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| Power  | Roads  | Septic  | Water | Trash |
| Communications (Telephone, Satellite TV, Satellite PC) | 

Utilities & Roads

Power

War Stories

The first year we lived here I made the mistake of thinking that we could run our business as well from here as anywhere. 

I knew phone transmission speed was slow, but I didn't realize that it would be non-existent so much. I had an ad for one of my products breaking in an expensive publication. The day it came out our phones when down and spent most of the next 35 days down. 

When I tried to recoup my costs and lost business from the phone company, I found I had no legal way to do so.

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A new neighbor moved in. Their home was located very near the edge of their property near one of our ponds. 

Soon after they moved in the trash pile began to build near the property line (and where all toxins could easily wash into the creek near the edge of the property). 

We asked them to stop. They didn't. We asked them again and again. They didn't. Then we called the county ... nothing happened. We called the county again, nothing happened. 

They (the neighbor) tried to burn it a few times -- including PVC which is toxic, aerosol cans which explode and send shrapnel in all directions and all their toxic crap. 

We called the fire department.... nothing. We called the air quality board, nothing happened. 

This went on for over three years calling every agency we could think of. Then one day, we'd finally had it... when dirty diapers (they had the only infant in the neighborhood) started washing down the creek and into our ponds we were so appalled, we again tried the county. 

Finally a new department had taken over the task of environmental clean up and they actually did something... and quickly. 

The moral... someone elses' stupidity shouldn't be your health problem -- report them.          

Well this certainly is the topic of the year since we don't have enough of it anywhere these days. What we do have now costs an arm and a leg. Let me give you a few unique aspects to our current power crisis you may not have considered. 

If you use well water when your power is out so is your well pump. If you happen to have anything in your storage tank at the time, you may have a little water for a short time. But, automatic irrigation systems on battery timers can drain it as can leaky valves in your irrigation system or indoor plumbing. So for all intents and purposes, consider the fact that you really have have two major systems down at once. 

If you're running computers, it's highly recommended that you invest in uninterruptable power supply (UPS) systems for them. When the power goes down it'll give you a few minutes to shut down without losing data or damaging your system.

You can have a gas generator standing by to power some of your home or business back up... assuming you're there to start it up. That'll run from $2000 & $10,000 or more if you want something really big. When we go to generator power we select only key circuits. Since we have an office in our home, that system is our only priority. Remember that frozen and refrigerated foods stay that way just fine for several hours unless you're constantly in and out of the fridge so it loses its cold air. 

You can run your pump off your generator intermittently for water if necessary. But, keeping 5 gallons of fresh water on hand is usually sufficient if the power outage will be caused by "rotating blackouts". 

You may find that you have other outages too however. Winter storms can sometimes cause outages as can summer fires. Just remember that if there are major problems for whatever reason, it could take a while to get power restored. 

Power lines run through remote areas that are often difficult to get to to find the source of a problem or to make a repair. It has taken days at a time in the past to get power restored, and depending on how remotely you're located, that could be an issue. 

If you are concerned about that possibility because of your remoteness, here are some tips:

buy propane appliances for hot water and cooking

if you don't have propane, you can cook on and in a wood or pellet stove ... just like our great grandmothers! It also makes hot water -- one pan full at a time.

a bucket of pond or stream water in the bowl of your toilet flushes it just like that little silver handle and saves your potable water for the family.

DON'T ever use charcoal grills indoors for cooking or heat. The fumes can kill you!

make sure you have at least one phone that works without power. 

relax and enjoy. We've learned to just have fun with outages... get the candles or camp lights out and teach the kids you don't need the power grid to survive!

Electric Generator Safety Tips

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Communications 

The same thing goes on land communication lines when lines are downed from fire or storms. It could take a while to get them restored.  

But there are some other issues with communications as well. 

Another issue that's been a major issue for us is that because there are few people being serviced near us, the phone company is using really old equipment at the node that serves us (that's just another piece of equipment in between the CO and your home). The first year we were here, we had 35 days down time over the course of two summer months! And guess what? If you lose business, time, or money as a result - YOU CAN'T SUE THE PHONE COMPANY! They are protected by some crazy law that says we (their customers) have no rights... even if they're negligent or unwilling to replace old, antiquated equipment. I know, I tried.

In many country areas it's impossible to get cable access or DSL lines for any high-speed data transmission. And, the closer to the end of a service area you are for Pac Bell's Central Office (CO) the more the voice lines degrade. I've tried for months to see if Pacific Bell would be running DSL to our area and I've never gotten an answer yet. 

If high-speed communications are important to you, then a wireless satellite connection might be your only option. We've found it works like a champ (most of the time)... except in bad storms (same with our satellite TV) when transmissions can be hampered by atmospheric conditions. 

Telecommuting

If you are telecommuting, you may have an interesting challenge. 

Satellite communication links to proprietary networks for telecommuting may pose some special problems.  

Satellite uplinks use what is called a "dynamic IP address", which means it assigns you a new user address every time you log on. Most secure networks must have a "static IP address" so they can make a positive identification of who is trying to log into their secure network. And, even though there may be software available from your company, in my husband's case with Intel, the software is NOT compatible with the satellite hardware and software... and he works for a major high-tech company!

 If your company does not provide the right software, then you probably won't be able to log into their network via satellite. You should check on this with your tech support people before assuming you'll be able to telecommute from a remote location.

Also, we've found that you must get a service that provides both up and downlink availability so you have only one IP address to talk to the special software. Again, this may change from company to company, so check it out thoroughly before you try.

Cell phones

Many country locations are out of range of a cell, or, as in our area, we have so many hills that we're in and out of, transmission is impossible most areas near our home. Keep in mind that cell phones generally use a "line of sight" transmission signal. All that means is that the more physical things that get in between you and your transmission, the more problems you have. If you live at the top of a hill you may be OK if all you want to do is use your cell phone from there.

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What Day's Trash Day?

In many country locations there is no trash day. You may simply be too remote for it to be profitable for anyone to offer trash pick up services. In other areas, you may have to load your trash bin into your vehicle and drive it to the nearest main road for pickup. Or, you can simply store your trash and load up a pickup every time your storage area is full and drive it to the dump.

Regardless of the method you use, you'll store your trash for some period of time, and unless you want a mess all over your property and perhaps your neighbors or in the road, you must learn to secure your trash in an animal-proof shed, bin, or other facility.

Again, domestic dogs will wreak havoc on it. Even if you do a good job to make sure your dogs stay home, I can guarantee that many of your neighbors won't. And, they'll get in the trash if they can. 

In addition, you may have bears and probably have raccoons. They're both notorious scavengers and if the dogs don't get your trash, they, or feral cats will.  

Under NO circumstances should trash be dumped on your property (it's illegal and draws stiff fines) nor should it be burned (that's illegal too and draws fines from other state and county agencies). 

Also, DO NOT DUMP oil from autos, paints, or other things you'd like to get rid of. Just remember, you're poisoning your own water and potentially poisoning crops grown with that water and animals grazing on your or adjacent lands. 

Again, your neighbors may like you, but they won't let you poison them and their property. They'll report you if they find you dumping or burning illegal materials. 

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Septic Tanks

If you're very rural, you'll not have access to public sewer lines, you'll be using a septic system. 

Most counties will have regulations as to the following, but we've seen some cases where either someone got around them, or the county was unaware, but for your own health, make sure that your septic system and leach lines are downhill from your well. 

And, if you've never used a septic system before, here are some things to keep in mind that are different than being on a public sewer system:

nobody will automatically fix it if it gets clogged

too much water can upset its balance

anything that kills bacteria shouldn't be put in. Bleach, disinfectants, etc. should never be introduced into the system.

Pumping - although the size of your tank and the number of people in your household can make a difference in how often your tank gets pumped, the rule of thumb is every 3-5 years.  

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| Power  | Roads  | Septic  | Water | Trash |
| Communications (Telephone, Satellite TV, Satellite PC) | 

 

2008 - Jody & Ric Hornor l contact