Having been away from home for four months, it was with trepidation that we returned today. Would everything be OK? Would the driveway be cleared of snow? (In the past, we sometimes have had to shovel for a few hours simply to get over the windrow built up by the snow plough in front of our driveway over the winter). It was a frantic day, as we arrived around , and the house had been closed down since late November. This meant the water pipes had been drained, the water turned off, the electric system disconnected (we are off grid), the router put away, the water pump and the fridge stopped and, especially, the house unheated.
The most pressing thing was to build up fires in the stoves. It takes a long time to warm up a house. It was +1°C when we arrived and +10°C three hours later. We have two woodstoves, one in the living-room (the main source of heat) and one in the kitchen for cooking, although it also produces a fair bit of heat if you keep it going. You can also open the door to the bake oven to increase the heat in the room.
Getting the router going was simple enough but, probably because it had spent the last four months in the cold, it was rather sulky. It would turn on only after it had been plugged in for a couple of hours. I suppose it waited till the house had warmed up a bit.
The propane fridge was lit without too much fuss, and our off-grid electrical system kicked in without an hitch. The day was sunny (there is plenty of daylight in April) and the batteries were full. The water pump was fine, but - there is usually a but - one pipe had frozen. We thought we had drained the pipes completely, as we have often done in the past, but obviously we had not. Fortunately, it is a hot water pipe which means that we were able to reconnect the cold water, and we are only out of hot water for the time being. We have found where the leak is and, even if repairing it is a job we could have done without, we should have it fixed soon enough because it is in a relatively accessible spot.
In the meantime, we have to heat up water on the stove and, at least for the next few hours, wear wool sweaters or padded vests in the house until the place has warmed up sufficiently. Heating up water is no trouble as when the stove is hot. We always keep a couple of kettles on the boil.