Unplanned problems usually occur at the worst times. Last week my refrigerator gave out during some of the hottest weather of the season, but it was a whole week before the new one was delivered. Monday, the new refrigerator arrived.
It all started on Friday night over a week ago after I had baked the cookies for the farmers’ market when my husband commented that the light in the refrigerator wasn’t working. We soon realized that it wasn’t just the refrigerator light, but the refrigerator wasn’t cooling either.
Because we were going to the farmers’ market, I made sure to take all the vegetables that we had grown to the market because we wouldn’t have any place to store them where it would be cool. Fortunately, all the vegetables we had to sell were sold.
Cleaning Out the Old Refrigerator
After the farmers’ market, we picked up a bag of ice and some individual drinks from the store as well as a half-gallon of milk instead of our usual gallon. We put the ice in the coolers and then I sorted out all of the food in the refrigerator. I stored certain condiments on the counter that really didn’t need to be refrigerated, but we preferred to keep it cold when we used them. These were things like catsup and mustard. I had just used up the last of the mayonnaise so I didn’t have any of that to put in the cooler, but I did put Miracle Whip salad dressing and the ranch dressing in the cooler.
I threw out the stuff that I thought wasn’t worth keeping like old salsa, pizza sauce, pickles that no one was going to eat anyway, and old applesauce. I put it all in the compost bucket and emptied the compost bucket in the flower garden where the chickens had a feast.
The refrigerator freezer was another challenge that I had to overcome. It was packed with food that I had to do something with and our chest freezer was already filled with meat and berries that we had just obtained. I took a few minutes and determined what I didn’t need in there. There were some frozen, freezer-burned vegetables that I donated to the chickens. I had two pounds of butter that I decided to store in the cooler rather. We ate the frozen potato wedges and hamburgers that night to make room for some of the other foods that were in the refrigerator freezer. There were some things that I had kept in the refrigerator freezer that I decided didn’t need to be frozen at all. For instance, I had just bought two pounds of granulated yeast that was still in mylar bags that I just stored in a container in the freezer. I also had been storing the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in there. I decided they could stay on a shelf in a cupboard rather than let them get waterlogged in the cooler. It was easier to feed the bread scraps that I stored in the freezer to the chickens rather than trying to dry them in the dehydrator during this hot weather. Sometimes you just got to do what you’ve got to do.
Buying the New Refrigerator
Last Tuesday we bought our new refrigerator. We called several places before we ever left home and with that information in hand, we went shopping.
We started out by going to one of those 90-day same as cash places, where we found a refrigerator that was not only the size we wanted but was also on clearance. It looked like quite the deal, however, when we talked to the salesperson, he expected us to pay a one-hundred-and-fifty-dollar delivery fee and since the only available refrigerator of that model was the floor model, we would have to purchase a three-year extended warranty too for another one-hundred-and-fifty-dollar price tag. We decided we would look elsewhere.
The second place we went was a place that was locally-family owned and had been in business for more than fifty years. They were known for their customer service. The refrigerator that they had for sale was $150 more than the one we saw before, but we didn’t have to purchase an extended warranty and they required only an additional thirty dollars for delivery. That’s $120 less than the other place. We purchased that refrigerator. The only problem was that we would need to wait a week for delivery.
The Waiting Week
Since we knew that we had to wait a week, we devised a plan to pick up ice every day along with anything that we might need for that day. We purchased our milk in half-gallon jugs rather than whole gallons and ate a lot of lunch meat because the weather was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day. When we did cook, we cooked meals outside.
A Lot of Canning
Since I didn’t have refrigerator space and my garden is in harvest mode, I have done a lot of canning during the past week and because it was so hot, I limited this activity to the morning hours. We pulled up our bush green beans and canned the green beans that the plants had produced. I canned tomato products every time I had enough tomatoes to make anything. I canned tomato sauce, whole tomatoes, tomato juice, and salsa. Because I had the peppers, I also made hot pepper jelly. Because I didn’t want to store too much in the refrigerator at any time, I decided to can foods in jars of specific sizes to my husband’s and my needs. For instance, I canned tomato juice and canned tomatoes in quart jars because that is how we are likely to use them. I canned tomato sauce in jars in pints because I believe that is how much sauce we are likely to need for a single meal. I canned the salsa and jelly in ½ pint jars because that’s the size we’re likely to use for them. If I had a bigger family to feed, I would use larger jars, but since it’s just my husband and me, these smaller sizes are perfect for us.
Final Preparations for the New Refrigerator
The refrigerator arrived Monday afternoon, but before it arrived, we had to move the old refrigerator so that I could clean behind it before the new one arrived. I had stuff stored on top of it that I decided needed a new home. I rearranged my canning lids and rings so that I only had to get into a small number of them at a time. The bulk of it I put away so that it wasn’t in the way. The casserole dishes I had stored there I moved to another location in the kitchen so that I had better access to them when I needed them. The massive number of paper plates that I had stored up there I decided would go back on the new refrigerator. Once the old refrigerator was moved forward, I swept out the cobwebs and washed the walls, and then swept and mopped the floor. The refrigerator arrived when they said it would, they put it in place, and they hauled off the old model.
- I learned long ago that it is always a good idea to have a contingency plan for potential disasters. The worst always seems to happen at the worst possible times. Therefore, it makes sense to be prepared for whatever may come.
- Refrigerators (and freezers) seem to break down at the worst possible times, therefore, canning as much as possible makes sense. (For more on this subject, here are another article that I wrote Using a Deep Freezer Shouldn’t Be the Only Home Preserving Method https://hubpages.com/food/What-I-did-When-My-Freezer-Failed
- Because we have an emergency fund, we were able to purchase the refrigerator with cash
- We decided to purchase a new refrigerator because it is likely to last longer than another used unit would. (The old one had been used and lasted us about two years.)
- Shop around for the right deal and don’t take what looks like the cheapest price. Pay attention to the price of add-ons.
- Customer service is often worth more than you realize until you see what poor customer service looks like.
What could you do in our situation?