Like much of the U.S., we had a stretch of really cold days in November and early December. The past few years were pretty warm through this period, and while we were hopeful for another mild autumn, what we got was early deep winter.
Our plan was to get a pole barn built by early autumn. Long-term, this will be where Frank will keep most of his landscaping equipment and be able to work on trucks and trailers during inclement weather. Short-term, we hatched the brilliant plot to park the trailer inside to keep the water pipes from freezing.
Curses, foiled again. New plan: torpedo heater.
We had major help from a local Amish crew to get the barn built. This was fascinating, almost choreographed in the way each man knew exactly where he was supposed to be, throwing whichever tool or board up to exactly the right colleague at exactly the right height and time. Enthralling.
As soon as they had the shell complete, Frank worked hard and steadily for the past three weeks or so to install insulation and OSB inside the barn. We will eventually heat the barn, but there’s no point in doing that if it all goes right through the steel siding. Frank did this all by himself, with two ladders, makeshift scaffolding, and limited lighting — on a 14-foot ceiling! He has about four feet left to OSB on the ceiling. This was another symphonic performance, just like the Amish crew’s.
Unfortunately, because Mother Nature doesn’t know (OR care) what the calendar says the season is, the trailer is still sitting in the yard. It resides under a metal carport, which does provide protection from snow and sun, but cold is cold is cold. When the temperature drops below 24 or 25 degrees Fahrenheit, the pipes freeze.
You’ve heard that if you let water trickle through faucets, it prevents the water lines from freezing. This is true. It works almost every time. It also fills up our limited-capacity wastewater holds faster than we’d like. Hmmm…..
We have learned or created work-arounds for everything. The procedure goes something like this: we discover that we have no running water, then I whine, then Frank snow-suits up and goes outside to hook the torpedo heater to a propane tank. He built a wooden chute like a concentrator to funnel the heat, and under the trailer it all goes. Voila. In about an hour, with two or three repositions, we have running water again.
When the water freezes, I think about this and other things that exist so normally in the background for most of us, and how disruptive it can be when they are compromised. The frozen pipes are a microcosm of this whole trailer-living thing, where many of the things we were used to using are now minimized or compromised. As we’re learning, there’s always a solution.