It’s great, this living in the 20th century…

Eleven degrees out this morning, and that’s as cold as it’s gotten so far this season. There’s some heat leakage past the bedroom curtain; normally the cabin stays about 20o above ambient when I’m in it but not actively heating, but this morning when I got up the indoor temp was 30o above. Still I was shivering and bustling about, getting coffee and the woodstove working, …

…because of course I was in a hurry to get back to my nice warm bedroom.

Kept waking up in the middle of the night in spite of the delicious warmth, because I knew the furnace is going to suck its propane bottle dry and flame out any minute now. Of course I expect it to happen in the middle of the coldest night so far, because you can’t give Uncle Murphy an opening like that and expect him to just kindly pass it by. I considered swapping out the bottles day before yesterday but refrained. Made that mistake with the last bottle, thinking by estimated weight that it was about dry and then it turned out there was still plenty. I’m terrible at that. Anyway, I need to know how long a propane bottle lasts in actual use, and unfortunately that requires letting the bottle run dry in cold weather when you’d much rather it was full. This is the first real cold snap we’ve had so far this winter, and it’s giving me data.

I have to go out early to feed horses and dogs and break up ice. T&S have three dogs, and I’m worried about the oldest one. The two younger ones are safe and warm indoors, waiting for me to come let them out. But the oldest, Bubba, hates and fears me and refuses to do anything but lay under the deck and bark when I approach. There was no way to lure him indoors, and there’s no way I’m going under there after him because his idea of hatred and fear has a bitey element that’s just not in my contract. I check to see if he’s still barking and leave offerings of dog biscuits, and otherwise don’t bug him. But I do worry about him in the cold.

ETA, an hour later: And in a shout-out to the 19th century, may I just say how much I also love my faithful little woodstove…


About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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9 Responses to It’s great, this living in the 20th century…

  1. FDD says:

    Hey Joel, if you have it, you might try some cooked bacon, it might help in making friends with the old dog

  2. MJR says:

    Nice to see that you are all snug as a bug in a rug now that the cold season is upon us. As for the dog who has a mild aversion to you, have you given any thought that the mutt smells LB on your clothing? Also remember what Jayne said, “Nothing buys bygones quicker than cash” or as FDD wrote try bribing the mutt with bacon.

  3. Mike says:

    Too lazy to search, how do you get the LP bottles filled now? Looks like a 100# cylinder would be a great improvement. Most LP suppliers here will charge less per gallon to fill them as well. I roll mine around with a cheap hand cart. They are easy to load in a pickup bed. If I won’t thousands of miles away I’d gift you one.

  4. Joel says:

    Mike, we have a couple of 100# bottles around here; there’s one plumbed to Ian’s cookstove. I don’t like them because a)they’re very heavy for an old man with bad joints and b)I can’t always be sure of having enough money on hand when it’s time to fill them. I prefer 5-6 40# bottles to 2 100# for those reasons.

    Unfortunately at the moment due to valve failures I’m down to 4 40# bottles. That was plenty before I installed the space heater; not so much now. But the bank account is in good shape at the moment and I hope to order at least one at the local hardware store.

    As to how I get them filled: That’s easy. I’m far from the only cedar rat hauling propane and drinking water from town to some hovel in the desert – mine’s just less hovel-y these days. :) So there are at least 2 vendors in town who’ll cheerfully fill portable propane bottles – and two more who do it grumpily. No price break for the bigger bottles, though – to go there you need to rent a big tank and get truck delivery, and that’s obviously out of the question in the Lair’s case. You could possibly get a propane truck down into the Lair’s hollow, but you’d never get it out again.

  5. jabrwok says:

    This idea would probably be too much work, but have you considered keeping pigs? If Tina Turner has taught me anything, pigs are a great source of methane, which you could then bottle for your furnace! Plus bacon, so win-win!

    Not sure whether they could just eat the local flora or you’d have to supply swill, which might make them cost-ineffective.

  6. Joel says:

    Building your off-grid retreat on the specifications gleaned from Mel Gibson movies almost never works out well, jabrwok. I’m still trying to find uses for all these face colanders.

    Also there’s no frickin’ way pigs could live on the local forage, especially without letting them roam which would cause even greater trouble. And if you pen them up they raise a stink that truly must be experienced to be believed. And then there’s the butchering…so in answer to your original question, yes. I really did consider keeping pigs. And then rejected the idea. :)

  7. jabrwok says:

    And then rejected the idea.

    Fair enough:-).

  8. MamaLiberty says:

    jabrwok, talk to the folks in rural (and increasingly urban) areas of Texas and so forth about pigs eating the local forage. They’re shooting the damned things as fast as they can… but so far the pigs can reproduce even faster. Not a good idea. :)

    But I’m really curious how one might collect the methane from them…

  9. jabrwok says:

    ML, I don’t claim to be an expert by any means, but IIRC, the methane isn’t collected directly from the swine, but rather from their manure. Let it ferment in an enclosed space and then concentrate the fumes somehow. There are probably YouTube videos on it:-).

    Mostly I’m just trying to think of ways in which Joel can become more self-sufficient and less reliant on fuel that he has to buy. Maybe he could turn mesquite into turpentine…

To the stake with the heretic!