Monday, September 15, 2008

24 hours without electricity

Last night, about 5:30 pm the power went out. We were having a bit of wind storm, gusts in excess of 50 mph. Other than stressing me out about the structural integrity of some of my portable structures, it was fun. We had candle light and games in the evening instead of TV. The kids went to bed early. It was quiet. I never realized how noisy our house was. All kinds of things make noise that fade into the background, the refrigerator, the freezer, the fish tank, the compact fluorescent lights, the computer fans, etc. Quiet. And Dark. (except it was a full moon so it wasn't really dark outside, more an eerie silvery glow.) It was a FUN evening. I didn't sleep much, the wind was howling and I knew that without power my greenhouse wasn't inflated, which make the plastic really vulnerable to wind (both ends were also partially open, couldn't put the doors back up in 50 mile an hour winds.) So I was worried.

Morning. My watch says it's 5:30, but there wasn't any alarm to get anyone up. It's dark and quiet. COFFEE. Wrong! No power. Finally scrounged out the camp stove and some ancient instant coffee by 8 am. Better than nothing, but only just. It's not fun fumbling around in the dark with a flashlight (the only functional flashlight in the house.) The kids still get up at 6:30, wanting breakfast and school. Cold cereal is a "treat" but we don't know the status on school. No batteries for the radio. Listened to the local station on the car radio, about 1000000 people out of power because of the wind storm. Could be three days before it is restored. Scarred!

Chocolate ice cream for lunch. It's starting to melt, so we might as well eat it. Have a refrigerator full of milk that will have to go to the chickens. Breakfast on the camp stove was fun, lunch is looking OK, but dinner will be grim.

4:55 pm. The power is back on!!!!! Can't believe what wimps we are. I thought we were close to being locally sustainable. More on this later.


Daphne said...

Isn't it amazing how we rely on our services. I grew up on a well and when the power went out (which was often) it meant our water went out too. Though we did have one spigot that was below the cistern, so it would dribble if we were desperate.

Luckily I haven't had a lot of problems in my suburban home. Even in big storms our power is out usually only a short time. On city water it never shuts off except when they flush the pipes, and then they warn you. But I also have my camp stove if necessary and a water filter. I always worry when the power goes out though. I freeze a lot from my garden. It would last a couple of days in the chest freezer, but I would hate to lose it.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Ah, but see, no need to be disappointed with this particular episode...this was just a test and one that you (obviously) learned from. Now you will probably make some changes, make some different choices, adjust a few things and the NEXT TIME, you will feel adequately prepared.

Chocolate ice cream for lunch - what a great idea.

How do you feed milk to chickens?

Alan said...

R said he was thankful that the plumbing was still on. Me too! I've lived with a well before and wouldn't do it again without more control over the electric generating system.

The day has rearranged our priorities a bit. As for ice cream for lunch, that should happen more often.

Chickens like their milk slightly warmed, served in very small cups with a side of biscuits.

Shibaguyz said...

Now we're sitting here talking about how well we'd be prepared for going without power for a few days. We do have some dried meats and a gas powered grill so I think we'd be okay. Maybe one of those crank powered radios and the same type of flashlight would be a good idea... hhhmmmm...

Thanks for getting us thinking!

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

First and foremost, let me say that we've been exactly where you are. And, as I've said before, we've been aiming toward being more self-sufficient on our piece of dirt for much longer. So, our wake-up call came twelve years ago or so, when Hurricane Fran left us without power for five days. Since that storm, I always make sure that I have: (1) an emergency pile of dry wood for the central woodstove, (2) multiple flashlights charged and ready, (3) ten gallons of stabilized gas in cans, and (4) the back-up generator that has been run every six weeks year-round (also with stabilized gas). In fact, the generator can be plugged into a special circuit to backfeed the house panel, once the main circuit is broken. This allows us to run the fridge, freezer, cistern pump and lights, without having to deploy extension cords and listen to the noise from a generator next to the house.

I am a notorious slacker, but I promised myself after that storm that I would not be at the mercy of the power grid if I could possibly help it.


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