What You Should NEVER Do In a Real-Life Winter Power Outage

Fergus Mason
By Fergus Mason February 23, 2018 13:36

What You Should NEVER Do In a Real-Life Winter Power Outage

Winter can be a tough season; right now, across the USA, millions of people are dealing with low temperatures and snow. Just imagine how much worse it would be if you suddenly lost power.

This isn’t an unrealistic scenario. The national power grid is a lot more fragile than most people realize, and the same weather that makes power so vital can easily take out chunks of the system. For an example, just look at what happened to large parts of the USA in early February 2010.

Related: USAF Developed A New Bomb that Creates General Darkness: “CHAMP”

On February 2 that year a violent storm formed in Baja California and headed east across northern Mexico, then out into the Atlantic. Gaining even more strength over the ocean, it swung back towards the northeastern USA on February 6 and started dumping up to three feet of snow across the mid-Atlantic states. It was losing strength by the next day, but the region had only a brief respite; on February 9 another storm crashed in from the ocean, dropping another foot or two on states still trying to dig themselves out from under the last lot.

The effect on power lines was catastrophic, as snow froze on the cables until its weight brought them down. More than 200,000 people were left with no electricity in the Baltimore and Washington areas alone; in some places it took days to get the power back on.

Related: The First Steps You Should Take Immediately After a CME

Many people were totally unprepared for the outage, and with temperatures around freezing they looked desperately for ways to keep their homes warm. A father and daughter died from carbon monoxide poisoning in McKeesport, PA, after running a generator inside their home. Over two dozen others in the Pittsburgh area were also poisoned, but survived after treatment; all of them had been using generators or burning solid fuel to keep warm. Two more died in Bladensburg, MD, after running the engine of their trapped car to stay warm. Drifting snow blocked the tailpipe, and carbon monoxide escaping into the cabin killed them.

Related: Emergency Bag to Keep in Your Car in Case of an EMP

At least another dozen died in traffic accidents, usually when they lost control on snowy roads, and three succumbed to hypothermia outdoors – but what’s most alarming is that people were poisoned, sometimes fatally, in their own homes just trying to keep warm. Others gave up and checked into hotels that still had power; their homes had become uninhabitable when the power failed.

If you live in an area that can get severe winter weather – and that’s most of the USA – you need to be ready to cope without power. If you have a generator, make sure it’s set up in a protected outdoor location and ready to go. A wood stove will keep your house warm, but it needs to have a proper chimney. Trying to burn wood without one will steadily fill the atmosphere with lethal carbon monoxide. Have reliable lanterns ready so you can start using them the moment the lights go out.

The time to get ready for winter power outages is late fall, while there’s still time to think about your preparations and make sure everything works. The chances are your backup plans won’t be needed, but if they are it could be a life or death issue – and if you don’t think about it until the snow is already falling, it’s too late.

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Fergus Mason
By Fergus Mason February 23, 2018 13:36
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  1. mbl February 23, 16:21

    I live in a place where snow is a part of winter. I’ve also lived in places where it occurs but is treated as an anomaly, and that’s part of the problem. Because the attitude in those latter places was that no one thought it worth preparing for something that might never happen. Yet, it’d snow at least once or twice a winter, and they’d talk surprise every time. smh.

    The time to make sure everything is ready to go should be early rather than late fall. Late fall by the calendar takes you into December, which is too late for most places where snow is likely to fall even just one time. It’s best to know everything is ready to go by early fall so if it’s not, you still have time to fix whatever’s wrong and retest before you need it.

    If you have a generator, yes, test it monthly to make sure it works. Make sure all who are able in your household know how to use it. Because in a situation like a winter power outage, the One Person who’s the Only One who knows how to operate it may not be able to get home in time to get it running.

    Same goes for the woodstove.

    If you have a gas heater, like a Rinnai, you need to check the vent outside to see that it’s clear of snow so it can vent properly.

    If you commute for work, check the supplies in your car. If you live in a place where they do not have lots of snow plows, you may find yourself stuck for a bit in your car. Can you keep warm without running the engine? Keeping one of those shiny, lightweight blankets in your car can fold down and be stored in a small zippy bag until it’s needed. I found mine really useful when my heating system decided to blow just cool air when we had a cold snap, and it took several days until I could get it fixed.

    It also helps to look around your neighbourhood to see who might need help in these situations. Can you dig out if you need to? Can your neighbours? Do you have a way to cook your food if your electric stove can’t work because of the outage? If you’re looking at your outside gas or charcoal grill to be the answer, I suggest you try cooking on it when it’s cold and snowy outside when there’s NOT an outage so you can see if that will work for you.

    I have a checklist of things I do before winter and then during winter so that if we have an outage, I know I have food, water, ways to keep warm, and a charged up cell phone, plus a way to call on my landline.

    Reply to this comment
  2. svmoonbow February 23, 17:01

    Our compressor on our heating system went out. the outside temp. was in the teens. I have a “Buck Stove” we started it up and now the problem was how to keep the indoor temp under 80. It took a week to get the replacement. We hardly noticed. Now several months later we are back to our 4 cord standard load. We live way out of town and we also lose power when ever we have a heavy rain or high wind. A 10,000 generator lets of keep the house running.

    Reply to this comment
  3. dp February 23, 18:55

    As mentioned, an outside generator is essential when the power goes out, but don’t forget to stock up on gasoline as well. Some Sta-bil added to 5 gallon cans will keep the gasoline usable all winter. After winter is over, then you can just add the canned gas to your car or use it in the mower. Don’t depend on being able to go into town to buy more gas.

    If you don’t have a generator, then keep a few good ice chests, so that your refrigerated food doesn’t go bad. Frozen food can be put outside in freezing weather. (secure it from scavengers both animal, and human), and snow and ice from outside can be used to keep refrigerated foods cold.

    Kerosene heaters work well as a backup heating source, but again, you need to stockpile some fuel.

    Natural gas is great for cooking, but don’t depend on it being there. A car crash into a main pipeline can take out the gas that you depend on. Always try to have a backup for every utility – not just for the electricity.

    Reply to this comment
  4. andy February 23, 18:56

    Grid tied solar here with battery backup, flip a transfer switch when the grid is out, and we power critical circuits.
    Normally heat with wood, keep 2-3 years ahead (have 14 cords right now, with another 4 cord shed to fill by fall). Wood cook stove for backup to propane stove that has electric ignition, but can be lit with match when no power. Water heater is propane, needs no electric. Keep 2-3 years of propane supply. Water is gravity fed spring, needs no electric. All in all, we’re fine is the power goes away and never comes back.

    Reply to this comment
    • dp February 23, 22:03

      My only concern would be the solar panels in the event of an EMP. Aside from that I am extremely jealous. 🙂

      Maybe, add a backup generator with a wood gasifier, or run it on the propane. A wood gasifier could actually replace the propane if it came down to that.

      Reply to this comment
      • andy February 24, 19:21

        I don’t believe the panels themselves would be hurt, and the critical components (charge controllers & inverters) I have a complete spare set in sealed 55 gal drums.

        I have a couple of generators now, one is an 8kw Miller welder….both run @3600rpm which is too fast for long term. I plan to add an 1800rpm diesel set for long term back up, along with 1,000gal of fuel. (2-500gal tanks). Already keep 250gal of diesel for farm equipment (tractor, mini-excavator) + 550gal in drums. Propane doesn’t have enough BTU per gallon, and tanks/setup is more expensive. I’d keep it for cooking/heating water until gone.

        Reply to this comment
        • dp February 25, 07:45

          I used to have a delivery truck that ran off of propane, and most forklifts run off of propane also. You can advance the timing to compensate somewhat for the lower btu.

          Reply to this comment
  5. Clergylady February 24, 03:49

    Power has been out here for well over a month. Using a gas generator a while each evening to run the refigerator and a single lamp. Charging my phone and a battery to recharge it from a hot plug in the truck. Freezer gets a few hours each weeken but it sits in an unheated shed so only needs a bit to kerp it holding nicely.
    I’m heating with a wood or gravity fed pellet stove. A little extra heat in a bedroom from a camp L.P. heater with carbon monoxide detector.
    Cookstove is L.P. with electronic ignition. I can light it with a match or long lighter. My heating stove also has a flat surface I can heat water or cook on.
    Doing fine but since we’d just finished moving our stuff here and home repairs arent finished and planned solar isn’t started. Happily we had several 5 gal cans of gas and a bunch of propane bottles so we are doing fine. My neighbor here on my property still has water at his destroyed home so he’s hauling water for both families.
    Electrician says the last instalation and inspection will soon. Hope to have power by the end of next week.
    I have an old diesel powered welder generator still here in a shop. I’ll check it out once this strange saga is past. But we “seniors” are doing just fine. Boiled coffee and stews from the heating stove are good and really easy. Saving on propane too.

    Reply to this comment
  6. lonewolf February 24, 10:38

    i live in a country where the first flake of snow and the whole of the country grinds to a halt, nobody apart from a few preppers,which are very few in number, even have a flashlight never mind a wood stove .

    Reply to this comment
  7. Frank February 24, 16:21

    I’m living in Florida currently, and we loose power quite often, but freezing to death is rather unlikely. Yet we need to be vigilant in regards to having our supplies in order, our gear accessible and everything in stock and in working order or otherwise it’ll be a rough time as opposed to having some comforts or relief along with satisfying our needs.

    Reply to this comment
    • Clergylady February 25, 13:41

      We’re getting nights in the teens. This is a mild winter.
      Moved here. 3weeks later the waterheater went out. The next week my used pellet stove died, and the following week the 220 amp breaker broke in half and short out and burned back up toward the meter. Power off.
      Now well doesn’t work.
      New heating stove arrived almost two weeks later and we emerged from the “heated bedroom” : )
      Making do and surviving but friends made a present of their older generator so we are enjoying it each evening for an hour or two. Enjoying cooking on the heater. A 3 gallon pot or water comes to a rolling boil in a while so soups , stews, even pasta dishes are easy. Boiled coffee is good. It will even fry my potatoes obrian and poach eggs. Made toast directly on the flat surface. We’re doing fine and the final set of inspection for the new pole, meter loop, box, wire to one mobile home and now an RV hookup will be done soon and power back on.
      Water from a faucet will feel like a novelty but using a washing machine at Home will be a wonderful luxury. Water heated on the New heating stove will still be the order of the day while I get the electrician paid. Then I can decide what kind of water heater will best fit with future plans to go mostly solar but a bit at a time.
      Survival in a cold home is possible but it takes being careful and you must have something to work with. We had propane tanks and the vamp heater. I cooked in the kitchen but we ate in bed and read books and magazine articles about prepping.

      Reply to this comment
      • svmoonbow February 25, 15:18

        I call myself a practical prepper. I’ve been doing it for years. Power loss, no problem. water loss, no problem. heater loss, no problem. A small solar set-up for 12v and limited 120v. 500 Gal. roof water collection takes care of water. A homemade “ceramic filter and activated charcoal filter takes care of drinking water. cooking takes place on a wood fired large grill/smoker. Do it in small steps, A solar dehydrator one winter, wiring the whole house for 12v lighting in another. Keep it somple. keep it low cost. keep it fun. Good luck.

        Reply to this comment
  8. svmoonbow February 25, 15:39

    I call myself a practical prepper. I’ve been doing it for years. Power loss, no problem. water loss, no problem. heater loss, no problem. A small solar set-up for 12v and limited 120v. 500 Gal. roof water collection takes care of water. A homemade “ceramic filter and activated charcoal filter takes care of drinking water. cooking takes place on a wood fired large grill/smoker. Do it in small steps, A solar dehydrator one winter, wiring the whole house for 12v lighting in another. Keep it somple. keep it low cost. keep it fun. Good luck.

    Reply to this comment
    • Clergylady February 25, 15:59

      I’ve had or done much of that but moving in winter and so much happening so quickly made it hard but we are survivors. Much more will be prepared as we also make repairs to make the old double wide trailer inhabitable again.
      I had dehydrated onions and peppers and celery finely diced on bedsheets laid in the sun. I’ve also built some larger very good ones that served me for years.
      Solar beyond the initial security motion sensor lights that are up… Will take time, doing a bit at a time. But it’s a goal we will keep working on.

      Reply to this comment
    • Jay March 17, 04:18

      Have solar here in Michigan, and will be adding more later this summer. 610 AmpHour of deep-cycle storage keeps everything on for 2 or 3 days. Much of the house is wired for 12 VDC and I’m using less and less 115 VAC as I convert more of my loads to DC. Wrote a Primer that shows what I’ve done and gives many pointers how to do it.



      Reply to this comment
      • Pontiac man November 28, 19:02

        Jay, WOW down to earth easy to understand solar. I’ve made a portable 24 volt unit with two lithium 12 volt battery’s, controller, fuses, step down from 24 to 12 volt for tie in small appliances’. Four 270 watt poly panels. Now with all your easy to figure out info. I’ll try to figure out tying in cabin. lots to read Thank you

        Reply to this comment
  9. Wannabe February 25, 18:39

    Another thing to NEVER do is walk between downed power lines as the photo shows.

    Reply to this comment
  10. TheSouthernNationalist February 26, 12:40

    We have several of those kerosene heaters for back up heat with 25 gallons of fuel stored away in case the power goes out, for lights we have oil lamps and candles.

    For cooking, I built a 18th century style outdoor cook shed with an attached mud oven, this building does not have or need electricity to work, just fire wood.

    We do have a 5500 watt gas powered generator to keep the well, septic tank, and fridge going.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Clergylady February 26, 19:33

    My outdoor cooking area is pretty well planned. The home repairs will take priority over the main outdoor things but solar planning and some purchases will be ongoing while the repairs are made.
    We plan to move into a small RV so it’s easier to get repairs moving along. I hope to use it to take my husband fishing while he’s still able to enjoy getting out in nature now and then. Dimentia is a hard thing, but you take what you get and keep moving. He cannot work alone but is still a great help in whatever I’m doing. Occasionally he still makes a great suggestion. I do all the driving and ladder climbing. He is loosing strength, so we’re almost equal, but two of us can still accomplish a lot together and he’s proud of the accomplishments.
    Being prepared is a continual work in progress. Poor health and age can slow you down but slow and steady will still accomplish a lot.
    I just hope we can go fishing or campout a few days now and then before his deteriorating balance makes that out of the question. Staying in the RV will also have a limited time before we must be back in the home.
    The home is mostly handicap accessible and has a ramp. I’d started remodeling the place before I was widowed in 2002. I’d left for work a couple of years after my husband died and at first only came home weekends then finally just rarely and just now and then finished up another small project. When I was unable to return for most of 7 years a druggy family member starting destroying things so I couldn’t live there and started stealing and selling many things. He’d planned to stay on the property and keep me away. I needed to move back to where I owed nothing but taxes and ended up evicting him, and his three adult stepkids he’d moved onto the property. It’s rather like moving to a county landfill. But it will be cleaned up as weather an strength permit and the home will be repaired. I have the majority of the materials and paint for the home. Some help now and then from friends and our sweatequity pouring back into it.
    I’m too resourceful to just sit here and freeze or starve this winter. I even grew a garden while we were moving and did some canning. The new small garden for this year is planned and pots and composted chicken manure are ready and rabbit manure will be there ready to be used as I clean their area this spring. Every peeling, change of coffee ground et went on the compost pile here while we moved. My composted barrel moved along and is ready to be cleaned and restarted with spring. Ashes have a place as well. I’ve already started a healthy hops bine but it’s too cold outside to plant it yet. Some of the veggies are in peat pots and I’m anxiously awaiting the New sprouts. The quick raised beds in dry laid brick that I made last year will be most of the garden for this year.
    The pop-up camper roof we moved, will eventually cover part of the outdoor kitchen. The many loads of block , brick, pallets, used tin roofing, fencing wire et will all be used and I’ll be searching for more. But for now the home is going to be the main focused of our attention.
    Isn’t that what survival is…. planning, preparing, learning and working, so you will get through whatever life dishes out? We have food, dry, canned, and garden planned. I always have herbs on a window sill, often a few things are potted up at the end of the gardening season and grow near Windows to continue to supply food. The planned greenhouses here will replicated or be improved designs from what I had elsewhere. I still have boc Choy, Swiss chard, and beets that have survived minus zero degree weather and little water. Just a covering of cottonwood leaves that lay where they fell. I cut a few leaves to add something fresh to meals and I’ll certainly save seed once they shoot up after the spring awakes that reproductive gene in them. I even moved a few pots of favorite wild greens that live very well through the cold as long as they sit outside in the sun and get a bit of water now and then.
    The solar plans involve being off grid but the parts to put that together will take a while. I’ll start with the second well that is capped for now. It will have a backup winch and well bucket. Then enough to provide lighting and some power for power tools in the shop buildings. That will involve chargers, inverters, batteries, and good panels. Then add to panels and storage capacity a little at a time as money allows. I have all LED lights to save consumption and expenses now. My “new” used refrigerator is not very old and is energy star. There are solar lights scattered about the buildings and homes on this three acres. Most are motion activated and a few are on daylight sensors to turn them off at dawn and on at sunset. They will stay but hardwired lighting will be on the solar power as it becomes available in each area.
    Heat will be pellet and wood stoves everywhere. I have a fireplace, a fireplace insert, and a wood stove to pick up soon that are gifts. I’ve been blessed with good friends. The heat in my home is a rocket stove that burns sticks, twigs, woodchips, and has a removable pellet hopper that feeds by gravity. I can cook and heat large pans of water on it. The big shop and another home here have wood stoves already.
    We dry dry our laundry on my old clothes lines. I just had to clean the wires and retighten them when I moved back. My friends in the trailer by me are a family of five and we are two. Usually we try to alternate/coordinate the use of the lines.
    Being prepared is just life. To have everything go down just as we finished getting our things to the property- not anyway near settled in- made it hard. But we are doing fine. It is just hard.
    I have bob’s ready to grab. The first aid bag is full on surgical prep minus anything beyond oral gel, aspirin, Tylenol, and Alieve for pain. We have plenty of food for now and long term. There is a summer bag, a winter bag, a camp on the mountain bag, and copies of the most important papers in the bags. There is food, water, drink mix, blankets, dry socks, and much more in each vehicle. There are hard candies in every bag and in the vehicles. There is a bag of dry foods and canned meats and a small pot that can be grabbed as well. There are 8 small stashes of useful items scattered on the mountain above us. I just figure no one will find all 8 without knowing where to look.
    I plan to live so a grid or service down event won’t even be noticed here. Power poles and meters will stay as required for dwellings but I just won’t be using anything more than the required minimum tied to the co-op.
    I do plan more gasoline, propane and diesel storage for the future but if it never happens we will still be ok.
    I’ll have something for storage, below frostline, before fall when potatoes, carrots, beets, and winter squash are harvested. The tractor backhoe will make that quick work. Perhaps Barrels for this year. Later a full on cool room.
    I have another apple tree to get planted and we dug up and moved the rootstock from a grafted plum and a nectarine that the above ground trees were killed by a record cold time a few yearsago. The roots survived and have made short shrubs. I may use them to do some more grafting on later. I have wild plums here that would make good rootstock for larger fruiting trees. We use many wild fruits and cultivate some as small orchard areas. Chokecherries came up thick around my two original trees that are dead now. I want to move them as they are too crowded to do really well.
    Yup. Life goes on and so do I. Enjoy living and and stay prepared. The last 6 weeks or so have been tough but like all hard times, they pass. It’s the hard times that make us smarter and wiser. Much with a bit more time here would have been easier and better prepared for. We will prepare for what we can, and face what we can’t be prepared for.
    As for no power… Stay away from the end that bites you. Clean up any messes. Eat well, laugh often, and remember our ancestors survived, created new generations, and never saw electricity except as lightning or static making your hair stand on end like a scared cat.

    Reply to this comment
    • dp February 27, 03:50

      Well, God bless you miss clergy lady.

      obviously, you have suffered.

      I don’t want to address your personal problems, but dealing with your husbands dementia,,,,

      There are 2 main culprits of dementia. aluminum,,and statin drugs. I will be glad to go deeper on both sides, but the solution is:

      coconut oil in massive doses, and detoxification of the person. this means removal of the heavy metals…

      there is no other solution.

      Reply to this comment
  12. Clergylady February 27, 05:15

    Yes dp, I blame stains he was on for more than 15 years before we met. No longer on the statin or unneeded metformin. A Dr decided he was borderline diabetic. I convinced his current pcp that when he missed a dose of metformin his memory was a shade better…. and it really is! She agreed to try it based on quality of life…

    Reply to this comment
    • dp February 27, 09:45

      Clergy Lady,

      You may want to try the coconut oil. Raw,and non-GMO of course – about a tablespoon per day. It has worked wonders for many stroke victims and others over the years.

      BTW – I really enjoyed your post…. a lot of good info there. 🙂

      Reply to this comment
  13. Enigma March 2, 04:35

    Folk who plan to stay urban and not think about enduring crises also can prepare for outages via simple measures.

    When replacing a natural-gas heater or water-heater, never buy one which also _requires_ electricity to work. I was in Toronto for its 2013 SnowMageddon and power outage, and the abode shut down entirely since electricity was necessary for _everything_.

    Non-electrical appliances should either not need electricity at all or have a ‘default mode’ (say, providing 20C average temp).

    Reply to this comment
    • Clergylady March 2, 13:11

      Yes Enigma, if possible to get the things without electrical start, ignition, et that is the way to go.
      Still no power here, going on two months. We love the heater. I can burn sticks and twigs, chips from my chipper, or pellets with the gravity fed pellet hopper. I also purchased, and now am enjoying, a heat activated fan to help circulate heat.
      Check the internet for things you need in new products that are for sale. I purchased the heater from the family business that makes them. The fan was an eBay find that I’m completely happy with.
      My electronic ignition cook stove was a secondhand gift. Works great but I have to light the burners each time but that is not really an inconvenience. And I can cook on the heating stoves 16″ flat surface as well. Mostly though I keep a three gallon pan of water there for bathing or dish washing.
      A solar waterheater may be my next purchase but really we are doing fine this way. As long as I refill the pan there is hot water.
      I got an,estimate, parts and instructions, to go totally solar. All I’d need to add is the pipe to make the ground mounts. The price is really quite acceptable but I need to get busy again raising some cash so I can pay cash. That is enough power for three homes, a well, and 2 kilns firing three times a week.
      By the way I didn’t go with a pellet only heating stove because if the grid really is gone one day, pellet production will be gone and so will trucks hauling them to market. I can still burn anything that will fit in the 4″ tube to the burn chamber. The chips where wood is being chopped would even be fine for me. All the trash wood usually discarded is just fine for my heat.

      Reply to this comment
  14. Enigma March 8, 23:05

    Counsel avoiding a solar water-heater any place which has freezes. They work without hitches in subtropical and tropical places.

    Have seen rigs in the Toronto area which were two-loop. Outside loop contained pure antifreeze, which during good solar days could preheat (heat exchanger) feed water going to a conventional water-heater.

    Never looked into finer details, but suppose when antifreeze loop temp fell below ground water temp, the solar loop stopped.

    Pellet stove: you know what you’re doing.

    Reply to this comment
  15. dp March 8, 23:18


    you don’t want to run pure antifreeze. What you want is a 50/50 mix the same as used in cars because pure antifreeze does not conduct the heat as well as the mixture. This should still be fine to keep the system from freezing to well below zero.

    Pellet stoves are good, but I like my little harbor freight wood stove too. It is tiny, but big enough to do the job, and the price was right.

    Reply to this comment
    • Enigma March 8, 23:46

      Be that as it may, it at times gets below -30C on roofs in southern Ontario. -40C known to occur just a bit further North. So, well below _any_ zero.

      Kind of place I merely visit, for living there during Winter can be hellish. For a permanent abode, in general I don’t want anything more than 24 degrees North or South of the Equator. Nor any site more than circa 2 kilometers in elevation.

      Point of such a stove is it being sized to the situation, and being multifuel. I too have spent some time in Harbor Freight and like stores. Have a set of their ‘free’ screwdrivers.

      Reply to this comment
      • dp March 9, 01:17

        Sorry, I should have been more specific.

        A 50/50 mixture of distilled water and antifreeze will protect from freezing down to about -35 F. You can go as high as 65% antifreeze diluted with distilled water to protect down to approximately -55 F.

        Always use distilled water. Any mixture richer than 65% antifreeze to distilled water, and the freezing temperature starts moving back upward again.

        Pure antifreeze will freeze solid at approximately +10 F, as well as not working as well to transmit and carry the heat. There may be slight differences between ethylene glycol and propylene glycol.

        You can find information with a handy chart here:

        I’ve been an auto mechanic for over 30 years – this is pretty common knowledge among auto mechanics. I sometimes forget that it is not common knowledge among other trades, and that most people figure if 50/50 mixture is good, then pure antifreeze must be better.

        Reply to this comment
        • Enigma March 17, 05:51

          Might be in the far-far North a solar WH’s outside loop contains something else entirely. Not ethylene glycol and the like.

          My sole contact with such household stuff in Northern climes was to insulate abodes to what the locals called the ‘R-2000’ standard, and seal all paths to outside. Latter tends to exclude the wolf spiders and other critters too.

          Reply to this comment
          • dp March 18, 15:19

            They do make antifreeze specific to the arctic regions, but I am not familiar with the chemical make-up. For the rest of us regular antifreeze works just fine.

            Keep in mind that your outside loop is suppose to be housed in a well insulated box anyway. even a 40 watt bulb or other heat source during the night would keep temperatures well above regular anti-freeze temp ranges.

            Reply to this comment
  16. Clergylady March 9, 00:12

    Average winters get -10 here. Pellet stoves and wood stoves both can put out good heat. Wood stoves probably hotter but at 71 and husband 79 with dimentia I didn’t want to have to cut trees, cut them up, haul it home, and split wood like I did when I was younger. I actually enjoyed it well into my 60s.
    I’m heating 3 gallons of water at all times on top of the new pellet stove. I can burn sticks and branches up to 1 1/2″ across and anything that will go through the chipper. Hot water on the stove is handy for clean up… me or dishes. 🙂
    Looking into an on demand water heater for my home, propane heated but electronic ignition from batteries.
    Rv already has a propane heater, cookstove and water heater that can be turned off or on.
    Solar here will be for power or summertime hot water.
    I started large containers with vegetable, herb, and flower seeds today. I even planted strawberries and gladiolas in large pots. I figure on putting them infront of my sheds for both eating, and attractive plantings out in front. Some things take loner times than my normal season so I start them early. Tomatoes always tend to try to ripen the first one about the time snow starts flying. So all tomatoes have to start quite early and should have fall shelter to keep growing longer. I planted fed onion sets un a large container. Many will be used as green onions. A few will get to grow longer and grow bigger. I use a lot of cilantro and sweet basil so I started plenty of those. I even started my scarlet runner beans so they will have time to make a crop. I love the old heirlooms veggies I grew up with.

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  17. Enigma March 17, 06:06

    On-demand WHs are very nice. Used one on Rarotonga, propane or butane unit made in France.

    Very simple in design, wide open on the bath wall. A tight copper helix with a single pilot flame up the middle. Fed both kitchen and bath; they were back-to-back in place. Whenever you turned on a Chaud, the change in water pressure caused the flame to go from tiny pilot to full-size.

    Never looked into the technical details. Most demand-WH units sold in North America are much more elaborate and _expensive_. But nigh ideal for boats and RVs.

    Seems a bit early for starting outdoor veggies at your elevation, but you know your clime.

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    • Clergylady March 17, 13:12

      Last frost date in normal years falls between April 1-15. Once in the last 40 years we had snow May 15 so starting a garden is a bit of a gamble but nothing I can’t keep in my bushel size planters in front of the sliding glass doors near my heater.
      I use basil in a lot of my cooking and most things made with tomato. I even like a wee bit in my salads so it is a must along with the cilantro. Cilantro leaves and tender stems go with everything green chili as well as some oriental dishes.
      Every spring I get an almost uncontrolable desire to get the garden going. I hope to have atlease one of the planned greenhouses up and going by next spring. I just finished moving back to my property almost three months ago.
      Since I do most of the repairs here and new projects mostly will have to wait awhile it is far too slow to make me happy. I keep reminding myself slow and steady will get it done.
      Power was turned on at the meter 2 days ago. My son worked a double then drove an hour to come out and hook up the power line to the well and see what breakers I’ll need to get the two residences here reconnected.
      Wow it is incredible to have running water again. Funny how exciting it was to flush a toilet and hear it filling back up with water. 🙂 after two months in the dark except for a few solar lights it seems bright tonight with outside lights back on again.
      If I had more room for containers I’d have lettuce and radishes going for an early salad. Oh well, a gal can wish.
      I’ve been comparing solar panels and other things to get solar power atleast started here. I have solar lights and motion lights and even motion detectors for the driveway and some areas along the fence lines. Next is to get serious about solar power. That was my plan before the vandalism put us without power for nearly two months and some pretty expensive repairs. I almost have the bill for that paid. Now I’m deciding what to buy.
      At the sametime I’ve been looking at 2 offers of 40 acres about 2 hours drive from here. 4200 ft altitude, almost level mostly grass with scattered junipers. Good water area. One at the junction of a paved road and a dirt road, the other 2 miles up that dirt road. Power at the property line for both. Very rural and quiet. That apeals to me. $1,390. for either one. Most land is $1000 per acre or more. This is a newly divided cattle ranch. Lol. I must be a glutton for punishment but I’m seriously thinking of getting one of those and building a cabin, drilling a well, and see where it goes. A mix of wind and solar there would make more sense than hooking up to the grid. It is one of those places where you can litterally see for miles yet builing on the south side of one of the low hills would leave a home unseen to anyone not on the property. That also appeals to me.
      I live in a tiny unincorporated village. I have lived there 29 of the last 40 years. I left to find work after I was widowed and I’ve just moved back. Now I’m feeling crowded. Neighbors close on each side of my 3 acres. My last place I lived on 2 1/3 acre but most of the nearby parcels hadn’t sold so I had no near neighbors.
      Now I feel about as crowded as I did living in town in a fourplex. My 6250 ft elevation is cooler and a much shorter growing season than the ranch land. I won’t be selling this place. The family plot is on it with family there. I added two of my boys as joint tennants so it is theirs when I’m gone.
      I may just get the doublewide repaired and move again. I know one son plans to make his home here with his family. I gave him the little house I’d made for my parents. A grandson that grew up here wants to move back. I love family… to visit. If they all start moving home I will really feel like I have myown little town.
      That makes the ranch land very attractive. It’s also a different county with far fewer regulations for what an owner can do on their land. If I had the $ there is another ranch further west breaking up into 140 acre parcels for $40,000.
      This was about living without utilities. I’ve been doing that for two months. It is
      Easier than most folks think but you have to think and if possible be somewhat prepared. We made it from January 23 till last night without running water. Still no power to the residences but that will change in the next few days. I really don’t miss power much. The generator runs the refrigerator each evening about two hours. The freezer is in an open shelter. It gets run all day Sunday. I dont open it and it seems to be holding just fine thanks in great part to the cool weather. It has an external temp and warning buzzer. I read that each time the generator is connected and the readings are staying at zero.
      I havent done any butchering this winter. I have four young roosters just ready to be made into some good fried chicken. Figured it was easier to keep feeding them a little longer. Power is back so they may be in the freezer soon. I have 5 rabbits ready to go to the freezer also. My young hens that have been laying for about 6 weeks have all discovered they can fly out of the temporary pen I have for poultry. I expect we will be seeing proud momas with chicks one day soon. The winds have torn off most of the cover I had over their pen. They all come running when I go to feed. Silly things line up to get back in the pen when I open the gate. They eat, drink water like crazy, then when I’m not around, out they go again.
      Crazyest thing I’ve every seen is a red rooster attacking neighbors dogs protecting the hens. He makes big dogs run. He may have just earned the right to avoid the frying pan. He leaves the two dogs that live here alone.

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  18. Enigma March 18, 19:46

    Cilantro / coriander indeed a versatile herb. Featured often in SE Asian and South cooking as well as Latin American.

    Your chickens probably like some herbs in their feed, such as thyme. Planting them their own herb garden may keep them nearer home territory. If they’re cackling out in the shrubbery, may attract wildlife.

    If you’re seriously thinking about those 40-acre ‘lots’, Probably further one will make you happier; you disliking so much ‘congestion’.

    Yet that should make you reconsider investing more personal resources in the current situation. Folk who will actually live there should pay for enhancements. Then they’ll have ‘skin in the game’.

    If that further property has any slope, likely you should consider a buried ‘dug-out’ abode style. In the right location, could even allow having water source inside the structure. An ‘artesian’ source which flows continually or seasonally needs an overflow route out.

    A South or SE facing window-wall for a buried or semi-buried structure, wherein interior has one row of 12′ to 14′ deep rooms, allows enduring natural light. Might be you’d enjoy sitting down to design (or get library books about) bermed and hill-inset structures.

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    • Clergylady March 19, 05:04

      I’m pretty seriously investigating the 40 acre parcels. They are within a couple of miles of each other and the further one is more to my liking. It has a knowel and a south facing slope.
      Water records from drilling will be something to look into.
      My friends have done lots of hard work that I can’t really do. If I relocare they will help with that too.
      I’ve thought about a half underground home. I’ve considdered a shipping container made into a tiny home. I’ll have to see what works for us.

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  19. Enigma March 25, 09:40

    A knoll and south-facing slope with groundwater are good features in the Northern Hemisphere. I personally prefer a Pacific-facing hillside/mountainside farming site, maybe one already planted in coffee and bananas, in Costa Rica or Panama..

    Shipping containers generally a bad idea. Unless themselves houseled in a concrete or stone shell. Surrounding dirt otherwise slowly crushes them. (Their corners are strong for stacking purposes, but side walls aren’t.)

    Now, if you’re thinking only in terms of shelter for the next 10 years or so, just about any expedient may work. Including Mongolian yurts or surplus Arctic expedition tents.

    Mongolians have lived in yurts for centuries if not millennia, and their climate not that different from yours. Although I’ve never seen a truly old Mongolian – mostly they just look really old after circa age 50.

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  20. Clergylady March 25, 16:55

    My friends and I were joking about a yurt last night. 🙂
    The area I’m looking at is near Two Indian reservations. They lived on this harsh desert for centuries. The round half duggout home with earth bermed us to promote drainage gave shelter. The only drawback was lack of ventilation for some part of the day promoted TB. There is water to be found on the deserts of the southwest but the water, plants, and wildlife away from the mountains,and rare spring supported a smaller population. Deep wells have brought up larger populations.
    Water is what I’m looking for. I don’t mind a well and solar powered pump. But I don’t want to be drilling dry holes and wasting money.
    If I don’t find what I’m looking for then I’ll invest more time and resources where I am. This three acres is productive for desert land. I have two good wells. Bearing apple, apricot, choke cherry, and wild red plums as well as a well established grape arbor with several newer grapes added within the past couple of years. The wild gooseberries are just begining to green up and the fruit trees are begining to bloom. I’m just praying we don’t get another hard freeze or round of spring snow.
    If this is as far out of the big town I get then there is some hardening up to be done IF SHTF.
    One well is being set up for manual use. Solar will be on the investment list. The greenhouse I’ve gathered msterials for will be built. Then much, much more less obvious improvements will come.
    Simple things like cacti and wild roses will be multiplied along the fence lines. I eat and make jelly with the fruit on prickly pear cactus and the roses are pretty in spring. The rose hips are good in jelly, tea and a great source of vitamine c. I also have raspberry canes and two more new grapes to get planted early this week. A wonderful gift from friends. They all know I prefere tools or plants to things. I have an over abundance of clothing and things. Yard sales and donations should help in that department once I know for sure if I’m outfitting a second place or just this one.
    I’ve lost everything three times and again have way too much stuff. Mostly gifts over the years. I appreciate the thought but it accumulates even with giving away a lot continually.
    Oh well that is worth a completely differen’t mindset than is common today. That is why storage places become so profitable.
    Everything mostly moved back here with me because the move was done in slow increments. Now as I settle in I’ll choose each item I prefere and vet rid of the rest. Combining two adult households then moving back to the land where I still had many things, and my parents little home, has created an abundance of “stuff”. I need to find another someone that needs everything.

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  21. Clergylady March 30, 19:52

    Well I guess the decision to get the further out 40 acres is being made for me. Husbands dimentia is getting worse rapidly. We are an hour away from his Drs now. There it would be a 3hour drive to get care or routine visits.
    So I found a fresh uncleaned or eepaaired repo and offered the bank half of what was owed. They accepted. I paid the independant crew working on redoing the repos to tear out the livingroom carpet and deep dog poop, throw it away, and replace the glass in a broken window. That was a well spent $100.
    I am working on tearing down an old trailer so I can put the “new” one there. Then I also need to arrange to have a new power pole and meter put in. A neighbor will take the metal frame for scrap. I have to get rid of the trash. I’m not argueing. I have to get it done to move in the new home.
    The old doublewide will get redesignated as storage. Then I can drop the taxes completely on one and lower them on the other.
    The birch flooring I was given will go in this new living room. The floors will be swept and mopped. That is saving me over $15,000 if they fixed and resold it.
    I will multiply the cacti and wild roses along property lines.
    We are doing fine without power since January. But running water is a wonderful luxury. Nothing else is on yet.

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  22. Enigma April 7, 01:41

    Sorry about your man. If onset now rapid, unsure where that leads, but likely no place good.

    TB problem isn’t the dugout per se, but the fact that someone was sick and contagious in the abode. Coughing out live bacteria in stale air; that can happen in any place which doesn’t exchange its air. Likely in places with very cold Winters.

    Unsure you should change locations for now. Change very hard on anyone with dementia, their residual functioning made just that much harder. Derelict houses nearby may attract looters.

    Shame to abandon all you’ve accomplished so far. Friends nearby? Wonder if you could sell your repo investment and minimal renovation for a profit? A little curb appeal (rose plants) and a cleaned up kitchen and bath sells. But you know your circumstances best.

    Water; agree: nothing like hot clean water. And lots of it. But if that’s what you need, must live near a hot spring or a volcano.

    Yeah, Americans generally have too much stuff. A Tibetan or other indigenous person compared Americans to tortoises – carrying their houses on their backs.

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  23. Clergylady April 7, 04:54

    The new to me repo is going onto my old property. The old doublewide I was fixing up will never pass an inspection and is just more work than I am up to. The repo is a way to get us into something safe and useable. Not much choice at this point. Husband loves and talks repeatedly about that home. Just one bedroom and one bathroom. Nice size for one or two people. Working to get in as fast as possible. Having some good days right now.
    Once we get the new home moved and power to it I’ll be sorting out all the stuff to get rid of. The bug out stuff will stay in the doublewide for now. New place pretty small but will get it figured out soon.
    Want to get settled in quickly then will get bug out things moved in. Going to build an entry area with a small coat closet and storage that the small home doesn’t have.
    I will do some building into the skirting as it goes up. Storage areas will be handy. Need to get back to work on the garden, planned greenhouse, new place for the critters. I bagged trash today for hauling off next week. Wow so much to do moving back and trying to keep a roof over our heads.
    It has been a long cold winter, then lost power in late January. Water back last week. Hoping for full power soon. Today we spent hours on bagging trash then repotting tiny seedlings for the garden. I shared extras with a neighbor. Early next week some things can get planted in the raised beds I made while we were moving back to my old property. The asperagus is coming up and rhubarb is beautiful.
    It has been an adventure keeping warm and preparing meals without power, running water, or refrigeration, while attempting to repair a 48 year old mobilehome with my husbands dimentia quickly worstening. We made it through. Still doing ok but found out the mobilehome can’t pass inspection no matter what we repair. Too far gone!
    Thankfully the materials we have been putting together will be useful with the “new” home that should be delivered soon. Life and hard times are seldom ever without something you can do. The new gravity fed pelletstove will get moved into the new home. The wood flooring will be used in the livingroom and perhaps the bedroom also. Corrugated metal and reclaimed wood will become storage and skirting. Paint will cure blah beige. Walnut wood stain and some sewing material will make antique dinning chairs look pretty. It is all there waiting to be used. Once we pass inspections and are moved in I’ll start working on solar/wind power.
    While we are waiting for each step, we will continue working on garden beds and new paths.
    And yes TB in stale air went along with cold winters. High mountain desert can be bitter cold.

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  24. Enigma April 14, 07:47

    Reckon y’all have been busy. My occasions mostly medical or food-gathering.

    Would say congrats on surviving Winter, but another huge cold wave once again. Hopefully the last of Spring 2018. Folk talking about another Icemageddon in southern Ontario.

    Aha. Thought the new abode permanent stick-built, not moveable. Sounds like one of those old-style ‘4 spaces and bath’ square houses, with eat-in kitchen at one corner, bedroom and bath on another side, and small ‘social room’ in a front corner. No hallways. Have seen a number of high-rise condos with that floor plan; often feature a balcony-lanai off the ‘social room’.

    If you live outdoors most of each day, then small abode not that big of a deal. Although during long cold winters cabin fever may set in.

    Asparagus steamed and then buttered is a very nice side dish. Expensive in supermarkets. Had rhubarb in an Ontario backyard. With old apples makes for a good pie.

    Might consider painting structures darker ‘blah’ colors. If ‘bug-in’ is the plan, then trying to be less noticeable is a ploy. No reflective surfaces; old-style lattice hurricane shutters for windows. (When raised, you can see thru angled lattice, but when closed almost opaque.)

    Lots of coarse gravel recommended on paths; falling due ice accumulation bad for older folks. Basically you dig a shallow broad trench, providing for drainage where higher places adjoin lower, and then fill trench with sand then gravel. No steps if possible, because those hinder wheelchairs etc.

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  25. Clergylady April 14, 17:08

    That “last” round of winter was miserable but we have survived it also. Enough snow to turn the ground white but gone quickly. Winds were the worst part of it. Blew hard for days and quite cold. It is so still this morning it woke me up before daylight.
    The winds were so strong they blew the duck tape, then plastic duck taped to cover a west window, off in my friends home. Here it actually whistled as it blew threw cracks in the old siding and around windows and sliding doors, still duck taped from winter. Miserable, but we are still here. The quiet is almost earie this morning.
    The new home that will be here, soon I hope, is 16×56 actual outside walls. A bit less than 15’x55′ inside. Nice deep walls. Structural requirements since 2014 exceed stick built now. Nice double pane windows with dead air space to built in opening storm windows on the onside.
    Across the end is the full bathroom open to the bedroom. It has a good sized, but not too big, shower with built in seats. The bedroom will hold the queen bed with plenty of room for dressers, a storage bench et.
    A short hall leads to the kitchen. The hall is created to house the forced air gas heater and gas waterheater. On the otherside of them is a tiny laundry room and the backdoor. Next is a nice sized kitchen with an island with a tall breakfast counter, nice work layout, and space for a small table and chairs at a window. Front door opens in between kitchen and open livingroom. The kitchen vinyl flooring extends 8′ to go past the door with plenty of room for a dinning area toward the opposite wall. The area that was carpeted livingroom is 14’8″ x 18′ where we will put down birch wood flooring.
    As you enter, on the livingroom side of the door, on the vinyl, I will build in an entry area. It will have a pantry cabinet, a bench with cubby holes under it and beadboard above to the same height as pantry cabinet. And at the end away from the door a coat closet. Need the storage and want to divide the space a bit. Above that to ceiling height will be open cubby shelves for a few display pieces facing the door, high book shelf facing the livingroom. The backside will be sheet rocked and painted for a long desk with hutch storage above it and a tall 2’x2′ supply cabinet, to have a bit of an office in its own nook. There will be a 3’x5′ 6″, room inside the entry divider. Probably storage for camping gear and bags. Out of sight but handy by the door. Easy but not obvious access.
    The livingroom is plenty big and with an antique cot and air mattresses we can make sleeping space for guests.
    From the desk that backs the new entryway there will be floor to ceiling , built in look, bookcases to the corner of the room. That will include the antique cot with pillows like a daybed and a lightweight modern aluminium writting desk I’m rebuilding with pallet wood. The sectional and two reliners will hug the other end corner with the rocket stove. Along the back of the sectional will be my music area with a digital stage piano, amplifiers, guitars, accordion, small celtic harp, zylephone, drum, et and a bookcase of music books and sheetmusic. An old clarinet and guitar will hang on the wall. If it needs the space, it can take the area where the dinning room table would go. Guests can eat on folding tables in the livingroom. I’d rather have the music area to please my husband than a mostly unused dinning table.
    There are lots of windows that will have thin curtains for day, blackout curtains for night. The gravity fed, rocket, pellet / wood stove will be there. Plenty of room for two. No dishwasher! Unusual but it suits me fine.
    My sewing and crafts will mostly be confinded to a 12’x24′ “shed”. I have the solar controler to start making a solar set up to power that work area. I have a friend watching for styrofoam sheets to insulate that building. My other “shed” we moved with us is 10’x12′. It will house small art classes or be my studio once it is finished inside. They were storage and a rabbit room.
    I am working to get rid of so much stored “stuff”. Buildings will be useable spaces. The large workshop will be automotive and space to park the tractor. Plenty of space to take vehicles inside to work on them or even park a class c motorhome inside. The smaller shop we moved with us will be for wood working. My welder, generators, et can all go to the big shop. Right now everything was just set inside “somewhere” in a hurry as nothings was ready to move in here.
    I need to have some hugh sales outside this summer as we sort through things. What doesn’t sell can be donated or made into rugs and quilts.
    The garden is little plants comming up everywhere in containers. I’ll plant the raised beds I made while we were moving last year and I need to make more for this year. Flowers are all going in containers for now. I have a solid metal bushel “basket” planted with red onions and carrots. We will thin green onions, and baby carrots. Another has all gladiola bulbs that are now 8″ tall. Another has an assortment of herbs in it. I have two large “tree sized” black plastic pots full of oriental lillies. They will be beautiful when they start blooming. There are trays and trays of little starts of herbs, vegetables, a few very lg sun flowers and lots of tomatoes tomatillos, and two big tomatoes in pots, so big they are bearing fruit already. Kale is cold hardy and ready to set out. Red runner beans and Jordanian cucumbers are in big plastic pots set under 2 large wire deer they can climb on. I think a big pot of sweetpeas climbing on the third deer would be pretty. Might tuck in the extra cucumber plant. The gray hubbard squash are getting big. Just waiting for the last frosts to plant out tender plants. I have an old blanket to throw over the tender plants under the deer. Also have yardlong beans growing under another wire deer form. They will be my answer to needing trellises for part of the garden. Someone gave them to me as we were moving. They had beed painted white at sometime and covered in small Christmas lights. Cabbages within a week or two of transplant size. I found a swiss chard that has survived the winter. I’ll let it stay for now. Things that survive winter in the ground usually go to seed quickly in the spring. We may eat some leaves but several things can go to seed and I will save those seeds for fall planting knowing they may be hardy enough to make a fall crop. I found two beets in a flowerbed that are putting out spring leaves also. The asperagus is just mature enough this year to cut a few stalks. The rhuebarb is lush green growth and is close to cutting size now. Maybe not enough for a pie just yet, but close.

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  26. Enigma April 14, 19:31

    Hmm. So the new abode is to be a miniature palace, with many builtin features, complete with ‘music room’.

    Dimensions invoke ‘double-wide mobile home’ look, but apparently plusher than those which I recall from olden days. Have never lived in a ‘trailer home’ myself. (Full-size houses, economy apartments, and aboard a ketch.) Still advocate for prop-out Florida-style shutters; can help keep abode cooler during desert Summers.

    A thing which has always bothered me is the wasted space along upper walls & in upper corners. People rarely stand in those places; most often sit or lie along walls. Cries out for use for bookshelves and cabinets as in kitchens.

    Too much stuff: always nicer to have more than you need, until moving day comes. Then it’s like a squash patch which overproduces all at once, and you can’t give the stuff away since nigh everyone else with a veggie garden has the same problem.

    Beets and cabbage, sounds like a beginning on borscht. Love borscht, but so much trouble to prepare and balance flavors just right.

    Trellises handy things. Can be setup to stand off from North & West walls to provide shade for those walls during summers. Also useful to provide standoff support for vines beside sheds. And to slow winds between buildings. Europeans go nuts with trellises, even training dwarf fruit trees to climb them.

    Planted at a distance from buildings evergreens and poplars can also cool a situation. Drives lined with poplars in the Italian manner very scenic, and winds make restful sounds in evergreen shrubs and trees.

    Too bad about Eden. Instead of sharing that fruit, Adam should about that ‘defective’ woman God gave him. But entire situation a trap – _someone_ sooner or later would have eaten. Likely causing partitions among humanity, as at Babel?

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  27. Enigma April 14, 19:33

    Update to above: Adam should have not eaten, and instead complained about ‘defective wife’ – no warranty?

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