Posting will be light for a few days. Winter will arrive soon. If you’re in the north, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re in the south, sip a Mint Julep on the porch and pity my suffering foolish self for living where humans ought not live.
Mother nature is only few months away from coming out it’s corner swinging for the KO. I like to be ready. Further, summer didn’t go according to plan so I’m hopelessly behind in my winter preparations. I’ve been running around Curmudgeon Compound like a squirrel on amphetamines trying to make last minute preparations for the “killing season”. It’s not going to work. I’m almost never as well prepared as I’d like and this season will be more of the same. Homesteading is like that. Life is like that.
Despite frosty mornings and leaves dropping, the climate is just right for getting things done. The mosquitoes are dead, the air smells fresh, and neither engines nor Curmudgeons overheat in the cool air. Hunting season will come soon. Fall is the best of all seasons.
Other residents of the household have already shifted into January mode. Books are being read, television is being watched, cats are being cuddled, couches are being occupied. “NOT YET!” Screams the Curmudgeon, “You can read a book when it’s -30! We need to fix the broken barn door. And the snowblower is toast. Plus I need a hand cleaning the chimney. Who’s going to help?” The answer, of course, is that it’s up to me. Even if we all read the story of the ant and the grasshopper… it sucks being the ant. Also, just to make it feel like winter came early, Mrs. Curmudgeon is sicker than a dog. (And she’s already sick of Ebola jokes so don’t try ’em.) What a bummer. The dog, for it’s part, is not sick at all. It’s happily barking at every dry leaf. If we’re ever attacked by a leaf blower she’ll tear the house down. (Note: I don’t own a leaf blower.)
Today was fun. I got to use one of my favorite toys; my “bespoke detachable fuel tank“. This is a 70 gallon tank to which I’ve had a “locking base” welded. The base pins to the gooseneck hitch of my truck. That holds it down good and tight. I love it when a plan comes together. I meant to paint it this summer. I didn’t.
Last week I popped in at most of the local truck stops pricing “off road” diesel. (“Off road” diesel is the same as “on road” diesel except it’s free of road tax and died red. It’s died red so that, should you put it in your truck, the cops can find out and fine your ass until your teeth fall out. It’s meant for powering tractors, generators, logging equipment, bulldozers, and furnaces.) The difference between the highest price and lowest was $0.33 and it clocks in at about $.50 cheaper than the stuff that legally goes in your truck. (Remember that boys and girls. The same government that talks about “green initiatives” and bitches about pipelines is hammering a truck driver for a buck on every two gallons. Can you say “conflicting goals”?)
I never came up with an ideal way to lift the tank into the truck. It’s too heavy for one man and I’m only one man. Every year I apply that biologically expensive over-evolved monkey brain of mine and try a new way to lift it. Every year it’s a crapshoot. This year I chained it to a front end loader on an old tractor. The combination of roaring tractor engine, slipping chains, questionable hydraulic lines, and heavy weight had “crushed Curmdugeon” written all over it. Yet somehow I got it placed and pinned down in only a half hour of terror. (No trucks were injured in the making of this movie.) (Someday I’m gonna’ build a hoist arrangement.)
I went to town and bought 67 gallons of “off road” (it’s a 70 gallon tank but I didn’t want to top it off). While I was there I bought 30 gallons of “on road” for my truck. The price was… ouch! I forgot my checkbook and I’m pretty sure my debit card started smoking.
Back at the fort I pumped it in the furnace tank with a lot less drama than I usually experience in winter. No frostbite, no standing in a snowdrift, no working in the dark. Sometimes one does things right.
The pump had a minor malfunction. It’s out of warranty but I think it’ll be a cheap repair. The dog, thinking the house was being invaded by fuel oil fairies, never stopped barking.
By my calculations (and a five minute google search) a cord of oak (the source of most of my fuel wood) has 22.7 million BTUs. This is equivalent to 135 gallons of #2 fuel oil. So I pumped exactly half a cord of heat into the basement. Who thinks like that? I do!
It’ll take a couple paychecks before I can get more oil. I heat 80-90% with wood but the furnace is nice too. It does amazing things like run when I’m gone and turn on at 2:00 am and operate if I’m feeling sick. I’d like to have a full 250 gallon tank squirrelled away before Thanksgiving.
While I was pumping the fuel (and whining about the cost) I thought about Natural Gas and Electricity. Both come to your house in infinite quantity. However, it is more or less impossible to pre-pay either. Everyone acts like you’re a loon for filling a furnace on a 50 degree day but they think it’s totally reasonable to pay a furnace bill in January. This has got to be a new-ish way of thinking.
So there you have the boring news from Crumudgeon Compound. While everyone was fretting about Ebola and dipshits in suits stuffed my mailbox with negative campaign materials, I was out there prepping for January.
My, but this mint julep tastes good.
You have a newly repaired wood stove, fuel oil, wood in the woodpile, and a good woman to take care of everything indoors. What are you complaining about?
You’re absolutely right! Everything is about as awesome as can be and I should chill the heck out. Well said.
It’s one of the flaws of human nature (or at least mine) to compare one’s situation to a hypothetical ideal (a zillion cords of wood) instead of a lower bar (no wood). At some point the hypothetical is unattainable so you’re just getting riled up for nothing. Guilty as charged. I’m always a little extra paranoid just before winter. Once the snow flies, preparation time is over and the die is cast… at that point I’ll park by the fire with a book and fret no more.
“fretting about Ebola…prepping for January” That last sentence puts things in perspective. Chance of catching Ebola in the Frozen North: slim. Chance of dying if unprepared for January: 100%.
Thanks! I’m a big fan of reality based decisions.
“If you’re in the south, sip a Mint Julep on the porch and pity my suffering foolish self for living where humans ought not live.”
You don’t want to live in the South. Yes, the North gets cold in winter. The South, on the other hand, gets months of 90 degrees / 90% humidity. Days when you wish God would make it just a LITTLE more humid, so you could swim to the top and breathe. Days when you could swear that some rotten bastard had used up all the oxygen making water vapor.
And I only ever lived as far South as D.C.. Weird as Wonderland on the Potomac is, it can’t be as hot and nasty as, say, Alabama.
Remember; you can usually manage to get on another layer of warm clothing, but there’s a limit to how much you can take off before they arrest you. And if you get that far, it usually doesn’t help and you end up wanting to claw off your skin.
I have an ineradicable prejudice. If I’m going to get soaked to the skin, I want to start with the outer layer of clothing.
Also I’ll take virtually any climate over getting rained on. I did time in the Pacific Northwest and it sucked. I swear moss was growing on everything.
I was preparing for January yesterday. By getting a tan. Maybe I should get the A/C in the truck re-gassed. You can’t be too prepared forJanuary.
Build a platform at truck bed height to store the tank on. Make it from cinderblock and “tank” the inside, you can even call it a bund.
Good idea but I’ll never get it done. It’s filed on my “to do” list at #294,448,232,234.
What if you put heavy duty wheels/rollers(like from an old pallet jack) on the bottom of your tank? then roll it right from your totally awesome truck (i have one myself, i know how it is) right to the platform. preferably at a point that hooks up to wherever you bulk store your fuel.
Wheels would be cool but I like it to sit flat on the truck bed. I pump the fuel to the bulk tank so that’s not a big deal. Maybe someday I’ll add an axle and turn it into a little trailer.
What’s a snowblower (other than that cokehead chick I ran with in ’87 or so)?
I’m not gloating. I’d rather be in FL, but I just bought a house, so I’m stuck here for awhile. Maybe if I win the lottery I’ll get my wish & never even hear the word “snow” again: or “ice”, unless it’s in a drink.
Schofield, DC is the North. Sweating cools you off, and besides, we’re acclimated. If I never saw a day under 80 degrees again, I’d be a happy man.
DC is neither north nor south… it is armpit.