This Month On The Homestead: Snow, Power, and Celebrations

November 2018

November 2018 on the homestead: tad snowy

November is stick season. November is stark trees, bare earth, cold. November is purgatory, a way station between vibrant fall and monochromatic winter. At least, that’s what November is in a normal year. This year, however, November slammed us into deep winter. As we waited for the final leaves to finish their descent and made plans to gird ourselves, impertinent snow took hold.

Heedless of its prematurity, careless in its saturating abundance, snow took over. Snow in November is not an aberration. But foot after foot of snow? A deviation. All of our winter preparations were obliterated by this precocious snow. It fell hard, fast, and often. We were rocketed into February before we’d even finalized our Thanksgiving menu.

If you’re just tuning in, this is a recurring series in which I document each month of our lives out here on our 66-acre Vermont homestead. After leaving urban Cambridge, MA in May 2016 to chart this wholly different life, we’re experiencing a constant learning curve of exploration and plenty of stupid novice moments. Check out last month’s installment here and enjoy the best and worst (ok, mostly the worst) moments of our first year on the homestead here. Wondering if it’s less expensive to live rurally? Check out: City vs. Country: Which Is Cheaper? The Ultimate Cost Of Living Showdown.

Snow

Woodshed doing its snowy job

November was the snowiest November in Vermont on record. Ever. Since such records were recorded. Remember how last month I outlined the optimistic list we’d accomplish before winter? I’ll tell you what I have to say about that list: hah!

Thanks to our meagre 2.5 years of experience in this mercurial climate, we prioritized that which would keep us safe and warm and de-prioritized everything else. So there’s a lot of frozen vegetables and un-mowed grass and field action underneath our cocoon of snow. But, we are warm and safe!

Here’s what we didn’t get to prior to snowmageddeon:

  • Harvest and process any remaining vegetables from the garden
  • Prep the garden for winter
  • Do a final mow of the grass
  • Do a final brushhogging of the fields
  • Buck, split, and stack logs winched from the woods to put up another few cords of firewood

Living her best life

To redeem myself, here’s what we did check off:

  • Remove the winch from the tractor and put the snow blower on
  • Change and refresh all fluids on the tractor
  • Rig up a lighting system on the tractor for wintertime snow blowing
  • Put the snow tires on the cars
  • Put away summer clothes and excavate winter gear from the basement for all four of us. Bribe Babywoods and Littlewoods to try on various pairs of boots, snowpants, coats, mittens, and hats until we find the combination of hand-me-downs that’ll fit for this winter.
  • Decorate the house for Halloween and Thanksgiving!!!! (and now Christmas! you can see where my priorities are… )
  • Take all the screens off of the house windows/doors and put on the exterior storm glass
  • Remove all patio furniture, toys, baby pool, grill, etc from the back porch and set up the porch wood rack
  • Stack wood in the porch wood rack
  • Clean the woodstove combustor and clear old ashes from the stove to prepare for burning season
  • Order propane and heating oil to be delivered
  • Do a final clearing of the hiking trails to prepare them for snowshoeing. Remove downed trees.

Rear woodshed view

Mercifully, the key to do’s were done: firewood stacked on porch, snowblower put onto the tractor, and snow tires put onto the cars. Woe betides ye who does not have this triumvirate in the rear view prior to first snow storm. How do I know? Because that was us two years ago. At least we learn from our mistakes (sometimes).

The major undone item was bucking, splitting, and stacking the final logs Mr. FW felled and winched in from the woods. There’s currently a pile-o-logs chilling underneath the snow, but we hope they won’t rot and will be ready for the splitter in the spring. We have more than enough firewood split and stacked in Mr. FW’s wood palace for this winter (and likely next winter too), so those logs would’ve put us ahead for the following year. Would’ve been nice to finish that project out, but not a crisis situation.

Powerless

Melting snow on the woodstove: sounds a lot more interesting than it actually is…

Oh yes, we were powerless in the face of this punishing snow. Temperatures rose in concurrence with a massive snow dump in late November. This warmer air created heavy, sticky snow that latched onto every single tree branch and–you might see where I’m going with this–resulted in lots of tree topples.

Heavy snow pulled trees down all over the place, sometimes on top of power lines. Most inconsiderate. During the last week of November we were without power more often than we were with it. This transported us to, oh, the 1850s because without power, we also have no water since we have a well (which is pumped by an electric pump).

Further adding to our unintentional historical re-enactment, our phone and internet lines were knocked out. So here we sat, with no electricity, no running water, no internet, and no phone. And it was just fine. We were warm thanks to our cranking woodstove, we had plenty of food thanks to our stocked pantry, and we had enough water thanks to our stored water and newfound ability to melt and boil snow.

This was our first longterm power outage and I learned some things. Namely, that I do not like living circa 1850 and am quite accustomed to my luxuries of flushing water closets and magic lanterns. Not to mention cyber space and noise machines and nightlights in my children’s bedrooms. I’ve come up with some handy comparisons to explain my feelings on this power outage.

Power Outages Pre-kids

Candles on our countertop. Fun fact: these are the candles we used on the alter at our wedding 11 years ago!

The height of romance! Light candles and place them on every surface–the floor too, why not! Create a cute meal of peanut butter sandwiches and open a bottle of wine. Lounge on the floor tickling one another’s chins, playing a decadent game of Scrabble. Discover a long-forgotten box of chocolates that was gifted for one’s work anniversary two years ago and drunkenly indulge. Also discover another bottle of wine.

Giggle at how silly humans are to think they need electricity all the time. Relish the absence of internet interruptions while reading Leaves of Grass aloud by candlelight as you stroke your beloved’s flaxen hair and smugly ponder how resilient you are in the face of such inconvenience. Sleep soundly (two bottles of wine, remember), wake up the next day, shrug that there’s still no power, and repeat all of the above.

Power Outages With Children

Actual photo of my house once the power came back on. Yes, that is someone’s bath towel scrunched up on the Christmas tree skirt. And yes, Kidwoods went ahead and pulled the potty up to the tiny dining table… I mean, might as well make it convenient.

1 minute in: we can do this. I am certain we have flashlights somewhere. Locate flashlights, give one to toddler who proceeds to shine directly into baby’s eyes. Light a few candles. Extinguish candles as soon as the extended reach of your toddler is discovered. Ear-splitting tears will indicate that it’s dinner time. Conduct a frantic search and realize you were planning to bake bread that day, but haven’t yet, and thus have very few non-perishables to feed to children.

Realize you can’t open refrigerator for fear that everything inside will perish. Locate jar of peanut butter and an orange. Slather orange with peanut butter and try to convince children it’s a thing. Watch in horror as baby vomits orange/peanut butter into toddler’s hair. Realize you’ve already used 2 gallons of water trying to wash children’s hands prior to dinner. Use baby wipes to inexpertly clean vomit off of all family members.

The upside: Mr. FW taking Kidwoods on her first snowshoe hike

2 minutes in: field 9,846 questions from toddler about: which lights are out (all of them), when the ‘lectricity will return (I have no idea), how ‘lectricity works (it’s an increasing problem that you have no internet right now), what we will eat for breakfast (really not sure we’re going to make it that long), if her noise machine and nightlight will work (decidedly not), and then a list of everyone she knows followed by, “is their ‘lectricity out too?” Squelch desire to scream: “I KNOW NOTHING AND AM NOT A RELIABLE ADULT CAREGIVER AT PRESENT MOMENT. ALSO WHY ARE WE OUT OF WINE? IS THERE NO JUSTICE IN THIS WORLD?!”

5 minutes in: stand holding full (super full) toddler potty and contemplate fact that, due to water not working, you can’t flush the toilet. Calculate number of toilets in home (3) versus number of toilet-using household members (3) versus frequency of eliminations. Despair. Say a prayer of thanks that you didn’t get around to doing Elimination Communication with your baby, so she is still in diapers. Be grateful that procrastination has upsides.

10 minutes in: declare an early bedtime. Curse self that nearly all bedtime rituals are dependent upon electricity: baths, teeth brushing, using the freaking potty (seriously kid, again?!), turning on the nightlight and noise machine. Forgo all. Settle for reading books by candlelight–kidding!–flashlight. Attempt to wipe layers of grime off children via baby wipes. Begin to detest scent of baby wipes. Put children in jammies and futilely hope for best.

15 minutes in: wonder what the parents will eat for dinner since appetite for peanut butter and orange was obliterated.

Other than that, we had a magical time.

Getting a Generator?

Playing in the sled I found at the town dump. It’s a great sled!

Many of you may now be wondering if we’re going to purchase a generator. The answer is that I’m not sure. Rough as it was to be powerless with a three-year-old and a nine-month-old, we survived. The first outage was the worst because we weren’t prepared and I was in the middle of doing the entire household’s laundry (everyone’s sheets and towels were off their beds and, in some instances, physically trapped inside my washing machine… ).

And I hadn’t washed my hair in about a week. Not a recipe for bliss. However. The power flickered on and off the entire week and so, the first time it came back on, I was ready with my list of things to do and get done:

  • I turned on the washing machine to finish out the laundry
  • I ran the dishwasher
  • I hustled the entire family into the shower and scrubbed layers of caked-on food off the kids
  • I wiped every visible surface with a damp rag (my kingdom for a damp rag)
  • I pulled food out of the fridge and freezer
  • I inhaled Babywoods’ leftover birthday cake by myself, while hiding behind the kitchen cupboards
  • I ground coffee beans
  • I filled all of our water jugs
  • I flushed every toilet. I forced everyone to sit on the potty. Just try, ok? Try harder.

That completed in 4 minutes, I turned on the Christmas tree and the Christmas music. The next time the power went out, I felt at peace with my lot. Having things clean and prepared made the experience smooth and I also knew where all the candles and flashlights were and my blessed hair was washed.

Doing Christmas crafts without electricity and while wearing a bathing suit (?!?)

Mr. FW made a run to the grocery store to stock up on packaged foods to see us through the next outage. Since we usually cook from scratch, all of our food was trapped inside our un-openable fridge and freezer. He bought:

  • Pre-made baby food vegetable purees (for both toddler and baby)
  • Ground coffee
  • Canned soup
  • Canned tomato sauce
  • Granola bars
  • Pasta

A generator would be nice, but it would also be expensive and constitute yet one more machine for Mr. FW to maintain, fix, and fuel. All that to say, the generator decision is still TBD.

The Coffee Situation

Right up their with the lack of water was our sudden, dire, inexorable lack of coffee. This situation qualifies as an oversight of unforgivable proportion and Mr. FW and I were appalled with ourselves. We failed to internalize the crucial fact that we buy whole bean coffee and use an electric grinder to grind said beans every morning. Fail, fail, fail. Undaunted, my MacGyver husband devised a scheme. He loaded coffee beans into a ziplock bag and… crushed them with a hammer on the concrete floor of our basement. By headlamp. It totally worked; the coffee tasted fine. Given the suboptimal nature of this grinding, however, we made the prudent purchase of some ground coffee. Additionally, our good neighbors–upon hearing our tale of coffee grinding malpractice–gifted us a hand grinder that was sitting unused in their cupboard. Thank you, good buddies. We shall use it in good health.

Not All Bad

The kiddos playing at the library

Ok so yes, I’ll capitulate that being sans power or internet for the better part of a week wasn’t all bad. I mean, it was mostly bad, but there were a few high points:

  • Playing at the library. We trekked the whole family over to the library to use their internet, indoor plumbing, and play in their adorable children’s area. A fun outing, punctuated by Babywoods running around the library barefoot (having removed her boots and socks on her own), asking every patron, “and how are you doing?” or alternately, “and how is it going over here?” Public libraries are, and remain, among my favorite institutions.
  • Snowshoeing. I went snowshoeing by myself a few times, Mr. FW went on his own, we went out with both kids, and Mr. FW took Babywoods out on her very own mini snowshoes (purchased last summer at a yard sale) for the first time.
  • Take-out pizza. On our–oh I don’t know–third night of no power, I instructed Mr. FW to go pick up a pizza for dinner. I could not abide another peanut butter sandwich or can of soup and was exhausted and hungry. You’ll be interested to know that a mere 7 minutes from our home, there’s a gas station/convenience store that serves pizza. I had low expectations. Gutter-level expectations. And they were wildly exceeded! I have to say, it was the best $10 pizza from a gas station that I’ve ever eaten. Seriously, it was pretty good. So good that I kind of want to get it again. May have also been the beer I had with it…

No School

I think I forgot to mention that Babywoods’ preschool had several snow days during this timeframe. So we did a lot of Christmas crafts, often while Babywoods wore her bathing suit (as pictured above). No clue why, but who am I to argue with a snowed-in toddler? No one, is the answer.

Festive Tidings

In between snowstorms and power outages, November was a remarkably festive month. We hosted Mr. FW’s parents and sister for Thanksgiving week and had a wonderful time. While they were in town we also celebrated Babywoods’ THIRD birthday, which really makes me feel like we need to stop calling her Babywoods. In fact, since I’m master of this universe, let’s stop right now. From here on out, our oldest daughter–previously known as Babywoods–shall be known as Kidwoods. Her baby sister shall continue to be Littlewoods.

Kidwoods went on a hug rampage and ran around hugging everyone at her party

We didn’t want to host a massive toddler birthday party, but Kidwoods (I like it already) requested to have a birthday with “friends, party hats, and a rectangular chocolate cake.” Ok, kid, that we can do. We had my in-laws, our good neighbors (Kidwoods’ adopted local grandparents, the very same who gifted us the coffee grinder) and our close friends in town who happen to also have a three-year-old and a baby. It was the perfect middle ground between giant blow-out party and tiny family party (which is what we’ve done in past years).

I made gin-and-tonics for the adults and Mr. FW cooked up two batches of homemade macaroni and cheese, which was the PERFECT party food. He reports they were easy to assemble in advance and then cook the morning of (this being a lunchtime soiree) and everyone loved them. One batch was the “adult” version with gruyere and smoked gouda cheeses along with a béchamel sauce. The topping included bacon crumbles toasted with panko bread crumbs and butter spread on top of the mac-n-cheese before baking.

The other batch was the “kid” version with plain sharp cheddar cheese. In future years, we’ll just do two batches of “adult” because everyone–kids included–liked the fancy stuff better.

In honor of Kidwoods’ specific “rectangular, chocolate cake” request, I baked this cake (I doubled it to fit in a 9×13 pan) and made frosting. I used to make homemade frosting, but now I buy a tub of pre-made frosting and blend it up with 8oz of cream cheese. I swear to you this tastes better than the from scratch version. My mother-in-law halved fresh strawberries and created a lovely design on top of the frosting. She even put the candles into hollowed-out strawberries! Kidwoods was delighted, despite refusing to blow out her candles (thankfully her little friend was able to assist). All in all, a glorious little third birthday.

Kidwoods and I baking her birthday cake together. We only had to dump out incorrectly measured ingredients once.

I field a lot of questions about how we handle holidays, birthdays, and gifts with our kids and the pillars of our approach are as follows:

  • Ground everything in your family’s value system and philosophies on life. For example, we don’t emphasize the gift-getting aspect of any holiday nor do we promote the idea that the birthday kid is the “queen for the day” and gets whatever she wants. Nope. If I get questions from Kidwoods, I respond with “this is how we celebrate in our family.”
  • Give kids second-hand gifts and not too many of them. I buy books and toys at yard sales and collect hand-me-downs throughout the year and store them in a box in the basement to be used as presents. As I’ve written in the past, I believe this approach should adapt as a child ages. I doubt I’ll be giving my teenagers used gifts and I didn’t give my one-year-old any gifts at all.
  • Tailor each occasion to fit the age and stage of your child. What’s relevant and appropriate for a one-year-old is very different from what’s relevant and appropriate for a five-year-old. Customize the holiday to fit your budget and what you feel your child will truly enjoy. Don’t give into peer parent pressure to celebrate in a “certain” way. Do what works for you.

You can read more about our approach here:

Solar Check

Solar panels: a wee bit snow-covered I’d say

Now that I’ve FINALLY (it only took me a year… ) written up the background information on our solar panels, I’ll include a solar update every month in this series. That’s probably the best way for me to actually remember to update you…

As you can see in the photo at right, our solar panels (which are mounted on our barn roof) were snow-covered for much of the month. We produced a paltry 136 kWh in November. For comparison, in July we produced 853 kWh. This is why it’s crucial that we’re able to bank credits during the summer.

Want More Fotos?!

While I only document homestead life once a month here on the blog, I post photos to Instagram (almost every day!) and updates to Facebook with much greater regularity! Join me there if you want more of our frugal woods. Some folks have asked about this and yes, I do try to post a picture to Instagram every day and have a pretty good track record, so if you’re craving more homestead pics, Instagram is your best bet.

And if you want to make sure you don’t miss a post here, sign-up for our handy dandy email list in the box below. You’ll get a message from me if you do…

Onward to December, frugal comrades!

How was November on your own personal homestead?

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103 Responses

  1. Cubert says:

    Quite the situation! It’s one thing to go without power for a few hours and enjoy living by candle-light — full-on Hygge right there. It’s another to go SEVERAL DAYS without. If we were living out in the sticks, I’d invest in a generator. Even if you only used it from time to time to manage a few essentials.

    Your mac and cheese sounds like our fancy variations. We also serve it up for parties and our guests LOVE IT. Give it a shot with the kids – you might be surprised. Ours took to the fancy mac at age 4 with no reservations.

  2. Mike says:

    Seems like you are PERFECT candidates for a solar battery array like a Tesla Power wall. Pricey upfront but similar economics to solar panels and useful for remote living with less reliable electric service.

    • Cait says:

      Was coming to say this–some Vermont utilities have great incentives for batteries so check that out!

    • Rachael says:

      These are on my mind too, but friends with the Tesla solar battery (in Vermont) only lasted 24-48 hrs (depending on whether they used their electric oven), and many of the outages lasted for around 96! It’s also my understanding that there is a long waitlist for these right now, and will continue to be until Tesla can switch a line back over from the Model 3.

      • Tom says:

        Valid point about availability.
        Keep an eye on the Powerwall (s)
        (you can daisy chain them together). Also with a few days of sun, you would be re charging the battery (batteries)!
        Green Mountain Power is led by a visionary CEO , she wants to have massive role out to much of the state. Likely she will fund another roll out to early adopter like Frugalwoods
        Im a Tesla geek , not only Model 3 but Emergency back up in Australia Puerto Rico is diverting resources from residential projects.
        With any luck once these are taken care of prices will be lower !!

  3. Tara says:

    Glad you survived the powerless situation! If you go the permanent installed generator route, you probably could save money doing one only for the essentials: just to auto switch to powering your fridge, water well, and your heating oil furnace (and maybe the outlet for your internet modem, lol). Your heating oil furnace still is a high voltage appliance (if it’s anything like mine) so the generator is peace of mind if your power goes out when you’re out of town in the winter.

    Also as far as making icing from scratch, I hear using organic powdered sugar makes a world of difference as the corn starch in non organic powdered sugar is too grainy to become smooth unless you cook at a high temp. Organic powdered sugar uses tapioca flower which while highly hydroscopic and will clump, when blended in icing produces a much smoother result. Glad you had a great 3rd birthday!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Good to know about the icing–thank you! I confess I had no idea there was a difference in organic vs. non-organic powdered sugar. Thank you!

      • Lindsey says:

        You c an make your own powdered sugar, which means you don’t have to add corn starch as a preservative. Grind sugar until it turns to the fine powder of confectioner’s sugar. That’s it. You will end up with double the volume you started with, so if you need a cup, then start with a half cup of regular sugar. We never buy confectioner’s sugar because I don’t use it that much and it just sits around staring at me. Far easier to make my own.

    • Nora says:

      We have a generator plug on our panel for this purpose. We can pick which zones to turn on and off. After losing power for a week in our old house, my husband invested in a used generator. He enjoys fixing them up and tinkering so it was a low cost investment for him. When we redid our electrical panel to get it up to code in our new house, we got the plug. Since then, we have not lost power. Every storm, my husband fills his gas tanks, moves the generator next to the house (outside so the fumes go out but close enough to plug in) and eagerly awaits. My parents live 2.5 miles from us and have lost power several times. I think the generator is an insurance policy against fun. Or whatever my husband thinks that is.

      We got my aunt a generator (another $50-100 swap meet find that he fixed up) because she loses power often but it was too unwieldy for her to use. I doubt I would ever use our’s by myself so it’s not a great solution for everyone.

      Echoing the power outage and toilet well situation, another family member used to use pool water in the summer to force flush toilets when needed during power outages. With all the snow I would think you could melt it by the stove in a glass or plastic jug (not too close) and use that. This is also a good reminder to me that I need to stock up on drinking water as we often lose power when snow is not on the ground.

  4. Michaell says:

    Wow, this was a lot to handle lol. The snow on the trees and land looks so beautiful but yet destructive as it took out your power. That must have been tough but you made the best out of the situation and handled it like a pro. Awesome post!

  5. Wendy says:

    Fun times, you’ll become accustomed to losing power.
    I grew up a bit further south in MA and we lost power all the time. In the basement we stored gallons of water in cleaned/bleached used plastic milk jugs to force flush the toilet. You just pour a bunch of water all at once into the (used) bowl and everything goes down, no electric required.

    • Anne says:

      Yes – fill your bathtubs with water and then use a bucket (beach Pail would work fine) to dump water in the toilet to flush. This is used all the time in rural areas of developing countries that have sanitation but are not hooked up to the electric.

      • Nora says:

        I forgot about the tub method too – my family friend would fill her bath tub before big storms so she had extra water if her well went out! I really miss town/public water!

      • MEM says:

        The Frugalwoods have two small children – this is not advised in their situation. A serious safety hazard. But a good idea if you have older children.

    • Ashlee says:

      I was going to mention using a bucket too! I grew up in rural northern MN and we would do this when we lost power. If you don’t have the water reserves to use as flush water you can bring in snow and let it melt in a bucket – it doesn’t need to be potable so no need to boil it.

  6. Owen says:

    I love the idea of living on a homestead, but I’m not going to lie, that “to-do” list looks exhausting!

    I’m kinda liking my 1/4 acre now.

  7. Oh man, Mrs. Frugalwoods. You are such a champ! Our longest stretch without power in NH was a day and a half. And it was rough! (We had the same water situation). We also never bought a generator and boy am I glad, since we never ended up needing it (pro tip: make friends with people who have a generator so you can go use their shower!!!). Sending hugs and wishes for an entire winter of electricity for you!!!

  8. chris says:

    I also live in VT though more in a city in southern vermont. I did get a quote for a Tesla battery but we rarely lose power so I did not end up going with it (even though we have solar panels) since it did involve some rework of our electrical. I did though buy a generator when it was on sale (actually 2), a smaller inverter type that does good clean power ($300) and a bigger one that runs on bottled propane ($400). I have to say I was glad to have them when we lost power for a couple day. Made life a lot easier, being able to run our pellet stove, run the fridge, charge things up, etc. There are a lot of options these days in generators if your looking for using one once in a while.

  9. Christine K. says:

    You handled the extended power outages really well! I remember being without power in the dead of winter for 6 days in the same general area you now inhabit. As a kid it wasn’t hugely traumatic (although I’m sure my parents would tell another story!), but I do remember flushing with a bucket and that it was pretty cold until the fire got going. My folks bought their generator after this experience. You just never know when the heavy snow is going to come in New England.

  10. Chas says:

    I live in Virginia, in a small town, where I am used to losing power. We, too, have solar panels, but those don’t work in power outages (yet–hardware updates promised in 2019) but they won’t work if covered with snow.

    The key switch in our thinking was to think “emergency power” rather than “whole house power.” A whole-house unit is, in my opinion, a waste of money–you probably want a service contract on that, it runs once a week just to keep it operational, it has far more power than you need in an emergency… (Do you really need to run your central A/C, or if you need A/C would a small window unit be enough?) So we got a small, 2300-watt Honda inverter generator–reliable and enough. It should run the fridge and the furnace fan as well as some lights. And yes, the coffee grinder. We have lost power during snow storms for days at a time, and have lost power often enough that we decided we needed it. We’re getting estimates on a crossover switch, as you don’t want to feed power to the grid when it could electrocute a worker or a person who contacts a downed wire. This will allow us to use the circuit breakers to route the power to only those outlets that we need to use (and we can use wired in appliances such as ceiling fans and overhead lights), and we won’t have to string extension cords all over the house.

    There are many generators that are far less expensive (and have more features, run longer on a tank of gas, more efficient) than the Honda, but we went for reliability. [Disclaimer: I have no vested interest in the company.] The power went out two months ago, and it was nice to be able to know the food in the fridge was safe, make coffee, have Internet/phones etc. even if it meant stringing extension cords. We knew we were ready last week when we were expecting a 3″ to 6″ snowfall (and we got 13″)–luckily, not needed.

  11. Patti Browning says:

    For us, no power, no water. We fill up washer with water for use, bought a small power pack…you pre charge & can charge in car also. People use them for C.pap camping. And we sit on edge of tub & pee. #2 is whole other problem. We have soar garden lights also. I loved the cluttered picture…talk about real life! Check out the power packs on amazon, well worth it, & tiny. Would run your noise machine & nightlight.

  12. Kathryn says:

    I have a 2 month old baby and when the power went out pre kid, it’s a bummer, especially in winter when it’s dark so early, but every one survives. Take out, go out to dinner, have a few drinks after work, why rush, can’t do anything anyways… With baby… I am terrified lol better locate those flashlights!!

  13. David says:

    +1 for a whole-house generator with its own electrical sub-panel. I can’t imagine living on a snowy, remote homestead without one (just my 2 cents here – YMMV). Not particularly frugal initially, but fantastic for peace of mind and working from home. Also, a generator installation could make for several interesting blog articles, so some of the initial cost might be offset by additional revenue or write-offs.

  14. The power outage on snowy days sounded really scary. It’s great you can burn wood to keep the house warm.

    On those days when it’s freezing outside, I’m paranoid about the power going out or the heater breaking, leaving us freezing at night. If it were just me and hubby, I’d have no issue with it. But we have two young kids, so I’m just so afraid of them getting sick. >_<

  15. Shari says:

    Thank you Mrs. Frugalwoods – a fabulous update, while assuredly not funny at the time, had me laughing out loud – multiple times – in the retelling. Just brilliant.

  16. We’ve been in VT for 18 years, and just roughed it through various power outages… But this fall we got a Tesla powerwall, and I have to say, it is FABULOUS to not lose water (my least favorite part of power outages). We also like being part of the energy distribution solution that reduces the need for the power company to buy coal-sourced power during peak demand times. Pretty painless way to help reduce fossil fuel use!
    But thank you for your vivid description of November; I really enjoy your colorful accounting.

  17. Erin says:

    I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan and we lost power once for several days. This is one of my best childhood memories! We got to sleep in front of the fireplace and had tomato soup cooked on the heater. Magical! But probably stressful for my parents.

    I echo Wendy’s comment above about force flushing the toilet (I live in a city now and still do that if we have a power out).

    And finally: buy a jar of instant coffee and put it in your cupboard. You can mix instant coffee with cold or room temp water. Not exactly the way you’d want it but better than a raging caffeine headache!

  18. Sandy says:

    You brought back so many memories for me! Thank You! Especially the winter preparations, having lived in northern Ontario we did a lot of preparation for winter from spring to October. The snow arrived sometimes mid October. Our wood was complete by summer and the garden was finished by October, but we only learned this from early fall surprises! Batteries and propane were life savers. I love the battery powered candles and all sorts of camping lights now available. The propane cook stoves are great, not a BBQ, but one with burners to cook on, still use it outside for canning. You really did well with 2 little ones, kudos to you!! Stored water in 45 gallon drums for flushing is a great idea also.

  19. Jana Colgin says:

    I love the moniker “Kidwoods.” It’s super cute!

    We’re on a well water system too. I’ve become a water hoarder in fear of losing power and access to our water. I have 5 gallon jugs stored under every bed, in the laundry room, out in the barn! You can never have too much water!

  20. Kim says:

    You could get a battery (Powerwall) to go with your solar panels instead of a generator. Funny post. I was laughing with you…not at you? =)

  21. Bec B. says:

    “Lounge on the floor tickling one another’s chins, playing a decadent game of Scrabble.” Mrs. FW, you have quite the way with words. I’m still giggling over here!

    Your snow story is making me flash back to my sister’s senior year in high school (I was in 7th) when we got a freak snowstorm two days after Christmas break ended and were out of school again for two weeks (after being out for two plus weeks already). We thankfully had power, but one day it was clear enough that my sister called my parents at work and begged to let us go to town. They said no and my sister lost it, and started beating on furniture. I stood there dumbfounded. Dust was flying everywhere and, being of the passive aggressive Midwestern sort, I was terrified by the epic display of emotion. That was 20 years ago (killed me to realize and type that), and we still talk about it!

    I would echo the comments about having gallons of water around for the toilets and hand washing. And maybe a few gallons of wine around too, in case you need to use it medicinally.

  22. Sue C says:

    We live on an island in the Pacific NW so don’t get a lot of snow…normally. But we do have outages. The only thing I can say is wash the babies in a small tub and use the water to flush. And since you have all that lovely snow, take your refrigerated food outside into the snow. It works.

  23. Alison says:

    Grandpa always filled the bathtub ahead of a storm. Plenty of water for toilet flushing and general hygiene during a normal outage that way.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yes indeed, that would be ideal. The challenge is that we have one bathtub, which is an ancient clawfoot tub that doesn’t properly hold water!

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        P.S. we plan to replace it!!!!

        • Bec B. says:

          We have an ancient tub that drains water really badly, but this tub stopper keeps it all in as long as I don’t fill it above the emergency drain thingy at the top: https://amzn.to/2S78LYT I’ve even opened the drain but forgotten to move this thing, and was shocked when I walked in the bathroom an hour later and the whole tub was still filled (you have kiddos so please don’t do this!). I just put it in place before closing the drain and filling the tub. It works especially well if you light a few candles and have a glass or two of wine!

        • Mary says:

          Or put a few large garbage bags in the tub, fill them with water and tie the shut. Safer around the kids too.

  24. Sara Lynch says:

    Wow! Every season is a learning opportunity! I mentioned in an Instagram post that a generator might be in your future. I have a fridge/freezer in my kitchen, a chest freezer in my basement and a standing freezer in my garage. I would want to have a generator to keep these running if I lost power, because they are crammed with food. Everything else would be ok. I have a cast iron Dutch oven and can cook on my woodstove. I guess everyone’s situation calls for different priorities. I’m glad you made it intact and still had a lovely november

  25. jleebeane says:

    Mrs. Frugalwoods, where are you on “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down”? I ask both in general and with regard to a no-toilet power outage. For me it’s less about frugality than environmentalism (although this is an area where they clearly overlap), but during a power outage I can see the value in waiting a few “uses” before manually flushing with a bucket of water.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yes, I’m with you on rationing flushes and that’s exactly the methodology we followed. The challenge is when the power is out for quite some time… But it all worked out in the end 🙂

  26. Dorothy says:

    It is actually much better for everyone, including children to sleep in complete darkness. Red blood cells are responsive to light and it inhibits melatonin production which helps us fall asleep and stay asleep

  27. Susan says:

    Oh, Momma, we wouldn’t laugh so hard if it wasn’t so true. I also lived through several days of power outages with a toddler. You are doing great. And the years will get easier. I PROMISE.

  28. Dalyn says:

    We in Brookfield were right there with you. FIVE days straight with no power and, hence, no water. Getting three kids ready for school in the dark? I’d like to avoid that in the future, but we are in the same situation and hesitant to pull the trigger on a generator. We lost a little food, but it was mostly inconvenience so I’m not sure it’s worth thousands of dollars.

  29. Ethel says:

    Laughing down here! I have a trail/hiking headlamp. I wore it like a dog collar si when the interruptions in ’lectricity came again I knew right where it was. Went to the tax sale as part of my job and realized i had my dog collar on!
    When your out “frugal hunting” pick up those random milk crates. They stack and hold starter water in gallon jugs. I don’t use milk jugs to store water as they are too hard to truly clean to keep water safe for drinking. I just keep a few around and fill for winter. Come spring I use up the water clean sanitize and keep for next year.
    I don’t have a generator been here a long time At 74 it’s not simple but unless you have health issues that require the juice, an outage is a good reminder – be greatful for luxury and ease- could be 1620 no house no wood just some natives and a turkey!!

  30. Liz says:

    Oh my goodness! We have a 3.5 year old and a 1/5 year old. I could see ourselves in your stories. I have dying laughing!- while at work! Kudos to you for not getting a generator on the outset(something I’m convinced my husband would do). Any chance we can get the adult mac and cheese recipe? It sounds delicious! Best of luck with the winter moving forward.

  31. Candy says:

    If you’re without power in cold weather load the contents of your fridge and freezer into coolers and store in the garage or any cold place you can keep raccoons out. The food will last frozen a few days and give you the opportunity to eat as much from the freezer as you can.
    And write down your prep list to post on the fridge while you remember it all, checking all the items off ahead of a front moving in will give you peace of mind.
    Merry Christmas!

  32. Katie Camel says:

    November might have been painful for you, but it was delightful for us readers, particularly Kidwoods doing crafts in her bathing suit! It never ceases to amaze me how little kids can wear little to nothing during the winter and not notice the chill. While last month may have been a challenge, to say the least, for you Mr. FW, I think you’ll all look back fondly upon those memories and will be glad you’ve recorded and shared them here.

    Wishing you all a happy holiday season and a Merry Christmas! Thank you for helping me return to my frugal roots this past year! 🙂 Best wishes in the New Year!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! And happy holidays to you too!!! Yeah, Kidwoods went on a bathing suit kick in the middle of the blizzard, so we told her it was fine to wear it indoors, but that for school and church and other outings, she did have to wear clothes–she said, “ok that sounds fair.” haha, oh kids…

  33. Juls Owings says:

    I had to laugh ..sorry ,but we grew up in the country… and then moved to the city for 20 yrs and then moved back to the country and forgot about electric running the well pump. We do have 2 generators. One gas bought on sale ($400 2 yrs ago) and one diesel ($700 bought last year but will run the entire house) bought at auction. That way we have fuel (as we have a diesel fuel tank) for either. It’s not hard to work on either. Like working on a riding lawn mower which is less than the tractor you have.
    We use oil lamps, neighbor uses kerosene lamps …they are Amish. Have a camping toilet will help in the bathroom and 1 gal of water per person per day for 7 days works good also. IF you only open your frig 1 time (not in front of children or they will want more) and put food in cooler to use for the day, it’s not a bad option.We cover the freezers with blankets. It helps.
    OH you can boil whole coffee beans several times to get coffee.

  34. Amy says:

    I laughed SO HARD reading this…this might be my favorite post of yours of all time, because it was so funny and ALL true! We had a 24-hour power outage last month and it nearly killed me with a 7-year-old and a 3-year-old (YES to the unending questions of who does and does not have electricity in our neighborhood, our family and the world). I think I would have poked my own eyes out if I’d had a baby and a toddler during multiple days of no power. You deserve a big bottle of wine after this 😀

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hahah–the questions, oh my goodness the questions! Glad to hear I’m not alone in this :)! I love that Kidwoods is inquisitive and curious, but I was ready to poke my eye out with the endless ‘lectricity queries…

  35. JD says:

    Since we live in Florida — hurricanes and lightning storms abounding — we got a portable generator which can be as little as $600 depending on size. Ours was around $1000, if I remember right. A relative has a whole house generator, but honestly, I’m not sure we would need one. Ours is a Honda (I don’t work for Honda either, we just like their reliability) and the only thing we wish we had done was get one with a different starter — that rope can be tough when you have a damaged shoulder like my husband, or you’re a wimpy five-footer like me. We can power the well pump, lights, most small appliances, ceiling fans, water heater, refrigerators (two) and freezer (one). We don’t have enough power to cook, but we can live on cold stuff or use the grill. We have power outages a LOT, because we live in a heavily forested part of the state, and all those trees like to drop limbs or fall down on power lines. It doesn’t take a huge whole house generator to make a big difference in a power outage.
    What an adventure you went through — and it’s always funnier after it’s over, isn’t it? — but you made it, and now you have a better idea of how to face this the next time it happens.
    One thing several rural people here have done — and this isn’t something every plumber/well person can do — is to install a hand pump as an auxiliary pump on their wells. You can feel all 1850 and still have water. Just make sure you always have a big bucket of water around to prime it when you first use it.

  36. Diana Hickman says:

    This November was our first in our homestead in Vermont. We moved here in September from Texas, and we did what we could to get ready, but November really caught us unprepared. We were told we had more time, but we were snowed under long before official Winter got here. We also have a well with an electric pump, a wood/propane furnace, and solar arrays on the house and garage. We do have the Tesla Power Wall, but the preious owners had taken their credit out in August, and left the collectors unplugged, so we only had an extra 12 hours when the power went out. Of course, that went, too, and suddenly the list of things we had planned to get/do before real winter became more urgent once the power came back on. We have two neighbors with generators, and they have offered help if we need it in the future. We must live in the same general area in central Vermont. We get way more snow up here than they do even in our nearby village. Next year our power wall will give us more, but even so, we are now considering a generator just in case.

  37. Brenna says:

    Here’s another vote for a generator! We live in rural Washington, and our <$1000 generator takes a power outage from major hassle to minor inconvenience. We can run our water (also on a well here), preserve our cold food, and use the microwave or toaster oven to quickly prepare hot food. We can also intermittently plug in little things like lights, cell phones, etc. We have propane for heating and for stovetop cooking, but even with that, I wouldn't want to be without our generator.

    Just last night, the power went out while my husband was away at jiu jitsu class, and thanks to the generator he was able to take a shower when he got home. So he felt much better, and I didn't have to sleep next to a man covered in not only his own stale sweat but that of the 20 or so others in his class…

    And we don't even have kids! I can only imagine how much easier life would be with a generator if there were kids involved.

  38. Lol, I love the before & after look at “Life without power”. We’re still fine with candlelight 🙂 That said, we do have a generator as our heat is electric and it is way too cold here to go without. We bought it with coupons and credit card points. It also took a full six months to get electricity connected on our property, so we used it quite a bit in the beginning.
    Now it is a “just in case” item, but I can’t imagine being without heat.

  39. Derek says:

    Consider a PTO generator for your Kubota tractor. Little to no maintenance, lower up front cost, take power anywhere on your property, great for emergency power backup. Mr. FW can wire a transfer switch to your electrical panel and have it inspected by an electrician to ensure it’s safe.

  40. Barbi K. says:

    Oh , did you have me laughing !! You have the gift of story telling. You love your family and will do what needs to be done for them, this proves it. Some great life lessons were learned and you’ll be all the wiser, if there’s a next time. You can depend on the weather to do what it wants , when it wants. So be prepared and hopefully nothing too exciting happens with it. Merry Christmas to your family, hope you guys make lots of memories.

  41. Torrie says:

    Ha ha, this was hilarious….made me feel a whole lot better about the shenanigans that go down in our own house of a 3-year-old and a baby! Keep on keepin’ it real!

    Also, side note: my husband and I have long cherished a dream of moving out to a homestead ourselves and are now trying to plan out costs of everything. I’ve been a longtime reader, but I can’t remember you doing a post specifically on all the start-up costs of doing a homestead. Am I just forgetting? Or would that be something you would be willing to post? thanks in advance!

  42. Sarah says:

    Just wait for the game of POWER OUTAGE! to hit your children’s play. A town full of little people all run and scream when the power goes out. But then one resourceful little person will lecture the others that it’s not so bad. My kids lost a Halloween to a power outage several years ago and I still hear about it every year like it was a national tragedy.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hahaha, national tragedy, yep sounds about right. Kidwoods felt that not having her noise machine amounted to torture.

  43. Sharon Stanley says:

    Wow. Quite the cluster! But what an experience to share and you do it so well! We live on a farm and need to be able to water our cattle so a generator is a necessity. That said it’s one thing to power a barn and another, a house. While we have a home generator that runs off a tractor, it’s loud and smelly, but it works. We generally cut it off when we go to bed. But, after years and years of many power outages, if we had it to do over we would pay the money to have a “whole house” generator. The sooner the better. The sooner you get it the more years you have to use it. And it doesn’t have to power the entire home…you can get different sizes. Money well spent. My two cents worth.

    • Jan says:

      Oh, to have dairy cows that need milked during a power outage. They can eat snow for water, but hand milking is REALLY tough with a bunch of cows and no generator. The milk has to go down the drain because it can not be cooled. The roads are unpassable because of the snow and the milk-truck can not get in anyhow.

  44. Derek says:

    Consider a PTO generator for your Kubota. Little to no maintenance, less expensive than traditional self-powered generators, take power anywhere on your property, great back up power in emergencies. Have Mr FW install a transfer switch to your panel and have it inspected by an electrician. Not a salesman here, just a fellow rural dweller. https://www.absolutegenerators.com/blog/4-reasons-why-pto/

  45. Jacinta says:

    You should follow the prepping community. They show you how to live off grid and have enough supplies to last if you cant get out for weeks or months (snow storm etc).

  46. Wow, I’m cold just looking at your fotos! I was going to suggest a hand grinder for coffee myself, as that’s what I use. Sounds like you made it through OK, though. So now you can have confidence that whatever Mother Nature throws you, you can handle it.

  47. Lindsey says:

    I live in northern Alaska and would never go without a generator. We have had days without power and when that happens and it is 20 or 30 below outside, the house cools down very quickly and pipes are in danger of freezing. Also, these days I am waiting for the grid to be taken down in some bombing incident and it could be weeks before the power came back on. To me the $900 we spent on a generator, and the gas cans we keep full to power it, are worth it for the peace of mind alone. We also have tubs kept available so if the electricity were off long enough to allow thawing to start, we would fill the tubs and bury them in the snow to keep things frozen.

  48. Jeanne Swygart says:

    Some of my favorite childhood memories are of extreme snows and outages. Dad made sure we had a light and Mom always had food tucked away. My brothers and I played cards and board games. Love your accounts of life with children.

  49. Susan says:

    While rustic camping, we have also enjoyed freshly made gas station pizza. It can be delicious! Even under normal circumstances, I’d be happy to eat it again. 😉

  50. Kel says:

    I know virtually nothing about solar. But hereabouts in upstate NY, lots of people use roof rakes to clear snow from the front of their roofs to help prevent ice dams. That’s not an issue you have with a metal roof! But I wonder, could you use a roof rake to clear snow off the solar panels? If it wouldn’t damage them, that might be a good investment.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      This is a good question! We do, in fact, have a roof rake that we bought with the intention of clearing the panels, but so far, it just hasn’t been very effective because we don’t want to damage the panels, but a lighter touch means the snow doesn’t come off. So… we mostly just wait for the sun to melt it off!

  51. Stephie N says:

    Kiddo celebrations are so hard! I want to be able to give the kids the world for their birthday and have them enjoy that magical excitement…. but alas we haven’t the funds for that kind of kiddo fun.. especially as we have five kids! We have kids excited for and planning their best birthday ever every year still.. Our plans are usually them deciding the menu for the day and what kind of dessert they want (or in the wee ones case us choosing their current favorites to serve for the day) and clothing gifts with usually one maybe two toys or books or other items that we’ve carefully sourced or planned for financially.. that way they get things they need (clothes) and something special that’s picked out with them in mind, but we don’t go overboard and so far the kids have understood that they are loved and feel special for their big day.. the other part of birthdays for us actually comes from Jewish tradition to read the psalm that aligns with your age for the year. Something we do on their Hebrew birthday, so it’s separate from their western calendar birthday, but it’s something that we sit down with just them to read together their psalm of the year, I feel like it’s super special, but hey I’m the mom… lol
    It sounds like you’ve got the same mind set of simple frugal, but special for the kids.. I thought I’d share how we try and make it special 😉 Other frugal weirdos might be watching and need pointers!

  52. Wendy says:

    That was a great read! Wow, so much snow. Here in NZ we are in early summer and complaining about too much rain but I don’t think we really have too much to contend with.

    That macaroni cheese sounds delicious!

    Warmest good wishes to all you guys and wishing you a wonderful Christmas!

  53. Rachel says:

    Ice storm in Central MA, 4 days without power and 4 kids 9 years old and under – we took mattresses and covered the doorways leading upstairs and heated the remaining kitchen/living room with woodstove and we all slept on floor in front of it under tons of blankets. One year old slept in pack in play. We managed to save some food by putting it out in the snow/ice but by the 2nd day the temps went up to near 50 so we lost A LOT of food. Never again. We purchased a relatively inexpensive generator for around $900 and it has saved us that much in food over the last 10 years.
    We did not spend the money to hard wire it though but I highly recommend it for older adults living in areas such as ours. My elderly parents have one that uses propane and it is one less thing I need to worry about when I hear another storm is hitting them in central Maine!

  54. Rebecca Nels says:

    OMG, I loved reading this post! Kids really do change everything. I remember one internet outage where we were trying to explain to our girls that they couldn’t watch Netflix (no cable for us) and they just didn’t understand. They saw that the TV would turn on, and didn’t understand how that meant they couldn’t watch!

  55. Cindy in the South says:

    I have a solar oven because most of our power issues happen in warmer weathee and involve tornadoes and/or tropical storms. I have a 14 day supply of water in jugs. I use mostly fresh, dried, and canned food. I live in the deep south and have a sleeping bag rated for zero and quilts, in case of power issues in the winter.

  56. Kathy says:

    When we lived in Maine, we had frequent power outages and invested in a hardwired generator that automatically kicked in when the power went out but only to important things like the freezer, refrigerator, water pump and yes, ornamental fish tank (way more important than tv ha ha). It took away the worry. Honestly I’m not sure how we worked it to only power certain things (probably via circuit board). We had a wood stove to keep warm. Now we have upgraded to a very small 12×12 in the woods without power but only during summers. We have solar and honestly it works really well (it will even power a coffee grinder!). Maybe that can be an alternative for you – solar power back up? It is also an investment but I would think less maintenance than a generator? We will eventually build ourselves a small house and we plan to use all solar. And oh, we don’t have kids so there’s that LOL.

  57. Monica says:

    My son is in college in Vermont and the snow has been amazing this year! On other fronts a bit of a warning – My niece became “addicted” to having white noise when she slept – it became a problem when she went to college and had a roommate and also when she has to share a room with cousins or others…maybe a good idea to try life without white noise now and then?!

  58. Annie says:

    I second/third the votes for a wired-in generator. You lose a couple of freezers’ worth of food from an extended outage and that will nearly pay for it. Family members who live in the country would not be without one. Esp if I was on well water I’d have it.

  59. Meyli says:

    My husband will probably think differently, but I would also hesitate to buy a generator after all that. If we had a wood stove or other way of heat, I would like to skip spending money on a generator. But we don’t have e to worry about any of this yet, as we rent an apartment right now!
    When I was a kid, I always liked cooking food over the fire when the power went out. It was like we were camping!

  60. A.H. says:

    You could make a composting toilet. LOL!!! Sawdust & a seat on a box!

  61. SisterX says:

    The next time you get stuck without power, if you have a compost pile you can dump the contents of the baby potty in there. It’s high in nitrogen and really good for plants! (You can dump it straight on plants as fertilizer if you water it down due to the salt content. But composting it works really well and removes the ick factor.) That way at least you don’t have pee sitting around for days on end, potentially!
    It’s also really helpful to have basically a power outage station. We have a bag in the linen closet with the basics–candles, matches, flashlights–so it’s all in one easy to find place as soon as the power goes out. And easy to see what we have, so we can replace items as needed. FWIW, with small children around we have ZERO tapered candles. Everything is in glass, because it’s far harder for little ones to accidentally burn themselves, knock them over to start fires, or drape clothing into.

  62. Kim says:

    Power outages aside, I noticed you burn trees for your regular heat source in the winter. Have you looked into the environmental impact difference between that and the oil heaters you have? Not cost effectiveness as one is obviously much cheaper given you have your own trees, but environmental. Just curious as there are obviously few 100% “clean” options for heating in below freezing temperatures, but wood burning is a huge no no where we live (similar temperature/weather to you) because of the pollution it creates and traps in the valley. But obviously using any kind of fuel (oil, propane, coal, trees, whatever) is going to have some environmental impact so I’m wondering if you have any insight for me as to pro/con in that area.

  63. Betty says:

    I’d love to know how Mr. FW working from home was impacted by the extended power outage. Did he need to take some time off as vacation due to the lack of power or did he head to the library or another spot to work? As a remote worker, I’ve wondered what I would do in an extended outage situation and don’t have a good plan myself. Glad to hear your family made it through ok!

  64. Betty says:

    Could you share with us what Mr. FW did for work with the extended outage? Did he have to take some time off or did he head to the library, etc. for internet? As a remote worker myself, I realized I have no plan for an extended power outage and I’m wondering how you guys dealt with that aspect. Glad to hear you and your family made it through ok!

  65. Mari says:

    Please post Mr. FW’s adult mac and cheese recipe! It sounds yummy!

  66. Ariana says:

    Don’t get a generator! Get a solar panel reverser! It will melt the snow off while preserving your warranty.
    http://www.keisolar.com/automatic-solar-panel-snow-removal/

  67. B says:

    Thank you for being real. It’s so refreshing to read your blog and what it is like being a mother. Happy birthday to Kidwoods. I laughed a lot in this post. I have a 3 year old and 12 month old and we are in Australia (in the tropics) and we are in cyclone season, plus it was the hottest November on record. So we have had the stay indoors a fair bit. I laugh how my 3 year old asks questions and wants to learn, but oh my…the talking. They have a joke up here- when a cyclone has formed the busiest shop is the bottle shop (sells alcohol). I now know why…it is medicinal for us with toddlers in blackouts!! I love what you did for Kidwoods’ birthday. I have decided to not care what others think re our sons’ birthdays. So we have only had family parties so far. They haven’t asked for anything else. I think they are happy with tacos, chocolate cake, balloons and streamers. I love how you keep it simple!

  68. LongTimeFrugal says:

    Generator with the idiot-proof box that allows you to run essentials if no power – essentials being well, some lights, frig/freezers, furnace, stove (if not electric), and whatever else your generator will handle. Lived too many years sans generator (with and without kids) – won’t do it again. Doesn’t take much to maintain a generator.

  69. tango says:

    We’re on a well too, so when a big storm is coming, we fill the bathtubs with water so that we can flush the toilets using a bucket. I also consolidate the freezers and fridge so that we maximize the cold; depending on the storm, I may also put stuff into a cooler so I don’t have to open the freezer or fridge. We made the decision to purchase a small portable QUIET Honda generator when we realized that the flood damage from losing the sump pumps would far, far outweigh the cost of the generator. It will run the sump, fridge and freezer, plus we can cycle in the crockpot, pellet stove, fans, or well pump, etc. In general though, we don’t run the generator until it’s been an extended outage; we strive to instill resiliency, flexibility and adaptability in our girls, so we treat power outages as unexpected “holidays” where we get creative, play differently, enjoy a different rhythm. My girls are teens now, but they still come up with some kind of performance (skits, songs, Polynesian fire dancing!) to entertain us. And they build their repertoire and proficiency with electricity-free cooking techniques. 🙂

  70. Tom says:

    https://greenmountainpower.com/product/powerwall/

    Love your blog, We live in Maine and lost power for a long time during 1997 ice storm with similar age children, we bought wood stove as emergency back up, We have solar and EV at the moment would love to add Powerwall for back up in future.

    As you pointed you and Mr. Frugalwoods will need to fuel, oil and maintain a Gas or propane generator.
    Go electric you already have solar!!
    2-3 powerwalls should take care of your “frugal” electric uses.
    If you can wait a few years batter power will be much cheaper!
    Vermont green mountain power is led by amazing woman who is really trying to get many customers powerwalls for the blackouts of the future,
    Hopefully they re instate the program

  71. Mrs. FW, you are doing great…just one tiny suggestion…have a purse or larger battery around to make sure your phone and ipad are always charged. That way you can run a Noise app for several days that MIGHT satisfy your toddler and baby…I can’t sleep without it! However, I do understand that your Internet and phone lines were out anyway…but games can also be played on battery only…just sayin’….Best Regards!

  72. Laura says:

    Just a thought (sorry if someone mentioned this). My dad is from upstate New York, so when we lost power from being snowed in, he just stuck the perishables from the fridge into a snow bank he made on the porch near the door. He did have to plan getting food around people going outside to play, but at least the food was accessible and safe from spoilage.

  73. I can truly relate to this. When my children were young, we lived on 13 acres in Sanbornton, NH. The snow piled so high one December that we ran out of room to push it off our 1,000 foot driveway and couldn’t leave our property for several days. We had to dig trenches for the dogs to go outside. We also spent a week camped out in front of our fieldstone fireplace to stay warm since we had no power. It was fun at first, playing games with the kids and reading books by candlelight. But, they got bored really quickly, and that was the end of the fun. We had a well with a pump, so no water for us without power. Thankfully, I had stockpiled jugs of water so we could brush our teeth and do cursory baths. Hurray for generators! We bought one as soon as we could clear our road.

  74. Jubilantjill says:

    Growing up in the mountains of NC the power went out regularly every winter for days at a time. We had a wood stove and water from a spring up the hill (yay, gravity!) so power outages were relatively painless. The hardest part was waking up for school without an alarm clock. When I built my own small cabin I went for a propane cook stove and on demand water heater. Now, when the power goes out it’s pretty much a non-event. I can see how limited water would be annoying, though. Our neighbors with wells would just fill the tub or melt snow. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t just heat snow on your wood stove and give the kids a bath like normal? Also invest in a good lantern. We used kerosene but now there’s fancy LED ones. A crank radio let’s you feel less isolated too and it’s fun as a kid.

  75. Sugandha says:

    Hi Frugalwoods! My husband and I live in India and blog about Early retirement in India. We love reading your blog posts- monthly updates, frugal hacks, raising your kids. We are a parents to 5 months old and can totally relate to your baby posts! During my pregnancy I binge read all your baby posts. We recommend your blog to our readers amongst our 4 fav international blogs.https://savinghabit.com/our-favorite-early-retirement-blogs-international/ a while back. Inspite of living in a different country- with lots of cultural differences as well, we find your blog very useful.Sending lots of love to you and your family!!!

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