We lost power early Saturday. We had about half a foot of snow in the morning and by the end of the day, a foot. (Looking out toward the pond, which is almost completely obscured.)
The woods around our farmhouse creaked and groaned under the wintry weight, branches, even entire trees, creaking and crashing.
There wasn’t any mystery as to what had happened to the power lines. The power company said they’d have electricity back by midnight, but as the outage mounted into tens of thousands of homes, the message changed.
By the end of the day, they were saying midnight the next day.
As I set this post late Tuesday, we still don’t have our electricity back. This post is written under generator power and satellite internet. (We got our phone back late Tuesday, too. Note: We don’t have cell service at our farm. When we lose our phone and satellite internet and are snowed in, we are COMPLETELY CUT OFF. And our wild and woolly country backroad does NOT get snow plow service.)
The miracle was that we still had phone service on Saturday. Under generator power and dial-up (we had lost satellite internet), I was able to set a blog post for Sunday and get my column emailed to the newspaper.
By the time I woke Sunday morning, the phone was gone, too. There would be no more checking with the power company for the latest prediction as to when electricity would be back. No way to find out if school was on. (No way to get there anyway…..) At the top of our steep, impassably snow-bound driveway:
And for me, there was suddenly no more work. No satellite and no phone means no internet access at all. I work on my website every day. Seven days a week, 365 days a year. I was…..on vacation! It was strange and beautiful.
I started puttering around the house. I cleaned. I repacked and reorganized all the boxes of extra Christmas ornaments. I cooked. I had cooked a huge pot of beans the night before the outage, so we had beans and cornbread the first day, heated on the woodstove. We were also still able to use our gas stovetop in the kitchen as well as our gas grill on the back porch. We had chili and pork chops with fried potatoes and even pizza. The chickens (below, refusing to come out of the chicken house into the snow) laid and laid….
….suddenly setting to work in the freezing temperatures, and we had bacon and eggs in the mornings. (Photo: From the driveway, looking up toward the garden.)
We read books. I knitted. Kids played board games and cards, had fights with swimming noodles and built snowmen.
We watched TV. (Me, Kitten and Little, Wiggles, and Spice-the-door-opening-cat.)
We’ve been watching TV.
GENERATORS ARE SO AWESOME.
We have enough gasoline to run our generator 12 hours a day for 10 days.
It can’t run everything at once, but we move it around as needed and wanted. We run the coffee maker and the radio, the refrigerator and freezers. We run the blower on the wood stove.
In the evenings, we watch a couple hours of TV and run the Christmas tree lights and a few lamps. We also run the water pump up at the house. We keep a couple extra tanks of water at the house to refill the water heater, using generator power. We’ve been rationing our stored water carefully, not knowing how long the power outage will last, but we haven’t run out. Would LOVE to have one of those special generators that can run the pump down at the well to have unlimited water during an outage, but this hasn’t been bad. WE HAVE WATER. That’s a good thing. We’re safe. We’re warm. The animals are safe. Our food stores are safe. We even have a number of “electrical luxuries” due to the generator. This has, in fact, been the best power outage I’ve ever had.
If you’re prepared, a long outage isn’t a miserable experience. It can even be a good experience. Life slows down. Most days, I feel as if I’m on a runaway train. Long work to-do lists dominate the too-short days, broken by numerous trips for school and sports. During a power outage, time stretches while you’re waiting for electricity to be restored. You might as well relax and have fun, with many normal responsibilities out of your hands. You do what you can—and most of what you can do has already been done, in advance. You turn on the generator, fill up the wood stove, take care of the animals…..then you kick back and enjoy the slow roll of time and the satisfaction of all that preparation. The hum of the generator and the crackle of fire in the wood stove says, “You did it.”
I almost hate to see it end. I’M JUST KIDDING. I really miss baking cookies. But, at least I have internet access again! I MISSED YOU!
Update: The power company is now saying we won’t have power until 11 p.m. Christmas Eve.