Saturday, March 19, 2011

Power Outage

Sunday afternoon around 3:30, Tim was napping with the TV on, and I was working on our food storage list in Excel. Outside suddenly got very dark and windy and the power “blinked”. That was all the warning I needed. I quickly shut down and unplugged the computer and woke Tim up. We have had some bad experiences with power spikes in this old house so we also unplugged the TV.

I told him we better have a plan on how to keep those Chicks alive if we lose power. Thirty seconds later – boom – no power. (The wind was fierce and I was concerned about the trees coming down, but the storm only lasted about five minutes and then all was calm. Of course the rain never stopped, this is Oregon you know :) )

We flew down the stairs to the brooder with flashlights in hand. Those babies were already huddled in the corner. It almost broke my heart. (Now how on earth will I ever EAT one of those chickens? Ain’t never gonna happen unless there is NO OTHER WAY TO SURVIVE!) Anyway, back to the power, or lack of. Tim got one of the small generators going and plugged the heat lamp into it. Those were ten happy little chicks!

We had plans to go to the neighbor’s house to make beef sticks. They have the equipment and we were pleased to find out that we could operate it manually. I knew the chicks were out of danger so we drove down the road and spent about an hour and a half making beef sticks for the first time. It really was enjoyable. I will post some pictures later.

When we got home I decided this was a perfect opportunity to sit by the window and read a book. But all too soon there wasn’t enough light left so I gave up.

Throughout the experience I learned some things. First of all, we weren’t nearly as prepared as I thought we were, simply because things were scattered all over. We (don’t you love how I take credit for things) had already hooked up the other small generator to the Traeger BBQ which requires electricity to run. That’s when, to our dismay, we learned that the heating element had gone out. Tim had to round up one of the propane camping stoves and some propane. This took awhile because the stove was out in the 5th wheel trailer and the propane was in the barn, and of course it was dark, cold, and raining. I realized we need to have a place where things are kept together and that is conveniently located.

Then I learned that I need more of a light source than just a flashlight. I think I will invest in some hurricane lamps and lamp oil. I hate the thought of burning anything inside the house but if circumstances call for extremes I think I would be more than grateful to have the light source.

I also learned that if you loan your neighbor one of your generators, you don’t give them the only one that will power your well, refrigerator, and freezer. Duh! Our neighbor’s have an infant and a toddler. They learned that their generator was too small to run their pellet stove, so we loaned them our big one. One of our small ones would have worked perfectly fine for their stove. Duh, again!

I set my battery operated alarm clock for midnight. We figured that would be about the time to gas up the generator for the chicks heat lamp. Then I learned I do not have warm enough blankets for a power outage in the winter/spring. We have a wood burning fireplace insert that heats our house nicely, but it relies on electricity to run the fans. Another Duh moment! In a summertime outage we could go sleep in the 5th wheel, but right now it is winterized and “put to bed” for the season.

Shortly after Tim got up to refill the generator the power came back on. In all it was 9 hours without power. Lot’s of lessons learned. Lot’s of changes to make! Hopefully we will be better prepared next time.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I bought five gallon of kerosene and several lanterns and oil lamps to provide reading light. I also buy all the candles I find at the thrift stores.
    So far we haven't needed them, but (knocking on wood) you never know.
    Please visit my website: - I wrote a post about emergency lighting during the inevitable power outages. I live in Bend, so I am familiar with the potential for sitting around in the dark!

  2. Wow...Sounds like you guys had quite the day. It's good that you can learn lessons without having to go through the loss of *(insert here)*

    I'm not a big fan of lamps and oil either. I've wondered about those solar lamps though? Lots of people use them camping

  3. Can never have too many ways to cook. We have a regular gas BBQ (which desperately needs cleaning), a small gas camping cooker with 2kg bottle and recently got a small cooker that runs on butane. My partner has now stolen that for when they go fishing and can pull up on a bank and easily cook, so now have to buy another.

    So many lessons learned from such a small emergency, these are the things that help prepare us for the big stuff :)

  4. Good insights, I'm going to get after my hubs to better organize our lanterns and camp stoves. Thanks!

  5. Those are great lessons! (Is it wrong that I kind of wish for a TEMPORARY power outtage just so I find the holes in my preps?)

    For lighting, I have mostly flashlights. I don't like candles or lamps because of the fire risk. In a post fecal matter + fan scenario, I am sure firefighters will have more to worry about than my burning house.

    I have been stocking up on some LED lanterns, though. Not a great glow, but better than a plain flashlight. I've found some that run off AA batteries. If I ever invest in a solar battery charger, at least I'll have light for a while. I have also been thinking about looking into solar lights, too. They're cheap right now because it's the season stores are selling them.


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