Everyone likes to make fun of the South for complaining when the weather gets a little cold here. The thing is, we are not prepared for weather like this, and neither is our state's infrastructure!
It's never been plainer to me that what I reallyREALLY want is to live self-sustainably, and this hideous weather showcases exactly what we need to change to get there.
Plenty of Texans are filling up their bathtubs just in case we need to use that water for tooth-brushing and toilet-flushing later on. Nobody drinks the tap water in Texas - it's full of calcium and slimy, oily debris from all the fracking they do around here.
We have a Berkey (thank goddess), even though the filters on it need to be replaced. We also have seven 5-gallon water jugs that we usually fill up at the store - but we can't even get out of our driveway right now.
Yesterday, because it's not unreasonable to think that the city water may fail, we filled them with tap water, so we can run that water through our Berkey if need be.
It's cheaper to drive to fill up 5-gallon jugs of RO water at the grocery store than to install an in-home filtration system - but even with seven 5-gallon bottles, what happens when we can't drive to the store?
I know someone who's hauling snow in from her yard with coolers and boxes, because her well is either frozen or broken - it's too early to tell.
Even a relatively short time of living with food scarcity can change the way you grocery shop and meal plan, maybe permanently. I have a deep freeze and try to keep a large amount of non-perishable food on hand - but it's not easy to stay stocked up with four kids at home.
I also know it's plenty harder for others who may not even have any room to store extra food, let alone the resources to buy it.
We grow a winter garden full of things that tolerate our "typical cold" of, say 30 degrees. But I'm fairly sure we've lost our garden this time.
I'm super grateful we have a grow shelf in our kitchen with baby lettuce, kale, and Asian greens that will be ready to eat in a few weeks.
Freezing pipes and icy windows
My husband does handyman and plumbing work, so he can tell you that the pipes are only buried 12 inches deep around here. That's code - because usually our ground never freezes so it is more than enough.
Plenty of houses here only have single-pane glass windows, and they're icing up on the inside.
My oldest son lives in an RV, so of course his pipes froze, and then his heater failed. He's too far away to come here, so we're very glad he has someone to stay with. Oh, but they also don't have power now. They have a gas fireplace, but no wood.
No driving, no salt on the roads
There's no such thing as snow tires here, and while some of the roads might get sanded (if you live in a heavily populated area), we cannot salt the roads to deal with ice.
We have lots of aquifers here in Texas - ancient limestone cave systems with underground watersheds that we are trying to protect (ostensibly). So if we were to salt the roads, all that salt would wash off into the aquifers and damage them.
Let's not bring up the massive damage to our waterways inflicted by chemical fertilizer runoff, that creates ecosystem-choking algae blooms...I digress.
Today is worse than yesterday - but there's sledding!
It's beautiful and bright outside, sure. But we used up the last of our coffee today, and my husband hasn't been able to work since last Wednesday. The roads are not safe to pass, and rolling blackouts are scheduled for today and tomorrow.
I have never been more glad to have a gas stove and a huge stash of green tea.
My husband grew up in Germany, and he delighted in taking the kids outside this morning to climb to the top of the hill and go sledding! On a plastic storage box lid, of course - because, Texas.
This was a first for my kids, who loved it - and then tracked melty snow all over the house, falling off their clothing, because...no mudroom, we live in Texas.
We've never seen a Texas Winter like this...and I am over it.
I want a root cellar with 6+ months' of garden harvests preserved in storage - ferments and sauerkraut and kimchi, potatoes and cabbages, glassed eggs and homebrews.
I want land with trees and a source of water on it, and a home that's been built with cob or adobe, so that it's got thermal mass and is all but fireproof.
I miss my backyard chickens, and I miss having a giant wild garden full of medicine and herbs, teas and food.
Clarity can sometimes feel devastating when you look at the distance between where you are, and where you need to go - but it's better than living a pretty pretend life.
So thanks, Texas blizzards, for pointing out ALL my problem areas so that I know just what to focus on. Rude!