The Weekly Digs #100

by Becky

Psst!… Wow, 100 weeks of writing The Weekly Digs. It feels like a milestone of some sort. Thank you to all who spend time reading each week. You motivate me to keep this homestead journal going. I am grateful for you!

This week has changed me. While I don’t consider myself a “prepper” in the apocalyptic, prepare for the end of the world sense, I do believe in being prepared for emergencies and taking care of my family. 

And yet, this week we had multiple events happen where our basic necessities were gone and it was very frustrating to not be ready and prepared.

As this week approached we knew it was going to be very cold. Originally the weather said -4ºF. That would’ve been the coldest it’s ever been in Arkansas since we moved here twelve years ago. We prepared as best we could for the animals to handle it. 

We put a heat lamp in the chicken coop, covered the coop with tarps to keep the wind out because their coop is very open, and added a water heater to keep their water from freezing. We added extra hay in the nesting area over top of the pine shaving we normally use. 

For the cows Cameron had arranged the hay bales so that they were in a U shape and created a place where the cows could get out of the wind. We went up every day to break the ice in the pond or cut a hole in it so cows could get water.

When Saturday rolled around, the -4ºF estimate was now -8ºF. Lots of snow was expected to fall on Sunday. I didn’t feel like our little makeshift cow shelter was enough, so I had Cameron clear an area in the barn and put hay in there for more protection for them.

The animals were very well taken care of, warm, and happy. We learned really quickly that we also should have prepared ourselves! Snow fell Sunday totalling about 3 inches, the temperature didn’t rise above single digits.

Monday we didn’t get much more snow but the temperature that night was -15ºF. It was much lower than expected. Tuesday we huddled in the house and Cameron went off to work. We were warm and fine. At about 11am, I walked past our temperature gauge on the wall and saw our heat was set to 69ºF but the temperature in the house was 65ºF. 

Dax had been going in and out working on a snow fort and it made the house so cold. I took a shower and the next time I walked past the temperature read 61ºF. I knew that was pretty out of the ordinary unless one of the kids left the door open. I put my hand up to the heating vent and it was blowing cold air!

Immediately I shut off the air. I called Cameron and said, “I think our heat isn’t working.” He was still convinced it was one of the kids that left the door open. The power was still on so I decided to do some baking to get the house warmed up and told the kids to stay inside for a while.

A few hours later, we were up to 65ºF just from doing a bunch of baking! I checked a Facebook page for our city and everyone on there said that their heat wasn’t working either. We are all on natural gas and one of the lines had lost pressure. 

Our rental home that we are temporarily in until our new house gets done, doesn’t have a fireplace like our old home did. We are completely reliant on natural gas. We had no backup heat source other than the oven and a space heater. 

Luckily, we did maintain power and our pipes never froze because we left the water trickling out of all the faucets. The heat didn’t work all day and the kids were going crazy from being inside, so I went over to my sister’s house because she still had heat. 

My sister offered for us to stay overnight, but I wanted to be back in the comfort of my own bed. When we came inside that night it was 62ºF. Not bad for the heat being off all day! Word on the street was they wouldn’t fix the gas until the next day. 

We like camping so I told the kids it would be kind of like camping and to load on some blankets to sleep. It wasn’t bad at all. In the morning, the temperature said 60ºF so I decided I better do some more baking to get the house warm, haha. We also got a fresh 5 inches of snow that came overnight.

At around 11:30 am, I got a knock on my door. A few workers from the power company were going to turn back on our meter because they got it all fixed. I was very excited to see them! It was a full 24 hours without heat with outside temperatures hovering around 0ºF. 

Workers had to manually shut off the gas meters to 2300 homes in our town, test the lines, fix the problem, and then manually turn each meter back on, and light the pilot light. It really only took a half hour to fix the problem but the manual shut off and turn on was what slowed it all down. 

Everytime something like this happens, I learn something new and something I want to do better. For this time, it is making sure we have heat. We already have three sources of heat in our new home, wood burning indoor fireplace, outdoor wood boiler, and propane furnace. 

But each heat source takes electricity to run the blower so we plan on hooking those up to solar as soon as we can. Our plan has always been to go towards off grid power or at least back up power. It’s not cheap to buy solar panels so hopefully we can make it a priority and save up for them quickly. We really want to get the well pump on solar too.

Aside from the lack of heat, the good news is we always have plenty of food! 🙂 At least, we are very well prepared in some aspects.

After walking through our local store my jaw dropped to see how quickly food disappears from the shelves when there is panic or supply chain disruption. As frustrating as it is, I think it is a good reminder to be ready for anything.

Being ready and prepared allows for the ability to help not only yourself but also friends and neighbors. It is a worthy cause, in my opinion.

Most of the long lasting produce was gone!

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Liz February 21, 2021 - 5:48 pm

Congratulations on week #100! I found your blog a few months ago, read a bunch of old posts, and have been keeping up on it ever since. I enjoy your writing and your approach to seasonal eating, and look forward to following your new homestead adventure. Keep writing!

theseasonalhomestead February 22, 2021 - 1:20 pm

Thank you Liz!

Kathy February 23, 2021 - 11:18 pm

Congratulations on the milestone! This has been a wild winter for sure. We heat our home with wood so we can stay cozy when we lose power (which we do, a lot, for some reason) but the water is the real difficulty. I felt terrible for everyone down South. I love the design of your new home, its beautiful!

theseasonalhomestead February 24, 2021 - 12:36 pm

Thank you Kathy!


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