It's cold this morning. It snowed last night, just a dusting, but snow none the less. The sun is up and it looks like it's going to be a nice day. I open the dampers and stock the stove. I set up the coffee pot and start a pot of tea. I probably should have gotten up earlier and gone out hunting. I'm sure it's too late for moose though, maybe a bird run later. I sit by the fire and read while the house warms.
Husband gets up about the same time as the coffee is ready. He's complaining about being hungry. I rarely made breakfast when we had power, so I don't know what makes him think I'm going to start now. I start three batches of bread on the table. I am going to miss my kitchen aid. Hopefully the makeshift oven will work well.
The boys get up and look around for food. They find apples and cookies- breakfast of champions. It'll work for today anyway. I guess I am going to have to start cooking breakfast. Or at least organizing it.
We talk about what to do today. I figure we should go into town and see if we can get feed and propane. Husband agrees. Just the two of us go, on quads. The boys stay home to do chores, and the Bigs promise to do some reading with the Littles.
It takes a lot longer to get to town on quads. The feed store is closed, but the owners live right there, so they help us out with what we need. They let us charge our order until the power comes back on. That's incredibly helpful. I get 3 bags of dog food, 2 bags of cat food, 6 bags of corn and the last four bags of duck feed. I grab a couple of salt blocks and a bottle of penicillin too, just to be safe. My trailer is heavily loaded. Without future gas prospects though, who knows if we'll get another chance to come here, or when they'll be able to restock.
At the store I buy 2 bottles of propane a bottle of vodka and a bottle of rum. There are some advantages to living in a one store town. Everyone is milling around, talking about the black out. It seems everyone is ok, and of course fairly well stocked at home. There are several baskets of fruit and veggies available. Local farmers and gardeners are sharing their late season produce. Without refrigeration it won't last long.
I ask if the library is open or if it has any books left. It closed down a couple of years ago due to finances, but was housed on the side of the firehall. Someone says that's a good idea, we all have time to read these days. A bunch of us walk down there, but no one is around. Someone goes to get a fireman friend, and they come back with a key. They open up the building, but there isn't much inside, mostly empty shelves. The books must have been shipped to the larger towns. I suggest we start our own library. I have lots of books at home, but they won't last long in this situation. I can drop them off when I finish reading them, and if others would do the same we could all enjoy more books. Everyone there agrees, and I'm sure word will spread. The firemen agree to leave the door unlocked so people can come and go as they please.
We talk to several people, and find out that the radio station went out yesterday. Almost everyone heats with wood, so cooking and heating aren't serious worries right now. People are worried about plumbing and water. There's a port-a-potty in the park which everyone seems to be using. I hear it's getting very raunchy. Husband suggests they start building outhouses on the outskirts of town. A few men seem to think it's a good idea. What's the worst that would happen? Fields get free fertilizer later? We all laugh. Water though is a more serious issue. Most people are walking to the river for water, but it's a long trek, and no one seems to have realized how much water they use every day.
We go home with my trailer loaded. It was good to get out and visit a bit. Now we have feed to store. I keep it in the bins in the work shop, and set all my mice traps. The chipmunks and squirrels are going to have to work harder for their grain now. The propane goes in the garage.
In the house the boys and I roll out the bread. We have a bit of leftover soup for lunch, then decide to get firewood. Husband and I take our guns, my trailer, the brown trailer, a bucket, and pop bottles. Husband gets the 'spare' quad running, so all of the boys come with us, 2 on a quad. We fill the water bottles at the creek again, get sand in the bush, and 2 loads of firewood.
It starts snowing again in the afternoon. It seems the birds are going to wait this one out, we don't see a single one. We're tired and wet when we get back to the house. I hope this isn't winter setting in already. Although it would help with the water situation. Melting snow is much easier than hauling water.
I still need a water filter. There's some old PVC pipe behind the garage. The boys help me find a piece about three feet long. I dig out our old fish tank supplies in the garage, and grab the activated charcoal. I'm not sure if it was used or not, so I take it in the house, pour it in a pan, set up the oven on the woodstove, and pop it in to reactivate. The bread has risen well, so I pop a couple of loaves in with it.
#4 gets a shovel and starts scooping fresh, clean snow into the buckets we were using to collect rain water. #1 brings them in as they're filled.
I check the freezers, and they're holding up well. This weather will keep things frozen for a bit. I grab a package of chicken legs for supper, and a bear roast to thaw for tomorrow.
It's time for the bread to come out. It's kind of crispy on the bottom, but otherwise looks good. I place my cooling rack on top of the stove, in the oven, for the second batch. Hopefully the extra air flow will keep the crust lighter.
The charcoal is out of the oven as well. #3 has gathered up some rocks from the driveway. I put them in the oven with this batch of bread to sterilize (I hope).
I wash out the PVC pipe and cover one end of with some material, holding it in place with elastics. I get a pan of sand ready to pop in the oven with the last batch of bread. Husband looks at the pipe, wondering what I'm doing.
He goes to the garage and I hear the generator start. I figure if he's going to keep doing that, I should have things set up to charge. I ask #2 to pull a power bar off of one of the computers and take it outside to plug into the generator. I tell him to take the flashlights and charger out as well. I wish we had rechargeable lights for in the house. Oh! "Get the solar lights out of the garden shed." That'll help. I'm not sure how long my candle supply will last.
I put the chicken legs in a cast iron pan. The broiler pans I normally use are too big to fit in the oven door, and I don't want to be lifting the hot oven while they're cooking. Then I put tomorrow's roast in a pan with some water and season it. I get the doggy stew pot ready to cook as well.
The second batch of bread turns out better than the first. I put in the third batch with the sand. Husband comes in with a 2X4 stand for the pipe. I hadn't even thought of that.
Once the third batch of bread is done, and I pull the sand out, I remove the oven, restock the stove and start the chicken cooking. The boys have prepared a pan of potatoes as well.
I pour the sand in the pipe first, then add a wad of material. Next the charcoal, and another wad of material. Finally, the rocks go in, and another wad of material. Husband connects the pipe to the stand while I wash a bucket. Now it's time to test it. I pour the spring water that we heated last night in until the pipe is full. It slowly drips out into the bucket. It looks a little mucky at first, and then starts dripping through clear. I empty the bucket, wash it out and start over. This time it's all clear as it comes through. I keep adding water as supper cooks, fill another pot with snow to melt and boil, and set the solar lights in the sunroom windows to charge.
Husband sends #2 out for another bucket- this one for the bathroom. We use far too much water to gravity flush, even with letting the yellow mellow. I wish I had bought a chemical toilet. No borrowing mom and dad's now, as they're using it themselves. We're going to have to build an outhouse as well. Or at least dig a big hole. Taking the bucket to their place to dump in the outhouse every day is going to be a long walk. We decide over by the garden will be the best place- away from the well and septic tiles. The Bigs decide to start digging while supper's cooking. The Littles go out and do chores. They fill one of the rain barrels with snow.
I call everyone in for supper. A jar of beets is our vegetable tonight. I wash dishes after supper. The boys and husband play cards. I go to bed with a solar light and a book. It sucks for reading. I light a candle.