After starting off the blog strong and consistent, I fell off the wagon. But I had good reason, and unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure you heard all about the historical winter storm that crushed Texas. I'll do my best to recap, but honestly the whole week/week and a half is a blur. Let's dive in.
It all started with the local weather guy saying, we might get a little snow. Now back east, I wouldn't have blinked at that. But here in South Texas, that's a BIG deal. One, that it would actually be cold enough to get snow, and two that all the weather people were in agreement.
The particular weather man that I like is thorough. He shows national maps and explains how highs and lows are setting up, he actually teaches you instead of just throwing out numbers and his best guess. Mr. South Texas weather was saying that it wasn't JUST going to be snow. That because of a low setting up it would be pulling down artic air. Wait, WHAT?
I was just outside in a tank top mowing, artic isn't a word we use around here. Again being raised where winter storms and feet of snow are an every winter thing, I knew we needed to start getting ready. I hit up HEB (Texas grocery store) and grabbed everything we would need to be stuck at home for roughly 10 days. Of course the youngest saw the BIGGEST teddy bear ever and made some not so subtle hints about how it would help keep her warm, nice try kid. I also stopped at the hardware store and grabbed some pipe insulation, tarps and duct tape. We would need to insulate more than just the house. Where we are in Texas, the frost line is basically nonexistent. Meaning our water pipes are right up near the surface, and in a normal world this isn't an issue. But when Queen Elsa is coming to visit the Lone Star state, it can pose a problem.
Karen and I set out to prep the house, he wrapped pipes and outside faucets, while I found every spare blanket and un used sheet and covered doors and windows. This may sound extreme, like I'm preparing for The Day After Tomorrow, but I explained it like this to a northern friend. From June-September we live with temperatures well over 100, we can go 30+ days and not see a day under triple digits. Our homes are made to let the heat escape and reflect the heat from the sun. My job was to find a way to stop the heat from escaping now. And years of living in a 1800's farm house had prepared me well. Growing up we would take clear plastic and seal the windows in the fall when it started to get cold outside. Drafty windows and doors will suck the heat right out of a home. All of this house preparation, but I know some of you are thinking, what about the puppies?!
That's where the tarp came in. Karen took our outdoor dining set and made a pup-tent. Yes, our front porch looked like the Beverly Hilbillies for a week, but the pups had a shelter from the wind and freezing rain, and I've never been one to care what the neighbors think anyway.
Then the storm finally arrived, blanketing all of Texas in snow.
And while Karen, the girls and I could care less, the puppies had a grand time starting their first snow-fight club.
We were now on duty to break the ice up and give them fresh water along with keeping the water running to some degree in the house to make sure our pipes didn't freeze.
Which totally works when you have power, WHEN YOU HAVE POWER! That's right, Texas went into rolling power outages because the demand for energy was so high. For days on end the power would be on, then go out for an hour or two, then come back on for anywhere from an hour to three hours, then go out again. Over and over, day and night.
This is part of why the whole week is a huge blur. Karen and I would lie in bed and just wait for the power to come back on. Then we would get up, make sure the water was still flowing, set the space heaters to reheat the now chilled house, and wait for it to go out again. It also made cooking meals tough. I would have to ask myself, do I have enough time for this to bake or boil, can I pop it in the fridge or freezer if the power goes out? However in between the outages we did manage to whip up some amazing, from scratch hot chocolate.
And the girl's all time favorite meal, chicken fat noodles. Or for those of you who do noto speak like cavemen, Chicken and Dumplings.
On one of our runs to refill the puppies water, Karen and I heard a weird sound...hisssssssssssssssssss. I was pretty sure that all the snakes in the area were burrowed deep in the ground, so what was that sound?
A pipe on the garage had frozen and burst.
Whichever day that was, we spent the whole day with the water off, trying to find a solution. The roads were ice, they had shut down every single highway in and around the area, running to the hardware store wasn't an option. As yall know by now, we have amazing neighbors, and they came to the rescue again. They had the exact size we needed to cap the broken pipe and get us through the storm, Karen could worry about running new pipes after we thawed out.
Oh yes, We weren't just in a snow winter wonderland, we got ICE.
Remember how we aren't in a usually cold climate? Well, that also makes most of the precipitation turn to ice when you are hovering around freezing, but we did see an all time low of 7 degrees here!
Thankfully the weather pattern started to break up, our electricity stayed on and the sun returned! And with it brought some friends out of hiding.
Karen saw the puppies barking at the burn barrel. He chalked it up to them just being really dumb, but then he said they were backing up and barking, then running forward, like they were after something. When he went down to check it out, he found this little lady, our resident street cat! We joked that the puppies just thought it was a really ugly cat. Karen relocated her to the other side of the fence in the back pasture so she could waddle away and not be harassed by the dogs.
Now that we were back to normal temperatures it was time to get back to work, we're trying to build a farm here, no time for snow breaks! First on Karen's agenda, building a compost bin. I had already dumped the grass clippings from the week before where I wanted the bin built. Normally Karen is all about making a list and sending me out to buy the supplies. But this time he took my advice and we up-cycled what we already had lying around.
Slats from an old bed the girls had and lots of random wood the previous owner just left behind.
Speaking of using what you have on hand. On one of our walks to the back of the property we found some cattle panels. I've been planning on using some for the garden, so this was a perfect time to grab them and bring them up. There was no arm twisting to get Karen to drive his truck back there, silly boys and their trucks.
I hopped in the back with the girls and the puppies made it all too clear that they weren't missing out on this adventure, so we hoisted them up there too. Family off-road-trip!
After being tore up by stickers and thorns, I finally freed the panels. Yup, you read that right, I had to climb back in the brush to get them because Karen wore crocs.
The following day I did in fact make a run to the hardware store because there are just some things you can't find in junk piles, like a wheel barrow. We had an awesome one back east. But as we were packing the moving truck certain things didn't make the cut. Sadly, the wheel barrow was one of those things. I also needed to grab some peat moss, our sandy soil needs a little help on retaining moisture, we'll be mixing that in once we get everything fenced.
It was great to get out of the house, I even took the time to fill up Karen't truck with gas, because I'm considerate like that. Not anything to do with the fact that spending a week and a half locked inside and sleep deprived had almost driven me crazy.
Everything is back to normal here now. We still need to fix the pipe in the garage and I'm a little behind on where I wanted to be with the garden, but we'll get there.
There's nothing like ending the coldest, most miserable week of your life, sitting on a tailgate in a tank top watching your kids throw the frisbee in the tree and Karen having to knock it out. Texas weather may be crazy as hell, but it seems to fit with the crazy bunch I've got for a family.