Day Eight

Jul
7

I’m alive! I missed you!


What we had here (as I think most of you will know by now) was a derecho–a super wind, also referred to as a straight line tornado. Winds blasted as high as 91 mph. (See more about what a derecho is here.) I’ve never seen anything like it. The storm came on suddenly, picking up and throwing heavy things off the porches, like my gas grill.

And rocking chairs.

Stuff that doesn’t usually blow off a porch!

I had gone outside to watch the storm. I like to watch storms. But, uh, never mind. I ducked back inside, afraid I was going to be HIT by something. (Luckily, I had no major damage at my farm.)

The road in front of my farm:

There were trees across roads everywhere, and power lines, too. Power lines that stayed in the roads for days. Few gas stations were open–few had power to pump gas, and those that did quickly ran out. There were lines at the gas stations that were pumping gas. Many of those couldn’t take anything but cash because their credit/debit machines weren’t working. Stoplights, even in the city, weren’t working. It was a crazy world out there, like the aftermath of a mini apocalypse. Eighty-five percent of the population of West Virginia was without power at the beginning, and as of the last I heard (yesterday) there were still nearly 200,000 homes in West Virginia without power. (On and off storms since then have put people out of power again who got power back. I’ve never gotten power back, period.)

I sent Weston to Spencer. There was power at his girlfriend’s house. I am so grateful for public water. I still have well water at the barn and all outdoor faucets. (Something to add to the list: Hook up at least ONE outdoor faucet to public water for extended power outages.) I tote bucket after bucket every single day to the animals. It’s a long, long way with bucket after bucket of water. I fill up 5-gallon buckets for the animals, but I’ll only carry a full 2-gallon bucket, so it’s back and forth and back and forth. (I learned a long time ago that if I wanted to be a farmer for a long time, I had to stop hurting my back. I work hard to be careful to not carry more than I can handle.) The cows have water in their creek, and Patriot and the donkeys have the spring in their pasture, so I carry to the sheep, the goat yard, and the barn yard. Then I tote buckets to water flowers, trying to save them. It’s an extensive daily process, exhausting and hot, but I am grateful with every bucketful that I have water because it’s so dry here.

I shuttled off meat from my freezer to a friend who had power and a neighbor who had a generator, and other than that, let’s just say the chickens had a really good day the day I cleaned out the refrigerator. I now have practically no food, but the freezer, it looks so clean. I started out with a bag of ice that I had when the power went out. When that melted, it was early in the power outage days and there was no ice available anywhere. You couldn’t beg, borrow, or steal a bag of ice around here.

I didn’t have a generator. We had a generator at Stringtown Rising, but it wasn’t mine. I tried a number of times to pull-start that generator, but was never able to do it, so I knew when I got my own, a pull-start model would not be a good idea. A generator of my own has been on my to-do list, but an extended power outage in the summer hadn’t occurred to me. Our extended power outages here are in the winter. I’ve been preparing for winter for months–mostly for the animals. I was putting off my human winter preparation (such as a generator) until after I’d taken care of the animals’ needs.

But it’s pretty hot here. We’re having a heatwave.

Day Six:

It’s been hard to find anything here–generators, power cords, you can almost forget it. And ice–ha. A new Cabela’s is opening in Charleston soon. They got in a couple trucks of generators and the city let them “open” on the sidewalk and sell generators right out of the truck.

This beautiful generator came home with me on Day Six, when I’d finally had enough.

I’m camped out in the studio.

There is a window a/c unit here–my only source of air conditioning. I can’t run the central air in the house on the generator. In the studio, I have hot water (gas water heater, nothing on it requires electricity, and there is a shower in the studio bathroom), gas stoves, a TV, a refrigerator, and light. Yay! Life improved immensely after I brought home the generator.

Best part of it? It has a push-button start!!!!

I picked up Morgan from the airport on Friday. Ross came home last night for the weekend. Weston came home today. Thinking ahead to winter preparation for PEOPLE now, Ross made a wiring alteration so that I can run the fan on my furnace in the house. I will be able to plug it in to my generator now and run heat in the house during a winter power outage.

We’re sleeping on the floor in the studio.

I pulled the mattress out of the loveseat sleeper sofa in the house and brought it over so this is my “studio” bed.

(Notice I didn’t even bother to bring a sheet.)

We’re doing okay.

It was today before I put together the cords I needed to get the satellite internet box in the back upstairs bedroom in the house connected to the generator at the studio. You can’t buy heavy duty extension cords around here right now. I had to borrow.

I change around what is hooked up to the generator, and I’m running a really long line to the satellite internet box and router, so I won’t leave that on all the time, but I wanted to get up a post to update you. Thank you for all the comments you left. I appreciate it!!! I will be back when I can. I don’t know when I’ll have normal electric power again. They say maybe Sunday night, but they are also starting to make noises about later, Tuesday or Wednesday.

Or, you know, never.

But we’re fine. In fact, under the circumstances, we’re doing more than fine.

I have my three kids home, and we have enough generator power to be comfortable. I feel downright fortunate.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on July 7, 2012  

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Comments

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  1. 7-7
    2:14
    pm

    So glad to hear that you were able to get a generator and things are more comfortable. I love the idea of a switch to the furnace fan, maybe we could do that here for our propane furnace. Good luck with everything and I hope everything returns back to normal very soon.

  2. 7-7
    2:18
    pm

    Suzanne, I am so glad to know you all are ok. I have been praying for you every day.

  3. 7-7
    2:19
    pm

    So glad that you and the kids and the animals are okay. It’s been a long dry spell not getting my CITR fix. :D
    Hope you get electricity soon although good to have a generator. And I like the photo of the new steps leading up to the studio. Well done.

  4. 7-7
    2:24
    pm

    Glad to hear you’re doing ok! Thanks for the update Suzanne!

  5. 7-7
    2:28
    pm

    Susanne.I.m so glad your family,farm,and fur babies are all safe
    i have bern watching the west virginia power outages and knew you have no power.
    In our church we are encouraged to have a years supply of everything including water.a generators soap.tp gas grill
    gas. etc. just for emergencies like yours. we have had terrible fires here so that storage system wouldnt work. thinking good thoughts for you and yours…

  6. 7-7
    2:28
    pm

    Nice to see you! :wave: We’ve been using our generator too. There’s lots of lines down over this way and we haven’t seen any electric trucks yet. One neighbor said in his opinion it’ll take them a week to get electric restored and that’s AFTER the company starts in this area. I’m sure hoping the electric company is more right than he is. :) Either way, I am so very grateful for all the crews out there working in such hot humid weather. I am grateful for neighbors who are willing to help and very, very, very grateful for the generator. It does make life a LOT more comfortable in such weather.

  7. 7-7
    2:34
    pm

    Awesome, you got a generator! Glad you all are okay, considering. I’ve been wondering how you fared. I have never heard of a derecho. So glad Ross was able to do something with your house furnace. Isn’t he handy!

    We got a heavy storm late last night. We had no power, twice, but the outages weren’t more than 3 hrs at a time. The worst part was the loud thunder that would make my 7yr old daughter cry, not the missing electricity. However it was fun scrambling for flashlights and realizing we only had 4 matches in the whole house. I need to better prepare for “next time”. Our power goes out several times a year, mostly during the snowy season.

  8. 7-7
    2:35
    pm

    glad to hear you are alive and well! it takes a strong woman to be a farmer. hope you get your power back soon and thanks to the men and women working out in the heat to restore power! be safe.

  9. 7-7
    2:40
    pm

    So glad to hear that is getting better over there. We were some of the last hit with those storms and they were a bit scary for us…nowhere near as strong by then. I think everybody should give a little shout out to Cabela’s because they did not have to open early to sell generators! They have my business!!!!

    Keep us posted and try to stay safe and cool!!!

  10. 7-7
    2:55
    pm

    We are far enough south that we had no serious issues but I did see a few broken trees. So glad to hear things are improving for you.

  11. 7-7
    3:13
    pm

    So good to know you are all doing good and are making the best of a bad situation !!! Hope they get the power back on soon for all of you !!! :fairy:

  12. 7-7
    3:22
    pm

    SOOOO glad things are looking up for you – having the kids home is almost better than having power! Well, maybe…but they are terribly helpful, especially Ross.

    I’ve always admired you because you handle these outrageous emergencies so well!!!

  13. 7-7
    3:24
    pm

    We bought the (almost) same generator at the same place! We got ours Wednesday, day five. It isn’t push button start, but even I can start it with the pull start. I took vacation days to man the generator while my husband was at work. I am so grateful Cabela’s was able to get all those generators and sell them before they were officially open for business. They could have jacked up the price as well, but they didn’t. We paid $320 for ours, and the exact same model in the Cabela’s catalog is $450!

    So glad you are all together and ok and hope you get your power back ASAP! :heart:

  14. 7-7
    3:26
    pm

    I am glad to hear you are OK and found a way to be comfortable. I have been wondering how things were going up there. The summertime power outage isn’t part of our plan either and this long outage, which we luckily didn’t have to deal with would have been a real hardship. Good luck on getting the power back soon!

  15. 7-7
    3:33
    pm

    Thank you for the update, and good to hear from you! Sayin’ a prayer for y’all and all those affected by that crazy storm! :hug:

  16. 7-7
    3:40
    pm

    I am so happy that my power is back on. I sure hope your’s comes back on soon. Take care and stay cool!

    Linda

  17. 7-7
    3:43
    pm

    By the way, this is Linda Mays from The Enchanted Bath (http://www.theenchantedbath.com/)in case you don’t recognize my user name.

    I’m glad you have the strength to carry water to your animals. I know how tiring and hot that must be. Your animals have such good mama to take care of them :-)

    Linda

  18. 7-7
    3:50
    pm

    Oh Suzanne I am so glad to finally hear that you folks are OK! And that you got a generator. Do you have a hose to run water out to the goats and sheep?
    It sounds like you and your family are doing fine…just another bump in the road! Happy that you are all together. Cooler days are coming!

  19. 7-7
    4:02
    pm

    :snoopy: So happy to hear from you! We’ve all MISSED you, too! Suffering here in Missouri, too, with 9 straight days of over 100 BUT I have air-conditioning! I honestly don’t know how I would survive without it. Kudos for your resourcefulness! Hoping and praying you get your power back ASAP! :snoopy:

  20. 7-7
    4:26
    pm

    Glad you are all safe and sound and………Ross is SMILING! I remember you saying a long time ago that you could hardly ever catch a picture of him smiling. Your kids are so handsome/beautiful.
    I know you are enjoying the generator. We have one and they are a blessing to have when the electricity goes out!
    Take care and hopefully the electricity will be back on soon!

  21. 7-7
    4:36
    pm

    In the 4th picture—-Casper and Spice are still at it. Does Casper think he is a cat or does Spice think that she’s a dog?

    In the last photo Ross has a nice grin. I know you have said that he has trouble with smiling on que for the camera. Weston looks like he has lost weight…maybe from his walking regime (class) at the university? Then there’s Morgan who is always happy to be between her two older brothers.

    Thank you for updating all of us. Take care.

  22. 7-7
    4:59
    pm

    Glad you all are ok. I had checked the website to see if you were up and running but didn’t leave a comment. Hope you get full power soon! :happyflower:

  23. 7-7
    5:09
    pm

    Been thinking about you, Suzanne. So glad to see that all is well and that at least you have your window AC! And I’m glad your kids are home with you. That has to make it 100 times better to deal with! :)

  24. 7-7
    5:09
    pm

    Wow – so glad to finally hear that everyone is O.K.!!! Awww and you even picked a nice bouquet for the table! Generators are definitely a must and so happy you were able to get one. Hope everything is back to normal very soon. I have never heard of a derecho before!!! We are in a heat wave her in Ontario and things are very dry – crops are suffering but so far we have had hydro – thankfully. Take care!

  25. 7-7
    5:32
    pm

    Thank you for going to all that trouble to give us an update. You’re so resourceful I figured that a power outage couldn’t whup you, but after the second round of storms, I was a bit worried. And that’s a really long time to be without power. Camping out at home can be an adventure, but the novelty wears off fast.

    I’m so glad to hear you and yours are all safe. I’ve missed you. They’re saying on the news that the heat should break tomorrow. I hope you get power back soon, and things can start to get back to normal for you.

  26. 7-7
    5:34
    pm

    Very happy to hear you are doing ok. You’re in our thoughts and prayers. Hang in there.

  27. 7-7
    5:34
    pm

    Thank goodness you are all okay. Hope the power will be restored soon and there will be no more outages.
    (you are so resorceful).
    Rose H
    x

  28. 7-7
    6:27
    pm

    Glad you are back…..been checking here and Facebook daily. And glad your kids are there to help…..be careful with your back….we are all hoping for respite from the heat…..so glad everyone is fine…human and not.

  29. 7-7
    6:58
    pm

    Glad to hear you are all ok…. been there done that….11days in December after and ice storm…. thank God for our generator…. ANy word from cousin sheryl; Georgia & mmhoney?

  30. 7-7
    8:17
    pm

    I’m so glad you are back and OK. I had been following news from the east because of the devastating fires here in Colorado Springs and it wasn’t until Tuesday I realized why CITR was silent. The generator is a big plus. Kudos to Cabelas. Welcome “back”. I hope you get power soon.

  31. 7-7
    8:17
    pm

    Oh so good to see a new post! Glad you’ve survived the storm…and the aftermath! :hug:

  32. 7-7
    8:18
    pm

    Our power just came back on today too. Whew. Glad you are doing okay. This heat was bad for us but the animals had it tough.

  33. 7-7
    8:36
    pm

    Thanks for the update. So glad you all are ok. Wonderful you had your kids all there too. Love the last photo of them. What wonderful people they grew into. Funny I followed this blog for so long I watched them grow up. lol.

  34. 7-8
    12:31
    am

    Glad to read that you are ok! I have friends in the DC area that got hit by that same storm and it wasn’t pretty. And in this heat too! GAH!

    Your generator looks lovely!

  35. 7-8
    3:48
    am

    Oh so happy to see you got the generator. Where i work, they run the back up generator off of the natural gas line. Any chance that one could be converted to run off the natural gas that is already running to your property? That way you wouldn’t have to worry about if you can get gas to put in it.

  36. 7-8
    4:19
    am

    I thought CITR seemed quiet/slow, but it didn’t occur to me why. I’m glad you had almost no damage, some of the news photos have been horrific. I’m going to tell you a short story that will make you feel so good. After hurricane Rita (just after Katrina), we were without electricity for 31 days. No gas,no grocery stores, no pharmacy,not really anything but the Salvation army and the volunteer fire department (ice, water) for first 15 days or so. Day after, 106 degrees.But our house was still intact,the animals were ok.We had water and propane.We were one of the lucky ones.To this day, I still thank God for that generator and the game wardens who patrolled the county.You’re already resourceful, determined, optimistic, you can sooooo do this. What’s that old saying? It’s not easy street but the hard times you get through that make lasting memories? Sure glad you all are safe and together. Prayers for things to get easier soon. Can’t wait to hear your storm stories.

  37. 7-8
    7:26
    am

    Nice to hear that you are okay…. good to see your kids are too! That Navy guy will sure help out!

  38. 7-8
    8:21
    am

    I’m so glad that you’re back! I’ve done the extended power outage thing before and it really rocks your world. I’ve been hoping you were OK – thinking about you every day. And I really missed hearing from you on the blog every day.

  39. 7-8
    9:06
    am

    Welcome back! I’m so happy to hear that you and your family (including the animals) are all doing ok. This is some crazy weather our country is having. You are so resourceful. Hang in there!

  40. 7-8
    9:21
    am

    It’s so good to hear that you and family and animals are going ok. I kept checking in multiple times every day to see if you were back on. We all missed you very much and are glad to see you didn’t have much damage.Everything is so green there. We are in the middle of a drought- almost 5″ below normal rainfall and we’ve had a week of 100+ degrees. Finally got some cooler temperatures moving in last night(which I hope is headed your way).But the end of the week will bring 90’s back. Still no rain in sight. Cabella’s did the right thing.I wish I had one.

  41. 7-8
    10:56
    am

    Thanks for the update. Thankfully the house and barn are still standing. Wondering if you got all the animals in the barn safely. You do have some talented and good-looking kids. I didn’t loose power during the first windstorm, but the next storm came with lightning~ that is when I lost my power for 2 days , I still feel lucky and blessed. :hug:

  42. 7-8
    11:05
    am

    Glad to hear from you, again. You are the master of “coping”. Of course everything is better when you know where all your kids are.
    And I have just one word (well, three actually) Hydrogen fuel cells! Ask Ross what he knows about generating power with hydrogen fuel cells. I’m not very technical but what little I’ve read about them, I can’t understand why this technology isn’t being used more. Well, money, but other than that…

  43. 7-8
    11:10
    am

    shirley, by the time I realized what was happening, it wasn’t safe for me to stick my head out the door much less run out to the fields. Luckily, the animals all sought their own shelters and everyone was fine.

  44. 7-8
    1:59
    pm

    Thank God Everyone there is safe and sound and all the animals are OK. I had never seen anything like that storm…We lost everything in our Refrigerator and freezers. No generator here. I had heard about Cabelas. I thought that it would be crowded and I may come home empty handed so we just waited and tried to stay to stay cool sleeping outside on the trampoline. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds! I had running water so we used the water house to keep cool during the day. A generator is on the top of my list along with a window unit air conditioner. There is nothing better than surrounding yourself with family in times like these, enjoy your time with them!

  45. 7-8
    3:18
    pm

    Hello to one and all,
    I am back home and cool as a cucumber. The first six days found me on my daug. couch (she is in Fl on vacation) I didn’t trust my self on the stairs and could not shower because she had no grab bars to assist me. I got hot meals each evening. Can’t recommend spit-baths lol. Doing fine and looking forward to my 89th birthday.
    I have never experienced such a storm. The wind was clocked at89 mph. I will leave you with this little jewel.
    When God puts a tear in you – He is planting a rainbow in your heart. mmhoney

  46. 7-8
    4:17
    pm

    You know we were all watching and wondering, while waiting for your power to be restored.Once more woman..you rock!Thumbs up to the kids too. :yes:

  47. 7-8
    4:35
    pm

    It’s very good to hear that the city let them sell generators from the back of their truck ahead of time. Many places wouldn’t have permitted that no matter what. It shows that they’ve got some people with common sense at least!

  48. 7-8
    10:39
    pm

    With your three children home it must be wonderful. Hope things improve daily.

  49. 7-8
    10:46
    pm

    I know you have probably already given the answer to this but I have to ask: Why can’t you run several 100 ft garden hoses from the house to the barn to water the animals when the well pump is out? I would think even half way would cut down on carrying those buckets so far. We have discussed getting a gas generator for outages in the winter but I have heard a lot of people caution against putting them on porches where the gas fumes can get sucked into the house, so please be careful. Hope you have power soon.

  50. 7-8
    11:27
    pm

    I am so happy you are doing so good. Hope all is fixed real soon.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....






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