Friday, August 23, 2013

The Power Outage

 Part 1

Early that winter we had a big snowstorm with a major power outage. The weather casters warned about this impending storm front  so we had some time to prepare.

Our farm operates with a well so power outages mean we have no water. With this number of horses that presents real problems especially when we have freezing temperatures thrown in.  This particular storm included a heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures for several days. The only real question was how long would the power stay out.

Whenever we have weather like this, I get all of my water troughs up near the barns and filled with fresh water for bucketing. With freezing temps I try to insulate these troughs with bales around them making sure there are no gaps for cold air to get into by using flakes to fill in the openings. I try to put a cover over the top to protect the surface from freezing. This will usually get me through a typical storm but anything more than a few days of below freezing temperatures without power and we are toast.

Most of my horses have those muck bucket size tubs for water in their stalls. If extreme temps are forecast for more than a couple of days I insulate those with flakes of straw secured by baling twine. Then we keep them all filled to the top. If the temps don't stay down for too long the water in those won't freeze because of the larger volume.  As long as we refilled them daily we can usually stave off freezing so the horses have fresh water throughout the cold front.

In the house I store water in buckets in both bath tubs for toilet flushing and I keep some pots on the wood stove for dish and hand washing. Before the power goes out, all of this filling can be done using the faucets but after the outage getting additional water can mean hauling it from the rain barrel(buckets at my down spouts) or collecting snow to be melted on the stove. 

The wood stove, of course, requires enough dry wood available to keep the house warm and for cooking. The fire department does not recommend storing wood next to the house so our wood pile is a safe distance away and usually covered with a tarp.

With this storm coming, I filled all the oil lamps, the water buckets and moved enough wood for at least two days to the covered portion of the back porch that wasn't occupied by those boxes of collectibles deposited there by Jessica instead of taking them to the barn. Then I stored what wood I could near the stove.

To get this done I had to do as much as I could before I got so shaky I had to stop. Then I rested until I regained enough strength to begin again. It took me all day and into the evening to get all the storm preparations done.

All of this is hard work on a good day. With my recovery creeping along at a snail's pace it took every ounce of strength I had to take care of readying the house and directing the necessary precautions for the barn for the forecasted power outage.

Since I normally handle all of these things, Dave and Lindsay were not familiar with the tasks at the barn nor have they had to experience a bad storm without the benefit of these precautions in place. With the weather already cold and ugly, they were not happy to have these extra jobs to do but I knew they had to be done so I pushed and pushed until Dave and Lindsay got tired of the nagging and did as I asked.

The energy it takes to get them to give in is why I normally do these things myself. The point isn't to malign my husband or my daughter but to convey how exhausting all these preparations were on me and my family, not to mention what it took to do chores under these circumstances.

For all of this work Jessica was nowhere to be found even though she had been accepted into our home like she was a family member. She had been told there was all that extra work to do but she escaped before I got up.

She returned late that night after the power was out and we were all exhausted. She wasn't alone. She came with company to " camp out  and have fun," her words not mine. She not only brought her boyfriend but a girlfriend too. They left the girlfriend's warm house with power to come drain the resources at mine.

They flagged the doors all night going in and out to smoke, letting the freezing air in and what warmth there was out. I can't even tell you how many conversations I put an end to as one of them stood at the open door talking to another one smoking outside. They apologized over and over but continued the behavior. Not once did any one of them volunteer to tend the fire or retrieve firewood but their flagrant disrespect at the coldest part of the night resulted in twice the normal consumption of firewood.

Of course they didn't bring food with them either even though they knew before they came that we had no power. Instead the ate their way through whatever hot food that I had cooked on the wood stove. You can bet no one volunteered to help or even cleaned up their own mess. Instead the laughed, giggled and played like it was a little girl's slumber party keeping us all awake.

By daylight they were gone, leaving all the chores here to us. The water I had drawn to flush toilets in the storm was all used up and there were a huge stack  of dishes to wash. I spent my entire day melting snow, hauling firewood and cleaning up after them even though I had done enough prestorm chores that should have held us through the entire outage.

I couldn't believe my eyes when nightfall came and Jessica again showed up with her buddies to party at our expense again. I thought I had made myself clear the night before that this power outage was serious business. If she and her friends had access to shelter and warmth someplace with power that's where they should be. We didn't have the resources or the energy to be a camping resort for her oblivious friends but she obviously didn't get my point....or she didn't care.

it was not like these people did not have a safe place to go. It was the fact they didn't want to go there. They seriously thought having no power was fun.....because they didn't have to do any of the work it took for them to be comfortable in these conditions because I had done it all.

It is hard for me to understand how anyone could look at someone as debilitated as I was and take advantage like that. Even as a kid I was aware and cared about those around me. I just don't get the sense of entitlement exhibited by these three young people. It was unbelievable and it continued until our power was restored....without any of them lifting a finger to help. To be perfectly candid, as lazy as they were, I am surprised they lifted a bucket to flush the toilet.....but they did....because each morning all the water was gone. Go figure....

To be continued.....

A Little Jerky Anyone.........


  1. Next time they wanted a drink, I'd tell them the only water available is in the toilet. Bon appetit. And next time they needed to use a toilet, I'd give them a leaf and a trowel and send them out into the woods. If she wasn't helping with barn chores, I'd pile manure on her bed so that she'd have to clean it if she wanted to sleep there. Food would be behind lock and key. I'd have a squirt gun with me to shoot anyone who stood in an open doorway letting all the warmth out. I know... waging war was the last thing you wanted to put your energy into, but I'm having fun thinking up ways to foil her selfishness.

  2. I would have locked the door when I heard the car drive up.

  3. I'm with Nuz Muz. You should have made it miserable for her and her friends. But more than that you should have packed up her stuff and left it on the front porch and locked the door.