Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Living the Ice Storm....Part 1

For those of you sick of seeing pictures and hearing about The Ice Storm of 2007 woes, you might want to skip the next several posts. :-)

After the first few days I began jotting my thoughts down about what was happening. For all the trouble and trauma it inflicted, it was (hopefully) a unique experience that will not happen again. It's not likely that we will be without power for extended length of time again (please!), so I'd like to revisit that time and share a little of what went on.

I also plan to post a few things about what to have on hand, what I didn't have on hand that I wished I did and things like that...but that is later.

A couple of things that I want to point out, no matter how 'ready' you are with things to survive, you need to know that there is going to be a some 'mental' adjustments that are hard to cope with. Now if you live in the boonies, off-grid and that is your lifestyle--well, you've already made the adjustment and aside from some physical difficulty your life isn't going to change much. Now, as for the rest of us, in our varying degrees of dependence on modern conveniences---we had to make the adjustment and learn to cope.

I tend to lead a somewhat 'rustic' lifestyle, if you will, in that I heat with wood, and keep things like kerosine lanterns, candles etc. on hand for power outages. We've had our share over the years, so you learn to keep things on hand, 'just in case'. You also, through prior experience, learn to fill up every container you own with water if you hear there is an ice storm coming! When you have a well, you don't have water if you lose your electricity. The severity of this particular ice storm became quickly apparent, so that about halfway through that first evening, I went rummaging through the house looking for more containers to fill. I was ready, or so I thought,---after all I read Countryside Magazine, and I love pioneer stories. We'd weathered a power outage of five days once before. (When I was much younger, had a week off from work, and fewer livestock! I enjoyed it that time!)

The hardest part for me during the 12 days the electricity was off, was the water situation. It was just a 'drudge' trying to get enough to keep the sheep watered, plus water for the other animals, enough to keep the toliet flushed, as well as bathing water etc. Running running water...became a deep longing. :-) After the first three days I was back at work on a mostly regular basis and developed a routine of hauling multiple buckets and containers and filling them at work during lunch. We also have a washer and dryer here and by the second week, I broke down and brought a couple of loads in to wash. I had many offers from people to come by their house and use their shower, (and no I didn't stink! ;-) but I just didn't have time (or energy) to take them up on their offer. Instead I had 'bowl baths' every day and 'bowl showers' and hair washing every other day. The difference was a bath was one bowl and a shower was two bowls! When you don't have power, you have to plan ahead for everything--since there is no instant warm water or heating. I warmed the water on the woodstove, which usually took about a half hour, so I had to make sure the first thing I did when I got up was get a good hot fire going in the stove, then put the water on to warm while I did outside chores. Meals were the same---you can cook about anything on the woodstove, but you have to think ahead, as it takes longer. Oh and back to the water---you can take a pretty good 'shower' with a few inches of water! :-0

When you have an ice storm of this magnitude and the power outages are so widespread, you become quite isolated very quickly. The few stores that were open the first few days, were swamped and lines were long. Gas stations also had very long lines and many ran out of fuel. I didn't really need anything, so I stayed home and basically went to work. I did eat hot fast food for lunch most days that I worked, just because of the logistics of getting everything done was overwhelming to me, and a hot meal seemed like just the ticket. ;-)

Normal chores and taking care of the livestock became much more time consuming, I think in part, because I had to totally re-learn and re-think how I did things. By the end of the twelve days I had managed to streamline things a bit. I am very blessed in that my employers were very patient and understanding during this time and coming in a bit late and leaving a bit early was okay. We called it our 'emergency status' working time, and everyone dressed casually and were here as much as they could be.

The darkness was so complete while out doing chores in the morning that my flashlight beam was terribly inadequate. It was pretty awesome and humbling to be surrounded by total darkness for as far as the eye could see.

After the storm was over I really did enjoy going out at night in the dark, while making a final check of everything, and looking up at the stars or just absorbing the dark and the quiet. I've never seen the stars so brilliant and bright and I found out the 'dark of night' is seldom black dark. The sky was often a deep dark blue, or light refracted behind clouds so that there were large light colored swaths here and there. The first few nights, after the storm, the quietness was complete. Not even dogs dared bark against the enormous dark. There were no refrigerators running, no televisions, nothing. be continued..........

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