Saturday, May 20, 2017

Black Out

Thursday night a storm came through the Battenkill Valley that shook the whole region. The sky was red and the clouds rolled in like angry, dark, sea foam. It reminded me of the first time I looked up at storm clouds and felt fear. I remember playing in my grandmother's side yard as a little girl and looking at a brown and black swirl of clouds and knowing in my gut how serious it was. Growing up in Pennsylvania we didn't see tornadoes or hurricanes often, and that type of sky reminded me more of special effects in Ghostbusters than it did anything I ever saw in real life. That same movie sky hit the farm Thursday evening.

I usually adore storms. I was expecting the usual kind of thunder and rain, but nothing drastic. I had a glass of wine poured and was under the big maple tree, hoping to watch the sky light up and take in the big show. But a few moments into that reverie that sky went from a cautious dark to that same childhood fear swirl; the difference between watching a scary movie and being in one. 

I ran around getting the ducklings in the barn instead of under a locust tree. I carried all the chicks inside the farmhouse to the safety of the brooder instead of their tractors. I placed all the silkie bantams sleeping under their hutch, up and into it. The wind started to roar and the rain started to pelt. I made a quick set of rounds. The pig black pregnant pig was tucked safety in the pigoda.  The runaway pig was in his pen in the barn (that story happened on twitter) the sheep were all in their shed. Merlin was under his pole barn. I was the only idiot still outside in the fray. I came inside to join the dogs. Thunder had just started and Gibson was shaking. I lit some candles, got oil in the lamps, and gave Gib a hug while the storm roared into the farm. Within minutes of the first CRACK the power went out.

I turned on my Kindle Fire, which plays any audio books I have downloaded to it on a small speaker. The speakers aren't anything great, but in a house silent of all electricity - it seems loud as a bullhorn. Wil Wheaton read us Ready Player One and I held the shaking Gibson. We stayed up until the storm passed and went to bed.

In the morning when I woke up Ready Player One was still going strong, but the power wasn't back. I got through chores and then loaded up the truck for town. I wanted to see if the power situation was just my mountain or the rest of the area. In town none of the streetlights were flashing, every home was dark. The local Stewart's (our chain of gas stations/convenience store) was PACKED. I went in to get a cup of coffee and discovered the whole town was dark, ice was sold out, and no idea if it would be hours or days.

I wasn't worried. I had plenty of food, water, and ways to prepare meals for myself and the farm. I had ice in the freezers to act as a giant cooler. The spring that runs off from the well works even if the electric pump into the house doesn't. None of us at Cold Antler were in any trouble a few days without power, especially in summertime. But without the internet this place goes from a shared adventure to very, very, lonely. Not being able to write, tweet, check in on news and friends - I decided to head over to Livingston Brook Farm and check in.

So I headed over there hopped up on cheap coffee. Patty and Mark were up, and had no problem with power but their internet wasn't working. I got a truck load of hay out of her barn and checked one item off my to-do list. I was feeling anxious. Without the internet I also can't earn any money. I make my sales in freelance, writing, design, and illustration all from the web. Things I sell off farm - are also advertised online. I was financially hobbled by the black out. This was the most distressing part of it all. But I got hay, and that was something. To distract myself I ended up weeding the kailyard, kitchen garden, and potato patch at the farm. I started planning out a spot for sweet corn, too.

I ended up returning to her farm later that day. There was nothing else to do at my own farm with the animals and plants' needs met. I couldn't do any design work. I couldn't go for a run since I stepped on a sharp stick in crocs (never again, crocs). So I helped Patty set up electric fencing  for her lambs in her farm's front field and checked email/twitter at her place on my Kindle. Feeling connected to people and the web felt better.

At home I made a campfire and cooked some hotdogs over it. I listened to audiobooks with the dogs out there and let go of the stress I had been carrying for the past few days. Something about the crackling fire, the ease of the collies, the soft tones of Neil, and the familiar myths eased my heart.

The power came on again last night. It feels like a Friday morning, and not a Saturday morning. I lost a day in there. So I am at my desk working, designing, soliciting, tweeting, hoping, and working that farm hustle needed to keep the lights on - literally.

Cold Antler Farm is free to read. If you feel the writing was worth a dollar, click here for a voluntary contribution. It is appreciated and encourages these endeavors. It's also much needed between books. Thank you.


Blogger Birdie said...

What a lovely description- I have been there and I I am with you in spirit! You are wonderful Jenna and I know all is well with you!

May 20, 2017 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger Birdie said...

I have been there and I love your description! You are amazing Jenna and keep on keeping on!

May 20, 2017 at 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful writing.

May 21, 2017 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Have you considered solar? There is a company that I am going with that is NO money up front....and they maintain the product. Although I would prefer to be totally of grid.

May 29, 2017 at 10:26 AM  

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