Cold Foe and Warm Friends

Winter Storm Alfred reared its ugly head on October 29th, hitting Connecticut with one of the earliest snow storms anyone‘s ever seen. Nobody believed the forecast, and were we sorry! No one was prepared for what happened next. Have you ever been caught off guard by extreme weather?

Winter Storm Alfred dropped a blanket of snow within minutes of starting…

That Saturday was going to be a fun day. I was supposed to host my Farmgirl Sisterhood Chapter Fall Get-together that day, but by mid-morning after watching the weather, we agreed to reschedule.

I wasn’t worried about the storm. My husband was home, not feeling well. We’d make the best of a cozy, snowy evening. It snows here a lot, and even blizzards aren’t too bad if you aren’t out driving. I had a vision of homemade soup, pumpkin bread, and knitting. My plans were never to be.

We lost power at two in the afternoon. Since I have a well, it meant no running water or flushing toilets, either. My husband hadn’t gotten around to cutting firewood yet, so we all decided to go to bed early, it being such a cold evening.

At three AM, I woke up to a very ill family. Both my husband and daughter were spiking high fevers, 103.5 and 104.7, respectively. I’d usually put my daughter in the tub to bring such a fever down, but couldn’t do so without water. It was a scary night. In one second, we went from a life of modern conveniences to feeling like helpless cavemen!

To make a long story short, we ended up with no electricity for a week, both my husband and daughter came down with pneumonia, three trees fell in the driveway (one blocking my car),  no way to charge a cell phone, no way to heat food, no water, and no home phone. Trees and power lines made roads unusable, and our entire town was without power, an eerie feeling. On Sunday, my husband got the energy to move the generator out of the garage and plug it in. It worked for six hours… then blew up. By Monday, the house was so cold and dark, we couldn’t stand it. Outside was icy. We ended up eating melted ice cream one night for dinner. I puzzled at how it could be so cold, yet I still ended up losing the entire contents of my fridge and freezer! When the temperature outside did warm up some, the inside was still freezing. I wanted to stay in bed all day! The town banned Halloween, and all its festivities. We became a ghost town, pardon the pun. Hotels were booked within a 100-mile radius.

Fall mums took a beating, and large branches fell everywhere.

A view of the top of the driveway.

My beloved pear tree split in half and tumbled behind our garage. I planted it when I moved in seventeen years ago. My daughter loved to climb it, and it served as home to birds and squirrels. Luckily, no trees hit the house.

Thankfully, my dear friend Betty (who’s a Farmgirl sister) let us come to stay at her house. We trudged up our long snow-covered driveway, over one tree, under another, and drove my husband’s car (which we had parked at the top, thank goodness) two towns over to stay at her house. I’m so blessed to have a friend like that. She and her husband showed us such hospitality. I’ll never forget their kindness and generosity. She’s a true, blue friend! One of my husband’s coworkers came over to our house on his day off to help cut and remove the trees. Another dear friend, Valerie, made us a hot breakfast and dinner, and had us wash clothes in her washer and dryer, even though her family had just gotten power themselves. My friend Camille let us “thaw out” our pet fish at her house. He was on his side on the bottom, looking a funny ashen color. (I’m happy to report he’s so happy we have heat again, he’s made us a nice big bubble nest)!

Then there were the firemen and volunteers handing out ready-to-eat meals and bottled water at the firehouse. Here they were in the cold, helping others, while their homes had no power, either. During Hurricane Irene, we had someone anonymously pay our bill at a restaurant, with a note of blessing written on it. I’ll never forget it, and plan to “pay it forward”. Kindness from strangers can make a world of difference.

This week, when the power was restored, the fridge stocked, and the hustle and bustle of “normal” returned, I was greeted by a neighbor, who upon hearing about my ordeal, stopped by with a loaf of warm pumpkin bread. It warmed more than my stomach, I tell you.

Looking back, I don’t know what we would have done without the help of others. It’s really made me reflect on the word “FRIEND”, and what kind of person I want to be. In this age of Social Media, how many real friends do you have…those you could call on in an emergency? What about those who may be far, but love and worry about you, just the same? The prayers and thoughts of far-away friends on Facebook gave me a boost. Times like these really show you who cares, and I feel blessed.

Has Mother Nature ever surprised you? Have you had times when you had to rely on others for help? Post me a comment, and tell me.


  1. Debbie says:

    Oh Nicole,
    Talk about getting hit from all sides at once. Well, you persevered like the true Farmgirl you are and lucky you to have surrounded yourself with equally good friends to help you in a pinch. We have not been surprised by bad weather to the extent that you just shared,but so many in MA lost power during Hurricane Irene and again with the storm that came before Halloween… That was mostly high winds and rain. Wait a minute, what am I thinking? There was the time that my husbands 21 foot sea craft sank after the hull filled up with water due to a failed bilge pump. Weather wasn’t the cause of it, but the combined efforts of our beach community saved his boat and the motor ( which is usually dust after being exposed to salt water ). We named our boat Bottoms Up and it continues to be a great source of entertainment and a reminder of the meaning of friendship and community. Thanks again for another great post!
    Lets hope this winter goes a little easier on us East Coat farmgirls!!!

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Deb ( Your MJF Beach Blogging Sister )

    Hi Deb!  I hear ya!  I hope this is not a sign of what’s to come this Winter.  Love the name of your boat!  You make me smile!  Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  2. Susabelle says:

    When I still lived in Missouri, we had a massive ice storm. People were out of power for days, even weeks. We were fortunate to live in a neighborhood that had power underground, and we offered our home (and heat, food, washer/dryer) to anyone who needed it. I think in days past, neighbors took care of each other, and we don’t realize how much we need each other until something happens!

    I’m glad the fish is okay. Your kids will be talking about this for the rest of their lives!

    Susabelle, Thank you for reading and commenting.  We have often wondered living here why our lines aren’t underground, especially with all the trees we have!  I’m sure your neighbors in Missouri always remembered your kindness.  -Nicole

  3. Christine says:

    How wonderful – thank you for sharing. Similar things happened down here in TX after Hurricane Ike at my old house (not our farm). All of the neighbors suddenly came out to meet each other since they had no TV to watch!! My sweetie’s employer sent labor crew (since he was out of state on a job at the time)to rip out my water logged stinky carpet so it wouldn’t continue to progress to dangerous unsanitary conditions. You have given me something to think about at our new farm – it is on well water, and we have 3 freezers. I know we can run some things using his extra welding machine, and do a lot of grilling out. But since the whole house is electric, I bet we need to think about how the well will be if we lose power!!! Always good to prep & your story has gifted me awareness of that water well!!! Hugs!
    Christine from BaileyVille Farm, SantaFe,TX

    Hey Christine,  My roots and family are in Texas.  Sure do miss it at times!  I’ve heard from them how hard Ike was down there, and when I went home was sad to see some of the landmarks that were gone.  I’m going to make sure I take better precautions this winter when they warn of storms, and hopefully we don’t go through it again.  Hugs from CT, Nicole

  4. Karin Weaver says:

    I am so happy everything worked out well for you. The kindness of such friends will never be forgotten. I had my husband read this as we live on a farm in a very isolated area and without electricity we would not have water or heat. We have a wood burning stove but without electricity no blower but it is better than nothing. Your story has finally gotten my husband to buy that generator (ok maybe that is a "we need to get one" statement). I still would be hauling water out to our 9 horses and 2 miniature donkeys (Scooby and Shaggy) and that would be quite a feat. I pray we never have to use that generator but living in Missouri one never knows… Thank you and stay warm…

    Thank you Karin!  It was a bitter pill to swallow, but we had to get another generator to be prepared for next time (I shudder at THAT thought).  The first one served us over ten years, and it can’t be repaired.  I learned the hard way – better to be safe than sorry.  Give those horses and mini donkeys a pat for me.  I love miniature donkeys!  Stay warm and Happy Thanksgiving. – Nicole

  5. Sandy says:

    Nicole, what a story! Sounds like everything that could go wrong did.

    We have had many bad weather surprises here in Minnesota. Too many to tell! Many times with no power, once for a week, snow coming too early like mid-October and staying all winter with kids toys in the back yard under feet of snow until spring!

    Why electric lines are not underground…..$$$$$

    Glad you’re back to normal!

    Thanks Sandy!  Happy Thanksgiving! – Nicole

  6. Karin says:

    I’ve lived through more weather related stuff in my life than I want to think about. Grew up near Lake Michigan (snow and tornadoes), Have live in the south for 40 years (hurricanes, floods, etc). Your blog brought to mind what happened to us in February of this year. We were pulling a 16 foot trailer to the house we bought in Indiana. This house has a vertical driveway with two switchbacks in it (What were we thinking?) There had been an ice storm and than thaw. Half way up the drive the trailer slid sideways and got stuck. We tried everything we could think of, to no avail. So we started unloading and carrying things up the hill, thinking we might get out if the trailer wasn’t full. Suddenly a man and two teenagers walked up the drive from a cabin farther down the road. To make a long story short, he actually managed to pull the trailer out of the ditch with the comealong on his 4-wheeler, then he and the kids helped us unload the rest of the stuff. Somehow he next managed to drive his 4-wheel drive Suburban in front of the trailer and pull it up the hill. The kids helped me get things in the house because it was staring to rain. They were absolutely wonderful and I was so thankful that God put them there that weekend, because they only visit occasionally. We’ve seen them a few more times and they are great neighbors.
    Farmgirl #2708

    Wow, Karin. You are lucky to have those neighbors, and that they were there for you that day.  Thanks for commenting.  Have a wonderful Holiday! -Nicole

  7. Libbie says:

    I am SO glad that you and yours are okay. It sounds like Alfred was a beast. When you mentioned the pumpkin bread gift, it made me think of when I had my babies and women from the LDS Relief Society brought meals to my home for the fist little while. Women that I didn’t even know, but who had been made aware that I was a new mom, and possibly (okay, PROBABLY) overwhelmed. So kind, and so helpful. It’s true, no farmgirl is an island, and that’s a WONDERFUL thing… xoxo, Libbie

    I love that, "No farmgirl is an island."  Thank you, Libbie!  Big hugs. – Nicole

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