The awful truth is that behind pretty blog pictures, homesteading isn’t all just flowers blooming….
Or new twin babies….
Or fresh-from-the-garden veggies….
Or misty mornings….
Sometimes it will be all those things for a while. And then suddenly something happens to shake you away from blissfully kneading home made freshly ground sourdough bread or tying up your thriving heirloom tomato breeding project in the garden, and suddenly shit happens and you feel like you’ve been run over by the bad luck truck.
It all started last year when we were finally prosperous enough to replace our 7-year old chest freezer. The lid was broken and hardly able to hold in cold air. We were so happy to be able to finally replace it.
At Lowe’s we fell prey to an upright model whose door looked sturdy enough to withstand the existence of a freezer. We examined all the shelves and talked over the price. It was slightly smaller than the broken freezer, but it had an awesome self-defrosting/cleaning feature that was very tempting.
But there was this nagging voice of doubt in my mind about the design of it. It was perfect for stacking up Hungry Man dinners or frozen packaged lasagna, but how would we really stack beef roasts or frozen whole chickens? But then again it would save space….
There was a regular top-opening lid freezer I kept turning to, and I found myself trying to talk Ethan into buying it instead. In the end however, we walked away with the upright one.
It was wonderful to transfer stuff out of the old freezer and into the new one. It didn’t fit nearly as much, but there were strange and wonderful things we discovered at the bottom of the old freezer that went straight to the dog, the pigs, or the compost.
My doubts and fears seemed entirely unfounded until we made the unpleasant discovery that the upright door wouldn’t stay closed unless it was kept locked with a little plastic key. This was sort of annoying, because you would think you had locked it, only to find it had cracked itself open and everything in the door shelves was defrosting.
Shortly after that it self-cleaned, which we discovered meant that it randomly dribbled freezer juice all over the laundry room floor. And the worst part is we had to plug the old freezer back in when we got our beef back from the butcher, because the new one couldn’t fit what we were planning to store in the old one.
Just last week we were frantically preparing for Ethan to leave for work for several weeks. The car had a broken radiator that had to be repaired, plus some fences had to be fixed, pigs moved to the garden, etc. The to-do list was a mile long.
I woke up one morning to a rather off smell coming from that corner of the laundry. I mentioned it to Ethan, and he commented off-handedly that the effing freezer was defrosting itself again. (This was the insidious reputation it had created for itself over the months it lived at our house!)
By the next morning, the smell was worse. I observed flies, and I think I mentioned how much better the other chest freezer would have been a few times at least.
“Are you sure the freezers are all working?” I finally asked that evening. It smelled SO bad.
“They’re fine,” Ethan assured me, “the defrost feature is just really annoying,” he replied.
By the next morning I knew something had to be done. Ethan was about to leave for weeks, and a horror movie-like scene played through my imagination.
” Hey, can you get a chicken out of the upright freezer for dinner?” I asked cheerfully when Ethan stumbled into the kitchen to make coffee.
He agreed, and shortly afterwards “Things fall apart. The center cannot hold,” and it became apparent we were in the middle of a major freezer crisis.
It was dark, very dark, because we store all our home-raised meat, butter, and cheese, which makes up a huge part of our sustenance, for the entire year in the freezer. Luckily there were lots of Labor Day sales over the weekend. We bought the largest freeze we could afford offhand, which turned out to be awfully tiny. I had a birthday party to take Clothilde to (thank goodness!!) but Ethan struggled heroically with the freezer while we were away.
It was the stuff of nightmares. Pools of nasty. And yes, maggots. The stuff inside the freezer was still very cold, but the drip issue had created some unspeakable problems. I won’t tell you about them in detail, because it makes me want to throw up just thinking about it. I’ll just say the chickens got excited, and the dogs had to be kept at bay with a squirt bottle.
When Clo and I returned bearing party favors and leftover birthday cake, there was still ick everywhere and Ethan had willfully surrendered any decision-making capabilities on his part for the rest of our life together. He said dealing with the freezer made him realize that I was always right about everything anyway, and the worst part was not being able to afford the mind bleach after that.
Actually the worst part was that all the stuff from the big upright freezer packed to the gills fit in the tiny freezer just fine.
“And this also…has been one of the dark places of the earth. “