As I mentioned in my first post, my husband and I weathered the ice storm of 2009 in a tent. Now, I know what you're thinking - only a silly Yankee would weather an ice storm in a tent. Well thankfully, this silly yankee has a retired Marine as a husband who is amazingly talented at coming up with creative solutions to problems.
But let me back up - the whole reason why we were in a tent during the winter of 2008-2009, was because we were hard at work building our cabin. It made sense, since we already have a land note, to go ahead and live on the property and save ourself the cost of renting a home. As we're both big outdoors people, we figured, "How bad could it be?"
Before the ice storm hit, we had established ourselves with a 10 x 20 tent, featuring a small kitchenette area, closet and bedroom, equipped with our computer and a small generator. We had a composting toilet built outside and the convenience of our friends' well in town for fresh spring water and the occasional hot showers. We also had a cat tent (just for the kitties) with it's own heat source, a futon for sitting and our TV and DVD player, so we could relax and chill with the cats in the evenings.
We had a propane heater available to keep the main tent warm, but propane is expensive and my handy Marine devised a contraption utilizing an insulated lean to and an old wood stove we got at a flea market for $35 to create a very efficient wood heat source for our tent - and amazingly enough, it didn't burn down around our ears. In fact, it kept the tent up to 30 degrees warmer than the outside temperature - which came in very handy when the ice storm hit.
I will be honest with you - I have never been so scared, or prayed so hard as the night of the storm. To be in a nylon tent, surrounded by trees, and hearing branches and tree trunks cracking and swooshing to the ground every 20 seconds was a true nightmare. We did not sleep a wink that night. We prayed that nothing would fall on the tents, and nothing would fall on our only running vehicle. And my friends, let me tell you about the power of prayer. As you can see from the picture at the top of this story, the trees surrounding our tent bowed in and CAUGHT each other in a lovely arc over our tent. And amazingly, our vehicle came out of it unscathed.
And for the next week, as we were stuck on our property thanks to the county road which was completely covered by fallen trees and branches, we ran the generator, cooked on the wood stove and watched DVD's. We were warm (thanks to the wood stove), and aside from having a lot of clean up to do around the cabin site and our driveway from the deadfall, we were relatively okay. It was only on the 6th day, when we were almost out of dog food, that we called the Sheriff's Office for some help.
You should have seen the faces on the guys from the National Guard when they came up our driveway and saw that we were living in a tent - they loved the wood stove contraption, and even stayed for a quick lunch that my husband cooked in our make-shift oven: he took an old smoker and the propane burner from our deep fried turkey kit and made a really efficient little oven. We still use it to cook pizzas and even lasagna.
It was quite the adventure, and not one I would like to repeat again. As of today, our cabin is up (Let's hear it for a solid roof - yahoo!), windows and doors are in and we're in the process of insulating, wiring and locating a good place for the well. So yes, still a bit on the primitive side, but if we get another ice storm this winter, I know I have a solid roof over my head in case of falling branches (or trees) and a wood stove that will keep me plenty warm -- plus a pretty handy Marine who I'm sure will have more great ideas depending on whatever happens.