Well, it’s forty below and…

Yup, it’s January and this is the Great White North. It’s cold and snowy. Not the best time to be living in a fifth wheel trailer, but hey that’s what we’re doing.

I realize looking at my last post (like a month ago, sheesh where does the time go) that I don’t really have many pictures up showing what we’re experiencing here, though some of the later construction pics you can see the snow we have been accumulating. Luckily, during December, it wasn’t all that cold, relatively speaking. Most days were above -10C (14F) so not too bad.

Here is a picture I took in early January.


We went away for the holidays to visit some family and we got back on Dec 29th. It was a bit of a shock coming back because we had totally gotten out of the groove you get when you live in a trailer. Thawing it out when you get back takes a while. We managed to do that, but we were soon to encounter some serious winter weather. The first week of January it dropped to -27C (-17F) one night and was pretty cold for a few nights in a row.

We have a number of drafty parts in the trailer and the colder it gets, the worse they are. I was standing by the door on the day before the one where it got really cold and could feel the icy breeze rushing in. That was a bit more than we could take. We ripped off the molding around the door and low and behold, there was around a 1.5cm (1/2″) gap between the doorframe and the wall with nothing in it. What the smeg!

Luckily, I had some left over spray foam insulation. I brought it into the trailer to warm up and then proceeded to fill that space. That helped quite a bit with the draft, but unfortunately, when it gets decently cold, it doesn’t stop it from coming through the wall. As evidence, I present exhibit A:


Above you can see the orange bit where I put in the foam insulation. Unfortunately, the walls of your typical trailer are not exactly thick or well insulated. I was wondering why the ice was coming through the wall at that particular point and I discovered why on the outside wall: there is a hand rail for the steps screwed into the wall there and the cold comes right through that spot. The walls have only minimal insulation and the inside paneling is a really thin high density particle board. So, given the nice gateway through, the ice will come right through the wall.

On those really cold nights, you can see ice creeping in around the corners of the trailer as well, where the floor meets the wall, especially in the slide-outs. Does that sound rough, difficult to cope with? We have a secret weapon though: fire 🙂

Provided you have nice dry wood to burn, we can get the trailer pretty toasty, even on really cold nights. It does take some effort, and you do have to constantly feed that fire during the night (kinda like having a new born baby around), but it works. The biggest trick is the dry wood part.

We moved up here at the beginning of October and spent most of our time trying to get set for winter. Unfortunately, once winter does arrive and you realized you will need a tonne more wood than you have harvested, things get interesting. Especially when you also discover that most of the places around your area are all sold out of wood, should you choose to buy it.

Luckily, we have family in the Ottawa area who had access to wood so they bought us some as a Christmas gift. That was one of the best gifts ever 😛 Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as pristinely dry as we would have liked. Unless your days are ideal, wood will generally pick things up during transit, or, if it’s been sitting outside unsheltered. Beggars can’t be choosers I guess. The wood did burn, but all of the logs sizzled, which means you waste some heat of the fire just boiling out the water.

Ironically, I have also been out cutting some more fire wood. There are numerous dead hardwood trees around our property and the ones I have harvested have burnt really well. You do have to have a good day for it though. Too cold and you just freeze before you can get anything done. Too warm and when the tree drops, all that snow will stick to it, making it really wet. That will make it really difficult to burn. A sunny day around -5C to -10C is good.

How well does the wood stove work? Well, like most heating devices in rooms, it kinda works from the top down. Your feet are the last thing to be warm; we always wear shoes in the trailer. As a result, you may have a thermometer up near the ceiling that says 20C (68F)…


… but your feet will feel quite different.


Yes, that says 8C (46F). So, in cases like this, crank up the stove and add some more heat. Ahhh, this looks better.


26C (79F) makes things much more comfy.

There is constant work in keeping ourselves warm and fed, but it hasn’t been overwhelming. Of course then you have the unexpected things happen that you have to deal with as well. Like when your fridge dies. Ours died about ten days ago, but luckily, it’s cold outside. Anything we had in the freezer, we put in a cooler and put it outside. The room in the trailer where the built-in toilet was (I ripped it out) is always really cold, we we took everything that was in the fridge and put it in a cooler in that room. I have a fridge/freezer thermometer that I keep in there and it generally around 4C (38F). Pretty decent refrigerator temperature, but we will still need to find someone to come fix the fridge before spring.

As far as the roof construction goes, my friend Gerald and I have made some progress, but I don’t have any new pictures. They wouldn’t be very exciting anyway, as we only put up the center posts and the beam across the back. Once we get the beam across the center and start putting up rafters then things will start to look more exciting. I promise to take some pictures and I will post them, I just can’t guarantee that it will coincide time-wise with the actual construction 😛


One thought on “Well, it’s forty below and…”

  1. I got cold just reading about this! However I was already cold because it’s 55 degrees and the windows are open and I’m freezing. also about 93 percent humidity cuz it’s cloudy and it’s been raining. Stay warm, dressing in 25 layers of clothing may be a bit of a challenge but well worth it. hugs, mom in AZ

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