Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm


Last Saturday, we took advantage of a 60 plus degree day to cut some wood.

Our neighbor let us borrow his most awesome gas powered wood splitter and we all worked out there all day. I put one status update on Facebook and we got it all sold in no time at all and they all said they'd take more if we could get it cut. 

Ever since the big ice storm of 2007 (remember that?) not only have we tried to plan ahead and prepare ala survivalist mode to be able to endure the next 12 days we have to spend trapped at home without electricity but we have also been wanting to clean up some of the downed and hinged trees around our woods. Bryon had also invited a forester out to target and mark trees that should come down to enhance the health of our little woods.

Unfortunately we don't burn wood, which I have argued with Bryon makes no sense considering we are surrounded by twenty acres of trees, but he doesn't want to be a slave to cutting wood when he's seventy. I guess that makes some sense. We do have a pellet stove that heats our entire downstairs very comfortably. Of course it eats wood but in the pellet form, which has to be purchased. We've already gone through two tons of pellets this year and at $4 bucks a bag that adds up pretty fast.

We burn about a bag a day when it's really cold out. The good news is we know exactly how much it's costing to stay warm each day, the bad news is, when we run out we can practically hear the dollar signs cha-chinging as our electric heat pumps take over.

All electric seemed like such a good idea prior to that ice storm.

The first seven years of our marriage, wood was our only form of heat. That and a king sized water bed which was quite toasty thank you very much. Right up until the day it started leaking and had to be replaced at 6 am one morning. Bryon says I don't remember what a hassle it was to have to feed the beast every day, the smell, the mess. He's probably right but the self preservationist in me still thinks it couldn't hurt to have a plan C.

While I work on wearing him down on the wood stove front, I suppose if we could sell enough of our own wood each year to pay for our pellet addiction, that would sort of be a wash. Of course that's assuming the power stays on. God I love the grid.

I used to have delusions of living off the grid ala Amish without all the pesky "rules" right up until day three of that storm in 2007. Now I just want to be ready to compensate when it happens again.

This past week, I really thought we might get to implement some of our preparation strategies with the "storm of the century" and the supposed two feet of snow we were going to get. I spent the week in Rolla where we got 1-2 inches of sleet and 1-2 inches of snow. No big thing.

I did fill my hotel bathtub with water so I could flush my toilet, bought the last hand cranked Coleman Max lantern/radio/cell phone charger from Walmart and had some snacks and water ready just in case. Survival ala the Hampton Inn ;)

Bryon was ready on the home front too. Thankfully he and Grace only had about six inches of snow from the "storm of the century" at our house. My Mom and Dad in Bolivar got to enjoy the whole enchilada with 18 inches plus. Still, the power did stay on all around so that's a good thing.

Soon after the 2007 storm we had a transfer switch installed so we could hook up our little generator to it without having to run extension cords all over creation and listening to the dang thing run all night. Bryon even poured a concrete pad for it and built a little hut over it to protect it from the elements when it is out there. Now at least we can turn on our water pump every so often or run our pellet stove fan, a few lights, alternately our fridge and freezer and finally our tv. You can only take so much together time without news and entertainment let me tell you.

Seems like no matter how much we plan ahead though, we don't remember everything. Bryon thought too late this time to check our kerosene supply for our little heater that can go to the barn to keep the pipes out there from freezing and when he stopped by to fill it in Niangua they were already out. He heard the lines at the one station in Marshfield were crazy long so he just didn't fill it up. Turned out we didn't need it but I guess it goes to show you just aren't ever as prepared as you thought you were.

Bryon just bought a new chainsaw, his first new saw ever and only the second one he's owned in 25 years. I hope this one lasts 25 years. One more cord of wood and it will be paid for and then it's pellet profits all the way.

I'm a little less enthusiastic about the whole wood thing now only seven days later because I am covered in poison ivy (yes you can get it in the winter if you are allergic to it and I am). I had a long sleeved shirt on but apparently that wasn't enough.

Again, just when you think you are prepared there always seems to be something waiting to prove you wrong.

Just wait until next time, then I will ....

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