Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Stormy Weather and Thoughts on Living Without Power

All I did was water the tomatoes a little bit.

They were getting a little bit dry, and while I knew that if I watered them it would rain--Murphy's Law (works that same way when you cut a bunch of hay down!) -- but I didn't anticipate correctly what would actually happen; but we did need the moisture....There were several major storms that blew through the mid-west after that...Storms which dumped roughly 5 1/2 inches of water in our area in the course of three or four days. I just gave the poor plants a little drink....There were only five or six of them....

Some people we know lost power some time on Friday--the first day of the bad storms. There were even some possible tornadoes reported. They actually only live three and a half miles from us--on what would be our same road--if only the road went through.

Our worst storm was on Saturday night. Black clouds racing ominously towards us. Lighting streaking across the sky. Thunder rumbling menacingly. Then the rain started. Almost gently at first, belying the true force of the storm. But before too long, the water started coming down in sheets. It would let up only a little, and then pour down with even more ferocity.

It wouldn't have been so bad, except that my poor little boiler chicks only had a few layers of plastic tarp between them and the storm and drenching rain. This particular tarp was not supported all that well, thus easily acting as a catch water. With the rain falling at a rate that sometimes exceeded an inch an hour, the tarp caught a lot of water. Dad went out with me at about eleven before he went to bed and helped me bale the water off and stretch the tarp tight again. After that he went to bed but I stayed up a while longer (quite a while longer actually...) spinning (on Mom's new wheel--very nice, fun to use, etc...) and watching the radar on the TV. Jonathan was up too, but Mom had already gone to bed. Well Jonathan went to bed about a quarter to twelve, but I was waiting until the storm let up some to go out and bale the chickens off again....It did slack off down to a drizzle finally about twelve thirty. There were fifteen and twenty gallon pools on top of the tarp. After that I went straight to bed. It was one o'clock. There was another storm that came through at three--it woke me up even though Jonathan had the shades drawn and the A/C running. I didn't get up though. Then the next morning, being Sunday and all, I had to get up fairly early to do the chicken chores and then take a shower etc..... I think I got all of about four and a half hours of sleep that night. (Can't do that on a regular basis.) The edge of the tarp had fallen inside of the pen, and drained a bunch of water in there but the chicks all seem to stay fairly dry somehow.

Sunday afternoon Mom and Dad had to go to an open house, and while they were gone the storms rolled in again. They didn't seem that bad to me, but they caused our power to go out. Mom said that a spruce tree blew over right on the edge of town and blocked both south bound lanes of the main road. It was quite a while before they got home. But they made it safely. I was puttering around in the garage when the power outage happened--had just called the dog in and shut the door, when I looked up and noticed that the lights weren't on any more. So we went in the house and I started spinning again. I got three bobbins spun and plied into yarn in 24 hours--and I'm not that fast, so you can tell that I spent a lot of time at it!

We were now without power, but not without resources allowing us to cope quite well. We had our usual grilled cheese sandwiches (cooked on the burner on the gas grill) and got out the kerosene lamps. We called in to the power company, and their automated service said that they expected the power to be restored on Wednesday at eleven pm. Now that we knew that it was likely to be a while our biggest concern was keeping the freezer cold, and getting enough water. We have roughly 14,000 gallons in the swimming pool, but that is treated with bleach to kill the algae--so it's not drinkable. Fortunately, there is an artesian well just around the corner about two and a half miles away. So I took a 55 gallon drum over there to get water for the chickens to drink. I also took some five gallon buckets to fill the barrel with,
and one gallon pitchers for drinking water.

It took quite a while fill the barrel, but I didn't want to have to do it again. There were several people from church that came to get water while I was there. I had just gone around Sunday afternoon and dumped most of the containers full of rain water so the mosquitoes had fewer breeding grounds, so we had to go to get water. If we had known that we were going to lose power, we could have saved the 100 gallons that I baled off of the chicks tarp. But we obviously didn't know...

While we were without power we used a lot less water, got by with less light and watched no TV (not that we watch all that much anyway--usually just on Sunday nights while we eat our grilled cheese sandwiches). It made me think. It made me think about how dependent we are on "conveniences." It kinda seems to me that perhaps we shouldn't be rely so heavily on conveniences. After all aren't they just supposed to be just that--conveniences, not necessities?

If worst came to worst, how long could we last? No stove to cook on, with a gas stove you'd have a little longer--but the gas won't last forever; no good way to keep perishable food stored; no accessible supply of good water available close at hand....

Lets see how that adds up: No water, not much food, and no way to cook it. I think we'd be in BIG trouble.

Off-grid, self-sustainable, subsistence-oriented farming is sounding better and better....

But now the power is back on (over 24 hours early!) and we are able to resume our regular lives. It's almost too bad that it came back on early...Oh, well, summer's not over yet, there will be more storms, more power outages (probably, anyway) and more reminders not to be so dependent on conveniences.

'Till next time,



Goodolboy said...

Hey Matthew, Sounds like you turned a negative deal into a positive thing. Good for you. Not many young or old has the ability to do that. We are having some severe wet weather here too. Lots of water. I am pretty sure part of garden is ruined but if it ever drys up a touch we can still replant. Weather always seems so severe now. When I was young (bet no one ever said that to you before) I remember gentle rains for a day or so then the sun would come out for a week steady. Now, every rain is a torrant (sp?). Winds are gails and the sun is scarce. We never had twisters up here. Maybe one every 5 years, now they are occuring weekly. Sometimes more. Have you ever seen that show Pioneer Quest. It was filmed here in Manitoba (not too far from me). It was kind of a reality show with out the goofy parts. They took two couples and they had to live like pioneers for 1 year. It was all filmed and documented. My wife and I applied but they weren't taking anyone who had young children. It is a neat series. If ya get a chance to see it have a look. Typing this at lunch time and my break is over so I got to get back at it. Talk to ya real soon.