What I Gained When I Lost Power in a Storm

Farmers, ranchers, other country folk — unlike the city dwellers, we get life out there

The latest U.S. Census Bureau report showed some interesting facts about rural life versus urban life.

If you live in rural Ohio, for example, you’re more likely to own your home, be a military veteran, and be married, as compared to other in urban areas, the report revealed.

In the country, you rely on yourself more. In the city, complacency is born of convenience.

I’m someone who has made the change from city life to country life — and the differences are stark. So are the lessons learned through trial and error. In the country, your life could depend on it. The country teaches you toughness, resourcefulness, being a good neighbor.

Living in New Hampshire — what many call the “boondocks” — my husband and I quickly developed a healthy respect for Mother Nature. It’s a hands-on, figure-it-out, do-it-yourself lifestyle. Moving from the bustling city of Boston to the country, we realized we didn’t know what we didn’t know until it presented itself, and then we figured it out.

Six weeks after our move to a horse farm in Nottingham, New Hampshire, an October snowstorm knocked out all power for three days.

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First thought: I have candles and fireplaces. We’ll be warm and have at least some light. I have good books to read. I’ll be fine.

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Then I turned on the faucet — nothing. Weird. Even during a Nor’easter in the city, we never lost water. Unbeknownst to us former city folk, our well water is brought into the home by a water pump that runs on electricity. Duh.

Stores were closed during the outage, so we had no hope of buying gallons of water for our horses and dogs, who are dependent on us. We put clean snow in pots and put them on the wood-burning stove to melt for drinking water for the pets, supplemented by water we had in 5-gallon bottles.

We learned that in the countryside of New Hampshire, you lose power. A lot. Almost everyone owns a generator. We have joined that group. In the country, you need to always be prepared.

Trees are always falling down out in the country. They take power lines down with them, and wreak havoc on people trying to go about their day.

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We are lucky enough to have a neighbor who removes our felled trees. Another lesson: Be a good neighbor. He turns them into much-needed firewood for us. We don’t have the time to chop trees into firewood-sized pieces, so this neighbor is a godsend. In the country, you help one another out. Our neighbor gets firewood, and our property stays cleared. That’s how it works. Everybody wins.

Cars are parked in designated places in the country — not under trees. The plow truck is gassed and ready, facing out, ready to go. All items that could be a hindrance or projectile are secured. Horse stalls are cleaned and ready with shavings, and extra firewood is brought inside. All of this we do ahead of every storm, and whether it comes or not, we’re ready.

It’s a lot different from being a city couple, where we waited for the city plows and were responsible for our driveway only. In the country, you rely on yourself more. In city living, complacency is born from convenience.

You also learn really quickly to vet your own animals in the country. When I was in Boston with my horses in a city barn, if I called the vet with a question he’d be out in 30 minutes. I’d get a bill, whether my horse was sick or I was just nervous. When I call the vet in New Hampshire, I receive directions on what I need to do for my animal, depending on the severity of symptoms.

I’m so grateful to our brave patriots who secured this land for us in 1776.

I like being taught how to take care of my pack on my own. Not only has it saved us a lot of money — we’re learning how to take care of our animals.

This lifestyle comes with a lot of work. Mucking stalls before work. Mucking stalls after work. Providing fresh water at all times. Checking the horses over at every feeding to look for cuts or injuries. Digging holes for new poles in your paddocks before the ground freezes. In the fall, my husband will walk the fence line. He’s checking for loose poles and loose connections for the electric fence.

Not only is nature providing items we use practically — like fallen tree branches for kindling — it has provided the most beautiful landscape for us to enjoy. Every time I come home I feel like I’m on vacation — it’s breathtakingly beautiful in every season.

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We are so fortunate to live in this country. When I think of where it began, I’m so grateful to our brave patriots who secured this land for us in 1776. It was no small feat to declare independence from the British Empire and earn our freedom. Lives were lost, and families shattered.

Those patriots, and our brave military forces, allow us to make decisions about what lifestyle we choose — city or country, or something in between. When I look over my farm that my husband and I work very hard for, I often thank the military and those first patriots for my ability to make choices — a debt I cannot repay.

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