Saturday, October 17, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Water Woes Continued

We are still living in a quasi-Third World Country status.  A plumber is due out this next week (hopefully Monday) to give us an estimate on what the cost will be to repair the line coming in from the pump.  In the meantime, I'm learning a lot.

I admit to not giving much attention to life without water coming in to the house.  Even then, all my experience had been in preparation for an ice storm or something else that took out the electricity so our well pump no longer worked.  This event was sudden and without warning.

Want to know what I've learned so far?

You use a lot more water than you ever in your wildest imagination thought you used.
I mentioned last week that I immediately came to realize the importance of greywater (that water used for everything where purity is not an issue).  So we are now going to use the gallon size containers we buy vinegar in to fill up with well water (when we have it again).  That will be our greywater supply, as well as filling a 50 lb. container we have in our shed that we weren't using because it was musty.  It will make fine storage for greywater.

I have become proficient in using water at least two or three times.  The only water that goes down the sink is the water that has been boiled and poured over 7th Generation to form bubbles.  (Hubby fills up the big stockpot with water from the neighbor's house and then I have it on hand to boil for dish washing.) That is the water I do dishes in and I found it better to let it go down the drain in the sink to keep it clean and fresh smelling. Otherwise, water usually gets a second use!

You come to think of disposables differently than you do when you have water.
I'm careful about disposables because I don't want to unnecessarily fill up landfills.  However, when you do not have running water in the house for cleaning anything, disposables become gifts from God!

I will definitely keep a few cases of throw away small disposable bottles of water again.  I had some of them already but what I didn't have (and needed) were throw away hand washing products (like baby wipes) and the kind of disposable wipes that have bleach in them. 

I still had a box of K-cups left from a birthday gift from a precious friend (and a box of my favorite apple cider K-cups).  They have been invaluable during this time since they use just the amount of water needed for the hot beverage.   While it is cheaper and more landfill friendly to use the larger coffeepot... not so much when water is an issue.  I do have a French Press but have you tried to clean one when there isn't extra water?

So much learning going on.  Instant is also good.  Tea is always good.  Aluminum foil to line roasting pans completely is a very good thing.  Parchment paper will due for many items, too.  Cheap paper plates... invaluable.  Paper towels... invaluable especially when your cat has thrown up twice in the same week.

So I've been using this opportunity to rethink other disposable items that one may need to keep in their emergency pantry.  Still a work in progress.

Food canned in water is a good thing.
I can't tell you how many times during this water crisis, I've thought of what my friend, Holly Deyo, said in her radio interview*.  That storing veggies packed in water will be very useful if water was scarce.  Believe me, she was right! 

I'll add here that the extra soup I had frozen also was very helpful, as was canned soup on the shelves.  Really, anything that didn't require extra water.  Which made me realize so much of my emergency pantry has things like beans and rice, both of which soak up water like crazy.

Old timey equipment will be a lifesaver!
Perhaps my most used object in the kitchen (other than my manual can opener) has been my red plastic dish pan I use to rinse garden veggies in.  (A modern plastic version of the old fashioned dish pan Mom always used.) It gets filled with well water from the neighbors and becomes the rinse cycle for the dishes!  Then that water gets used again where cleanliness is not a priority.

But going through this reminded me that usable vintage and antique items are great to have on hand.  I have numerous oil lamps that I plan to actually use more often as the days grow shorter.  I even have a vintage reproduction coffee bean grinder that my daughter bought me long ago.  It does work! 

I have long thought about items to use when there is no electricity but no water... this was a new situation.  I wish I had purchased, at some time, a large enamelware bowl, it would have been invaluable.  I have a small one.  Unfortunately, the local thrift stores now know people are looking for enamelware and they can cost as much as the antique mall!.

I do have a large crock style bowl that I use for bread making and to mix up the dressing at Thanksgiving.  Hubby wanted to use it and I pretty much said over my dead body.  It was pricey when I bought it twenty years ago and I couldn't replace it now.  A girl has to protect some items, even in an emergency!

What can you do?
I know this is not in depth but I hope my experience can spark your own ideas. 

I will say this one thing and I say it from the bottom of my heart!  On your next shopping trip, buy a case of water bottles and a couple gallons of water.  Next time, buy a case of water bottles and a couple gallons of water.  Keep on as long as you have the space.  (If necessary, keep water bottles at the bottom of a closet or under your bed!).

Don't buy fancy French water.  In a water emergency, you just need plain old drinkable water.  Buy the bubbly water after you have enough of the plain stuff put back.  You can only go without water a few days (less if it is hot and with some illnesses).  Don't forget your pets need for water!

Store bought water is produced in such a way, you don't have to be concerned with adding bleach or anything else.  It is already shelf stable.  It is easy to buy it now and store it without even putting much thought into it.

Purchase a container of hand wipes and a container of wipes with bleach (or bleach alternative if you can't handle bleach).  Put them in your emergency pantry.  Next shopping trip, buy another container of each.  If you have small children, buy large containers of baby wipes.  

As with all pantry items, buying a little here and there doesn't add a lot to the budget but can create a nice stockpile over time.  And these are items you will wish you had if you don't.  Trust me.

If you have a baby, stock even more as well as disposable diapers that you can put back.  As your baby grows and you haven't needed them, use the size you have and purchase the next size of diapers for your emergency pantry.

Make certain you have at least one or two (more if possible) extra boxes of trash bags because you will go through them more if you have to use disposables.  Also, as you can... purchase a large package (or more) of disposable towels.  You will go through them in a water emergency. 

Also, purchase cheap paper plates and then purchase more as you have the storage space.  Buy at least one package.  I found them to be good because one plate now and then can be used in so many ways in the kitchen and a few put together will make them strong enough to eat on.  Inexpensive paper napkins will be a very good idea.

Then research ways you can... given where you live... store rainwater (if your city allows it) and other ways to purify water.  But if you have no extra water in the house at all, buy water at the store first.  Just drinking water.  As I write this, it is still cheap.

Even if you do have advanced warning of an impending storm or other reason you may not have water, at least stocking extra in the house will keep you from the long lines at the grocery store!  Especially if your emergency pantry has other essentials.

I'll update you next week on our water situation.

*In case you missed it, Holly's radio interview about preparedness is... here.


Cheryl said...

I'm so sorry to read that you still do not have water! What you are learning, though, is valuable information to pass along. Thank you for faithfully keeping the idea of "being prepared", and how best to do that, here for us every week.

Ann said...

Good ideas. I've started buying both individual bottled water and gallon size jugs and storing them in any closet I can find a bit of space. We live on the desert and even though there is a Lake nearby (Lake Havasu) it more than likely will be rationed by the government since it is the source of water for large cities like Phoenix, etc. We have a pool and keep it covered and clean so that it can be used in an emergency for potable water. We also have a supply of Life Straws (you can get them on Amazon) which will be useful if water becomes contaminated and needs to be cleaned before drinking. Rain is scarce here but my husband collects rain water from our roofs in both trash containers and a large container made especially to store water.

Kathy said...

I am so sorry that you are having water troubles. Hope that you are able to get your pipes fixed.
We have been without electricity several times, once for 11 days after the derecho and several days during ice storms. Since we have a well, no electricity means no water. The worst part for me during the ice storm was that we didn't have water to flush the potty. I now store water in those plastic containers that kitty litter comes in, for potty flushing water. I also store several gallons of water in my chest freezer for emergency and hopes that it will keep my food frozen a bit longer.
Thanks for the info. I need to stock up on some more drinking water.

Vee said...

Hoping that the plumber comes in at a reasonable price. You two must be so tired of this. Gives one an awareness of how much we depend on water for certain. We have no running water at camp, but there is a pump just outside the kitchen door. It's fun for about two weeks at a time. The worst is doing dishes. Your advice today is timely given all that is going on in South Carolina.

Anonymous said...

I keep gray water in 2 liter coke bottles and I also store drinking water in gallon jugs. It came in handy a month ago when we lost water for 24 hours.. Thanks Brenda
for reminding us of other things to stock up on.
Hope you get your water fixed soon.


Deanna Rabe said...

Praying still, Brenda!

You have some very good suggestions, and I am going to learn from your experience! I'll buy water this week, and next and next!


PJ Geek said...

If you don't have friends or family where you can take showers, it's a great time to take that free week trial of a gym where you can shower(and exercise) for a week, at least.

tealady said...

I so hope you get this fixed soon, I know how hard it can be. This past winter, in Wisconsin, our pipes froze what a mess we were lucky enough that none broke.We couldn't even use our toilet! Good thing it only lasted a day or two.So here's a speedy wish coming your way.

Cath Armstrong said...

It is true, we use a lot of water in our day-to-day lives. The recommendation for storing water here in Australia is a minimum of 5 litres (10 pints) per person per day. That is the bare minimum for personal hygiene, cooking and drinking. You need to have more for washing up, clothes washing, flushing toilets and so on.

We were on tank water for a while, and during droughts when the tanks weren't filled, we became very good at stretching water.

We went back to baths - cleanest through to dirtiest - instead of showers to save water.

I would bucket the bath water into the washing machine, and save that water to wash the next load of clothes. Once the washing was finished I'd use a bucket of the water to mop the floors, then any leftover was put onto the lawn.

Washing up was done once a day. Plates and bowls were scraped well and wiped with a paper towel then stacked until washing up time. Pots and pans were wiped out, cutlery was wiped. The dishes were almost clean when they were washed. I also limited glasses to 1 per person per day.

There was always a bowl under the kitchen tap to catch any drips and that water was used for brushing teeth.

I'd put an inch of water in the laundry sink each morning and that was the water we used for handwashing during the day.

Goodness, I'd forgotten we'd done all these things, and with three babies too! I'm grateful we don't have to rely on tank water anymore, although we still watch our water use and don't take it for granted. I heard just this morning that we are heading into yet another drought this summer so we'll be cutting back again.

Hope your water woes end soon, and thank you for bringing back so many memories.