“Are we prepared for supply disruptions?”
This is a question we have rarely asked ourselves. If for decades without interruption and at no time in question electricity and water function via public networks, heating material is always available, spare parts for critical functional areas are always available, food and animal feed can always be bought – then it is very easy to become careless.
The current situation in Europe and the world currently makes many people, including us, rethink and think about possible problem scenarios. What consequences do these thoughts actually have for us as stable operators?
We thought that this could be a very interesting contribution here and so we want to give you a brief insight into how we currently deal with the issue of supply security at Alexanderhof.
In case of an emergency, it does not only concern us personally, but also the horses in our stable, for which we are responsible. We do not really believe that there is a serious threat. But the condition that we are not really prepared should be improved considerably. Smaller partial failures are definitely really always possible locally.
So it started with a statement: “We are hardly prepared against outages” –
continued with the decision: “We want to change that” –
and soon resulted in the question: “WHAT AT ALL and HOW EXACTLY?”
It turned out that already the “WHAT AT ALL” was the main question, and the “HOW EXACTLY” was rather easy to answer, but was- and still is- all the more the main work.
The, “WHAT AT ALL” we have defined for us so:
We want to be able to get along in an emergency at least for two months without external electricity, drinking water or heating material supply. Horse feed and food should be available (rationed and reduced) for at least one month. All this should be ensured in any case, and actually especially during long-lasting, frosty outside temperatures. In any case, we accept a certain loss of comfort, but not serious harm or suffering to ourselves or our animals.
We believe that this is an individual decision that everyone must make for themselves.
The plan – i.e. the “HOW EXACTLY”, which we are currently in the middle of implementing – now looks like this:
We have purchased a small emergency generator that can run for a few hours a day if necessary. To do this, we had to define and calculate which much reduced consumers would actually be needed and could be put into operation in the end. This entailed quite a bit of installation and cabling work.
In addition, we now have several emergency lights, flashlights and headlamps with sufficient (rechargeable) batteries in stock. In the medium term, we are planning an island-capable photovoltaic system that will also operate self-sufficiently using batteries.
In case of emergency, we will continue to supply our horses with water via our own emergency well pump. The power for this would still come from the emergency generator – in the medium term from the PV system. The inhouse well is being renovated for this purpose and the water pipes for the emergency supply are currently being adapted. The operation of the circulation pipe in the barn, which is to prevent the water pipes and self-watering devices from freezing in winter, has also been secured against power failure.
We installed a small wood stove in parallel with our main heating system. This can also keep part of the house warm via the central heating system completely without electronic control. In addition, this stove is a cooking stove, which also answers the question of food preparation in case of power failure. Stocking up on wood in sufficient quantities is the logical consequence of this.
We are keeping better track of our stocks of important acute medications, e.g., for colic or other problems that might occur with our horses if necessary.
We generally rely on feed supplies for our horses because we do not produce anything ourselves. However, in the future we will always keep an emergency supply on hand for at least a month. “Just in time” deliveries keep the stock small, but in some form a minimum quantity should now always be in house. The same goes for our own food supplies. Drinking water comes from the house well in a pinch, for which we have also installed a hand pump.
We have acquired a radio receiver with crank charger. Cell phones can be charged on the emergency generator.
Because there are quite a few things that need to be considered, we have prepared a document that serves as a checklist for important supplies and at the same time as an emergency plan. Here, for example, it is recorded how the water system is to be converted from mains to emergency operation. After all, these are some valves and pumps that want to be set correctly. Also the procedure from normal to emergency heating or the operation of the frost protection for the stable water is documented step by step.
So all in all there was a lot together and is partly still waiting for the implementation. The plan is then still in the future at least one day in the year, on which we want to test everything in the context of an exercise. Only then does it really make sense. After all, what’s the use of all the effort if it then fails because of one detail.
So much for our approach, which is certainly an individual one. We believe that everyone should be able to take care of themselves for a short time. If something bigger should happen that causes problems or distress for a longer period of time, then we have to stick together as a society on a small and large scale anyway and help each other – person to person.
Irmi and Alexander