Spring Weather

It was raining hard when we awoke this morning. I am finally getting a decent night’s sleep, with almost no pain or pins and needles sensations. ( I suspect I will have scarring from this eczema episode – it was that bad!) The rain hadn’t wakened me, despite it pounding down on the metal roof.

I went downstairs, made coffee using the electric kettle, put wood on the fire, and went back upstairs to dress. And about a half hour later – post-coffee, of course – I noticed that we had no electricity. It may have been like that for an hour before we noticed!

The only problem we have with no power is the water pump. We have heat (yay!) and a cooking surface. We have a good supply of beeswax candles if needed. I can do wash in tubs and hang it on the line or put it on the clotheshorse by the woodstove. We have, in past years without power, bathed in said washtubs.

But we do not have an open spring here, or a handpump.

Being the resourceful pioneer-type woman that I am, I threw a wool shawl over my head and went outside to shove a washtub under the one downspout from the roof. It filled very quickly (it was raining really hard!) so I ladeled the contents of the full tub to an empty tub, and brought a pot of water inside to strain for washwater.

(Years ago, when I was living alone, I woke one morning to a lack of power. I had a full tea kettle, so I made a fire in my fireplace, planted the kettle on the grate over coals, and then had a cup of coffee and some hot cereal. I was all settled in to enjoy a quiet day – but my parishioners called me every ten minutes to make sure I was all right! At that time I had wisely stored about thirty gallons of water in my basement, so I was good for a while.)

Nicholas came into the kitchen and kept me company while I made some oatmeal porridge and more coffee for him; I noted that we needed to locate the spring in the field soon, dig down to it, and probably cover it with a catch basin outside the cover for drawing buckets. We also talked over whether we want to get a solar panel just for the water pump and maybe the refrigerator. (I don’t really feel the need to have a refrigerator, especially if I have a nearby spring.) We decided that we would put up more eavestroughs (rain gutters to Americans) and get rain barrels. Although we live on the river, it is far from practical to draw water there. For one, it is polluted upstream by several towns; for another, it is a sheer thirty foot drop to the water, and it is always a fast moving, treacherous river.

Since the oven had reached a good 425F, I whipped up a batch of Irish soda bread, a good old recipe from Edna Staebler’s Food that Really Schmecks. I substituted 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and a 1/2 cup of golden raisins for one cup of the two of currants the original recipe has. I like this recipe, as it calls for a smidge of nutmeg, which makes it fragrant and heartwarming as it bakes. (I suspect the nutmeg may have been a poor woman’s substitute for saffron, a common and now very expensive ingredient in older soda bread recipes.)

Bread in the oven, husband comfortable in the corner with a cup of coffee, and a very quiet, peaceful  house – the power came on. It was almost a disappointment.


10 thoughts on “Spring Weather

  1. Yes, my son in EAstern PA said it was raining on Saturday.

    On the subject of catching rain in rain barrels for personal use, in some states down here, it is illegal! I think CO is one, AZ another. I do know that I had a friend in AZ many years ago that used her grey water from the washing machine in the garage set up that it would irrigate her garden. She said she had to be careful when she did it though. If a county person drove by in his truck and saw that, she said she could be fined for it. Talk about ridiculous! I’m all for ways of collecting water.

    BTW, I’ve had to take said washing up in a tub, albeit much smaller, for whole body bathing once when I was housesitting, caring for someone’s chichens for 3 weeks and there really was no bathing facilities in that place other than the water that came out of the tap in the kitchen! One tub for soaping down, one tub for rinsing. I even washed my hair in a bucket once or twice!

    • What I am using on my face is a blend – half extra virgin olive oil, half derma E oil (safflower oil with vitamin E), with a drop or two of lavender essential oil. I make it up about 1/4 cup at a time, and keep it in a little jar. The oils and vitamin E help heal the skin, and the lavender soothes the itch and pain. I was prescribed a strong hydrocortisone, but it is not for use on the face and the skin folds. Hydrocortisone, used too long or on delicate skin, will actually thin the skin and make the condition more complicated. If you can’t find the derma E oil (I think I got it at Loblaw’s, though) just get some vitamin E capsules, prick one with a needle and squeeze the contents – oil – into the olive oil.

    • Yes, good saffron has flavour like – hard to describe – cardomom, maybe. It was the queen of spices six hundred years ago.

  2. I am trying to do without a second refrigerator. Ridiculous, I know. But most of what I do is cook, because everything has to be homemade and gluten free for our son and me, so we cook it all that way. My husband also takes his breakfast and lunch every day and he is a big eater. We are always boiling bones and making stock in big pots which we put in that second fridge, as we never can do it in one day. We use it mostly for spill over otherwise and the biggie – eggs from the chickens. If we order our 25 chickens soon to add to our 17 ( coons got a bunch and the rest have not been laying well as our old barred rocks did.) we will have a lot of extra eggs like we used to – probably 20 – 30 dozen in the Summers. I haven’t studied up on it ( hubby did a bit, I think, I doubt we will get to that subject for a while due to too many other more pressing matters) but we don’t have to refrigerate eggs, right? What do you do about things like cream and I don’t know – it just seems it would be really hard to do.

    • I’ve lived without a fridge or with a half-size one for years at a time – it is a different way of looking at things. Eggs don’t need to be refrigerated if they are in a fairly cool, dim spot. And I would be pickling the extras anyway – pickled eggs rarely last long here. Milk products, if I knew I was getting fresh each day, would be processed into cheese and such. A cool cellar was what my family did two generations ago. If we had a source of clear running water, I would put up a spring house – a low, small building with stone walls, with a trough down the middle, to put milk cans and other watertight containers in. Our refrigerator sits half empty most of the time. I’ve always been like that.

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