Max De Pree (1997). “Leading Without Power”
Usually, writers look for something deeper, more provocative, behind a statement or allusion. In this case, I am taking the above quotation as MORE literal than it is even meant.
Everyone knows about the big ‘bomb cyclone’ (whatever that silly new term is meant to connote) that hit the Eastern Seaboard the last two days and carried us maniacally (like Chevy upturning Richard in the pony-sleigh when a snow plow rumbled past) into 2018.
However, we at Blue Belldon Farm felt we were prepared. We are NOT even close to being off-grid as yet, but we have come to learn some valuable lessons. Although we often lose electric power for a day or two after a distant summer thunderstorm, or a cluster of heavy autumn winds, for some reason, we rarely lose power in the depths of winter. And thank goodness for that, as of course it can be deadly for both man and beast! Thus, when we hear of an approaching storm, we fill up all the saved plastic milk and juice jugs with water, put water in the bathtub, get the fire burning hot, put the animals and vehicles in the garage/barn, make sure the candles and matches are on hand, and the oil lamps filled, and put Richard’s long johns out with his jeans and battery-operated socks.
But this year, the reason we truly felt prepared for a big blow-out storm, was that Richard and his brother from Saint John, Jean-Marc, spent a long weekend in early November purchasing and hooking up a massive generator to our most necessary electric appliances (ie: water pump, some of Mom’s upstairs heat, her toaster oven and hot plate, the electronic large garage doors – also needed to get the animals out front – and our back-up oil furnace that is meant to come on if our wood furnace goes cold.)
This meant a great deal of time was spent with both brothers in the basement installing an additional panel and rearranging some of the old farmhouse’s fuses, wiring, etc.
It also meant a great deal of time was spent with one in the basement and one elsewhere in the house or barn, shouting back and forth on the two-way (the Reich boys never speak quietly together ; whether they are in the same room, speaking on the phone, or in this case, on walkie-talkies, shouting is imperative to add the needed drama. I suspect this habit began in early childhood).
It was so kind of Jean-Marc to drive all the way up here WITH the massive generator in his wee car, and to spend all his time on this big project which theoretically, could save lives – or at least an awful lot of discomfort! Making some good wholesome meals for the two of them was the least I could do.
Cammie, on the other hand, felt that the least SHE could do was some ‘photo-bombing’, to use yet another new ‘bomb’ term.
With the exclusion of Mom and the cat, however, it seems that all the rest of the Blue Belldon residents were outside at this time!
Anyway, the generator is a complicated affair. I was given some lessons on how to ‘fire it up’ in case it was ever my responsibility. And of course, I no longer remember a single phrase… I believe I was promised some hand-written user-friendly instructions to follow but these have yet to materialise…
After Jean-Marc left that long weekend, Richard built a platform (old pallets) and a wooden box for the generator to rest near the side of the house. This was then hooked up to a small solar panel that will keep its battery charged so it is ready and willing when we need it! When the snow first started near the end of Nov., he then put a tarp over it.
The box Richard built is about 3 ft. 3″ square. This is the box today:
The little solar panel and the big outlet for the generator’s plug into the basement is above our basement window, which of course has completely disappeared after this latest storm. If we did lose power now, some more of this is in order:
That’s poor icicle-stached Richard in his brother’s old ‘stand-out-in-any-crowd’ snowmobile duds just a few minutes ago. It’s good to wear fluorescents in case you get lost in a large drift and need to be heli-vac’d out! Actually, he already had a lot of this shovelling to do this morning, because he felt the 7ft. high windowed ‘man’ door beside where the animals go in and out to the corral should be shovelled out for them to allow more light into the barn. With the drifting, it was almost completely covering the top of the door (window). This was kind of him – personally, I think because they can take themselves in and out to the corral when they please, they can get their ‘light’ that way, but now they can be inside and still have natural light (they do always have an energy efficient light bulb on back in there as well, so it’s never completely dark).
I took these during the storm – you’d never know there were big Appalachian mountains just the other side of those yard trees, would you? And you can’t even SEE the road out front. For 27 hours, not one single car went by on our road. Just the good old plow, about every 4 hours, all night and all day… bless those plow drivers!
And Mom/Joy took this one yesterday. While both her car and our truck were in the garage (front of barn), the wind was so powerful it blew (just under the one tiny .5cm crack between the big overhead door and the ground) all the standing-upright snow you see here, as Richard raises the big door. So that was INSIDE the closed-up barn!
Many people’s houses were also affronted by the blown-in snow. A friend of mine north-east of us had her entire closed-in porch full of snow:
But, there’s always gotta be irony – for all the extra N.B. Power employees that were put on call for this storm, we in the northern part of the province never lost power at all! Instead, poor Jean-Marc and those in Saint John and points south – they had ALL the snow and winds, then freezing rain and flooding – torrential flooding! Loss of power, loss of homes, businesses, etc… In the case of THIS storm, this was absolutely true:
By mid-week we should be experiencing warmer temps, so Richard hopes to get Chevy (perhaps having to ride him bareback with his harness on to get through the snow drifts?) out to the woods to drag in some more logs. And he and I have been hard at work the last 2 weeks finally redoing the kitchen pantry to be better organized, cleaner, more accessible and to blend in better with our old pine hutch that stands beside it. So next week’s blog has many popular ‘before and after’ shots (from right back when we first took over the house), plus tips and how-tos for you diy’ers and fans of Vintage Farmhouse renos. Here’s a tease: