Publisher’s Letter: Using What You Have

Dead-standing timber has been stripped of its bark, and it's about ready to be cut. It will be used as a support beam for a new water shelter. (Photo by Blaine Howerton)

Throughout every season, living off-grid on my mountain property is challenging and requires constant maintenance.

Recently, with cold weather setting in and with 3 tanks in the belly of my RV, I quickly found myself faced with potential freezing problems.

My propane tanks were emptying faster than I could fill them. And propane is pretty expensive!

Recently, on Amazon, I had discovered a portable heater fueled by diesel. It had great reviews and uses minimal fuel. So I had an idea — why not use it under the belly of the RV to trap the warm air and keep those tanks from freezing.

When I got my bright idea, the rain was pouring and turning to snow but time was of the essence. And I couldn’t run to the hardware store or lumber yard in the freezing rain and snow in the middle of the night. So I put on my rain gear and got to work.

I quickly realized I had to build a “skirt” around the belly of the RV to enclose hot air from the heater. Salvaging every piece of spare lumber I could find from earlier projects, I stacked the lumber around the belly, insulating it with foil-wrap water-tight insulation.

Wrapping my large water tank in the same insulation, I then crawled down into the mud under the belly of the RV and filled every hole I could find.

Then I hooked the diesel heater up to my battery, vented the exhaust out the side, filled the tank, and fired it up.

After several hours, I had a toasty interior floor which meant my plan was working. Warm air was successfully trapped under the RV! Every single water line and tank made it through. And I didn’t use a single pound of propane through the next several days of cold weather.

For now, the snow is gone. But I realize it’s about to get much colder. So it’s time for a more permanent plan which involves building a solid skirt around the RV and a duct system from the heater. And I appreciate the carbon monoxide alarm that is part of the smoke alarm.

From solar energy to batteries, to water delivery, over the months, I have solved many problems. Even what seems so simple as getting the RV up the road. It seems I have yet another solution for the books.

I feel a renewed sense of admiration when I think of the first settlers to come to Colorado from back east — they were really up against it and were thrown back upon their ingenuity if they were to make it — and thankfully, many of them did make it.

I am living up to the promise I made myself to use what I have before I buy something else. Next, comes self-milled lumber from the hundreds of dead-standing trees on my property from the High Park fire.

It’s taken resourcefulness to keep this newspaper going. That same resourcefulness is how I stayed warm through the recent snowy weather — I will tell stories about it for years to come.


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