Friday, February 7, 2014
A few days without power... lessons learned.
Wednesday morning. I woke at 4:30am. I went to bed expecting ice/sleet/snow to greet me as I woke, and the prediction was 100% spot on this time. My brain kicked off about two hours before I needed to get up, and with good reason.
4:30 am. I step onto the porch and stick my slippered foot out jut a toes worth..... slicker than snot and building fast. The trees were loaded with frozen snow, and gaining weight FAST with the sleet and freezing rain.
We were going to lose power. No surprise, and no realistic chance we wouldn't.
I cranked the house heat up, made coffee, and fired the woodstove well and true. 30 minutes later... darkness. That 30 minutes was enough to get better prepared, and is surely the reason I woke so early.
When the lights went out, I already had the LED lanterns in place. (Rayovac Sportsman LED Lantern ) I have three of these around the house, and they are flat out the Cats Meow when the power goes off. Energy sipping things, I replace their three D cells maybe once a year. That's with many, many nights of outdoor use over the summer.
When I use these lanterns (kitchen, bath, living room) the neighbors invariably stop in to see if I have power, since the house is so well lit. Lighting the place without power? No problems.
Heat...... wood stove, all the way. I have a propane convection heater which I fired a few times in the basement to avoid frozen pipes, but otherwise did not need. The wood stove kept the whole house above 70 degrees, so warm and snuggly it was.
Other folks were not so well prepared, and ended up bunking in with friends or family.
On the subject of the wood stove, it suits just fine for cooking. I ran a dutch oven full of ... well..... chili I suppose.... for two days straight. As I pulled meat from the freezer that looked like it might be thawing, it went into the pot. Along with some canned beans, tomatoes, onions, and spices.... it made one kick ass chili. A neighbor came over several times for hot chili and cold beer during the outage.... (g).
Cooking... the Butane Burner Stove came in VERY handy indeed. Searing off meat, making coffee, grilled cheese sammiches, you name it. With that little beastie cooking was not an issue, power or no. When I bought it, I also purchased a 12 can case of butane fuel. So far, I have used MAYBE most of one can. That includes several power outages and several evening parties outside.
Speaking of coffee, let me say this...... OH... HELL..... YES. Being able to perc a pot of coffee ( Stainless Steel Percolator) in the middle of a power outage is a sure sign of civilization. Wednesday morning I stood under the porch, coffee mug in hand, listening to the trees near the house cracking under the weight of the ice. They sounded like gunshots, followed by slow motion car crashes as the huge trees came crashing down.
We lost enough branches of our own, with one big bastard stretching maybe 30 feet. It managed to miss the house, the hot tub, and the garage while coming within inches of each.
Water.... a serious issue when the well pump is driven by electricity. Here the water filter pitcher I bought came into serious use. Found daily in the fridge, it moved to the kitchen counter where it supplied coffee and cooking water (PUR 18 Cup Dispenser)
I have several backups in the water department. One, the hot tub, holds several hundred gallons of water suitable for washing and flushing. This trip, I managed that task with simple snow melt in a pot on the wood stove.
Water backup of last resort, and a GREAT one, is a hand dug well on the property. We came THIS close to dipping water for the neighbors horses.... just as the power came back on.
Entertainment? Books..... beer..... whiskey..... cell phone internet..... eating. In just a few short words: LIFE...... IS...... GOOD.
So where did I come up short? A bigger pot to heat water on the stove would be a good idea. Also, a camp shower would be nicer than the helmet baths I was taking.
On the cell phone front. either more backup batteries ( I have three and never went dry), or a USB power pack would be nice.
Regarding the fridge, I lost 60% of what was in the freezer.... but none of the meat or expensive things. Just the tater tots and ice cream type stuff, really. I think a larger cooler would be nice, and would be a treat for the summer parties too. Since I (purposefully) don't keep a freezer full of expensive stuff, a decent sized cooler would allow me to save pretty much everything.
Frankly, aside from missing a good hot shower, a few days without power were more like a vacation. Quiet, comfortable, cold beer, good food, lots of books..... and no ^*&&%&$@% TV blasting in my peaceful environment.
I guess I'd do it again without too much bitching.