Sunday, April 17, 2011

an off-grid morning

Wind storms took out the power early this morning. I was shaking and straining my way through a BIggest Loser Weight-Loss Yoga DVD in the kitchen, and was never more grateful for a blackout then when Bob disappeared instantly (a girl can only do so many plank-pose pushups). I needed the break.

My guest, Erin, was still asleep upstairs. I didn't want her waking up to a dark house without warm food or hot coffee, so I did what any proper homesteader would do. I turned to my wood stove. I fired it up and set a cast-iron skillet on top of it with a pat of butter. Then I grabbed some eggs from the hens and scrambled them while the stove-top percolator water heated up. I poured some whole coffee beans into my hand-cranked grinder and within moments a hot meal with protein-and-caffeine a plenty was sizzlin' on the metal top. I turned on the radio (battery powered with a hand-crank option) and soon NPR was sharing all the latest goings-on. Not bad for a house without a working outlet.

I'm not an extremist when it comes to all this emergancy/survivalist gear but I have noticed that the more I get into homesteading and self-sufficiency the less interested I am in buying things I need to plug in to do the same job as something that doesn't have a plug and simply does it slower. It may have taken twenty minutes to make some eggs and drink a hot cup of coffee today, but there were eggs and coffee. I like knowing my plan A also works as plan B. I'll take the trade off of time and effort for reliability.

And plan B is getting pretty exciting this week... Tuesday afternoon the people at Vermont Wood Stove are bringing over another woodtove for the farm and I am *really* excited to have a hearth in the living room again. Having a warm fireplace in the space I read and relax in while the snow falls outside is true comfort to me. Primal comfort. This stove actually does it all. It has both a firebox heat and a lower oven section for roasting, baking, and cooking. I love the idea that even in a blizzard without power I could crank out warm bread or a roast chicken if the woodpile was high enough. Now I just need to save up the money for the chimney! It will be a few months before I can use her, but hopefully by the first crisp weekends of fall I will be enjoying toasty nights in a two-stove heated house. I also am hoping it helps with fuel costs. I cant' imagine it won't?

Clearly, the power is back on now. I'll have stories and photos from shearing soon, hopefully later today. I just wanted to share about the woodstove, and give Tim some time to pull together the best images from the day. He came out to take some photos of the wool circus. I will say that shearers Jim McRae and his mentor Liz did an amazing job. All eight adults in the flock look like chubby Labrador-deers and suddenly appreciate their out buildings a lot more. I guess everyone needs a plan B.

31 Comments:

Blogger Teresa said...

Archaic as it may seem, I also keep a landline telephone for that very reason. I've lived in both tornado alley and hurricane alley. The landline worked when cell phones did not. Peace of mind when you can contact family a day's journey away by car and let them know everything's okay.

April 17, 2011 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

I couldn't agree more about having a non-electric plan B! We just lived through three days with no power, and had coffee, hot meals, light, a movie or two, and didn't lose any food from the fridge or chest freezer! It's really, really satisfying when you can do that. If you're power goes out and you think, "Eh, no problem!" you're WAY ahead of the curve.

(and plank push-ups are EVIL.)

April 17, 2011 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger nawrockifamily said...

Your off grid morning sounds about perfect :-) I love the looks of the new woodstove and am anxious to see how you like it! It would be a great addition to our homestead one day!

April 17, 2011 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

A 2000 w Honda generator sees us thru the power outages with no loss of food.

April 17, 2011 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger shannonstoney said...

I agree about the landline, plug-into-the-wall phone. Very important.

Love the two story stove. I used to have a wood cookstove, but the firebox was so small that it wasn't practical. I cook on top of my soapstone stove, but it doesn't have an oven. Still, it works fine.

April 17, 2011 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

Jenna I love the way you have learned to adapt to conditions and circumstances. Your stories make my day.
Odie :)

April 17, 2011 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

I could just smell those fresh eggs and perc'd coffee off the woodstove as I was reading. MMMMMmmmmm.

April 17, 2011 at 3:51 PM  
OpenID multifariousraymonds said...

Jenna -

As much as we hate shopping at Big Box stores, we're int eh process of installing our first woodstove and ran into a steal for chimney and kits at Home Depot. $42/3 foot section of double walled 6". You might want to check them out.

April 17, 2011 at 5:05 PM  
Blogger KiwiGirl said...

A non electric Plan B is a good idea. We've just had two earthquakes here that has reminded me why the gas bottles need to be always full and why having a woodburner as our main home heating is a a good idea. I have yet to get an old style landline phone though - cell cover was non-existent, and the cordless was useless when the power was off. PS - just read your book again (second time!), loved it all over again, look forward to more from you.

April 17, 2011 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger KiwiGirl said...

Non electric Plan B is really good idea - we have had two largish earthquakes here in Christchurch in the last six months and it was a good reminder why the gas bottles need to be full always, and why having a woodburner as our primary heating is great. I still need to get us an older style landline phone though - no cell reception during either quake, and no power for the cordless either. PS - love your book (have read it countless times), looking forward to more from you!

April 17, 2011 at 5:12 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

I have a small airtight that is my main source of heat and can cook up a storm on top when the power goes out. During an epic two week outage a couple of years ago I experimented with a jury rigged oven on top of the stove: I placed a cookie cooling rack on the stove, put my pan of cake or bread on top of that and inverted a huge heavy old metal dutch oven over everything so it sat tight to the stove top - works for me! Can bake bread or an apple pudding or even a pie.
BTW I contacted the Vermont woodstove guys about importing a fancy stove to me here in Nova Scotia and they didn't get back to me - maybe they didn't get the email or maybe they aren't big enough yet to think about shipping to Canada.
I'm looking forward to seeing the great pictures of the shearing.
Janet

April 17, 2011 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger Beegirl said...

Ooooo I've been eyeing up the Vermont Bun Baker. Isn't it a dream?? Can't wait to see it when you get it! Yay!!
Happy Sunday to you..

April 17, 2011 at 5:32 PM  
Blogger Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig said...

Sounds really nice...and simple. I've been reconsidering purchasing items with plugs, too...

Your guest must have been so happy...:)

April 17, 2011 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Homesteader in Suburbia said...

We lost power at my sisters last night, unfortunatly everything is electric stove, heat, water my BIL is now looking into a manual pump option for the well...nothing tastes better than an off the grid meal!

April 17, 2011 at 5:46 PM  
Blogger Velma said...

NICE stove! and happy shepherd. i remember sooo well!

April 17, 2011 at 6:12 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Where did you get that stovetop percolator? I want one like that!

April 17, 2011 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

At 8AM my power went out. Thanks to my gas stove, I was able to make an omelet from my girls eggs. I was able to use my computer because it has a great battery and I plugged the WIFI into my Power Dome. I worked by headlamp in my kennel this afternoon. At 5PM I began to consider how boring an evening without power would be. At 5:30 the Bangor Hydro line crew drove into my driveway and began fixing little things as they drove out and then reset the breaker on the main road. Gotta love those line crews who work in the worst conditions so we can have flowing electricity. 9.5 hours without power made me appreciate it even more.

April 17, 2011 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger The Weekend Homesteader said...

That sounds wonderfully comforting. We are hoping to add a wood burning stove to our house by winter.

April 17, 2011 at 7:39 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

We also use 2 woodstoves (Vermont Castings Encore) as our primary heat source. We were never cold when the power went out. We have also used them to make meals, its a great way to make a pot of soup. We maintain a landline for the same reason and although I try to explain that to my adult kids, none of them has a land line. Hope they don't learn the hard way. We purchased a generator a few years ago so we don't lose the freezer full of food. Looking forward to seeing some pictures of the herd with their new summer hairdo.

April 17, 2011 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

I would love to have one of those Vermont Castings stoves pictured, but since ours are relatively new, I don't think its in the cards. Can't wait to hear how it works out for you in the fall.

April 17, 2011 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

Bought a push mower from Gardner's Supply - no gas, no electricity just me and my energy to make it go. Can't wait to get started using it - if the weather ever warms up.

April 17, 2011 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I have a landline too!

April 17, 2011 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger MollyKnits said...

You are having the same stove delivered that I want!

My farm is picked out. I just need to find out if I have a job next year. I am a teacher on a temporary contract. I am *supposed* to get the job since the other teacher resigned, but I have no idea if that will actually happen or not.

April 17, 2011 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger ~ Janis said...

We lost our power too...and some trees. But the peepers are out tonight and peeping upa storm!
*Where can I get one of them coffee perculators?
Happy Birthday CAF!

April 17, 2011 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

I love that stove! I have a picture of the soapstone one hanging on our dream board in the kitchen. When I read that you were getting one, my 12 yr old son said, " That's really cool, she deserves it!" Everyone here follows, and are very much interested in, all of the goings on at Cold Antler. :)

April 17, 2011 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Lara Katherine Mountain Colley said...

Plan B sounds like so much fun! And congratulations on the very exciting wood stove! I know about those chimneys. Ours was a much bigger production than getting the stove, but wood heat is well worth it.

April 17, 2011 at 10:41 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Not living in the country, we don't have problems with power failures. The other side of that coin is that we have to buy our firewood. We were lucky last year and got a lot of free wood, but we probably won't always be that lucky. Still, I prefer to heat with wood, even though it's a hassle, compared to a programmable thermostat.

Folks concerned about keeping a landline could also look into something I just learned about this evening, which is a SPOT. They have different service levels, some of which allow you to text messages, and most are around $100 a year. This might allow folks to give up their landlines, but still be able to connect with the outside world via satellite during times of need. See http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php to check it out.

I'm thinking you'll be much more comfortable with a second stove next winter. Good for you!

April 18, 2011 at 1:50 AM  
Blogger Mama's Thyme said...

I love this! You have inspired me to do a lot more by hand. I'm searching for a hand-crank radio today :-)

April 18, 2011 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Rachael said...

I've been looking at those stoves for our 'future' homestead, and am looking forward to hearing more about yours! Plan B just keeps looking better and better.

April 18, 2011 at 11:18 AM  
OpenID localnourishment.com said...

I need your recommendation for a coffee grinder! The last three I have found are "decorative" but wouldn't hold up to grinding the roasted beans!

Here in suburbia, we have no woodstove. Our only grill was destroyed in the move as well and I've been hinting at Mother's Day every year for ages. We're learning how to build solar ovens and rocket stoves of different varieties, but right now our only off-grid cooking would be a bonfire in the backyard. :(

April 18, 2011 at 11:35 AM  
OpenID thetinfoilhatsociety.com said...

That is my DREAM stove. We are finally getting a wood stove, but that one is STILL out of my price range. Looks like my little Coleman camp oven will be doing double duty -- baking bread outside in the summer, baking bread inside on the wood stove in the winter.

April 18, 2011 at 12:20 PM  

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