The Union Creek Journal

A Chronicle of Survival

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.

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15 thoughts on “January 21, 2015: Storm Clouds

  1. WestTXisGr8 on said:

    I’ve been wondering about the size/quantity of propane tanks up to this point. Also was interesting about filling a propane tank. My question is, how long do you anticipate the propane lasting in this setting? And is there availability for a refill?

    • At this point in the story, propane refill services are all down. That’s not to say that ingenius folks couldnt figure out a way to refill if they run out, though.

      • To piggy back on the propane info. The character apalogizes for “too much information on propane.” I like misc. info like that in this story. IMO survival fiction like this is also good for educational purposes. For those like myself that have no clue that you can refill in that manner.

  2. I got side tracked but I am back at the story but my question is about ” See: “Spread too thin” from a few days ago” I do not see that anywhere? Am I missing something? And thanks for posting on xdtalk, thats where I picked up on your story! Shoulda mentioned it in the first post.

    -Wardance, Fka-

  3. muninyeri,

    Not a problem, it was me, trying to get to a conclusion before the journal was finished. And yes, I’m still hooked so continue on.

  4. The first Paragrapg references a previous entry “Spread Too Thin” but I don’t see it anywheres O.o

  5. I might be wrong on this, but don’t push the new postings just to keep updates going. The posts are good, but don’t resolve anything, just leading up then dropping off, IMO.

    • You’ll find that most entries don’t truly resolve anything … or if they do, another can of worms is opened in the process. 😀

      • I think part of “my” problem is that I’m trying to read it like a book that is finished and I’m having to wait for the next chapter, when like you said it’s an on going journal, so my bad. Please continue.

      • Mike, I think that’s one of the few weaknesses of this publishing method. For my next book, my intention is to make the entire book available for a fee … or you can read day by day for free.

        Hope you’re still enjoying it.

    • Not every entry is gonna be exciting (I’ve come to expect the same thing from Adrian’s Undead Diary). This is just a guy writing in his journal, updating us that we’re keeping a watch on the burnt farm…and braggin about his son. This guy’s pride in, and love for his son radiates from the entries…kinda tiring at times…guess I don’t understand since I don’t have any kids of my own.

      I know it’s pretty early in the story, and so far, a lot of the characters mentioned haven’t had a lot of face time (specifically the parents, uncle, parents-in-law, Levi, and Levi’s daughters). Hopefully, as the story progresses, these characters will be developed as well.

      IMO, a great story needs more than an exciting plot (which this has). It should also have characters people can relate to. So far, I’m unable to relate to any of the characters. The physician asst aunt seems quite competent, but high strung. David and DJ either already know everything, figure out everything, succeed in everything, or run everything. Sam and Joseph are simpletons. Dave says they aren’t stupid, but they really come across that way (“like a calf looking at a new fence”…please see my earlier post).

      I’m just saying that I hope we get to see some major contributions from some of the family members other than just David and DJ. There should be somewhat of a balance. Most people can’t relate to a situation where there’s a group of people where 2 are amazing heros, and the rest seem like a herd of sheep following the 2 shepherds.

  6. Pingback: The Union Creek Journal

  7. Pingback: Survival Fiction - Page 5 - XDTalk Forums - Your XD/XD(m) Information Source!

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