Hello Pack. We had one heck of a prepping week. There is nothing better to test your preps than a short-term disaster situation. I KNEW that when I said out loud to myself and the Blue Heelers trailing along with me when out riding the fence line that it was such a glorious day that I had likely jinxed it.
Just a few short hours later we went from 70 degree weather in January to a storm that included some intensely high wind. I knew we would pay for the two straight days of warm weather and brief breaks in the rain, but really thought it would be a hard February or a few extra days of winter April.
There were several thousands of homes without power in our region of Appalachia for 24 hours. That is a short amount of time for most of us, but to an unprepared person on oxygen or without a woodstove or even a fireplace, it can feel like an eternity.
In my rural area, having not only a wood stove but a huge propane tank to fuel wall mount heaters and stoves is fairly commonplace. We were plenty warm, could cook, and keep our food from spoiling – we were sitting pretty, right?
Well, our most valued tribe member was out of commission, meaning our family had to figure everything out for ourselves. Since this was just a little seasonal storm, our entire tribe did not converge on our survival homestead, there was no need and they too were dealing with the same weather and outages.
Bobby caught this awful stomach bug that has been going around, and was sound asleep in bed when the power went out Saturday afternoon.
I saw no need in waking him and getting the generator going, and all of the other typical storm supplies out without him was a good dry run for how our immediate family would react on our own should something more serious happen.
It was also a great training exercise for the seven grandchildren who were here at the time, ranging from age two to a few days shy of 11 years old.
The first hiccup in our disaster routine came right at the beginning – getting the massive generator out. Never, ever, should the generator be blocked by anything, but oh it was. It took me five minutes to move a lot of heavy stuff on my own to be able to move it from just inside the garage door to the patio outside.
Bobby recently closed his office in town to semi-retire and work from home. Some of the teenagers in our tribe did the heavy lifting during the move, and piled some heavy oak cabinets in the path of the generator. Yes, there was cursing when I saw how blocked in the generator was.
I tasked a 20 something tribe member with starting the multi-fuel massive genie because he has never done it before. He passed with flying colors. I showed him where the emergency generator fuel was stored so he did not use the everyday farm fuel cans.
The grandchildren had to learn how to hook onto the generator and exactly how much power it would give. I had them prioritize what should be hooked up and for how long if anything needed to be rotated on and off – such as the multiple refrigerators and deep freezes.
Nothing was cooling in the butcher shop walk-in this weekend, but we went over that as well. Once there was a bit of free time, I read the children a book that included how pioneers built ice houses, and showed them the simple way we constructed one so the walk-in could be taken off grid as necessary. This turned into a whole science lesson about perishables, food storage temperatures, foodborne illness, and root cellars.
The older children had to figure out a way to transfer some 5-gallon jugs of water into the two houses without dropping and busting them – a great teamwork exercise.
We have a pond, creek, and a manual well dipper so we are set for long-term water in a SHTF scenario, but I had a major oops at the grocery store the night before.
I made the mistake of taking two children with me, and the cart got to overflowing so quickly I skipped getting the standard two cases of water.
Normally that would not have run us short on bottled water, but a lot of tribe members being over later for work details drained our supply a bit.
We had only two and a half cases of single bottles on hand – that is not a lot for drinking, cooking, and hand washing 11 people for a little over 24 hours. Prepping fail on my part.
The next issue in what should have been an easy roll out even without our fearless leader involved off grid bathroom issues. When the power went out I was running the washer and our daughter was bathing some of the kids at her cabin next door.
The well bladder and hot water tank was drained at the worst possible time. We can usually count on having multiple flushes in the commodes.
Now, in a long-term SHTF scenario, there are buckets set aside for gathering water from the hot tub, pond, and creek to use. The old diesel tractors can haul a trailer full of water buckets even if the inciting event is an EMP or no more store bought diesel fuel is available.
But, being just a day or so issue I did not think we needed to do all of that bucketing. Getting water to flush from the hot tub would have been an easy and short walk from the bathroom – if it did not have some type of issue with a heater line the day prior and we drained it to prepare for the service call.
I decided I would just get the composting toilet out of one of the campers and the potty bucket that has a fairly comfortable seat, out of the storage area by the butcher shop.
Having a stomach flu, I knew Bobby was going to need one all to himself. Well, who ever used the camper last did not drain the composting commode. It was way too heavy to move without being drained, and because it sat so long dirty needed a thorough disinfecting. Yep, there was more cursing, fellow preppers.
Ok, that left one shared bucket potty, which was not ideal at all since Bobby was sick. So, I went to the spot where it is stored and it was not there! Again I was wasting time moving stuff to find it and never did.
More cursing ensued. Bobby since found it not far from where it was supposed to be, but well hidden and in a spot that getting a ladder to easily – which I would have needed, was not feasible.
To take care of number two issues, I got a bucket with a lid and cut apart a cute decorative fairy wreath from the playroom because it was made with a foam pool noodle. I slid the noodle down the middle to create a slit that would fit around the bucket lid. I lined the bucket with two trash bags and put on my makeshift lid and bathroom issues were finally taken care of.
Those were a whole lot of stumbling blocks that never should have happened. I would not have believed that essential and even immediately needed preps would have been left dirty, blocked in, or moved from their assigned spot on our survival homestead, but they sure were.
I believe the tirade I went on will negate that from ever happening again in the future. We were among the last three properties in our county to get power back around dark on Sunday night.
I was at the barn selling two wethers when the power company finally rolled up our hill. The tree down on the power line had already been cut and removed before they got here, so the hardest part of their job was already done.
I hope your weekend went far smoother than mine, fellow preppers. But, I will put a positive spin on the whole ordeal because it is better to have found the mistakes during a simple storm rather than in a more critical situation.
This Week’s Questions:
- What has been your biggest prepping fail?
- When was the last time you had to put any of your preps to the test?
- Do you train for a disaster by removing any vital family or tribe members from the equation?