Some of you may not be aware but I was recently snowed in at my cabin for five and a half days. Over a week ago we had a snow storm come through that brought two feet of snow and 50 mph winds. The snow alone would have been manageable but the wind created snow drifts on the road up to 8 feet deep in some locations. During that time I was unsure of how long I would actually be stuck on the mountain and was also battling the grief of losing my beloved horse. I want to share with you how to combat your fears and stay sane when unable to reconnect with civilization.
How to survive an emergency situation not only physically but mentally as well:
- Assess your current situation- put your brain into survival mode, think of the worse possible scenario and work to solve the problem prior to it arising. My worst-case scenario was running out of water or having my generator malfunction and not be able to run the well pump. My solution to this problem was to break ice chunks off the roof and melt them down to supply myself and my animals with water if needed. I also made sure to insulate the generator when not in use so that hopefully I would not run into that situation. It worked! I was able to continue life as usual.
- Self-care- do small tasks like cutting your nails, painting your toes or doing a facial to keep your spirits up. It also helps to evaluate your personal self-talk. Are you stuck in negative thoughts? Turn it around and tell yourself you are a survivor.
- Bake and cook- Keep your food interesting even if you are trying to conserve your resources. It is important to mix it up as you can grow bored with the same food and begin to lose your appetite and cause yourself to grow weary and lose weight. If all you have is rice and beans try to mix it up with seasonings or add it to a broth to create a soup. You want to keep your strength up. Try to not only keep supplies of dry foods but also stock the freezer with an assortment of food that you rotate regularly so nothing goes bad.
- Entertain yourself with your livestock- I have chickens, rabbits, barn cats, and dogs. During this time of being snowed in, I created a swing for my chickens in their coop so they did not grow bored. I also would play catch in the snow with my dogs on sunny days to find comic relief. It was also enjoyable to let a few rabbits run free in the house and play with the dogs. They brought hours of entertainment and joy.
- Crotchet or knit- work on projects that can be completed quickly to feel accomplished or work on a task that may take several days to draw out your time alone.
- Listen to music- this helped immensely while I was trapped up on the mountain. Make sure the music is upbeat and does not throw you into a negative mood as that would be counterproductive in this situation.
- Stay safe- Do not do tasks that could potentially injure you if you are secluded. Think before you act: Could I injure myself doing this? Don’t risk climbing down a steep incline when you do not know the terrain or use equipment like a chain saw on a place without traction. If you get injured when no one can reach you this could be a death sentence.
- Shovel snow- keep your paths clear so you do not risk the chance of falling. If icy place wood ash in those spots for traction.
- Keep tabs on your wood supply if you use a woodstove as your only heat source. If needed go out and break branches to supplement.
- Supply list- Keep a record of all your supplies. Do you use propane for your oven or stove? Do you need to use it sparingly or find another method to cook to reduce use? I taught myself to bake bread on the wood stove to conserve propane.
- Groom pets- I went ahead and trimmed all my critters nails and brushed them because it was something to keep my hands and mind busy.
- Mend clothes- being stranded at home was a great time to sew and mend some of my clothes that had been sitting in a pile in the closet waiting for some TLC. The saying use it up, wear it out or do without really applies when you are stranded!
- Deep clean- this is one of the tasks I tackled early on during my isolation. Mostly because it was something I could control during my grieving process as well as calmed the quells of the uncertainty on how long I would be stranded.
- Paint- The entire time I was isolated in my home I thought about how it would have been a great time to finally paint the window sills, unfortunately, I did not have the paint to do so. But this is a great task for those that do and would be rewarding when completed.
- Call loved ones- If you are able to use a phone while stranded like I was, make sure you call and update loved ones every now and then. This is a great way to stay connected to socialization and to get a pick me up. I had a very dear neighbor who called me each day around lunchtime just to tell me she was thinking of me and to check in on how I was doing. It meant the world to me to know she cared about my mental and physical well being on the daily.
- Put together puzzles- this is great for working on in between other tasks.
- Create a dream journal- what are some of the projects you want to tackle this year? For me, I started compiling a game plan for this Springs garden as well as where I want to build a pallet barn for when I add goats to the homestead.
- Take a hike- On a beautiful day go out and soak up some vitamin D. Make sure you carry a gun with you in case of predators or small game you might be able to pin down for a tasty meal and as always think safety first.
- Take a nap- sometimes it is okay to just lay down and let your body truly rest. Maybe put some soup on the wood stove prior so that you have a hot meal to enjoy when you wake up.
- Prep items for farmers markets- Are you a small business that sells items at farmers markets? Being snowed in is a perfect time to build your inventory.
- Read a book- Let your mind wander away to another world.
All in all the lesson to learn here is to stay positive and proactive. Keep your mind busy by keeping your hands busy. Try to think outside the box when all seems lost. For me, this experience was reassuring that I can do this whole homestead thing. I was well prepared and could have easily been stranded at home for 5-7 weeks without much of a problem. The only issue that would have really arisen was the fact I would eventually run out of money to pay my monthly bills since I couldn’t make it into work. It is best to always keep at least a months worth of food supplies and three months worth of income so I have a little work to do. But look at me, I survived Snowmageddon 2019! Are you prepared for a natural emergency? How else would you stay sane? Feel free to share!