Returning home yesterday was not without some trepidation. We had been gone ten days. During that time there have been unusual amounts of snow, freezing temperatures and heavy rains. We were likely to be met with any number of system issues up to and including twenty pounds of stinking halibut in a freezer thawed because the solar panels were covered in snow. So how did it go?
Nine times out of ten when one returns to the island, after an extended absence during cold weather, the battery in the truck is dead. We brought with us a new portable battery charger purchased the day before for just such an issue. It wasn’t needed, as the truck started first try. This we considered a good omen.
Driving down the lane we expected to be met with any number of fallen trees. We had heard that the wet snow was causing issues in other areas of the province. The first tree down was a nice sized Arbutus off the cliff behind our apple trees. No harm done, great firewood and easy to access. The second was in a cluster of trees hung up on each other on the cliff near where we park our other truck. These trees are impossible for E to cut down safely and we are only too happy that Mother nature stepped in to help. Not so much by design as good luck, the tree missed the truck. The others in the group should follow soon, so the truck will be moved. Those were the only trees down on our property.
To restart the water, E closed the open drain tap under the house and then opened the main shut off valve at the deck. The water started immediately. No cracked pipes, no leaky taps.
The water in the range boiler in the house, when tested, ran freely through the kitchen taps, indicating it was not frozen and it was then safe to start the fire in the attached wood stove. It was 3 degrees outside when we got home and 3 degrees in the house. As a matter of habit, I took my coat off when I came into the house. What I was thinking, god only knows, because once the groceries had been put away I was again wearing my coat, with a scarf around most of my face and the hood over my head as I lay on the couch with a down comforter and four blankets on top of me.
Our on- demand hot water heater is inside the bathroom, safe from the outdoor elements, so it started first time with no problem.
E checked the water storage tanks this morning and seven of them are full and closed off with the water safely held for next summer’s garden. The one tank we had open while the family was here is down from 1500 gallons to 450 gallons. We lost most of that water as we had it dripping out of the bathroom tap in the bunkie during the cold weather to prevent the pipes from freezing. They all froze anyway so solving that issue has been added to E’s list of chores. We are supposed to get up to 75 mm of rain this week so the tank will refill in no time.
The halibut? The halibut was all good. The freezer was still frozen and the battery was showing 93% charged. The addition of the extra panels last year, to capture more winter sun, did their job. I cannot recommend the unique solar powered fridge high enough. It has been a great addition to our life.
The house warmed up about 3 degrees an hour. We were quite comfortable by the time we went to bed at eight. Exhausted, we slept for 12 hours and woke up to a gorgeous sunny day and a large pod of Orca wishing us a Happy New Year.
Whew, so that is the update. We are home, Covid free and ready to begin what on April 25th will be our eleventh year living off of the grid on an
island full time.