A thick layer of heavy snow combined with a layer of ice brought branches and trees down last week. The electric power went down on Wednesday morning. I happened to be reading Ben Falk’s “The Resilient Farm and Homestead” at the time. I considered the contents of the book as I went through my un-electrified days (4 1/4 days without power to be exact.) It provided a very useful perspective. The book, in part, is a practical guide for creating a homestead that is prepared to function well in such situations.
When the power goes out, there is no pump to bring water from our 300′ deep well. And, of course, with no water; the toilet does not flush. The propane heating system cannot run without electricity. There are no lights. The refrigerator/freezer stops working (though wintertime is a great assist regarding that detail.) There is no internet and nothing with which to charge my cell phone. With one little flashlight, a dead phone, 4 gallons of water, a deteriorating woodstove, and about 1/4 cord of wood (much of it under snow and not well seasoned;) I, quickly realized that I was not well prepared for this type of (inevitable) situation. A propane powered stove that worked was a plus. A good truck with four wheel drive was awesome. Neighbors that made a point of looking out for each other…Brilliant! Phones were lent, water and showers were offered, driveways were magically plowed in the night, meals were shared, information was relayed, etc. etc. and so many more etc.’s! It wasn’t too long before I relaxed into a routine of sawing the too long logs to fit into the stove, moving firewood, stacking firewood around the woodstove to dry, tending the fire, and collecting and melting snow for washing and for flushing. There was even time to marvel at the beauty of the season. Overall, the experience was inconvenient, not catastrophic, and a very good learning experience. I, highly, recommend reading Ben’s book….and…tighten up that woodstove, develop water containment systems, consider the resiliency of your communication systems, charge your batteries, tend to the woodpile, get some lanterns and candles; and, most importantly, love your neighbors!
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