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Digging out, and digging in

December 26, 2008

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I just want to say that I am overwhelmed with everyone’s kind comments and well wishes.  Thank you so much.  Community is community no matter how near or far.  Thank all of you, and any research that turns out fruitful will be shared here.

We’re still just plugging away, it snowed overnight and then we had a spot of sun and a little melting before it turned to snow again this afternoon.  But, this is the end of the snow, it will rain all week and be in the mid 40’s, which will feel downright balmy. 

The hens have gone crazy, they were down to 3 eggs a day, before the snow started piling up.  Then every time we cleaned the snow off of their brooder/greenhouse shelter, they cackled like there was a massacre going on.  To make matters worse, once the snow got deep enough for the dogs to get up high to “help” us, the hens were sure the dogs now could fly and attack from the air.  So the chickens have been on edge, although very safe – but apparently they have decided to start eating eggs.  I don’t have time to catch the culprit, so all I got today was 1  yolk covered egg.  Maddening.

Let’s see any other bad news?  Oh yeah, I almost forgot, Della’s early Christmas present to me – she came in heat the other day.  I knew when I was drinking my morning coffee, and I saw her peeking out of the barn looking quite shameless, and much too alert for early morning.  I had decided if she didn’t settle, I would just wait until we have a bull here for our beef cows.  I have no desire to have a cow calving in the fall or winter, so waiting will put her on a spring schedule.  If she doesn’t settle with a bull, then I will cross that bridge when I get there.

On to some good news.  Despite the destroyed greenhouses, we still had a great Christmas.

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A totally homegrown and homecooked meal.  We had ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, winter squash, and german red cabbage.  No dessert except applesauce.  

I got a great antique milk scale, and some new Fiesta and a couple of Hershey bars 🙂   We never did get a tree, but we didn’t even miss it, and now, I definitely won’t miss putting all the decorations away.  We felt pretty thankful, we had heat, lots of great food and forgot about what was outside for a while.

I guess what this past storm has brought to the forefront of my mind is not so much that we aren’t bullet proof in a storm like this, but we that have it much easier than most, despite the hard physical work we do.  We love our electricity and the luxuries it provides us, but we had heat, hot and cold water on demand, and a cookstove to cook any kind of meal we so desired.  Our well stocked larders for us, and our animals kept this from being a hardship, despite how much harder the deep snow and lack of lights at night made it seem.  In Portland it was a different story.  With the major east/west interstate highway being closed, trucks carrying needed fuel, food and other supplies were stranded.  This storm was short really, and it was shocking that gasoline was getting in short supply.  The day of the snow storm is not a good time to buy tire chains.  But people were annoyed with the disruption of their easy lives, and that the tire companies did not have enough snow chains to go around.  I’m sure with the economy the way it is, the capital investment in a large stock of tire chains is beyond most companies.  I think the stores could have easily been cleaned out of food and necessities had the storm lasted longer.  That is a sad state of affairs – even McAdoo’s won’t have food if the Golden State Foods truck can’t get through.  But the media portrayed this as a fun white Christmas, irritating because people could not go shopping, and oh what a bummer, the skiers were having a hard time getting to the slopes.  Could those semi’s just pull off and let the skiers and snow boarders get by?  I mean really, they have to get the obligatory shredding done, and get back to town – COME ON MANNNNN, MOVE THAT TRUCK!!!  (insert Ty Pennington bull horn screeching here)  Personally, HD had to go to work in inclement weather to plow roads, and assist people with frozen pipes, etc., in the city he works for.  Seeing people wanting help that start out for the ski slopes with no chains on their tires, and inadequate clothing asking for help is annoying.  I think times haven’t got hard enough yet, for people to realize just how they are on the verge of maybe living a life that won’t be so easy, and this storm helped me see just how out touch with reality most people still are.

I don’t know what the answer is, or if there is an answer.  I’m glad for all the hard work we put in this growing season, stocking up on foodstuffs to take us and our animals through the winter.   I’m grateful for our time spent on firewood that allows us to cook and keep warm, even that nourishes our weary souls after a hard day.  And after sending HD out in bad weather to help other people, I’m sad that the linemen who restored our power had to leave their families during the holiday.
If you aren’t growing your own food, say a prayer for the dairyman, the vegetable grower, the trucker that delivers food and fuel, and the store that makes it available to you almost every day of the year.  Every job along the line is as important as the one before it and after it – be thankful, not irritated at a delay or short supply.  And stock up your pantry and be prepared for… .

20 Comments leave one →
  1. December 27, 2008 12:43 am

    I haven’t been online as much the past few days. I am glad that you guys are hanging in there. It’s been one tough fall/winter for so many people. Just remember to ask for help if you get overwhelmed! It keeps you sane in this crazy world.

  2. December 27, 2008 3:56 am

    Such true words. I’m so sorry to hear of your greenhouses and struggles. Maine just survived another big icestorm, with thousands out of power for many days. I’d been through a similar storm before, and vowed I’d be prepared next time, and I was. But so many people aren’t, and put others at risk for less than urgent needs. I am so thankful for the lineman, plow drivers and others who look out for us, even when we don’t deserve it.

    I hope you recover well and have an easier time for the remaining winter!

  3. December 27, 2008 4:28 am

    So sorry to see your greenhouses. So much work get it all back together again…..

    Always the question of how well to build, what storms to prepare for. Overbuild and you sleep well at night and can get thru anything, but it’s expensive, harder work and potentially wasteful.
    Underbuild and you may regret it.

    I so agree that people are almost ridiculously out of touch with food, energy and how to deal with emergencies. So unaware of what can go wrong and how quickly it can happen. Always thinking they are a cell phone call away from comfort and rescue.
    I wonder what will happen if a big disaster hits – how long will people continue to be civil, who will end up getting what they need, what will happen to those who have to do without?

  4. December 27, 2008 5:52 am

    I’m glad you were able to enjoy your christmas and enjoy a yummy dinner.
    I’m sorry about Della…..neither of the two heifers I had bred AI settled either. I was really dissapointed 😦 Now the quest to find a bull.

    Self sufficiency is security that many people never acquire. All the comforts that we enjoy day to day are great but knowing that we can live without them is the best security of all.

    I have my moments during spring, summer & fall when I wonder why I need to work so hard. When winter arrives and a nor’easter rolls in, I’m so thankful that we persisted toward our goals and stocked our pantry, freezers and woodshed like you.

    I hope your weather continues to improve – it’s absolutely bazaar here. Freezing rain today, 55 degrees tomorrow. We are going to need an ark 🙂

  5. December 27, 2008 5:53 am

    awesome, I’m proud of ya. 🙂

  6. December 27, 2008 6:48 am

    We never got a tree this year either. There’s something so wonderful about simple holidays though. We had a small simple meal with my family and we all opened a few homemade or regifted items. Always fun to see what someone found in their home that they thought you would like – all were perfect!

    Hope the chickens start laying soon!

  7. December 27, 2008 7:16 am

    Glad to hear you had a warm, filling holiday, Nita.

    I hope you dig out soon, and show us your multipronged Plan B (and C and D) in time. Poor Della, poor stressed-out chickens. Happy dogs though!

  8. December 27, 2008 9:13 am

    I just recently subscribed to your blog. I’m enjoying it. My family and I live on 57 acres in South-Central Kentucky and are on a path to increased sustainability and greater self-sufficiency. It’s nice having the stores and supplies to face utility disruptions or other weather-induced emergencies, but there are many blessings in doing so beyond the preparedness. What our children are learning through this living adventure could never be taught elsewhere. What a blessing it is to live, work, and play together surrounded by God’s beautiful creation and being in touch with the agrarian roots of our lives.

  9. December 27, 2008 10:41 am

    I called my husband in to look at your snow photos because they were beautiful, then we saw the damage! I’m sorry about your greenhouses but really pleased to know you and your husband and animals are fine.

  10. December 27, 2008 10:44 am

    I am so glad to see your post today. Living in east Texas we never get any snow, so I am amazed at how sufficient your family is. The pioneer spirit lives on!

    We do get tornadoes and had a lot of trees downed from the last hurricane, but nothing like what you are going through. My chickens stop laying when anything changes. We are fine without power and can survive, just not a lot of snow.

    Your pictures are amazing. I keep you in my prayers. I think of the people that can not survive, especially the elderly. Blessings.

  11. December 27, 2008 11:01 am

    So sorry to read about the greenhouse collapses!! No one expected the dump of snow that fell this quickly. But, you’re right – people are not prepared to look after themselves anymore. I’ve been snowed in for the last week because my residential roads are impassible without 4 wheel drive even though I’m in the city. But, I have full cupboards, freezer & fridge & stockpile so I can look after myself.

    It’s the chickens I feel sorry for though. They see the whole world going topsy turvey with big ghosts attacking from the sky . . . . it’s a wonder any of them are producing eggs!!

    I haven’t been following you for very long but I’ll be interested in your next projects – I don’t need to wish you a Happy New Year – I just know you’ll be making one of your own!!!

  12. December 27, 2008 11:11 am

    You’ll get through it Nita ! Might even laugh about it in the FAR future 😉 Just don’t get stuck in a snowdrift somewhere.

  13. December 27, 2008 1:33 pm

    I am glad we preserved/stored/ and froze all that we did this past growing season. I am also thankful for the meat we put up (we just got our hams and bacon…so exciting). It is SO rewarding. We just need some cows and the farm will complete! I recently read a a two part post on setting up a pantry on Touch of Earth and I think that will be one of my next adventures. I love not having to go to the store for extended amounts of time. I contribute most of what I’ve done to all my blogging mentors (YOU). You inspire me to do more.

  14. December 27, 2008 7:29 pm

    Wonderful post, Nita. In our area, a rural agricultural area, people are just as out of touch with their food supply and with nature. It’s disturbing.

    Sorry about Della. That’s a bummer.

  15. December 28, 2008 8:33 am

    I’m glad everyone is ok! Hope the snow clears for you soon!!

  16. December 28, 2008 10:41 pm

    LatigoLiz, thanks, no truer words have been spoken. I know you guys are getting hammered too.

    Ali, thank you and I hope your weather doesn’t continue to create such a hardship for you guys. We can’t complain too much about losing power, it was only for about 4 -5 days on and off.

    EJ, thank you, probably the clean up will be worse than the rebuild. Time to get out the sawzall! What’s depressing are the steps backward.

    We don’t even own a cell phone, HD has to carry one when he is on call, for a week at a time. It is like having a tiger in a cage that has to be watched. We dread the phone call, even if it never comes, you are edge.

    I do worry if times get tougher, some people are barely civil now, let alone if basic necessities are in short supply.

    Debi, I’m not telling Della about your heifers. Although I can see why she prefers the old fashioned way. Our AI leaves something to be desired 😉

    Those are good goals you have! Sure keeps you warm and well fed during your long Maine winters!

    I hope your weather evens out for you, we’re getting rain now, thank heavens!

    Joanna, thank you.

    Susy, your celebration sounds like ours. Just a few gifts, all useful, and most regifted, except my candy bar stash 😉

    I got three eggs today, so I guess the strike is over!

    El, yeah that’s us meat and potatoes, Burpppp.

    I don’t think Della is too upset about being foot loose and fancy free. I mean really, she’s probably 51 or something in people years! Who would want to be pregnant at that age 😉

    Arrghh – I have to figure out how to get to those coles – a ladder maybe?? The doors are sprung, so it will be interesting.

    dp, thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to reading about your homestead in KY!

    What you say is true, you can’t learn all this from a book, most homesteading, self-reliant skills are hands on. Best to you.

    Rhonda Jean, thank you and all that is bruised is our egos’

    Finding Pam, thank you, gee our snow storm is nothing as severe as a hurricane! I know what you mean, we feel very fortunate, many people have it so much worse. Thanks again.

    Sharon in Surrey, thank you, the chickens have forgotten about last week and are back to being their chicken selves. The extra daylight helps, without their greenhouse roof being covered in snow.

    The roads have cleared today, so no more chains. We couldn’t survive here without the 4 wheel drive, we needed chains and 4WD to get around except on foot.

    Linda, lucky for us we don’t get drifts – no wind! We sit in a “special” place, no Columbia Gorge wind, so the snow stays here instead of getting recycled. 🙂

    Kim, thanks, for your always kind comments 🙂 I’m worried about the MM though, grumbling about the weather, aren’t you guys from Maine? You guys are a tough breed – hope your weather isn’t too severe this winter.

    I love not going to the store, I’m not much a shopper anymore. It is too frustrating. Plus home grown tastes so much better!

    Sarah, thanks I know what you mean. We have “neighbors” who raise cattle, and they won’t eat their own beef, because the wife thinks it is bad for them. They are all overweight from eating processed, and diet foods. They try to garden but, it is too much effort. Meanwhile they just get more and more obese, and dependent on the store. Most of their health problems would disappear if they ate better, and if they ate better, they would lose weight. But, it is too hard to explain what is so simple to see…

    Maria, thanks, it is raining and in the 40’s, so it is melting fast. 🙂

  17. December 29, 2008 8:54 am

    If you would like an old fashion way of stopping chickens from eating eggs (and has worked for me)…is to blow out one or two eggs, fill with liquid dish soap. You don’t have to use lots, but use enough that when the hen pecks into the egg she will get a mouth full. Seal the ends with glue or a tiny piece of cork, and wait.

    It doesn’t hurt the hen (just makes for some very runny poop). After a couple of times of eating soap, they stop and never do it again.

    You may NOT want to try this, but I have save my eggs this way.

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com/

  18. December 30, 2008 8:37 pm

    Linda, they did quit eating the eggs, but I’m going to try that tip if it happens again. thanks!

  19. December 31, 2008 8:16 am

    “They try to garden but, it is too much effort.”

    Have you heard of Dave Ramsey? He’s a ‘get out of debt’ guru and one of his common statements is that when you’re trying to get out of debt, you need to live on ‘rice and beans and beans and rice’. His business advertises a meal planning email and one of their selling points is “Who has time to garden?”

    Le sigh.

  20. January 5, 2009 3:13 pm

    I was reading some of your older posts (new to your blog) and was struck by something you said…

    quote – “I think times haven’t got hard enough yet, for people to realize just how they are on the verge of maybe living a life that won’t be so easy, and this storm helped me see just how out touch with reality most people still are.”

    My husband and I have spent many evenings wondering why people don’t seem to ‘get’ that we have some hard times ahead….especially if we don’t make some big changes in our food decisions. I know so many people whose biggest worry seems to be the price of gas…not what the future will be like if we have to actually live without it.

    Thanks for the post.

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