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by Gail Kavanagh

Blackouts are a fact of life, and if you live in an area where these are frequent, you need to know how to be prepared. Even if you do not, a power blackout can occur anywhere at any time. So consider the following tips to make the whole experience less stressful.

1: When the lights go out, light is just what you need. But the flashlight in the closet is no use to you if the batteries are dead. So always make sure to store spare batteries right where you stash the flashlight. Keep it where is it can easily be found. But it shouldn’t be your only emergency light. Many people keep candles or kerosene lanterns (though these are not the safest option, particularly if you have young children). Also keep battery powered lanterns for emergencies, a good rechargeable lantern will cost about $30-40 and will provide light for at least six hours. If you live in an area prone to many blackouts it is a good idea to have more than one option.

2: Do not open the fridge or freezer while the blackout is on, your food will stay frozen if you do not open the freezer door. If the blackout goes longer than 48 hours, open the fridge door once to get out foods you may need such as sandwich meat, fruit or milk. If the blackout is a long one you may lose refrigerated food, so try to use up what you have. When the blackout ends, inspect the food in your fridge or freezer and clean it out thoroughly, discarding anything that has been contaminated.

3: Blackouts happen at the most inconvenient times, and if everything in your kitchen runs on electricity, you won’t even be able to make a cup of coffee. Hot water from the faucet can contain dissolved minerals, some of which may not be the best thing for you. So when a storm is coming you might want to think ahead. Keep a vacuum flask of hot water or ready made coffee in the kitchen. It will help to comfort you during a blackout. You can also use your gas powered or charcoal barbecue grill to prepare coffee and a meal, so keep a ready supply of fuel.

4: Buy a battery powered radio. Electric companies will keep you informed through local radio broadcasts, and you will know the time so you can keep the family to as normal a routine as possible. And if you have some kind of player that doesn’t need to be plugged in right away (cell phone or tablet) cheer everyone up with some music!

5: If young children are frightened, let them camp out in the living room for the night. This serves two purposes – it calms the children, and makes sure everyone is in one place if the blackout turns into a real emergency, requiring evacuation. For this reason also make sure everyone is dressed warmly or has sweaters and boots nearby.

6: If you have to use pantry food for a meal, make sure you have a simple manual can opener as you won’t be able to use the electric one. It may sound funny, but things like this are often overlooked. If you go electric on any everyday item, don’t throw the manual version away. Put it in your emergency drawer.

7: As soon as the blackout occurs turn off your computer, TV and other appliances (except the fridge). You don’t want a surge of power running through the house when the power comes back on.

8: Try to keep some cash around the house. If the forecast shows a big storm coming, you might want to take out a bit of money beforehand. ATMs will also go down in a general blackout and you won’t know how long it will continue. And always try to keep some change/money tucked away in the car for toll booths.

9: Keep your cellphone charged and make sure you make only emergency calls as the networks will likely be jammed.

10: Finally, if there is any likelihood of a power line down in your area, stay indoors until it is fixed. Don’t take any foolish risks, especially if it is dark and raining.

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Self Care: Taking Care of Hurt Feet after Long Hours in the Garden

Being a farmer has its perks, but let’s not forget the problems that come with it as well. I’m not going to be overly positive about this; farming is hard work and if you don’t take care of yourself properly, it can cause serious damage to your well-being.

Self-care is important for every farmer and it’s an awful assumption that women who farm don’t take care of themselves and have no need to, either. One of the biggest problems that we come across as farmers is awfully tired and aching feet (courtesy of harvest season, planting and soil tilling). I’ll tell you how you can take care of them at the end of the day so you’ll be ready to go back to your farm the very next day.

Get the Right Support

No, I’m not telling you to buy an overly expensive pair of shoes for farming purposes because your old boots will do just fine. However, I do suggest that you add good insoles to your shoes. These can provide adequate support that takes some of the pressure off your heels, resulting in less-severe aches.

Practice Stretching Exercises

You don’t have to practice a rigorous workout after hours in the garden, but stretching once you take off your boots is a must. Yoga poses help in calming the body and helping your muscles return back into position, making you feel well-rested. You don’t need to practice multiple asanas, just the ones that help remove pressure from your foot muscles. Poses like the Bound Angle Pose, Runner’s Stretch, Hero’s Pose and Downward Facing Dog will be effective at lessening the pain in your feet.

Take Some Breaks

I shouldn’t need to tell you this, but even farmers need a break. I’ve heard countless women tell me that they don’t take breaks when they’re on the farm. This is detrimental to your health in the long-term and you won’t be able to take proper care of your crops either, resulting in a bad yield you worked so hard for.

Therefore, you should make it a habit to take breaks often to help circulate blood through your feet. Keeping your feet in boots for multiple hours a day leads to loss of blood circulation. You can fix this by changing your posture and practicing some quick exercises while in the garden. Rotate your ankles clockwise and anticlockwise to loosen the muscles, and do some lunges to flex your hamstrings and thigh muscles.

Soak Your Feet

Save the best for last is what I always say; at the end of the day, nothing will feel as soothing as soaking your feet in a relaxing bath. Add Epsom salts, drops of your favorite essential oil to a warm footbath, and soak your feet. It acts as an anti-inflammatory that relieves muscle spasms and aches.

Finish off with a Massage

Once your feet are nice and clean, use some moisturizer or body oil to slowly massage your feet. Work out any tense muscles to relax them and massage along your toes to prevent bunions.

These are some of my favorite tips to relieve foot pain after a long day of farming. Try them out and tell me how it helps! Happy farming!


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