Homestead

Emergency Preparedness

Times like the Wildfires back in Sept 2020 and this Ice Storm for Valentines 2021 make you take stock and realize how well you did at preparing or how bad you failed. I have to say we did pretty well at evacuating in a timely manner in September (partially because we figured it was coming and had all day to prepare). The Ice Storm, however, saw us being a bit more lax. We need to do better. Much better.

We’ve been without power for 8 days now, and our sanity was only saved by someone letting us borrow a large generator to run the house, minus the hot water heater and the range in the kitchen. If we didn’t have that, we could potentially have been in trouble with my older mother living here. The cold air (48 degree house) she was breathing and the anxiety it brought with it was causing her to be short of breath and her pulse to race. As soon as we got the generator and the house warmed up, she was much better off.

Now we know where we failed and we know some of what we need to put at the top of the priority list.

  • Every Autumn we need to check the chimney to make sure it’s in good repair and ready for fire. This year we neglected to do this so were left without wood heat. We will have plenty of firewood this year after the ice storm destroyed so many trees. Building a new wood shed might be helpful too.
  • We need to go through all of our oil lamps and make sure they are full of oil and long wicks before winter hits. Also store lots of bottles of lamp oil.
  • We need to save up for a dual fuel generator that is powerful enough to run the well during an outage so we may have running water for the animals (gardens too in the summer), and for flushing the toilet (the full bathtub only lasted about 2-3 days).
  • Finding our camp shower or just buying a new one would be good too so we can add hot and cool water to it instead of trying to use pans in the bathtub.
  • We need to get our pantry gutted and remodeled for more storage. This has been on the list for years but now I think we have no choice!
  • We need to get back into canning and rely less on the freezers. We used to can fruit and vegetables when I was a kid and have gotten lazy enough to just freeze everything. Once the freezers don’t have electricity, we lose out on all that. Meat is something I’ve never tried to can, but will research it and learn!
  • We need to get the chicken coop and rabbit barn built because they don’t take long to get to butchering size. If we can’t freeze the meat, we can have fresh to eat in worst case scenario.
  • We need to get a greenhouse built and make hoop houses for a longer grow season and make more raised beds for a bigger garden.
  • We also need to finish getting the orchard replanted and add irrigation so we don’t need to rely on buying fruit elsewhere and save money.

I am thankful we had the campfire ring in the back yard and just enough dry pine and fir to get a fire going and burn ice fallen limbs. This allowed us to boil water, cook hotdogs, cook soup, and get warm! We knew the storm was coming so all the water troughs, even those not in livestock areas, got filled up in case we needed the extra water for the animals or our toilet. We had batteries on hand for the flashlights and did a lot of reading by candle light and flashlight at night. We bought a little propane heater for the living room as well, added to our bundling of blankets and extra clothes, made it a toasty 55 degrees in there!

Plywood for the lawn chairs kept them from sinking into the ground while we sat by the fire!

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