Peak oil came early to Ballan

The energy crisis came early here. Sort of. Well, maybe just a practice run. 😉

The weather today has been windy. Actually that’s an understatement. Today has been gale force. Today has blown is all the way to tomorrow. Today has taken out the power.

The power went out around 11:45am and didn’t come back until 8:30pm. At the moment we have not yet connected gas to the house and we cook exclusively with electricity. Thermy is electric. The microwave is electric. Everything that we use to cook is effectively run on coal. 😦 Today has indeed been a practice run for living in a world where there is no ready power. I loaded the dishwasher n switched it on, then laughed. I have turned on lights every room I’ve entered then sighed. And I’ve had to think hard about dinner. In the end, after promises the power would be back at 1:30, 3:30 then 5:30 I decided I had no choice but to light Ignisa. It’s now 30*C inside our house. I asked Jas to turn on the fan to move the air around, then we both giggled. Electricity.

Power is out from not far out of Bacchus Marsh and extends gods only know how far so all of Ballan is out. I rang our friends, Cam and Ginny from Phoenix Park and they’re coming for dinner. The more the merrier and we might as well enjoy the mayhem together. 🙂 The freezer revealed pastry sheets, more mince meat and peas n corn. I had mince thawing in the fridge and added carrots and beans from there too. Some de-alc’d red wine from way back, some equally dated gravox, onions, garlic and flour and I’d call that a meat pie. 😀 Our guests brought spuds which we didn’t need or use and a most delicious salad and I made an apple crumble using apples that I’d picked from a friends tree and bottled only last week. A real community dinner. 🙂 We had a wonderful time. 😀

The kids had an understandably hard time getting their heads around it all. Mummy, I want to watch Thomas. We can’t because there’s no electricity. We want macaroni cheese Mummy. I can’t  because there’s no electricity. The fan isn’t working. The light isn’t working. The dishwasher, washing machine, computer, phone, internet, the list goes on, isn’t working.  It won’t because there’s no electricity. It’s made me very very aware of just how much we rely on it, just how heavily dependent on the grid we are to function. In winter it’s less of an issue as I can cook happily on the stove but today wasn’t cold. And to cook on the stove or in the oven of a wood fired range you need to really crank up the heat. It was hot in here and I take my hat off to those ladies who cooked meat and 3 veg for their men 365 days a year, be it snowing out or blistering hot. I salute those men who had to hand chop that wood too! It’s hard enough with a car, trailer and chainsaw!

Anyway, I’m determined to prepare a few more things now in case this happens again. And for long term when it does happen in a more permanent way. I’m looking at a couple of kero lanterns, even though I know kero is a petroleum product. I’ve also found a few ways to make an oil lantern that burns olive (or other vegetable) oil which is very cool and very sustainable.

I am so grateful that the power went out today, despite the many frustrations (a canner full of coconut milk to process and the dehydrator full of the leftover coconut which I want to dry, grind and use as coconut flour, that all just had to sit and wait) as it has taught me some very valuable lessons about our state of preparation and preparedness for a world where electricity may not be readily or cheaply available.

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6 thoughts on “Peak oil came early to Ballan

  1. You really told it like it was today. It is hard to understand how everything we touch, taste, see and hear is related to an actual constant flow of energy. I’ve tried to have an actual Peak Oil Day with my family and it’s still hard to understand. Like for instance the thought that in a non-energy world there will be NO LIGHTS. NONE. Not inside, not outside, not anywhere. When night comes we will be cast into a dark world. I’ve included a page of the Bortle Dark Sky Scale that shows more or less different light degrees and in particular shades of darkness:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bortle_Dark-Sky_Scale

    Light pollution will cease to exist. However, we will be able to see the stars and night sky like we have never seen them before. Thanks.

    • Hmm I hadn’t even thought of that aspect. We already see so many more stars here even with a streetlight just outside our place (which I hate) but to have NO lights would be amazing on the stars.
      Last night as we ate by candlelight we all realised how hard it is to light things adequately. I salute all people who lived or still live by candlelight. Martin was able to rig up a strip of LED lights with a small battery which was really harsh on the eyes (cold light) but did at least allow us to see to eat. That’s one of the reasons I’m planning on a kero lantern even though kerosene is a fossil fuel.

  2. Do you know why the electricity went out?

    On a side note, we had a really windy day here last year where 55% of SA’s energy was provided by our wind farms. It gives you hope, doesn’t it? If they put more wind farms out at sea, we would be closer to baseload.

    Power outages, as much as we rarely experience them, other than in the height of summer when everyone has their air conditioning on, are not a problem for us. We have a Trangia, a camping stove and a BBQ. We’ll always be in hot food and coffee if the power is out. 🙂

    • It was the wind! That’s all I know but I suspect a tree blew onto wires but I don’t know. I know roughly where the outage was though and it’s a pretty huge area that was affected.
      Yes, we have our BBQ too but there was something amazing about cooking on Ignisa. It was good practice for winter when I plan to use her heat to cook with more often. And what a wonderful warning for the future too hey. 🙂

  3. Linne says:

    Wow, that’s quite a day for you! It’s so different living without power when you start life that way and then choose it as an adult. (that would be me, I’m sure you know). I still have a couple of kero lamps. If you are buying them, the ones with wire cages that were made for barn use are good, because they’re a bit safer; you can hang them up, too (I would use wire from a hook in the ceiling) to keep them away from small children.

    I’ve often thought I would like a summer kitchen, with a floor and roof, plus half walls with screening above. I’d have an eating area/play space at one end, counters all round, a couple of stoves, a frig and a freezer, plus insect proof cupboards for supplies. I would do all my preserving and summer cooking out there and let the wind blow away some of the heat (of course, the sun would likely add a bit more heat). The main problem with a summer kitchen is the cost, even if you do the work yourselves. But an outdoor cooking area with a brick bbq with attached counterspace, either brick or wood, can be very useful and cheaper to build. I’ve also cooked over fires lots (possibly not a good idea for you in the midst of a heat wave and likely forest fire considerations) and occasionally on a campstove (which I still have). It helps to have cast iron cookware, which it seems to me you do . . .

    Do you have kitchen windows that open? a cross-breeze is nice, but not always (I’m remembering that you likely have outdoor air as hot as your kitchen).

    Peak Oil will be hard for many, but not likely for me (if I get out of the city first, of course). I love seeing people like you getting prepared for it.

  4. narf77 says:

    Whenver the power goes out here (and it does it pretty regularly) we thank God that we planned when we were renovating and we installed gas everything possible. Brunhilda is in action 8 months of the year and when she isn’t we cook on the covered gas bbq and on a small gas stove top in the kitchen. We might not have any light (aside from candles and oil burners) but we do have hot water (gas or Brunhilda powered) and we don’t have to worry about much except entertainment and Earl is chief clown here ;). It really does make you think about how dependant we all are on our current infrastructure but as you discovered, when we all pool together it might be dark, dishwasherless and internet free but you can still have a bloody good time :).

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