Saturday, January 9, 2016

Returning to the Cabin

The day we left for the south was reasonably sunny.  I was in a hopeful mood that with the power switched off completely, any sunlight at all would go towards charging the batteries, and we could return to a nice, fully charged system.

Kenny was still excited about the snow we were leaving behind.

Will this joy last into his teenage years when I ask him to shovel?
Returning home the cabin was very cold.  Luckily we were home by afternoon, so I started a fire and checked on the batteries.  I was a bit miffed to see that they were mediocre at best.  Of course, the panels were completely covered by even the little bit of snow that we had received while we had been gone.  I had instructed Grandpa not to bother sweeping them off, but he said he had, and even so, there we were.

I managed to fire up the generator and then crossed my fingers and pressed the button for pumping water from our well.

Unsurprisingly, nothing happened.

I was prepared for this though.  I punched the heat cable on for 30 minutes, and then rechecked the fire.

As part of our preparations for our trip, we had taken food over to Mummu and Grandpa's that wasn't capable of being frozen - canned goods or things in bottles and such.

Items in the freezer I decided could just stay there.  I guessed that with the power off, the cabin would drop below zero, and the freezer, already being there, would only reinforce that.  You can imagine my annoyance to discover that the freezer, while still below zero, had somehow allowed the ice cream to melt and cause a sticky mess inside the freezer compartment.

This made me too nervous to keep the shrimp or a few chicken breasts that were there, so they wound up in the compost right away.  Lesson learned - some things need to be REALLY cold to qualify as safely frozen, not just at zero!

After an hour of heat cable, I tried the pump switch again.

Slightly distressing - nothing.

Grandpa came over, and together, we managed to wrangle Kenny's bed upstairs to his room.  It was like one of those twisted wire puzzles - rotating and flipping the bed to get it around the obstacles and up to his room.  But at least it worked!

Next time though, any furniture for upstairs will have to be able to be dismantled and ... remantled(?).

I then started to think of possible worst case scenarios about our water system - and wondering if there was a horrible chance that the water could be frozen somewhere between the well and the water tank inside the cabin.

With a start, it came to me - the awful realization that I had forgotten something vitally important in our preparations for our trip south.  I hadn't removed the particulate filter under the sink!

Hollering out a type of chocolate* in spite of myself, I jumped across the cabin and whipped open the door under the sink.

Feeling gingerly around the filter, I was immensely relieved to not note any deformities or cracks.  This was a double blessing.  I hadn't broken an important component of our water system, AND I gave myself a possible simple explanation for why we had no water - the filter was frozen and preventing water from coming in.

I left the cupboard door open, and shut the woodstove up airtight.  I then headed back to Mummu and Grandpa's house to enjoy a slightly belated Christmas Eve - giving Kenny a chance to open his gifts.

Where does he get his silly streak from?
We returned home to a still very chilly cabin, and sadly, the water still wouldn't pump.  I let the timer run out a final 30 minutes of heat on the cable to no effect, and then went to bed.

First night in the new bed!
It was a very poor sleep I had.  Between the cabin still being just above ten degrees, and obsessing about the water problem, I tossed and turned and didn't feel very chipper when I awoke.

I put on the fire again and tried to bring the cabin up to a better temperature.  I didn't bother closing the door under the sink, but wasn't very optimistic about things.

Eventually Donna and Kenny awoke, and on a lark I pressed the pump button, in spite of the heat cable having been turned off for the past eight or nine hours.

I almost keeled over when immediately the sound of water gushing up the pipe to the tank met my ears.  The blockage must have simply been the filter as I had barely hoped for - and it thawed overnight!

Nearly crying for joy, I invited Kenny and Donna to join hands with me while I did my happy dance around the kitchen!

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