Winter has finally arrived with full ferocity here in Missouri. It's been in the single digits for a few days, and I've been doing my best to stay home and not open the door unless I'm going back and forth to work. In fact, I have been keeping draft blockers on both of my doors when I'm home.
Sunday afternoon I was preparing to make lunch when I was forced to pivot. We were going to have baked fish and glazed carrots. I was playing with idea of baking some apples while the oven was hot but hadn't decided. The oven was preheating, and the water was nearly to a boil when we lost power. It was three degrees outside, and the house began to cool fairly quickly.
My husband who had been peacefully reading suddenly leapt from his recliner and commenced to pacing like a caged tiger. I didn't panic, but I was worried. A glance out the window showed the blowing snow, and I could see ice crystals had formed on the window in my front door.
Memories from the ice storm of 2007 flashed through my mind. We were without power for several days thanks to that storm. It was the most miserable ten days I have ever experienced. All of our family members were without power, and we couldn't afford a hotel room then, so there was really no place to go. I prayed we were not about to have a repeat of that experience, but I was not in panic mode quite yet.
Knowing lunch was not going to be hot that day, I rummaged through the cabinet until I found an unopened jar of homemade grape jelly, a gift from my sister. I liberally slathered the jelly on a couple slices of bread and spread peanut butter on another couple slices. I handed my husband, who will only eat grape jelly no matter the options available, his sandwich and explained that was lunch because we couldn't open the refrigerator. Well, we shouldn't open it because we don't want the food inside to spoil.
My hubby ate his sandwich and then marched to the refrigerator and opened it to grab a yogurt. Aghast, I told him not to do that. I could tell he's never lost a refrigerator full of food before because his reply was, "I just got a yogurt. No big deal."
I have lost both a refrigerator and a deepfreeze full of food due to power outages before (three times, in fact), and I'm quite protective of my food inventory. It would take a fortune to replace what I have worked so hard to store.
While my freezer is not as full as I like it, I have enough meat to last us a couple of months, maybe three. While it's mostly venison, I have a turkey, a couple roasts, some locally farm raised ground beef, and a nice selection of pork and chicken tucked away. That's not even counting the fruit and veggies from my garden that I froze instead of canning them.
I also have several individual portions from meals I've previously cooked. They make great lunches, and it eliminates wasting the food. I have experienced long bouts of poverty in my life, and I do my utmost to preserve everything possible and waste nothing.
As a matter of fact, I ate a bowl of chili that I froze in February of 2022 for dinner last night. It was just as good last night as it had been when I cooked it two years ago. (That's probably about as long as I dare keep one of those meals frozen as they will eventually freezer burn.) I can't even begin to tell you how many of those little bags I have squirreled away. Have you priced frozen dinners lately? I sure can't afford to replace everything in my freezer.
The price of food continues to rise, and what was once $50.00 is now $100.00. I went to the grocery store last Friday and spent $130.00 on groceries that could be carried inside in one trip. They hadn't even covered the bottom of my cart. There was nothing fancy - no steaks, seafood, or chuck roast. It was just typical canned goods, milk, butter, potatoes, cheese, etc. Crazy.
We were without power for a couple of hours, and the temperature inside my house only got down to sixty-three degrees. That's not bad considering the real feel outside was negative eight. It made me wonder how our ancestors braved such frigid temperatures. They had fire, of course, but how much warmth did they realized from the flames, and how much was lost to air infiltration?
We did not have fire this time. While we have a wood burning fireplace, my husband disposed of our wood a couple of months ago due to rot and a wasp nest he found. What I didn't know was that he failed to replace our wood supply. When our power went out last weekend, we had nary a branch to burn.
We weren't completely without an emergency plan. We did have a small propane powered space heater with two little bottles of propane. We didn't use it because it did not reach a critical temperature in the house, and we didn't want to waste propane that may be needed later. But it was an option.
Now that I know we have no wood, I plan to remedy that problem. My husband isn't supposed to lift anything heavier than ten pounds due to his surgery, so he can't use his chainsaw. That doesn't mean I can't use his chainsaw, though. I'm not going out to cut wood while it's dangerously cold, but the first nice day we have, it's game on.
I like to be prepared. That's something my mom instilled in me at a young age. I vividly remember eating exclusively from our garden and wild game growing up. I would love to do that in my adult life, but I don't have the time to care for a garden of that size. I will be expanding my sowing (planting seeds) this year and praying for a good harvest.
What do you do to prepare for the dead of winter?
Thank you for reading Ozarks Maven! Your continued support means the world to me!
I'm an Amazon Associate and may receive a small commission from items purchased using my links.