Monday, September 27, 2010

Emergencies, and why we aren't as prepared as we think we are...

This weekend was a big eye opener for my family and I.  Friday night we lost power, due to the unusually high winds sending an unusually high number of trees into the power lines.  No big deal, right?  We've weathered lots of power outages before!  They never last more than a few hours, and we have lots of candles and blankets.

Saturday morning came, and we were still without power.  Hmm.  We don't own a generator.  The 6 year old keeps forgetting to NOT flush the toilet, and now we have no water.  Should we try to find a generator?  Nah, the power will surely be back on in a few hours!

Saturday night, still no power.  DON"T OPEN THE FREEZER!!!  I have hundreds of dollars worth of food in the freezer, and if it thaws out, we're in trouble.  And its getting really cold in here.  Its 36 degrees outside.

Sunday morning, still no power.  The house is very cold, and everything in the refrigerator is spoiled, including all the green beans I just harvested from the garden and hadn't had a chance to process yet.  Husband decided that we have to get a generator NOW.  Off to town we go, and had to look at 6 stores to find one.  Imagine that, we weren't the only ones who decided we should get one!  $800.00 later, we're on our way home, sure that the power will be on now that we spent all that money.  Thank God we aren't burdened by credit cards any longer and had money in savings to pay cash.

What the Hell?!  Now its SNOWING!!!

Back at home, the power still isn't on, so we get the generator running, and get the fridge, freezer and furnace plugged in by running extension cords through the kitchen window..  No well pump, as we aren't wired to switch it easily to generator power.  If it was colder out, the well lines would all be frozen by now.  We all took baby-wipe baths and snuggled in to watch a movie on the little TV that we plugged into the generator.  If we hadn't gotten the generator, the freezers would be thawing by now. 

We ran the generator all night last night.  At 5:15 the alarm went off.  Time for Rob to get ready for work.  UGH.  But then, a flash and a buzz, and on came the power!  Yahoo!!!  It was off for a total of 60 hours.  If we hadn't left early Sunday to get the generator, they would have been all sold out and we would have been out of luck.

Top 5 things I learned from this ordeal...

1. Canning my produce, and even as much meat as I can, is a very good idea.  The freezer is not a dependable food storage solution.

2. This is ALASKA.  You need backup power.  Dependable back up power.  And you need the house wired for that backup power.

3. Kids get scared when the power goes off, even if they say they are fine.

4. Have emergency funds.  Since we don't have credit cards (thank God) we would have been in a much worse situation if we had no way to buy the generator and emergency food and fuel.

5. I want a woodstove.  You can heat with it AND cook with it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First frost, but still harvesting!

It officially frosted here for the first time last night.  There was a very thin sheet of ice on the windshield this morning, and the temp read 33.8 when I woke up.  Realizing that I still had green beans to pick, I made my way out to the garden as soon as the sun warmed things up a bit, expecting the worst.  I was delighted to find most of the green beans still in pristine condition!  I pulled each plant, one by one, and picked all the beans off, setting the bare plant to the side.  I plan on letting the plants wither a bit, then I will chop them up and till them back into the soil to provide some added nourishment to next years squash plants.  I picked about 3 quarts of green beans in all!  And as an added bonus, I got about 30 small tomatoes that were still thriving as well (green, of course).

I still have 2 large cabbages to pick, a few brussels sprouts, and lots of kale and turnip greens.  They all do fine with a little frost, so I will hold off a bit longer for them.

So, how do I feel about the success of this years garden?  Over all, things went very well!  I will grow more green beans next year for sure, and lots of summer squash, although the squash will NOT be under plastic.  It just got too humid, especially with all the rain we had, and the mold ruined what could have been a bumper crop.  Tomatoes and cucumbers will be back in the greenhouse next year, where they belong.  I will grow fewer cabbages, lots more broccoli and turnips, and plenty of spinach and kale.  I will NOT be growing brussels sprouts next year, or eggplant.  I think I will try artichokes as my experimental crop, and potatoes are on the list as well.

Are you still harvesting from your garden?  What has been your biggest success/failure this year?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You know its fall when...

The pumpkins have arrived at the grocery store!  I got so excited when I walked into the produce section today, and of course I had to take one home!  Tonight's dinner is featuring roasted pumpkin, eggplant and brussels sprouts.  This stuff is so good I can't begin to describe it here.  The sweetness of the pumpkin goes so beautifully with the eggplant, and roasted brussels sprouts will complement almost anything!  I LOVE fall time!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Great Day in the Garden!

I plopped Lily in the stroller today, determined to get some vegetables out of the garden before the first frost, which I anticipate to be any day. 

None of the tomatoes were red, but I picked them anyway, as one frost will destroy them, and they ripen quite nicely on the counter top anyway.  

 There were many more cucumbers than I expected, even several hiding amongst the tomatoes!  

 And the greenbeans, ah, the greenbeans...  I got a ton, and left a ton, figuring that I will probably get one more harvest out of them.

I also have 3 more cabbages to harvest, as well as turnip greens and lots of kale.  The brussels sprouts are very small, and don't expect much of a return on them, but we will at least get a few!  The chard is growing now, which is interesting, since it didn't grow an inch all summer!  The peas are ready to harvest again too, which I will do in a few days.  All in all, I would say that this garden has been rather successful, considering it is only year 1.  Next year will be that much better!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sustainable Aloha!

I just got back from a weekend trip to Maui, and one of the things that really struck me was the attitude of the businesses there.  There were recycling bins everywhere, and people really seemed to understand the importance of naturals and organics.  The shops had large organic food sections, and sustainability was a common theme on things such as t-shirts and bags, and other touristy type stuff.  I can't help but think that if the businesses around here would follow the same path, we would see more of a change in attitude of the locals here too.  Its so much easier to live this way when you aren't constantly battling the opposite message!  Hawaii has got it right, folks.  Be it for health, wellness, concern over the planet, or just because you feel this is the way we were meant to live, give yourself some little daily reminders, around the house or work, or even in the car!  If you see it often, it will come more naturally!