The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Halfway prepared

Blue sky and snow

Appalachian Electric Power's website reported Friday that they had 128,000 customers out of power, 81,508 of whom were in Virginia.  Estimated restoration time for Scott County is supposed to be Monday night, but we know we're on the tail end of the list and figure we'll be lucky if we're plugged back into the grid by Wednesday.

While sobering, knowing the power will be out for an extended period is much less scary now than it was three years ago.  Then, heat consisted of blasting the exterior wood furnace and hoping a bit of warm air would trickle in through the ductwork without a fan.  Cooking on the wood stoveCooking was a complicated, outdoors affair, involving shoveling coals out of the wood stove (which had an insulative sleeve around it, so we couldn't cook on top), then refreshing the coals several times to get things cooked through.  We didn't really have enough blankets to keep warm at night, and it was awfully dark with just a couple of little flashlights to read by.

Fast forward ahead, and while we're not as well prepared as we would like, everything is at least 75% easier.  We have two little wood stoves that keep our living area toasty, it's easy to cook on the burner, and our light situation is an order of magnitude better.  In fact, I feel very lucky because I suspect most of our neighbors are experiencing a lot more deprivation than we are.

What's the same is that we're running the generator an hour or so per evening to top off the fridge and freezer, to refill our drinking water reservoir, and to get online.  The cats are terrified of the roar, and I'm not terribly keen either (which is why I'm actually writing this in the quiet earlier in the day, to be uploaded to the internet when the generator keeps thought to a minimum).  Mostly, though, we miss having low-power treats during the course of the day, like internet-on-demand and laptop-charging.  Clearly, that's where we need to focus our post-outage efforts, before the experience recedes from our memories and we forget how useful it is to be prepared.

Our chicken waterer is the POOP-free alternative to traditional filthy waterers.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

You all hang in there... Hope they get you back on the grid asap...
Comment by James Sun Jan 20 08:46:58 2013
That is either a very large skillet or a small wood stove! Nice pic.
Comment by RDG Sun Jan 20 09:11:53 2013
If I were you, I'd put the generator in the barn. There is plenty of extension cord out in the woods..
Comment by Sun Jan 20 13:57:57 2013

Since you have wood and water available, a steam engine coupled to a generator could provide silent power and heating. Building a small engine is not that difficult; many hobbyists have done it. But you can also buy them. (E.g. here, here or here)

Boilers are a bit more tricky (they are pressure vessels, so safety is an issue), but you can find those as well.

(N.B. A steam turbine is not a good idea for a small installation)

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Jan 20 19:33:40 2013

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.