Tag Archives: frozen pipes

Winterizing the Traveling Homestead

winter homestead
the traveling homestead in winter
Temperatures are dropping in Colorado and winterizing is happening. So far, last year’s supplies are adequate, but since we will be spending most of the winter here this year, I want to do a much better job. Yet it still has to be easy enough to break down and pack up for midwinter trips.
Here is what we’ve done so far:
– hooked the propane up to the 100# tank, to avoid having to constantly refill the 25# tanks.
big propane tank
big boy propane tank
– Heat taped and insulated the water hose.
water line insulation
water line with heat tapes covered by sleeve
– Put reflective foam board skirting around the holding tanks.
– Put heat lamps under the holding tanks
minimal foam board skirting
– Salt water solution in the holding tanks
We have had to use a separate outlet for the heat tapes, engine block heater and heat lamps, because our breakers kept blowing. We also have a radiant space heater in addition to our central heater. We are sucking up a lot of electricity.
The convenience of the larger propane tank means that we only have to fill up about once a month, instead of weekly. 200 square feet heats with a lot less propane than 1000 square feet. The water hose has a black insulation sleeve that seems to be holding the heat from the heat tapes. Haven’t had the water freeze since we put that on.
The salt water solution seems to be at the right percentage, we are dumping the tanks twice a week with no problem yet. The lights and skirting are helping there. I am keeping a jug of the same percentage of salt water in the shade, so far it gets slushy, but not frozen solid. We expect to have plenty of 20+ below zero nights, however, so there are several upgrades I will be making to this system. I priced concrete blankets and they seemed pretty reasonable, but after studying how they were made, I decided I would try making a few myself. I also couldn’t find the style I wanted, so I can customize my homemade ones. The blankets only give an r (insulation) value of r3-5, so I will end up getting extra foam board either way. My concrete blankets will be made with plain blue tarps, to which I will sew 3 layers of bubble wrap – the same stuff they use in the commercially made ones! Then I will spray paint the outer tarp black to attract the sun’s rays. I will first fasten the tarps to the trailer with sticky Velcro, so it is easily removable without putting screws and holes in my siding. If that doesn’t work, I will try something else. At least a foot of the tarp will lay on the ground, held down with whatever weights are handy. Inside the tarp, under the trailer, will go 2”x2’ foam, r value of r5 per inch, and inside that will go ½” reflective foam board, to concentrate the heat of the heat lamps to keeping the tanks and underbelly of the trailer from freezing. This will all come away and roll into the tarps when we need to move and at the end of the season. All can be easily stored in the trailer basement or the back of the truck.
After this major project, I will be installing window insulation kits on all the windows and the screen door. With bubble wrap in between. The bubble wrap is really supposed to help, so I’m going to try it. Finally, I have 3 vents to make removeable foam covers for and 1 skylight. 2 in the bathroom, the stove vent and my “bedroom”.
We should have a warm, cozy winter with all this, and hopefully save some on the electricity and propane, too.
I will be posting more on each project as I complete it, as well as videos on my youtube channel. Stay tuned.


One of the best parts of roadschooling is being able to visit places and experience them in person. We spent part of this winter in Texas, going from the warm and rainy Gulf Coast, to frigid, icy, snowy hill country and panhandle. One day we were fishing off the pier, the next we were scraping ice off the doors of the truck and trailer.
SAM_0620     SAM_0630
During our warm, sunny sojourn at Goose Island SP, we enjoyed pizza by the beach; learned about the travels of the Big Blue Crab; admired a 1,000 year old oak. We shared the beach with pelicans and the campground with quiet and pleasant neighbors.
SAM_0690     SAM_0638
Yak checked out a Junior Ranger Explorer Pack from the park office and used it to learn more about Goose Island. It was packed with colorful, laminated field guides, a journal to keep, a journal to write in and leave in the pack for the next child to add to, and lots of fun ideas for activities. He led us on a short trail hike and a walk to the pier.
SAM_0677       SAM_0700
Moving northward, we discovered Buckee’s truck stops, with their enormous, fancy bathrooms. There was even hand sanitizer in the stalls. As we drew closer to Houston, the rain rolled in. We spent a few nights discovering more leaks and several more days plugging them up. Our fortunes were to improve, however, after we attended “that fateful RV show”. While we crouched in the tiny trailer, waiting to take delivery of our 26 foot Minnie, Yak built a Lego model of our new home. The waiting was sheer torture. When we finally got moved in, we headed up the road to Dallas – just in time for snow and ice storms.
IMG_0126      IMG_0092
Warm, cozy and able to stretch out in our new trailer, we marveled at the icy snow designs outside our window. Yak’s first attempt at a snowman was unsuccessful, as the fresh powder would not stick together. The next day, however, yielded better results, with wetter snow and some beautiful and delicate ice formations. Minnie’s hardiness was immediately put to the test. The door froze shut. The sewer line froze. The hose bib froze, but we took the hose in to defrost in the shower, while we waited for the hose bib to thaw. Fortunately, the heater kept the water and holding tanks from freezing as well as the indoor water lines, so we were able to continue with our daily living activities. Yak actively helped with skirting the trailer and setting up heat tapes and heat lamps to thaw out the sewer lines. We took turns with the heat gun. We finally got everything flowing again, and as soon as we got the sewer line clear, we refilled our fresh water and headed out to Albuquerque, to relax for a day in warmer temps before heading into the sub-zero temps (overnight) of Colorado.
IMG_0157     IMG_0156
Armed with our winter weatherizing supplies, we didn’t have to deal with severe weather very long. Thankfully, spring showed up and warmer temperatures are finally coming our way.

Ice Capades

A series of storms has been blowing through the homestead, keeping us cold and wet. We have to bring in enough wood to make sure it’s dry by the time we need to put it in the stove. Gusty winds have necessitated hanging the laundry inside to dry. We came up with a system that works pretty good. Mrs. D got a couple grids used to hang things for craft shows and she hangs them over the doors, hangs hangers on them and hangs up the clothes. Smaller items are clothespinned to the hangers.

We awoke to 3 inches of snow this morning, so are very glad that we emptied the 5 gallon bucket rainwater collection system into the tanks yesterday. However, we had let them sit for several days, and they all had about an inch of ice on top! So we broke up the ice, poured the water into the tanks and reset the buckets. The ice was collected into another bucket and set indoors to melt and then be added to the rest.

And speaking of frozen water, the hose was also frozen. Usually it thaws by midday, but yesterday we had to carry buckets of water to the horses and goats and chickens, etc. and that was after breaking up the ice in their water buckets. Makes Mrs. D glad she doesn’t have to carry it up from the creek!

Yesterday we made Lavender Tea Tree goats milk soap, and packaged up the lotion bars we made on Saturday. Maryruth made her fabulous Vegan Vanilla Castille soap and Jersey Cream Oatmeal and Honey soap. We also made some quilting scrap soap bags, for soap ends, lotion bars and other doodads. Click on the link to Mrs. D’s Homestead for more info on our fabulous soap and lotion product.