Day 1

I guess this is technically the second day, but since yesterday was Day Zero, today would be Day 1. The idea is that I can leave on Day 31, while if I’d started counting at 1, it wouldn’t be 31 full days until Day 32. Though, I’m sure in a few days it won’t make a huge difference either way.

Let’s see. I didn’t accomplish a whole lot during the day today. I got a late start, so instead of cooking breakfast, I just toasted a bagel, slathered some cream cheese and strawberry jam, and scoffed it down with some coffee. The only other noteworthy day-time activities were a couple of short walks I went on around the property. It stayed more or less below freezing so all the trees are still mostly covered in snow, which is really quite pretty. There were a few snow showers, and during one of them, I just stood in the doorway with the door open, and watched giant snow flakes fall silently to the ground. While on my walks, I tried to spot animal tracks, but all I saw was a single deer track on a known deer trail. Normally I’d see some rabbit trails, but I didn’t see any today. Maybe it was too cold last night, and they just stayed in (I wouldn’t blame them). Or, perhaps I was too distracted by the scenery, that I missed the tracks that were there. I think this is about as gorgeous as my property gets, and walking around the snow-covered woods made me feel like I was in a fairytale (though, hopefully one without big bad wolves, or witches that try to eat me for dinner).

For dinner, I cooked some Japanese-style curry, with pork, onions, potatoes, carrots, and brussel sprouts. I briefly sautéd the ingredients in a pan over the propane stove, just enough to get the meat browned, but then let it simmer in a pot on the wood stove for a few hours. I made a big pot full, so there’s plenty left. I’ll probably leave the pot on the stove tonight, so that the pork can cook a little more until it’s nice and tender.

Speaking of food, I’m still trying to figure out where to put everything. I’ve got all the meats and dairy in a single ice chest outside, and I’m not too worried about that unless it gets really warm again. I have some vegetables in my unpowered fridge, also outside, which seems to stay reasonably warm even when it gets really cold out. The rest of the veggies I have split up between Hut 1.0 and Hut 2.1. Hut 1.0 is totally unheated, so it gets as cold as it does outside, which is to say, everything freezes. Hut 2.1 is obviously heated, but most of the heat rises, so I suspect temperatures down on the floor rarely go above 40 degrees, but probably also rarely falls too far below freezing. I have a bunch of bananas up on the loft where it’s warm, since I’ve learned that they just turn black without ripening if left in the cold…

In general, not knowing how long things will last makes it harder to ration my supplies. A part of me wants to use up the fresh veggies while they’re still good, but I also don’t want to use up all my vegetables early on, and only be left with canned goods for the second half. Of course, the worst case would be to let things spoil, but I guess I’ll just have to keep a close eye on my supplies, and use them wisely.

I realized that I hadn’t done a very good job of utilizing the stove’s heat yesterday, so I did a little better today. I’ve had both burners occupied for most of the evening, partially to cook, but also to melt potfuls of snow. I’ve decided to try and get as much snowmelt as possible, because it’s a lot cleaner (and better tasting) than the old rainwater I have in my bins. On the downside, my wood consumption rate is much higher than it was in previous weeks. Part of it is that it’s just simply colder than it was in January (right now, it’s 12F/-11C), but I’m also using the stove more for cooking, so I burn more wood to get it nice and hot. One other thing I’ve come to realize is that, ideally, I should use different kinds of wood for cooking. I’ve been gathering mountain mahogany, which is the densest wood on my property and therefore burns the slowest. That’s great for heating, but when I’m cooking, I want the stove to get hot for short periods at a time, and for that, oak and juniper would probably work better.

I still haven’t set up my 45W solar array, so I’m still just running off of my single 100W monocrystaline panel, which obviously hasn’t been producing much power during these snowy cloudy days. I spent most of the evening with my lights off to conserve electricity, and ran my laptop off its own battery power. My battery array still hasn’t dropped below 12.4 Volts, so I’ve got plenty of power, but I’m not sure how long it’ll be before I get decent sunshine, so I might as well conserve if I can.

Okay, that’s it for today. 30 days to go.

10 thoughts on “Day 1

  1. We use a very big 3-4 gallon pot on our wood stove at our cabin to melt snow (when its available) by using this water to wash dishes, hands, etc…we conserve our potable water.

    adding a little “seed” water to the bottom of the pot will increase the rate at which the snow starts melting. we leave the “blue cowboy coffee pot” on the stove all night with potable water…by preheating this all night our coffee production is fast tracked in the am.

  2. You should considering freezing your fresh veggies. Do a quick boil (2-3 minutes, I think), then dry and freeze them on a tray. Then bag them up and take them out later to eat. We joke about the “meat and potatoes” diet of our ancestors, but there was good reason. Lettuce doesn’t keep for long in the cold.
    Also, consider sprouting. Use just about any whole grain or bean. Sprouts offer good fresh veggie flavor year round, and pack TONS more nutrients. A mason jar with separating lid and a square of cheesecloth is all you need. Rinse them with a little water each day and they’ll sprout within about 3 days.
    And I hope you read “Into the Wild”. Be careful!

  3. Did you weigh yourself before you started? It would be interesting to see if you gain weight in hibernation or lose it trying to stay warm. I imagine food consumption would also increase the colder it gets. Are you keeping a regular diary of how much food, water , fuel, etc. you are using?

    • I wanted to, but I forgot. I’m curious too. I think I might actually gain weight, because I have so much food, and now that I have a stove, I’m not burning as many calories producing heat…

  4. Small sticks make for a hotter fire. Might be good for cooking with rather than the larger logs. Good way to use up brush too so that it’s not lying around waiting for a forest fire.

    Carrots, parsnips, beets, and turnips can handle freezing. And they last a long time in cold storage. Potatoes and onions don’t handle freezing, but they will last a long, long time as long as they don’t freeze. Even eggs can last a long time. My guess is 2-3 weeks if kept cold <40F, but you don't want them to freeze.

    • Thanks — that’s helpful info. Some of my onions froze, but I used them while still frozen, and it seemed ok. I suspect they might get weird if they freeze then thaw again. Also, this morning, I had some eggs left over from January (probably 3 weeks old) for breakfast and they were fine.

  5. HI Ryo, hope your having fun out there in wilderness.. Looks like a lot of fun…and i like your start on your cabin. You might want to invest in RV AMsolar system New Facility in Springfield, Oregon just off of Interstate 5. these guys have some great stuff that would be right your ally….get the big panels 120watt and you need about 500 watts or more like 900watts..which their control will handle check out their web site…

    oh yea where abouts in northern cal are you just a close town would be cool…good luck RYO from MIKE

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