Friday, March 23, 2012

Beat The Flood! Take That Power Outage!

Do you still have spring in your neck of the woods? Or maybe it feels more like summer? We're still enjoying mild spring here, and while there is a part of me that is worrying about August, I love being able to be warm in these last few days of March. All winter, I've been doing research into extending my growing season; both being able to start early and finish late, and have the veggies survive this. The other day it occurred to me that if we're this mild now, what about August? Some veggies bolt in heat, so then I began to wonder if I shouldn't be looking at ways to keep my veggies from baking in the ground! We're getting pretty good at thinking outside the box around here, and we certainly can't afford rows and rows of shade cloth, as much as I'd like to. So on a walk one day, I got to wondering what could be acquired inexpensively for a person such as myself, who is trying to provide relief for hot plants.

In every thrift store I see sheer curtains. I myself have gotten rid of a few in my time. But I wonder now if they might be sewn together, even by hand, and then rigged into some fashion of row cover. A frame could be built fairly easily from small saplings, cast off branches or the like and then the homemade row cover applied over top. But how to keep those sheers where you want them, and not off  into the next yard or the swamp? Hose, cut into 4 or 6" lengths, and then split lengthwise, can be used as a poor mans clamp. Again, there are lots of thrift stores out there that may have hose, or even something similar that sparks your imagination. Think outside the box. Think repurposing. Think, 'how can I use this to keep it out of the dump?'
Now I'm not proposing you become a pack-rat, just start thinking of the things you see in a new way. The more we can keep out of our dumps and landfills, the more we can use what's already been manufactured, the more money we'll save.

What kind of spring weather do you have where you are? Is your area susceptible to violent spring thunderstorms? Does your area flood frequently? Are you  at the mercy of road traffic? Do you have frequent power outages? Now might be a good time to go poke through your cupboards. Go ahead, I'll wait.


Ok, now that you've done that, ask yourself, 'if I was cut off from the grocery store, would I be able to eat for three days?' Think about what you like to eat. Do you eat out more than at home? Do you excel at box meals that require only a microwave? Let's think outside that box for a moment. Even hamburger helper can be broken down. It requires meat, ok, but the price of beef is going up, we don't want to break the bank cooking at home. Do you have access to ground chicken? You can mix ground chicken and ground beef, or use only ground chicken if you'd like. There's very little taste difference anyway, at least with store bought meat. So you have meat, now think about your favorite pasta. Egg noodles? Scoobi pasta? Elbows? Bow ties? Whatever your favorite, that's the one you want to get. Next, you want to get a can or two of your favorite vegetables. Peas, carrots, corn, okra, beans...whatever your favorite veggie is can be dropped into your special dish. Don't forget to get a manual can opener! An electric one won't do much good if your in the grip of a four hour long power failure and you're hungry! So that's one idea for dinner. But what if you live in an apartment, like me, and when the power goes off, your stove won't work? That's a whole new level of creativity. Can you operate a small camping stove out on your balcony or patio? Do you have a barbeque? You'll want to make sure you have an alternate way to cook or reheat your food.

What about water? Let's say you need a gallon a day for drinking. Add a bit more for washing, even just what we call a bird bath. (Wet washcloth, scrub any potentially stinky areas). Do you have pets? Add some water for them too. I still find it outrageous that a lot of folks pay hard earned money for something that falls from the sky. Rarely will you ever see me buying bottled water. Save your milk jugs, pop bottles, juice jugs or whathaveyou. The bigger, the better. Rinse them out well, remove the labels if you can and put a capful of regular home-use bleach into the jug/bottle. Not the lemony kind of bleach, mind you, just regular, run of the mill bleach. Fill the container with warm water, the warmer the better, and give it all a swirl. Put the cap back on, turn the vessel upside down to make sure the upper parts are disinfected too. Dump that out, maybe your toilet can use the added clean, and rinse the vessel very well with repeated fillings and rinses of water. If you don't mind your tap water, you can fill your jug or bottle with that. We use a water jug with a built in filter here (which reminds me, I need to get a replacement filter for it), and I fill our jugs and bottles from the filtered water. I date the bottles with permanent marker and set it side somewhere out of the way. I doubt I have enough to last a month, but I know we'd all have enough water to last a week anyway.

So now, in theory, you've thought about food, water and a way to heat that food. You might want to invest in some candles for light too. There are a gazillion choices out there, from the scented variety to the basic emergency style. No matter which you get, always think about candle safety. Make sure those candles aren't tippable. If flashlights are more your style, there are plenty of sturdy LED flashlights and lanterns out there. Next time you're shopping or mall crawling, wander through a store that has sports equipment or camping equipment. Keep a thought for quality and safety, always. There are so many choices out there, you don't have to compromise safety or cost for quality.

I hope all this has gotten you thinking about how to beat your next power outage, wash out, flood or whatever might put a crimp in your daily life. It never hurts to be ready for anything that might come our way.


Jacquelineand.... said...

Something many people fail to consider is morale...or how deprivation, even temporary, can put people at each other's throats.

My suggestion? Books, board games, cards, crafts and hard candies that won't melt or go bad if it's hot.

Carolyn said...

Thanks for the reminder, I forgot those!

CallieK said...

We are blessed with a gas stove- the old school kind that doesn't require power so it works even when the power is out. But we also have a portable butane burner that uses replaceable fuel cannisters and it's really handy because you can useful anywhere!

Jenn said...

I've given this some thought, and while I think we're okay for food and water (I keep a stash around all the time), I'm a bit stymied in terms of cooking the food. We have a patio, though, so I've been considering whether it might be worth getting a camp stove or volcano stove and keeping some fuel on hand, or maybe even making a rocket stove.

By the way, I like the sheer curtain idea. I tend to see them at thrift stores too (where I do pretty much all of my shopping, both because I'm frugal and I like reusing things), and that could be a really good use for them. While I'm totally guilty of being at least a bit of a pack-rat, I just like to think of it as trying to make the best and fullest use of what I have.