Propane trouble raises concern tiny living decision was a big mistake

Propane trouble raises concern tiny living decision was a big mistake

Thom woke up freezing on the first morning of the big freeze and scrambled to adjust

Thanks to all of you who have have given me kind comments on this column recently.

I have always been a big fan of op-ed writing. So, when I got the opportunity, first with my university newspaper and later when I decided to become a journalist, I jumped on the soapbox with great enthusiasm.

In my youthful idealism, perhaps I felt like it was an opportunity to change the world. Of course, the world doesn’t change much, and when it does, it does so incrementally (and not always for the better), and almost certainly not because Thom Barker has roughly 25 inches of newsprint every week on which to pontificate.

I very briefly considered going into politics, but that was quickly quashed because of my op-ed writing, in fact, specifically my commentary CBC Radio aired suggesting circumcision should be illegal. B’nai Brith was not amused.

LAST WEEK: Research makes me suspicious my dog is manipulating me

It used to really bother me that as I was taking on serious, important issues, the columnists who were writing fluff were much more popular.

Case in point, the most popular series of columns former Interior News editor Ryan Jensen wrote when he was editor in Vanderhoof, was a weekly update on his efforts to knit a scarf for his uncle for Christmas.

Similarly, my most popular pieces are the ones featuring my dog, Lady MacBeth (aka, the bug). Second most popular appear to be my adventures in tiny living.

Last week, I thought I was in big trouble. On the first morning of the deep freeze, I woke up to a skin of ice on the bug’s water dish.


Missing MMIWG in year enders was an oversight

It’s OK not to know

When I started considering last spring to solve my housing problem by buying a trailer, I did my research anticipating it would be a cold snap like last week’s that would be the true test of whether it had been a good decision.

The first test came in November when the temperature dropped into the high minus-teens to low minus-20s range.

My preparations appeared to have proven worthy. With the winterizing of the windows and door, my electric heat mostly kept up supplemented by the propane furnace. With the skirt I had built and a small heater underneath, my water tanks remained ice-free.

If I’m being honest, I was quite proud of myself.

Then the arctic air hit. The first thing I noticed was that the burners on my stove were still working, but the flame was kind of weak. When I stopped getting heat, I was really worried there was something wrong with my furnace, but now the stove had also stopped working. I figured I was out of propane and that it was going to cost me an arm and leg to keep up with really frigid temperatures.

I have a background in science, so I knew the boiling point of liquefied petroleum gas (propane) is -42C and the freezing point is -188. And I used to barbecue all winter on a propane grill when I was in Saskatchewan without any issues.

What I didn’t have is any practical experience heating with propane. So, I trundled my tanks off to the Petro-Can to get them filled. As it turns out, when the temperature outside gets into the low- to mid-minus-30s, I can only use about five to eight pounds before the pressure in the tanks gets too low to feed my furnace.

It also turns out at those temperatures, it’s difficult to even buy propane. As the kind employee at Petro-Can braved the weather to fill the tanks, the machine broke down. Canadian Tire had also shut down their propane service. I had to drive to Telkwa (thank you, Patricia and Leroy).

I also picked up a couple of extra tanks so I would have full ones to swap out just before I went to bed to make sure I would not experience a repeat of Monday morning.

Long story short, it worked. It took a little work, but I got through the week nice and toasty in my cozy little space. And it gave me some ideas for summer projects to even better prepare for next winter, but I will hang on to those for future columns.

We are northerners. Our tales of hardship are not so much complaints; we wear them more as badges of honour.

And, of course, there is always someone out there who has a “You think that’s bad…” story.

Severe weatherWeather

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

Dan Imhof with a group of Bulkley Valley Soccer Society kids. (Contributed photo)
Two members of BV soccer club honoured with provincial awards

Daniel Imhof is Youth Coach of the Year and Georgia Mack is Administrator of the Year

Hazelton sign. (File photo)
Confusion, backlash surround Hazelton area zoning amendments

Housing shortages and affordability was the main concern from the public

Smithers Town Hall (Trevor Hewitt photo)
Council Briefs: Regular Meeting, November 24, 2020

Smithers Town Council approves $30,000 in technology upgrades to council chambers from COVID fund

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Most Read