Homesteading · Prepping

Winter Storms To Assess Your Prepping Setup

It’s easy for people to roll their eyes when they hear the word “prepping”, with the thoughts of tin foil hat wearing anti-government men in camo, furtively polishing rifles, but as I try to say to others: prepping is a way of attaining life skills, and being able to be self-sufficient, and be able to be safe enough you can help others.

If you are a prepper it is far too easy to sit around and feel comfortable that your decisions will lead to an easier time when society has issues. The truth usually is….you might be more comfortable, but it still sucks. While storms are not fun, and can be downright dangerous, they are a short-lived way to test your prepping skills. It can open up your eyes to how you could be safer, more comfortable and ways to make recovery quicker.

Last Thursday we had a wind warning for the county, but that isn’t unusual for here. Usually you get some good gusts and then back to normal. This was a big storm and it howled, with winds up to 60 mph slamming across our property. A mile away, where there are open water views, the winds were even stronger. Even with all the work we had done in the past 9 months, we had 6 trees go over, and in the middle of the storm had to drop 4 Hemlocks that were all 80 feet plus high. The storm took out the power, which led to the nearby cell tower going down within 3 hours. We didn’t get power back till early Saturday, and many got power back after us, who live more remotely on the island. The towns of course came back on much faster. Our road saw many wrecked power lines, strung on the ground, and trees across the road.

One tree snapped about 3/4 of the way up and then snapped another tree on the way down.

Things that worked well:

Having a water supply meant no fretting about drinking water and for washing up, and more so, flushing toilets.

Food supplies were OK for the time period.

Propane stove means we can cook without electricity.

Putting in a 30 foot perimeter of removing trees behind the house meant fewer worries about trees hitting the house.

Keeping a chainsaw, chaps, helmet and gloves in the house meant Kirk was able to run outside as needed. Which ended up being needed as the storm picked up.

We started watching 4 trees above the driveway, that were swaying too much, too far, with each gust of wind. I was right, and Kirk confirmed the rootballs were lifting up each time. In the picture it is the two tallest trees.

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We decided to take them down in a controlled manner versus letting them come down and potentially hit the house. Tree 1 coming down:

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Things that didn’t go so well:

Heat. When we bought the place, we knew it had no backup heat (wood stove). It was on our list of things to do. But until the county approves our permit to build a shop, the room where the stove can go…is full of things that belong in a shop. By day 2 the house was getting cold. Being that Saturday was Winter Solstice, we only had 8 hours and 21 minutes of light, and none of it is strong enough to warm the house.

Losing frozen items because we don’t have a whole house generator. Lesson learned. However, the good side is I don’t trust freezers and rarely have much in ours. In the end, my brother who lives 17 miles away took a bunch off of me, and he used up what I couldn’t.  We lost under $50 and that isn’t horrible.

Not realizing that I’d be running around in the height of the storm to lock down items I had forgotten to stash in a safer place – such as solar panels!

Realizing that I needed to work on our food storage. What we need is a stock of ready-to-go meals in mason jars. As in my trailcooking recipes, done for home. This would have simplified my life considerably.

The aftermath of the storm:

We spent a day and a half working on trees that had fallen, logging them. Our neighbor had lost a huge Hemlock into their front yard, and Kirk cut it up for them, and stacked it up.

And more cleanup in our woods awaited: