Cabin at -20 Outside

So That’s What It’s Like at -20

So many of my friends were concerned that I would be warm enough in my cabin with my wood stove.  I’d tell them I was warm but to check in on me when it is -20.  I admit, I really didn’t know how well the wood stove would heat when it got really cold but I was in for the long haul and still am.

Around Christmas, it hit -17 at night.   This is what I discovered.  I would have to feed the stove every few hours in order to keep the temperature up.  Well, that wasn’t going to happen.  I would have to set an alarm to get up and wouldn’t get much sleep.  When I got up, the cabin was 37 inside.  That’s a good morning ‘hello’ for you!  The next night I made sure there was a big enough log in the stove before I went to bed and hoped for a bathroom trip during the night.  It was still in the 40s when I got up.  Did I mention it takes a couple of hours to raise the temperature up 10 degrees when the stove is going, especially at below zero temps?

Let’s add substitute teaching to keep the challenge going.  I get up and try to get the cabin near 60 before I leave.  It barely makes it to 57 if I am lucky.  Then, I am gone for nine hours, to come home to somewhere in the 40s in the cabin.  I began to realize I can’t even go to visit my mom and friends for a weekend with this situation.  The trip for Christmas dinner at my sister and brother-in-law’s was not going to happen with -10 at night.  No way was I going to leave my cat, my buddy, home with those temps, although he probably could have made it.

Then, the propane cooking stove flame wasn’t very big, which is outside.  Low pressure or something someone explained.  I was able to heat my water to wash my hair but cooking breakfast was going to take too long.  I hit the diner for breakfast on the way to sub two days in a row.

Also, to make the wood stove work harder, my cabin is on cement blocks, which allows the cold air to flow under it.  This makes the floors really cold.  I insulated underneath the cabin but I really don’t know how much that helped.  I thought about putting a skirt around it but my brother, who is my main go-to for all construction questions, said it would still be cold.  The one area rug in the living room keeps the cold from penetrating through so I thought about getting some rugs when it gets below zero.  Purchasing a bigger wood stove and one that is cast iron or soapstone instead of steel is definitely on my list as a solution.  That should help retain warmth longer.

But, let me make one thing clear.  I am warm during these frigid nights.  There are at least six blankets on my bed, and I am always layered up in the winter, regardless of where I am.  Waiting for the ‘L’ and bus in Chicago taught me to dress warmly in the winter.  Then, each year I started turning down my furnace in my old house.  Last year I had it at 55 at night.  Granted, that isn’t 37 but it wasn’t far away.  Cabela’s long underwear may be pricey but it is well worth the investment.  It if is warm enough for some guy in a tree stand, that is the long underwear for me!  And, anyone who knows me can testify to the scarf around my neck with all of my winter attire.

We have turned the corner on the below zero weather.  March is in sight at mid-February.  We have had a minimum of 15 days below zero during the night, many at -10.  I am ready for spring, to say the least.  I only had one meltdown during the roller coaster, temperature ride in the cabin, thinking for a moment this is insane.  I am okay now.  It is all still doable.

6 thoughts on “Cabin at -20 Outside”

    1. Eileen, I know you sent this comment 5 days ago, and I am just responding now, but I don’t know anything about using this blog. It is all new. Thank you for your support, Eileen! It is an adventure for sure, one that I am enjoying! There are some challenges, like wondering why the wood stove is making noises and knowing it is time to have it cleaned out because of creosote buildup before there is a chimney fire, which is what was starting to happen a few weeks ago.

      Then, the other night, while taking a trip to the facilities, I heard this noise. I realized it was a deer but couldn’t see it. I was waiting with bated breath for it to come out where I could see it but that didn’t happen. Oh, well. Please know you are always welcome to visit anytime!


    1. Sometimes I feel like an insane hero. But the other day, everything felt just right. Maybe because it isn’t -17. I made it through the winter, Gary. It is all a piece of cake now! Thank you for all of your support!


  1. I enjoy reading your posts. I’m sure with Spring on its way it will get easier. I grew up on a farm and at age 10 we sold all farming items but moved to what we now call a farmeet. I love the night sky in the country. I graduated from NIU when I was 40. We have something in common. I am excited to tell my husband what I found on my smart phone today. I’m excited to follow you to learn what new things you’ll learn next. Maryjane


    1. Welcome, Maryjane! I am glad you enjoy reading my new adventures, and, they are new! The frigid temperatures of winter are far away now. There are solutions to the fluctuations in temperatures in my cabin. I am now looking forward to planting my garden . . . and keeping rabbits and deer out of it. If that is possible? My site is a mixture of sharing information about climate change, etc., and my new adventure. I hope I can keep a good balance. I am up in WI now in the Driftless area, which is very pretty. Going to college late in life was a great experience for me. I hope it was for you, too.


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