It’s happened again. Winter has slammed up against us hard, and once again, we were not ready.
Bob Armantrout used to make a bold prediction every year. “Winter is coming,” he would say, “And I’m thinking it is going to get cold.” We never really listened to his forecasts, and since then he has moved to Africa—possibly to a place where the B100 always flows with ease.
This year our spectacular late fall was visited by hurricane Sandy. Each year at the end of summer, diesel inventories in the southeast drop and product is redirected to the northeast where they begin their home heating season.
Most of the Piedmont of North Carolina is hooked up to natural gas, so we use very little home heating oil (number 2 off road diesel) in these parts. This year Sandy clobbered the northeast at the very moment that our inventories were shrinking, and Piedmont Biofuels was unable to take deliver of a bulk load of fuel.
What we normally do is bring in a load of petroleum, park it beside our fuel terminal, and use it to adulterate our B100 for cold weather months. When the cold weather comes, we like to be on B80 across the B100 Community Trail.
This year our shipment failed to arrive. And the days were sunny. And the days grew shorter. But they were warm, and we were fine while we waited. And waited.
We noticed the drivers coming to our terminal were strung out. Sandy suspended the normal rules of the road and “emergency measures” kicked in. Truck drivers were allowed to be over weight with their loads, and the usual mandatory sleeping regulations were thrown out the window.
In essence drivers were being asked to overload their trucks and drive petroleum non-stop to the northeast such that the good people of New York could get some fuel.
We found it quizzical. No big deal. Our petroleum didn’t arrive. But the cold did.
All of our tanks that are housed inside passive solar buildings performed well. But our outdoor locations turned into biodiesel popsicles. We went down in Carrboro, Raleigh, and Saxapahaw on the same morning. Our vacuum truck also gelled to a halt.
Up on my front field sits my old red Dodge pickup. I towed it there with my tractor since it died on the lane and was blocking traffic. It greets me each day I come home—sort of a monument to stupidity.
Today Tami and I sped to Wilmington with a load of B80 on the truck. We had a tire blow out on highway 40 right by the Raleigh Farmer’s Market. I heard the “bang,” and got off the road safely, but I would call it a harrowing experience.
We scored a roadside tire repair outfit and lounged around the farmer’s market for a couple of hours. I bought some peanut brittle from Garner, some homemade key lime jelly from Smithfield, two paw-paw trees and a couple of Chinese chestnut trees for the new house. I also bought a bag of apples for an impending pie. We loaded up the fuel truck with trees after our “Wilmington blow out,” and sped to the coast.
It felt good to get Wilmington winterized before we encountered problems. They are about ten degrees warmer than we are in the Piedmont, and happily, membership is growing and people are starting to use out fuel down there. Tami and I loaded up with groceries at Tidal Creek Coop before hitting the road.
On the way home we stopped by Wrightsville Beach for a sunset dinner of local seafood. We then drove home in the night. Start late, end late, I suppose.
By now we have all locations of the trail functioning again. Immersion heaters have been turned on. Petroleum has been added. External fuel filters in Carrboro and Raleigh have been removed until spring.
Winter is upon us. Now all I have to do is get some petroleum into the Dodge, and the lawn mower, and the tractors, and anything else I failed to winterize…