Friday, January 28, 2011

Testing Testing - Our First Off The Grid Test

So.... we've been making lists, gathering food and equipment, and considering the needs for that day when for some unknown reason we must fend for ourselves.

We have come a long way.  We have learned many new skills along the way, such as bread-making with homemade starters and cooking with cast iron.  We have purchased equipment that allows us to cook and heat our home and even take a hot shower, without using electricity or water from the tap.

This weekend, we will test our preparedness.

Friday night my husband will come home from work and turn off the breaker.  We would shut off the water at the valve also, but since we live in a duplex right now this would affect our neighbor.  So we will just have to avoid the use of the taps, and not flush the toilet with the handle.

What I foresee using and doing this weekend...

* To combat the winter darkness in the evenings we will use our oil lamps and possibly a few well placed candles.  Having never done this test, I am interested in learning HOW MUCH oil will be used for one evening of light.  I honestly have no idea.

* To prepare our food and heat water we will use our propane camp stove.  We have it set up permanently in our back room for all our canning anyways and have practiced cooking various meals on it lately as well.  The cast iron works very well on it, as well as my large stainless steel pots.

* For personal hygiene we will be able to heat water on our stove and or use our Zodi hot water shower pump.  It reminds me very much of old fire extinguishers with a pump and spray nozzle.

* For entertainment we will read books, play board games and card games.  For the kids we sometimes do something special, like have glow sticks, break them and run around like wild monkeys spraying them all over the house.  The glow doesn't last too long, around 30-60 mins.  But it is fun, and beautiful and the kids LOVE IT.  Obviously in the event of a real emergency this would not be our priority, but it helps to make things less frightening and more enjoyable for the young ones.

* For food, we will eat only from our storage.  This includes our home canned chili, taco soup, turkey soup, pumpkin bread, cheese, peanut butter, jam, any store bought bread we have left, and our stores of rice, beans, oats, sugar and flour.

* I may try to make homemade bread with starter.  My cast iron dutch oven and biscuit pan is INCONVENIENTLY packed away in a closet.  So if I really feel the urge to make bread for our off the grid test, I'll have to gird myself with strength and go digging them out.

Where our plans fall short...

* While planning for this weekend I realized that we didn't really have a plan in place for our refrigerator.  My husband and I spoke about this last night and are going to try to keep a couple of blocks of ice or gallon water bottles frozen in the freezer to put into the ice chest with food from our fridge in the event of an actual long term power outage.  We have an excellent quality Igloo Ice Chest, which will keep cold if properly packed for 3 or 4 days.  This isn't a long term solution, but would buy us time and allow us to use more of the food we have on hand before it went bad.  For this test, we will leave the power on for the fridge and NOT use any of the food in it, pretending that it has gone bad and is not available to us.

* For such a short term test, I doubt we will be doing any laundry.  I do have plans to make a hand powered washing machine with a 5 gallon bucket and a plunger.  And at this time we do not have a wringer or a drying rack.

I'm not sure what problems we may run into, issues that we did not foresee or plan for.  That is part of why we do these tests!  Having lived the easy life of electricity, running water, and HOT water to boot, we have grown sooooo soft and it can be difficult to imagine how to care for our needs if these simple systems failed for any reason.  Many who live further out of town don't have as much difficulty imagining, as each winter storm can bring about frozen or broken pipes, downed power lines, closed roads and compromised lines of communication.

I look forward to our test.  And I will post on Monday how our weekend went, what worked well, and what did not.  Hopefully there is more that works WELL!  But regardless, I love that my husband and I are testing what we have BEFORE we need it.  I'd sure hate to find out where our planning failed when there was an emergency and no possibility of reprieve.


  1. Can't wait to read mondays blog!!!

  2. [...] Our Lights Out/Off the Grid test was an adventure that we enjoyed and learned a few things [...]