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I am a little teapot
2,696 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I wanted to post a critique of my family's performance during the big blizzard. I'm new to the whole prepper thing and we don't have months and months of food in place and raw survival experience like many of you do but I honestly feel that we did very well overall.


-My wife, son and I live in what used to be my grandparents' house and the hub of our dairy farm operation. The dairy cows are gone, but when we had them my dad and grandfather bought a 15KW tractor PTO driven generator and the switchbox to be installed at the electric pole so that all you do is flip the switch, plug in the generator, and you can safely generate your own power. We used it to milk in the past; this week it kept our house running normally. The tractor only had to run at about 1100 RPM's because of the 1000RPM PTO so we used about 10 gallons of diesel a day. Not a long term solution, but very reasonable for this situation.

-My 4x4 truck's gas tank was better than 3/4 full when the snow came. We ran 3 unplanned "rescue missions" last Saturday and I used most of my gas, but never had to stop for more. 1)My aunt's ~90 year old father was home alone with no power or heat. We got him to my aunt/uncle's house so that he could share the space heater and not be alone. 2)Neighbor's truck was stuck in the snow and we pulled him free with the tractor and assisted with my truck. 3) The biggie. Around 5PM I finally got in the house just in time to see my 18 month old son sieze. Ran him to a local hospital, then Children's Hosp in Pittsburgh. Turns out it was a febrile seizure, which is brought on by rapid onset of fever. He's fine-had a virus. But we got him where he needed to be with no trouble, over bad highway conditions.

-My folks live a half mile up the road from us. They shared a small generator with my cousin (also neighbor) keeping the furnaces in both houses running enough to keep pipes from freezing. Other than that they had no power so they camped out in our living room. We had plenty of food on hand for everyone. We had to carry water for the couple cows we have but other than that we did well. Dad opened our road last Saturday with our 85 HP John Deere with 4x4, front loader, and heated cab, and it's a good thing because we HAD to get our boy to the hospital.

That tractor dug out a half mile of road and 4 driveways, allowing us all to get out and about days earlier than we would have otherwise. Plus it ran the generator for much of the week. On Wednesday we were able to get another tractor on the genny, freeing up the deere for full time clean up work.

We didn't have it as bad as other folks-I was able to get to work every day but Monday-but it was nice being able to avoid the craziness of the stores after they opened back up. I did stop Wednesday for Sweet N Lo and celery-neither of which is an essential item.

-We had warm clothes to wear outside for extended periods of time. Last weekend we were outside for hours-before we got the road open my dad and I walked a half mile to my aunt/uncle's house through knee/thigh deep snow to get their little generator started for their space heater. I have Carhartt bibs and 3 Carhartt coats and throughout the week wore them all. Also good gloves and a fur lined Mad Bomber hat, as well as waterproof boots.

-I ran out of a few trivial food items-nothing major, but stuff I like to eat.

-Children's motrin and children's tylenol. We had plenty to fight his fever but I'd have felt better with more on hand.

-We have 2 tractors with 1000RPM PTO's. The old one was trapped behind our combine in the shed. Took us a couple days to get the combine started so we had to take the house off power while my dad cleared roads and driveways, as only the new one has 4x4 and a loader. He stayed home from work all week to handle the home stuff.


-We had to share the small genny with my cousin as our small one is broken and we haven't fixed it yet.

-The switch box for the whole house genny is broken so we had to pull the meter and kizzy some wires in the box, all because we just "haven't gotten around" to fixing the switch box.

-I have 3 pairs of work boots but only one waterproof pair. Also only one pair of insulated bibs. They never failed me but if they had I'd have been out of luck without backups.

-The volt output meter on the big genny was broken and we had no idea how much power we were making. The genny is designed to run on a 540 RPM PTO but by using an adapter and the 1000 RPM PTO you only run the tractor half as fast, saving a lot of fuel. Turns out we were pushing over 400 volts through the 220 feed into the house. Burned up 13 lightbulbs and the hot water heater element before we realized it. Dumb mistake, but it happened.

Sorry for the long post and I know some of you were (or still are) in worse shape than we are, weather wise. I just wanted to share our experiences and to say that overall we were warm, dry, comfortable, together as a family, and all of us had full bellies every day. We learned a lot in this miniSHTF experience and will be implimenting some of the lessons into our daily life here. I used some ideas from this forum and my thoughts turned often to things like "What would the folks on PS do now?" Even though I didn't want to risk running the PC on the generator power to stay connected it was nice to know that there were many like minded folks out there going through the same thing, all the while being comfy and full like we were, and I honestly think it's kind of cool that I can count myself and my family among you. Thanks for reading this monster of a post, and I encourage feedback and am open to suggestions for improvement. I am here to learn.

YourAdministrator, eh?
8,000 Posts

You just lived through the situation that i believe will become more common in our society - extremes of weather that causes the breakdown of centralized utilities (power, water, heating fuel like natural gas).

Here in Alberta, the government is attempting to push-through a new "super power line" connecting northern Alberta (and a nuke-plant) with southern Alberta with fingers coming off of the "super power line" to supply all of Alberta with power. The government wants to implement this as quickly as possible - I see the inherent issues with it due to our normal weather patterns.

Good to know that most of your backup plans worked out and that the week long lesson will help you plan for the next catastrophe ..
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