Tag Archives: winterizing a trailer

living in a trailer in sub-zero temperatures


So, when I decided to spend this year living experimentally in a trailer on a farm, I had no idea that this winter would turn out to be BC’s coldest in 25 years.  Oh fudgesicle, what have I done?

I am a self-proclaimed heat lover (and cold disliker).  One of the bonuses of moving from Ottawa to Vancouver was knowing that I wouldn’t have to bear any more freezing winters.  Right.

The temperatures have really dropped here in Maple Ridge over the last few days.  Yesterday’s forecast was for -9 C.  I’m not sure if it dropped lower than that overnight or not, but gosh darnit, did that temperature ever affect my trailer.  Brrrrrr!

My built-in propane heater konked out last night (good timing) and although I was able to start it up again, it went out a few more times, making me nervous about leaving it on all night.  Since my bed is a haven of hot goodness (I’m talking about my electric fleece blanket), I wasn’t worried about getting cold while sleeping.  The cats and I snuggled up and had a long, toasty, warm sleep.  However, waking up and getting out of a bed was another story altogether…

The five windows that haven’t received the insulating film treatment yet were completely iced over (on the inside!  see photo above) and the stream of water I’d left running out of my tap all night to avoid frozen pipes had turned itself into a lovely ribbon of ice.  EVERYTHING but my bed was frozen – the cat’s water dish, the dish cloth, even my toothpaste (almost).

I turned on the propane heater (which has been running fine since) and retrieved the electric radiator from the outhouse to plug it in in the trailer to help warm things up.  And then I ran inside to Chris and Julie’s place to use their shower (thank goodness I don’t live in the boonies alone!).

The plan was to go into the office today, but leaving everything until tonight to deal with it had me worried so my boss let me work from home so that I could spend the morning doing some damage control.

I drove to Canadian Tire and bought myself a good space heater for the trailer as well as some insulating tape for the exposed parts of the water hose that are hooked up to the trailer.  I’ve been working from my trailer desk ever since (so glad I have a day job that can be done from anywhere that has an internet connection!).

The trailer is warmer.  The propane heater is still going, I also have the space heater on and I baked yams for an hour in the oven which really helped warm things up.  I’ve been collecting water from the barn and boiling it on my stove to pour down the cold drain pipes.  I also took my hair dryer out to the tap/ hose connection outside to try to loosen things up that way.  After doing that for awhile, it became pretty clear that whether or not my hose is frozen (not sure), the farm water pipes that connect to my hose are also frozen so at this point, there’s nothing I can really do but wait for the warmer temperatures that are supposed to come in the next couple of days.

For now, the water still isn’t running so I will enjoy long, hot showers in the house (something the trailer’s tiny hot water tank doesn’t allow) for the next day or two.

Hmm…looks like I’m going to have an interesting winter…


what DIDN’T we do this week?


It’s been a really busy week!  Between day jobs, volunteer jobs, farm duties and a sick baby who passed his cold on to everyone else, it’s been pretty non-stop – poor immune system or not.

I’ll try to list everything we’ve worked on this week, but given that I’m sick and fuzzy-headed, there’s bound to be some things I miss.

Before I start listing though, I’ve gotta say THANK GOODNESS for our beautiful fall weather!  It’s been crisp and sunny which has allowed us to get so much more done outdoors than we would ever do in the rain.  Yay for a non-west coast fall!


So, now that we’ve started our orchard, there’s been a lot of discussion around trees here on the farm.  We added two more trees to our orchard this week: a 4 variety producing apple tree and a 4 variety producing pear tree.  By ‘4 variety’ I mean trees that have had multiple types of apple/ pear types grafted onto them, allowing them to pollinate each other and to produce different kinds of fruit throughout a longer fruiting season.  Fun!  We’ll see how they do.

We also removed a tree from the property this week.  There was a huge, sickly alder that lived near our newly planted orchard.  We were worried about it’s sickness infecting the fruit trees and our neighbour had voiced concern about it negatively affecting her own trees so we cut it down.  Once down, we still had to take care of chopping it all to bits – burning the smaller branches and leaves and cutting the larger ones up for fireplace firewood.  I spent 5 hours on friday hacking away at the tree and burning most of the small stuff.  I’d had a frustrating day of work (the internet and websites can drive you crazy if they don’t do what they’re supposed to do), so I took on the tree hacking as personal therapy.  It helped.

Also on the topic of trees, farm family friend Bob gave us $200 to spend on whatever we wanted this weekend (for the farm), so we used it to take advantage of the clearance sale at Trice Farms and bought ourselves five awesome trees for the property (at 50% off):  a curly willow tree, a japanese maple tree, a dwarf burning bush, a very cool green maple tree (with bark that looks like bamboo – can’t remember the name), and one of those tall coniferous trees that looks like it belongs in a Dr. Seuss book – you know, the tall, lanky, swervy ones?  Also can’t remember the name.  Anyways, we are VERY thankful to Bob for the opportunity to get some beautiful trees for the property that we normally wouldn’t be able to afford ourselves.


I’ve taken over the duty of locking the chickens up for the night and letting them out in the morning so that’s been fun.  I like our chickens a lot and it’s fun to see them all snug in the coop at night.  I also cleaned out the chicken coop this week and gave
them fresh wood shavings yesterday so their home is nice and clean and comfy.

Unfortunately, our last sickly Russian chicken died this week.  She’d been sick for awhile and finally succumbed to whatever it was that was harming her.  The rest of our Russian and other chickens seem great, so hopefully our current seven will live long enough to start producing eggs and see the spring roll around.  Go chickens go!


I planted the rest of our garlic this week, transplanted a bunch of my potted plants into larger pots for my deck and planted some poppy bulbs into pots.  It’ll be lovely to see those come up in the spring:  red, pink and my favorite blue poppies – yay!

Chris rented an excavator yesterday and, in addition to using it for digging up all our drainage ditches, he used it to dig up the area that we will be building our deep beds on.  This is super helpful because it would have been A LOT of hard work digging up all that earth by hand.  Beforehand, Julie and I marked out where we want the deep beds to go – it’s gonna look great!


Tommi and Cary and their son Magnus stopped by yesterday and helped with some of the ditch digging and my friend Erin came in from Vancouver to bring me a bottle of trailer-warming wine.  She helped me break up and burn some more of the alder tree before we had dinner, played scrabble and drank the wine in the trailer.


The last to-do thing that came up this week was for me to start winterizing my trailer.  The frost hit this week and mornings, evenings and nights in the trailer have gone from chilly to downright freezing!  So it’s time for me to start prepping that tin can for the winter.  I bought plastic to line all the windows with and started up the propane heater for the winter.  I’ll need to get some skirting up along the base of the trailer too – not sure what the most economic and efficient method is – hay bales, spray foam, plywood???


And I think that’s about it (although I swear I’m missing stuff because that list doesn’t seem to match my level of exhaustion).

Here’s to another week on the farm!  Despite feeling like I’m living in a freezer, catching colds from babies, and spending way too much volunteer time trying to build a problematic website, I still really love it here :)