The recent storms have really opened my eyes to the whole prepper deal. Yeah, I know this isn't a Prepper/Doomsday/Hoard Stuff blog, but homesteading is sort of about being prepared to deal with the unexpected.
I never wanted to be one of those people that obsessed about the end of the world. I don't want to spend my day mentally tallying bars of soap and blocks of cheese, worrying if we have enough to outlast whatever: plague, natural disaster, or zombie attack. What I do want, however, is to survive, and survive comfortably, Zombie Apocalypse... or local power outage.
We got hit by the Derecho that knocked power out in several surrounding states. It was something to see, trees bending and various items (furniture, plant containers, groundhogs) rolling across the yard. The greenhouse stood up to the winds, but the electricity didn't. Inconvenient, since I had market the next morning. I never knew I could get a shower with less than half a gallon of water, but I managed. We even had an excellent turnout for the market. I guess there wasn't much else to do with the power out all over the area.
After that storm, our power was back on within 24 hours. During the outage, I was wishing for nothing more than water. Lots of water. Not drinking water, since I keep several cases on hand, but water to use. Water for important things, like dish washing and bathing. Eöl and I discussed holding tanks and various other options before settling on something fairly inexpensive but useful: a pool. Yeah, it's a seasonal answer to the problem, but it's worked for us in the past, with the added advantage of cooling off in the pool during super hot days. We usually have a pool set up in the summer, and then several large water containers (usually trash cans, clean and new) for winter. But this year, somehow I'd forgotten that a pool was dual purpose. So...once the power was back, we were off to buy one.
I'm going to note here, for those unfamiliar with our place, that we have a well pump. No power means no running water. And you'd be surprised how many times you attempt to turn on the water, even though you know it won't work. *sigh*
I was in a rush to get the pool home, set up, and filled, just in case the power went out again. But it was late when we got back, so first thing the following day we ...meaning Eöl and Little Sis since I was tending Baby Chipmunk...put the pool together and filled it. 1100 gallons of water! We were set!! And just in time, too, since the heat wave rolled in with a vengeance. Temps well into the upper 90's and heat index values over 105. That may not sound very hot, but for Ohio, where we are acclimated to temps in the mid 80's or lower, it was HOT. It was even hot for me, and I spend most of my time in the greenhouse, where the temps are almost always over 100.
The 4th of July rolled around. Little Sis had suggested a movie instead of the usual fireworks, and as we left the theater we saw Mother Nature had decided to put on a light show of her own. The entire sky, from every direction, was flashing. We made it to the car as the downpour hit. Just as we left town, the hail started. Yes. Hail. While I was driving my brand. new. car. (No dents, thank goodness!!)
So...we have heavy rain, wind, and hail. Or maybe I should say, "It was a dark and stormy night...." lol. The closer we got to home, the worse the storm became. On our street, bizarre eddies of fog swirled over the road, making it very hard to see where the road actually was. A trash can zoomed in front of my car. Tree branches broke and fell around us. It was like being in a video game.
Of course, when we got home, the power was out again. We were soaked, frozen (believe it or not, it was COLD rain), and stumbling through the house in the dark, grabbing flashlights and candles. I'm just glad Little Sis had suggested the movie so that we weren't in the middle of a field somewhere, waiting for fireworks, when that storm hit.
The next day, I called the power company to report our outage. They had set up a recording to let people know it was out all over the area, but should be fully restored...by Sunday. The 4th, when the power went out, was on Wednesday. *sigh*
20 minutes later, Eöl said I needed to call the power company again. Why? We had a line down in the yard. Yep, not the first time that's happened; there was the ice storm and the tornado. But, overall, it ended up being the longest time the power line had been in the yard. *rolls eyes*
Remember the pool? How glad I was we'd have water if the power went out again? Yeah, that pool. It sprung a leak. Prepper-effing-fail.
The power was out until Monday, despite the Sunday promises. The heat index stayed well above 100 every day. We lost everything in the fridge and quite a bit of stuff in the three...yes, three...chest freezers.
It wasn't as bad as it sounds, though. We bought a solar shower, filled it daily with water from the pool (thank goodness it was a slow leak) and showered in the greenhouse. That was actually kind of fun.
We did our cooking on the built-in grill on the patio, over a wood fire. We had things like pasta salad, made with pasta cooked over the fire, tomatoes, cukes, and garlic from our garden, topped with olive oil. It was sooo good! We roasted garlic in the fire and smeared it on crackers. *drool* We did actually eat hot dogs a couple of times, though.
The heat: that was the worst part. With the power out, you'd think we'd get a lot done outside. But no, it was just. too. hot. The heat warnings issued by NOAA mentioned the cumulative effect of the high temps, and we were living examples. We even splurged and spent a couple of air conditioned hours at a local restaurant, just to get out of the heat for a while. For once, I was glad it took a long time for the food to get to the table at a restaurant.
We jumped in and out of the slowly draining pool pretty often. When the power company sent their reps out to...well...I'm not sure why they were here other than to take pics of the downed line. It was still several days till the power was back. But I digress. I had been in the pool earlier, sitting in the lukewarm water, wishing for a cool breeze. I had been out long enough for my hips to dry, but my heinie was still wet. And you know what's coming here, right? I got to lead the power crew across the yard, looking like I'd pee'd my pants. Joy. Not that I really cared. When the guys show up, fresh from the a/c in their truck (one guy was wearing LONG SLEEVES) and not a drop of sweat on them, it's hard to accept they aren't a mirage.
Little Sis pointed out that our adventure wasn't really a Prepper Fail. She said, "We are far better prepared than most for this situation, but not as prepared as we'd like to be." Smart girl, that one.
The outage brought to our attention a couple of very important things:
- We need a way to get water from the well when the power is out.
- We need better lighting.
- More canning and dehydrating, less stuff in the freezer to ruin.
Now that I've been properly motivated, and finally finished this post, I'm off to work in my garden, so hopefully there will be something to can later on!!