Sunday, January 6, 2013

-21? It must be January in New Brunswick

The North Lake F.D., Len and our well being filled

The winter elements have been extreme this year. Three heavy storms in less than a week, close to 3 feet of snow all added together, 27 hours without power, sub zero temperatures at -21C and -30C with the wind chill, lots of wood burning in the stove and if that wasn't enough, this week, frozen water pipes and an empty well! 

British Columbia, you are starting to look good again! Yes there has been more than one moment over the past week where I have contemplated about returning to the land of milk and honey, the Canadian Hawaii, Vancouver Island. Alas, it will not be, we do like it here but even if we wanted to, the price of property and resale would not get us back. We are here to stay, endure, enjoy and work. 

During the last week it was impossible to stay warm. We bundled up, layered clothing, had blankets on our legs, covered our heads while we slept to keep the snot from crystallizing in our noses while we snored and I was grateful that my husband's body temperature seems to perpetually run about 20 degrees higher than the normal person as I lay entwined with him all night just to keep warm.

Then on Wednesday, I took Rachel and her boyfriend Adrian to Moncton to shop for prom dresses. (The dress is for Rachel, they didn't have Adrian's size so we settled on a tux for him.) This seemed like a good plan, no snow or precipitation in the forecast, clear skies, but the wind! OMG! It whistled through the car, I had the heat going on almost full blast the whole trip and a car blanket on my legs! BRR! 

The best part of the day, besides finding her dream princess prom dress that made my heart scream with joy at her beauty, at her future prospects and all she has gone through to get to this point... Sorry, I digress, the second best part of the day was meeting old friends from Nanaimo in Moncton for lunch. We spent at least 2 hours sitting, talking, visiting, reminiscing, comparing our lives now and I know we could have easily stayed twice as long if we did not have a schedule to keep. Thank you Janice and family - it was WONDERFUL! PS And I loved winning the free entree!

Every time we got out of the car, the cold and wind would literally suck the breath out of our bodies. The worst part was on the way home, when we stopped at Costco in Fredericton. Walking in I must have left my deerskin fleece lined gloves in the car, because coming out, I could barely hang onto the cart - well that would be true except that I think my fingers had frozen to the bar handle. By the time we got to the car, the tips of my fingers were tingling that painful frozen feeling and I yelled "OPEN THE CAR! Get my gloves out!" There was no way to empty the cart without them, I could barely hang onto anything I had bought.

Thursday, we were happy to be home, if not completely warm, at least inside. That is until we discovered the downstairs bathroom had completely frozen - all the pipes, pfft! Nothing. So we called a neighbour, nice young buck, about 50 years old (um, in this neighbourhood, that is young!) He spent a good two hours, in the crawl space, under our house, trying to thaw the pipes and warming things up (not him, he was damn cold!) but with little success. The week prior we had a similar problem and I think in that time the heat tape for the pipes was unplugged which after the next extreme week created a complete freezer under my house.

As if this wasn't enough, Thursday is my baking day and I did get it done, however, by the time I went to finish washing up for the day and I went to turn on the tap, pfft, nothing! Again! But this time in the part of the house that doesn't freeze up! Well we were shocked, couldn't figure out what was going on... An old neighbour (the young bucks father ) told us to look down the well and see if we had water. OF course we had water?! What is he, crazy? I mean it is January, we had rain, we had snow, we HAVE water! Nuts, but to humour him, at 9pm on Thurs night, Len went out with a teeny flashlight, popped up the old wooden hatch that covers our dug well and ... ok, so he was right... NO water!

What could we do? We went to bed, got up early to prepare for market and wash eggs up in cold water that I had melted from snow on the stove. Finally ready, truck about to be loaded, when the next blow hit us, the truck did NOT want to start. Yes Buddy has a block heater, he is plugged in, he has new batteries and starter but nope, he said, too damn cold for me! And spluttered and stopped. Good thing, Rachel was home so I confiscated use of her car for the day to get us to and from town. (Yes, I, Sarah, was starting to feel discouraged with my life, just a little at this point!)

We ran into our neighbour in town who has pulled a few strings to arrange for us to get a load of water from the fire department to fill our well. We hurried on our errands for the day and no sooner had we pulled into the driveway than the volunteer fire department showed up to put water in our well. YAY! They are a great group of guys and we are ever so grateful! Of course we still didn't have water, it took several hours of pumping and priming and poking and prodding and swearing, yes just  a little swearing, to get things going again. Kudo's to Len and our neighbour Clayton F. who helped him out. 

Saturday was spent with the cellar door open to the kitchen and guys in big winter clothing walking in and out of the house with big snowy boots all day ... (my house is a mess!) They spent hours and hours trying to get things all working again. Thank goodness the world had warmed up to about -5C but the weather dropped steadily all day. After about 6 hours of work, they had managed to sauder pipes back together in the frozen section of the house and get us cold water again in the lower bathroom. We are making progress. The well, seems to be emptying too quickly again and we are not sure why... 

Oh well, another day on the chicken farm! I am grateful for having a home, for the wonderful people who have helped us, for the opportunity to go prom dress shopping and have a fun day lunching with friends. These things will all go in my Gratitude Jar... I think I will put a paper in my Hopes and Dreams jar to ask for a new well!

As my neighbour just said, who popped in to see Len , "Happy New Year! OR Should I say HAPPY WATER YEAR!" ... Yes, after running out of water three times in less than six months, I think HAPPY WATER YEAR works for me too!
The girls and I started these jars (thanks to Facebook and Pinterest)
We began this on Jan 1/13 and plan to read through them next Jan 1/14.
I will be adding WATER to my Hopes and Dreams,
and I have already added AMAZING neighbours to my Gratitude jar!


webgardener said...

Have you looked into getting grants through Efficiency New Brunswick to fix up your place?

...Sarah Sherman said...

Thanks Mike I am checking that link out, great idea! I just never think to look at stuff like that for myself. ;)

Anonymous said...

Pioneering and survival experiencing is good to a point when you finaly realise that you want more than just survival. You want the joy of play every day and not have to be dragged down to the basic survival level. Thats how I feel nowadays even tho I've spent a lot of time developing survival tactics. Now after all this time I want much more than to be just surviving. I want to survive with joy, with love, and abundant life. No more half measures please. I WANT the BEST life has to offer. I recon most folks would agree with me there but our dying systems are not adequate to bring this into being for humanity right now and so what cant be remedied must be endured, to quote Willie Nelson in 'Barbarosa'. I believe that the Spirit has good surprises in store for us and shortly this will become apparent. Until then we must endure, so good luck with your situation and just know that the Great Spirit Knows your plight and the little schoolroom you've developed over the last few years is a great developer of character and you will endure and overcome. Cheers pioneers...

...Sarah Sherman said...

Awe thanks! Yes it is good but yes there are times when it feels fruitless. You are right, there needs to be time to play too, winter is the time of rest, no I don't play a lot... Now if you read my husbands blog, same situation, we both have very different takes on the experience. No, I may not be a "real outdoor girl" but I do what needs to be done, I do my best and for the most part I enjoy it. Yes sometimes the best life has to offer would be a comfort/relief. We will overcome and endure. Thanks for your lovely words!

webgardener said...

Do you have any of your windows sealed with something like this? We've found that it helps us. You can buy these products at Walmart "across the line"