and at night below -30C. When it is this cold, really don’t spend a lot of time outdoors other than daily trip to the woodshed. Today I wanted some fresh air and did some shoveling of snow down to the lake. This Saturday we’ll be needing to refill the indoor cistern.
Filling the cistern is a bit of a process. First step is getting the gas powered auger down to the lake. John will walk out a few dozen yards and drill a hole in the ice. Then we’ll pull a sled that has a gas powered pump and a bunch of hoses. Once the hole is drilled and John has got the pump running, I’ll run back up to the house. We’ll communicate via walkie-talkies so that when the cistern is getting near 95%, I’ll tell him to shut off the pump.
As we need the water from doing dishes, bathing, washing hands etc., we need to fill the cistern approximately every two months. Once the cistern is full, I head back down to the lake to help John collect the hoses and pull the sled back to the shed.
I’ve put together a YouTube video showing a few photos how we get water. If I weren’t so darned self-conscious of my voice I’d be providing commentary.
If you do click on the video, please click and like the video and subscribe to new videos. As I prepare for my 2022 hike, YouTube will be where my videos will be. Thanks!
Jan 7 – It’s 6:45am and no internet. Both of us forgot to keep internet on overnight. -30C at the moment. We’ll be lucky if internet is back on before 11am. Oh well.
Jan 9 – first morning alone (sad face) as John left for Ottawa yesterday. He’ll be gone about two weeks. Mild at the moment (-5C) and snow, but tonight it’ll be fall as low as -42C with windchill. Eek! Today will be gathering loads of firewood.
Jan 11 – Quite the day today. Woke up the our propane turning on. As our wood stove is the main heat source, the propane furnace is backup for when we’re not here, but also in the event it gets colder overnight. I had it set for 13C…so it was that cold this morning in the living room. The wood stove had a lot of coals, but when it is -33C, the heat disappears fast especially in a log home where we have a couple of drafts.
Bathroom was really cold – cold enough that the taps had no water. Ugh! I could have taken a heat gun and tried to thaw the copper pipes, but I figured I could survive one day.
Drove to town for mail and a few groceries. Leaving the grocery store, an alert popped up on display – something about stabilizer track?? Fortunately, right next to the grocery store is our mechanic. These guys are fantastic and have always been there for us. Took them about 20 minutes of diagnostics, the error message disappeared and I was on my way.
Around 8pm, seeing that the temperature had warmed outside to a balmy -20C, I tried the taps to see if they were still frozen. Happy to report, we have water!!
Jan 14 – man, it is cold out. -36C at 8am. Temperature has fallen six degrees since I got up at 4. Environment Canada says windchill feels more like -44C.
Just got in from getting two bundles of firewood and cleaned the snow off the solar panels. Sun is shining bright already, so finally, might make some power. December and early January have been awful for making power, and with a lack of sun, it means we have to run a gas generator to power the batteries. Gas is pretty expensive up here…near $1.60 per litre. So anytime we can make free power off the sun, the cheaper it is.
Jan 24 – another cold day, but blue skies. On one hand, I’ll go through a lot of firewood to keep the cabin warm. On the other hand, we’ll generate some much needed solar power. Yesterday was our best day since the Fall – generating 2.0kwh. That’s enough that I didn’t need to start the generator.
Couple nights ago was one of the scariest nights I’ve spent alone. I’ve been alone for two weeks while John is in Ottawa. As is the routine every night, I loaded the wood stove, turned down the damper and went to bed.
It was sometime after midnight, I opened my eyes to see that the living room was really glowing. Normally this isn’t cause for concern because the wood stove throws off quite the glow when hot. On this evening, maybe too hot.
The stovepipe that connects into the roof somehow became detached. That means there is a very high likelihood of carbon monoxide. I called John and had woken him up to ask what I do. First thing was opening all the windows to start to air out the place. Second thing was grabbing the carbon monoxide detector from the bathroom and placed it in the living room. Fortunately, no beeping.
So now I had a real problem: how to connect the stovepipe back by myself when the stovepipe is over 200F and front of stove is 400F. A good thing was that the stove contained mostly glowing coals. I shovelled them into a fireproof bucket that we use for ashes. As soon as the bucket was full, I headed out to the bush and dumped in the snow. I repeated this two more times until the stove was clean. Now I just had to wait for the stove to cool down.
Obviously, I couldn’t sleep. I had shut the windows, but still feared deadly carbon monoxide. Around 3:30am, the stove being cool enough, I stood on it and pushed the pipe back up into place. I got a small fire going to start to warm the place back up again.
That morning I was on the internet chatting with other wood stove owners, as well as Googling anything and everything. I connected with a ver nice man from Algoma region who gave me tips.
I’ll admit we made a few mistakes as we’ve only lived here 4 years. Starting a fire was never a problem, but now I know there is an art to how you maintain the fire using the damper. Unfortunately, one big challenge for us is having no hardwood to burn. But, there are ways to efficiently burn our wood longer.
Two days later, stove is working great. Until a few days ago, when it was -25C out, I could never get this place warm. Now it’s a cozy 23C inside. Even our bathroom is warmer than it’s ever been, and that’s important because we rely on evaporation for the compost toilet.
Jan 31 – ahhh, last day of the month. And, another cold one at -31C. Weird, tomorrow forecast is a high of +1C. That’ll feel tropical compared to the last few weeks where it was a non-stop lugging of firewood to make sure the fire doesn’t go out.
Good news as John will be coming home this weekend, having been away for 3 weeks in Ottawa. Miss him a lot and will be great when he’s home. Gets a bit lonely out here by oneself that when I go to town, I know I talk up people way too long.
Haven’t been doing much as it’s cold out. I’ve been out a few times to clear the solar panels, shovel some paths to compost area, and clean snow off the trucks.
What is keeping me busy is mental thoughts about upcoming Appalachian Trail hike attempt #3. You can read more about my hike by clicking on the menu or by following along on my YouTube page. I’ve finally gotten over how much I hate seeing myself on video or hearing my voice. I’ve been amazed by the comments. https://youtube.com/channel/UCEUlgwrTf3Us2cDeY6X2gOg