Farm Adventures: Overnight Ice Storm

The temperatures have been dropping and we’ve already seen a bit of slush this month. Last night, it began to sleet after dark, pinging off the windows and frosting hard surfaces with ice. This morning, the trees were wearing heavy ice coats like oversized suits of armor. All that weight caused branches to break off trees and, unsurprisingly, caused the power to go out. Here’s how the morning went…

The power here goes out periodically, usually in the summer when power demand is high (during stretches of really hot weather, almost without fail), during windstorms throughout the year, and, reliably, during ice storms. Today’s was particularly problematic because it had rained yesterday (prior to the sleet) and we have a sump pump in our basement. That means the pump doesn’t move the water out of the sump basin…but it keeps draining in there. Curses!!

Early morning workout: bailing water out of the sump basin. It’s such fun crouching down and scooping water out of the fairly narrow pit with a plastic container (repurposed!) and filling a 5-gallon bucket. And then carrying that bucket outside and dumping it. After two and a half hours of this, the power was restored. Now that was celebration-worthy!

If you’ve never seen a submersible sump pump before, this is what it looks like. It pumps below-grade (basement level) groundwater out, discharging it above grade.

The 3/4 hp motor makes short work of emptying the sump basin…MUCH better than doing it manually!

Needless to say, this was a good reminder that certain critically-important equipment requires power at all times – regardless of the weather conditions – so we’ll be getting ourselves a generator to power the sump pump, at least (and it would be nice to be able to power the refrigerator during an outage, too).

You forget how dark and quiet your house can actually become until every light source blinks off, along with music players, HVAC, the refrigerator…fortunately, we had our LED lanterns, headlamps, and flashlights nearby, so we were able to at least see what we were doing and where we were going until it was light out. And the scenery was striking: the ice-encrusted plants and trees are eerily eye-catching.

Snow is in the forecast for this afternoon, so I’m hoping the ice will melt from the trees before any snow piles on…and that one day, we’ll be able to meet our own homestead power needs without being dependent on the grid. Until then, we’ll implement Plan B (or G?).

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