January 21, 2015: Storm Clouds
We’ve had heavy snow three days out of the last four. The winds have been howling like a pack of rabid wolves and I’m guessing we’ve gotten close to 30” of snow. Of course, with the winds, we have some huge drifts. We broke down and used both loader tractors to keep up with the snow in the yard. It wasn’t easy to get those old diesels started in this cold but there was simply no way we could keep up by shoveling it ourselves. See: “Spread too thin” from a few days ago.
I haven’t seen the Gunters in over a week. My hope is that they’re doing OK and that Marta and her boys haven’t murdered them in their sleep. Jake is probably smart enough to post a guard 24/7 but I wouldn’t bet my life on it.
Maybe I should swing by their place before my next remote observation post duty.
Speaking of which, remote OP duty has been one of the least favorite responsibilities around here since the blizzard started. Not only do you have to hike nearly a mile and a half in the snow before and after your duty but you also have to sit for four hours trying to keep warm.
We rigged up a blind just below the lee side of the same hill that we first used to scout the abandoned farm house. The blind helps break the wind and keep the snow off of you while you’re pulling duty and the snow drift that’s built up over it camouflages it completely. We also took one of our small propane heaters over to the blind. Every time you pull duty, you’re responsible for taking your own propane tank with you. The heater uses the little, green tanks that work with camp stoves. We fill them from our 100 lb tanks.
If you’ve never filled a propane tank before, it’s not rocket science. There simply must be more pressure in the main tank than the tank being filled. Raising the main tank above the level of the tank being filled and inverting it helps create the pressure. It also helps if the tank being filled is colder than the main tank. That’s not really a challenge in this weather. We simply store the small, green tanks outside in a snow bank and keep the 100 lb tanks inside the shop. I wouldn’t call the shop warm – we don’t heat it most of the time – but it’s certainly warmer than a snow bank outside in singled-digit or low-teens temperatures.
We have a 1000 lb propane tank for the original farm house and one for our larger cabin. The two smaller cabins are each supplied by their own 500 lb tank. We also have ten 100 lb tanks and 40 twenty-pound tanks in addition to a full pallet of the small, green tanks. I found most of the 100 lb and twenty-pound tanks on Craigslist before the crash. It took some time to buy them off of Craigslist, but we probably saved in excess of $2000 doing it that way. I bought the entire pallet of small, green tanks on a storage building auction along with some other useful camping items.
The only problem we ran into with the used tanks was that propane dealers in the city would not fill older tanks without an overflow prevention device (OPD). Farmer’s Co-op’s in smaller towns would fill them without batting an eye but the “big city” guys turned us away enough times that we simply stopped going to them.
Probably more than you ever wanted to know about propane tanks.
There has been absolutely zero activity at the abandoned farm which has led to some complaining about the remote OP duty. While I’d like to think the blizzard will keep Hernandez’s gang away, it’s exactly the kind of advantage I’d look for if I was going to attack someone. Although I have no idea what kind of a strategist or tactician Hernandez is, I’d hate to assume that he’s a lesser man than he actually is and end up paying for it with family members’ lives. I also have no idea whether Hernandez has intel that would cause him to attack us or not.
Man, I hate operating with a lack of good intelligence.
For safety’s sake, it is my opinion that we must act as if Hernandez’s storm troopers will be fast on the heels of this blizzard – if not in the middle of it. Most everyone returning from remote OP duty disagrees with that opinion until they’ve spent an hour or so next to a wood stove. As the feeling returns to their fingers and toes and they stop shivering, their opinion comes around to my own.
More kudos to D.J. After the first time he trudged back and forth to remote OP duty, he made up two pairs of snow shoes. They can be strapped to virtually any size boot. The frames are made of electrical conduit that was lying around in the machine shed. He bent the conduit into teardrops and tied the tails together with a couple machine bolts. For the webbing, D.J. used scrap pieces from some old canvas tarps that had seen better days. We had made some custom tarps in the past – for grain wagons and such – so D.J. dug out the grommet kit to reinforce the fabric. He laced the tarp pieces to the frames, through the grommets, with parachute cord and then used the grommet kit to attach pieces of inch and a quarter web straps to the main body of the shoes. After he borrowed a few buckles from our pack repair kits, the snow shoes were ready to go.
Those snow shoes sure make the trip back and forth to the remote OP a lot easier!
I’m surprised D.J. hasn’t come up with a way to keep warmer in the blind. Of course, he probably realizes that too much more heat will cause the snow on the roof of the blind to start to melt and then we’ll not only be cold but wet as well.
I don’t think I’m giving him too much credit.
The sun broke through the clouds as I’ve been writing this. That bodes well for the end of the blizzard but also suggests that Hernandez’s troops will not be far behind.