We have just been reminded that modern man is not very adaptive to any kind of environmental change such as the bitter Arctic Vortex of cold air that swept down from the North Polar Region all the way to Texas. I feel sorry for those folks who weren’t prepared to survive for a few days without any kind of heat, food, or water to drink.
And I am not pointing any know-it-all finger at those folks who have suffered from this last blast of cold. We who live here in the Finger Lakes are just as ill prepared for any extended outage of our electrical power. We have become captive to the furnace coming on when the temperature dips below 72 degrees, the television to advise us of road conditions and power outages, and our cell phones to keep us in contact with our loved ones or to call for help in case of an emergency. Without electrical power, none of those luxuries work. And if there is a major problem with the electrical grid, your cell phone doesn’t work either as all of those cell towers depend upon electrical power to amplify and relay your feeble signal from tower to tower. And after a couple of days, we all will be looking for some clean water to drink and some food to eat just like the folks in Texas.
Jeanette and I love to watch the Canadian geese that make the Finger Lakes their all year around home. These birds have become quite adaptive to winter conditions here. With all of the corn and soya beans raised in the neighboring fields, there is plenty of grain for them to eat. Our temperatures have been mild enough so that the Finger Lakes have not frozen over (they rarely do) as the Finger Lakes are their main source of fresh water. They gather along the edge of the open water just before dark for safety in numbers and for a drink of fresh water. In the morning when the temperature is near zero, you will see them sleeping with their heads tucked under their wings sitting on the ice. When the daily temperature warms to about 25 degrees, they start to move around and then fly off in groups, searching for an open field where they can find some grass or grain to eat.
As a boy, I grew up on a farm out in Ohio. The upstairs of that old farm house was not heated and there would be no heat downstairs until my mother shoveled a fresh load of coal into the gravity hot air furnace down in the basement and then started a wood fire in the wood burning stove and oven. But we were used to that routine and at 7:00 am in the morning there would be eggs, fresh milk, and hot corn meal mush with syrup for breakfast to warm your insides before going to school. The cows had to be milked twice daily – electricity or no electricity. I never worried if there was enough food as my mother filled the unheated part of the cellar with 100 lbs. sacks of potatoes in the fall. All along one side were shelves of canned vegetables and fruits that she preserved over the summer. We butchered our own hogs and a beef steer so that the family was well supplied with meat, smoked ham, and lard which was used for shortening.
There is a large population of Amish who live just to the South and East of Wooster, Ohio. These simple living people rode in buggies or on bicycles. They did not drive cars. Their homes were not connected to the power grid as they did not want to become dependent upon the electricity to control their lives. They did not have telephones but were permitted to have a phone booth at the end of the lane which led to their farm so they could make a call in case of an emergency. They had a store in a nearby village of Kidron, Ohio named Lehman’s. Today this store thrives by selling items that help not only their own people to live the simpler life but also sells to us modern folks who dream about living off the grid. You may want to check out their catalog at www.lehmans.com. Or call 1-800 -438-5346 to order your own catalog. It makes for fun reading while we wait for spring. Yes, you can buy a wood burning stove and oven just like the one which sat in my mother’s kitchen. But it will set you back some $3500 (shipping not included). Today, many folks have become tired of our stress filled way of living from hand to mouth as my mother would say and want to live off the power grid in a cabin, raise and preserve their own food, and return to living a more simple life.
I certainly hope that your lights and heat stay on till spring! And I can’t wait for the snow to melt so I can start planting my 2021 garden.