I am thinking of writing a story all about a family on a big farm. The forest is to the west and has lots of maples.

The family has chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese for poultry, cows, pigs, sheep, and goats as well as horses.

Goats are known to eat almost anything and the family only uses them for milk production.

Sheep are used to produce fleece and milk and occasionally for meat.

Pigs are mainly bred for meat. So the family lets the biggest pigs of each generation survive.

Cows are used for both milk and meat. For up to 2 years after they have a calf they produce 1 to 10 gallons of milk per day.

Geese are mainly bred for meat and eggs. They don't tend to go broody like other birds which is a problem when you have chickens, ducks, and turkeys all going broody and want to hatch goslings naturally.

Turkeys are mainly bred for meat and not for eggs like other birds. However the family does get unfertilized turkey eggs in the process.

Ducks are bred for meat and eggs.

Chickens are bred for mainly eggs but also meat. Most of their chicken meat comes from young roosters and hens.

The chickens lay about 300 eggs a year on average total.

They have a 5 acre garden. 1 acre is for apples and cherries. Another acre is for citrus fruits. The other 3 acres are for other fruits and vegetables.

The horses are used for long distance travel and for carrying heavy loads.

The problem is that a power outage has occurred due to a thunderstorm and the family isn't sure when the power will be back on. Because of this, less eggs are produced. But worse than that is that they have to keep their meat and milk and unfertilized eggs cold while using as little ice as possible. They have to keep the air temperature between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit in their cooler. At the same time they have to keep the ice below freezing without using any dry ice. How can they accomplish this?


closed as off-topic by JDługosz, Kromey, bilbo_pingouin, HDE 226868, Brythan Dec 8 '15 at 23:23

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  • $\begingroup$ A few things. Do they have a generator? How much fuel do they have on hand? Can they get more? I imagine that a farm as large as the one you describe would have purchased a generator for just this situation (I live on a 6 acre farm with only 8 hens and 2 horses and we have a generator). $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Dec 8 '15 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ Yes they do have a generator but they aren't sure if it works. They have about 2 gallons of fuel for the generator. They can get more fuel when they need it but it is a long distance away, even for their horses. $\endgroup$ – Caters Dec 8 '15 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ More to the point perhaps than Draco18s' comment, what era are we talking about? Is this a modern-day, western-world farm, or is it an 1800s farm (since you mention horses being used for travel)? I find the premise of having a generator, not being sure if it works, only two gallons of fuel, more fuel available but far away, a somewhat... unlikely premise in a modern setting. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 8 '15 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ That is a really strange amount of detail for a question on how to properly keep dairy products fresh. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Dec 8 '15 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ When you say "not sure when the power will be back on," what scale are you talking. Minutes? Hours? Days? Weeks? In general farmers are a robust lot, and if they need to have something cold, they will make sure they have the resources to keep it cold. However, at some point, they may abandon the eggs and milk. They might process the meat (perhaps with salt). $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Dec 8 '15 at 20:34

Keep the meat alive, only drink fresh milk, and don't refrigerate the eggs.

If they're slaughtering their own animals they can simply leave them alive until it's time to butcher them. They can then store the meat in the plethora of ways people did before there were electric refrigerators.

They don't need to use every drop of milk. They can feed it to the animals if there is extra.

Pretty much only the US refrigerate eggs. If you never cool them in the first place then you don't need to keep them cool. Depending on your audience they might think this is a rather ridiculous problem to have.

  • $\begingroup$ Reminds me that one time my mom made a comment about finding a fresh egg that was still warm and the person she was talking to exclaimed, "That can't be good for the egg!" $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Dec 8 '15 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ But then again they might think that this is a common problem and is expected to happen at some point. $\endgroup$ – Caters Dec 8 '15 at 20:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Caters Then educate them with some farmer wisdom, the majority of the world will know this already. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Dec 8 '15 at 20:43

If you look into the concept of a root cellar, that was the main method of keeping things cool prior to the mass availability of ice, using the natural subterranean cooling to let snow keep for a long period of time.

Alternatives to keeping the food cool would be thing like drying out the meat, either with fire or in the sun, into jerky. Milk can be consumed or turned into cheese. Also, Mayonnaise was originally invented as a method of keeping eggs for a long(er) period of time.

Something you may be interested is the book Surviving Off Off-Grid by Michael Bunker. It sounds like a post-apocalyptic manifesto, but is actually very philosophical look at practical agrarianism.


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