For three days we had no deck roof while the new one was under construction. Wouldn’t you know, during that small window of time the biggest storm of the year so far hit our homestead and our tiny house. About two hours into the storm, our little off-grid power system shut down.
Silver Oak braved the storm to start the generator and string power cords into the house for fans, and power the camper for his parents. After nearly 2 ½ hours and four inches of rain, it suddenly stopped.
Needless to say we faced quite a mess in the morning. Amazingly furniture under the tarp was mostly dry. But the inverter refused to reset. The temperature sensor must have gotten wet and the entire inverter refused to work. Now we couldn’t use our battery bank to power our tiny house.
It was a great learning experience. Hopefully we will be more storm proof in the future, and we’re making a back-up system to easily switch to when necessary. We purchased a cheap 2000-watt inverter from Harbor Freight to use while the big inverter is serviced. It doesn’t have a charger so we also purchased a big automobile battery charger, although it’s not the most efficient. Altogether the cheap inverter and charger cost about $240 compared to the big Magnum 2000 watt inverter/charger which was $1100. For constant use and keeping batteries at their peak performance the cheap one would not last long. It also won’t run our little air conditioner and we must constantly monitor the battery charge and usage manually. But it works in a pinch. Meanwhile our solar panels are still waiting to be installed on the new roof.
Monday and Tuesday the rafters were finished and the radiant barrier insulation and metal roofing were put up. What a relief to have a roof again! We commented on how things in life often must get worse before they get better. We had to tear down the small temporary roof and be without for a few days before the big one could be built.
On Wednesday Silver Oak’s parents left for home, and Silver Oak went back to landscaping. Friday we had another big test. Silver Oak was in town and it began to rain again. We shouted for joy that we had protection from the weather. Let it rain!!
After a few minutes of hard downpour, the new roof began to cry. Oh dear. The metal was up but not completely fastened yet, and some of it had been used previously on another roof and the screw holes were not yet caulked shut. Water collected above the insulation and broke through in about a dozen places, sending us scurrying for buckets and tubs. Another mess.
To top it off the generator ran out of fuel soon after Silver Oak left for work since we had used it much more than usual the past day and night. We had not yet figured out how to charge the batteries fully with a car battery charger and used up all the fuel trying. I could have run to a gas station 15 minutes away, but decided to see if we could tough it out. So we were out of power and the rain was coming in through our new roof.
Next we ran out of water. It is still a mystery, but the tanks on the roof were drained. With no power we could not refill them. But who needs water from a well when there is tons of it coming from the sky? From the buckets we gathered more than enough clean water for washing hands and other things. So the leaky roof was a blessing! And since it was overcast and rainy all day, we stayed nice and cool.
We also started having problems with our septic tank. We may need to enlarge it or put in another one so there is one for the camper and one for our tiny house. The house toilet has had trouble flushing sometimes recently and Silver Oak loosened the cleanout cap under our tiny house to relieve pressure temporarily. When he emptied the sewer tank in the camper the other day it backed up and pushed the loosened cap off and came spurting out under the house. Disgusting!!
We were up till 2am digging a big hole out back to put the scraped up mess into, then dumping over 20 gallons of strong bleach water over the whole area to cleanse it. The cap is on tightly now so that won’t happen again, but I could tell the septic system was struggling again.
Another thing: I was fighting a full-blown infection in my foot from an injury the previous Saturday. More on that in another post.
I struggled the early part of that day. How would life be living in a normal house like normal people? Are we just crazy or what? What is the point of all of this anyway? My phone hadn’t been plugged in properly and the battery was nearly dead so I plugged it in out in the Suburban to charge it. I called Silver Oak and started whining. Thankfully he had just been encouraged by the Lord and was able to remind me gently of God’s hand in this and how we have much to be thankful for. What a prime opportunity to be a good (or bad) example to our children. That little pep talk was just what I needed, and helped me rearrange my attitude. The rest of the day was much easier even though circumstances didn’t change.
On Saturday Silver Oak stayed home and plugged all the holes in the metal and caulked the overlapping metal sheets together to waterproof the roof. He sealed the area above our tiny house where rain had run down right over our front door! Then he built another little roof at the front end of the camper to cover that and our laundry area. Meanwhile the rest of us cleaned and straightened up the deck and yard, which had gotten unbearably messy during construction. It looks half sane around here again!
Reflecting on the week we realize how important little trials like this are. They help us see reality and prepare for serious crises which may come. We are more motivated to make changes that will benefit us in the future. Back when we prepared for possible trouble with Y2K it helped us to be prepared when we lost power in a topical storm the following year. That helped us to prepare better for Hurricane Charley and losing power for a few weeks. All these trials benefit us and those around us if we learn from them. They are mercies from a loving Heavenly Father.
PS. Yesterday we were so honored to have our recent post “Done With Homesteading!” featured by Amy at Homestead Revival for the weekly Barn Hop. She’s a great encourager in the homesteading movement and said some awfully nice things about us. Thank you Amy!
Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, My Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.