• Sara Blackard

A Day in the Life at 50 Below

A Day in the Life at 50 Below

3:00 - My husband Stretch woke up to start the generator and plugged in his truck so he can get into work by 6:30. He had started his truck and let it run for about 45 minutes around 11:45 before going to bed. He also started the wood boiler. Of course, I slept through all of this.

9:20 - I let the three dogs out to go potty. Within a minute the puppy and retired sled dog are rushing back and forth between the two outside doors. One of the kids let them in and yells that Nation, our 18-year-old blue heeler isn’t at the door. I rush outside to find her stuck, her muscles no longer working, hallway to the opposite door. I gently pick her up and carry her inside. Her leg muscles cramp as she tries to walk when I put her down inside. This is probably the hardest part of the intense cold for me, watching Nation suffer in the simple act of relieving herself. We never imagined she’d have to live through another winter, but she’s still here, plugging along.

10:15 - The voltage on the inverter is reading 23.3, so it’s time to fire up the generator again. We are actually planning on running it more often today than normal so it doesn’t go too long between starting. I go out the door, quickly lift up the rigid foam box Stretch built to keep the heat from the heating pads stuck on the generator in, turn the key, and push the start button. The engine sputters then roars with a loud knowing sound as all the parts and pieces get moving. Time to do a load of laundry (a never-ending chore in a family of seven).

11:48 - Batteries are charged, and the generator is turned off. I had to stay outside a bit longer than turning the generator on since I needed to wrap the box that houses the generator in the comforter. By the time I was done, maybe 30 seconds, my boogers had frozen in my nose. Gross, I know, but that’s one way to judge if it’s really cold … how quickly it takes your boogers to freeze. I made the mistake on the way inside of taking a deep breath through my mouth. Instant pain in the chest. No wonder the weather app says the air quality is unhealthy.

12:40 - Homeschool science experiment time. Titus wanted to find out if a myth about 50 below was true. If you opened a can of soda, would it turn into a slushy instantly? So me and him geared up in our coats, hats, and gloves and headed outside. We were thoroughly disappointed when the soda simply fuzzed up with no slush.



1:45 - Maddox checked his tap water and finds that it is frozen. Pretty amazing that an inch or so of water will freeze solid in half and hour. The boiling water was still liquid, so another myth busted today.

2:36 - Battery levels are low, so it’s time to start the generator again. As it struggles to get going, I was reminded of the Little Engine That Could. “I think I can. I think I can … Wahoo! I did it!!” Sadie checked her water again, and it was finally frozen.

3:30 - Pup, the high-strung Wire-haired Pointing Griffon, has decided that today is the day she’s used to us and would like us to learn all about her energy. Finding ways to exercise a 5-month-old puppy that has spent her entire life in a kennel with other dogs and can’t really go outside due to the insane cold makes for an interesting afternoon. Her new favorite thing to do is terrorize the kids, especially the Titus, the10-year-old. Probably because he’s the one that has taken her running the most. Her attempt to play is not very fun for Titus since Pup becomes completely focused on jumping and grabbing at his arms and clothes. Out came the RC car and we had her chase that for a while. Now that she has calmed a bit, the children are watching videos on training overactive, aggressive puppies. Not that she’s mean or anything, she’s just bored and has finally decided to let us know.

4:15 - Batteries are full, so generator is off. The sun is gone and dusk is over. About half an hour more and it will be completely dark outside. Makes the evening long with the short days. I laugh at myself when I look at the clock thinking “I’m ready for bed and it’s only 6:30!”

4:45 - I get a text from a friend who told me earlier in the week she was going to visit. Did I remember? No. Was I still in my sweats and hadn’t brushed my hair? Yep. Was the house a disaster? It’s a good thing she comes from a large family.

5:00 - Fired up the wood boiler, so the generator is back on. We aren’t the most efficient with the generator when it’s this cold. At this temperature, we have to run the boiler twice a day. It’s actually one of the benefits of the Garn boiler we installed. Our boiler works different than other systems. We fill it full, fire it up, then two hours later, we have a tank full of hot water that we use for our domestic and heat. It’s great. One less thing that has to watched constantly.

7:30 - Boiler is done running, so the generator gets turned off again.

9:00 - Stretch turns on his truck and lets it run for about an hour and a half.

10:00 - I’m off to bed. The full moon is shining so bright my entire room is illuminated. Gorgeous.

When I woke up the next morning at 6, the generator decided it was upset with us for letting it get t cold. I pushed the button and all it’d do is click. Good thing we have a spare!

God bless

Sara

The door has beautiful ice formations on it!

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