So, you may be wondering what some of the most trying situations and tasks might be living in a fifth wheel trailer during winter in Bancroft, Ontario.
When the fridge died in January, that was no big deal. It’s winter out. Anything that needs to stay frozen, we put in a cooler outside. Anything we need to keep cool, we put in a cooler and placed in the old toilet room (it’s always cold in there). Problem solved.
How about when the drain pipe out of our kitchen became frozen with ice? Nope, that was easy to deal with too. We just put all of our wash/waste water into another bowl and then take it outside and dump it. Simple.
Hmmm, well maybe the continuous stream of really cold nights in February has us down? I will admit, it isn’t the most pleasant situation when the temperatures outside drop below -16C or so (around 3F). At that point, the ice starts to come through the wall and we really have to pump the wood into the wood stove. This also means getting up several times at night to do this, the colder it is, the more often you need to do it. Needless to say, I don’t get up all that early. Kat takes over the fire management in the morning so I can get a bit of sleep. She is awesome 🙂
What about cutting down trees and processing them into fire wood? This can be straightforward, or it can be a pain. Right now, we have a significant amount of snow, and it keeps getting deeper, so if you have to go too far to harvest said wood, it’s gonna be quite a trek to get it back to the trailer. This is doable, as my Dad gave us a toboggan for this purpose, but it has a tendency to tip over if you pile it too high and turn a tight corner.
So, what has been the most difficult thing that has happened to us? Today, I went out to harvest another tree. It wasn’t so bad as it was pretty close to the trailer so we didn’t have to go very far. Unfortunately, I have been having stomach problems the last few days. Have you ever tried to cut down a tree when you feel like you want to puke all the time? I really don’t recommend the experience. Also, as a result of said stomach problems, I hadn’t been eating as much as I normally do, so my energy level was low. This does not make for a happy situation.
We did persevere, and after struggling with getting the tree to fall in the correct direction, we were successful. I had a wedge in the cut and a rope tied around the tree a bit of the ways up. I yanked on the rope and then Kat wrapped her arms around me and pulled as well. The tree came down and all was good.
Or was it?
Finding a tree to cut down that you can process and burn immediately can sometimes be a bit tricky. You want standing deadwood, as it will have the least amount of water in it, but hopefully not so far gone as to have started turning into fungus inside. Identifying dead trees during the winter, when there are no leaves on the trees, can also be challenging. You look for things like the bark falling off the tree, or perhaps not there at all; branches that abruptly end with no smaller twigs indicating new growth; perhaps some large woodpecker holes too.
The tree we cut down had all of those features, to some degree. However, after dropping it and then sawing it up, it became clear it was certainly not dead. We did get a few dead pieces off it, but most of it just had to be put away for splitting at some later time. So after all that effort, and being exhausted by the time I finished, we ended up with very little new fire wood.
Oh, did I mention it was snowing during all of this? Yeah, add that to the list. The only consolation is that this tree in particular was scheduled to come down anyway due to the fact that it was blocking our solar gain.
So, why did we do that? Well, when you’re running low on wood, you can’t just sit around and hope that some shows up. I had wanted to go out a few days ago, but with my stomach and it being really cold that wasn’t going to happen. Today it was warmer and I just couldn’t wait any longer.
These are the life experiences we all have and now I get to share this wonderful story with all of you. Don’t worry about us too much. There are still more dead trees to cut down and I’m sure we’ll keep going.