This post was supposed to be published on Halloween because it’s kind of scary and gross. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
About a month ago I sang the praises of our deep freeze. I shared the many different foods the you can freeze. Apparently many of you love using your freezers too because that post was quite popular and was shared a lot.
Before you put all your proverbial eggs in the deep freeze basket, let me share with you “The Freezer Nightmare” from our collection of life experiences that we never want to have to go through again.
When we moved into my in-laws’ basement just over two years ago, we brought our deep freeze with us. At first it was just a giant storage chest. We didn’t plug it in because we weren’t planning to stay long. As you know, that plan changed.
My in-laws have an enormous deep freeze that is always packed to the brim with all manner of garden produce, bulk foods, and meat bought at a discount. When the holidays rolled around and turkeys and hams were on sale, I offered to plug in our freezer so my mother-in-law would be able to stock up (since we had taken over their spare upright fridge/freezer). I was also excited to have more space to stock up for my family.
Fast forward to February. For a week or so, each night Mr. SixFiguresUnder got home from work he would comment that the house smelled strange. I had been there all day and I couldn’t smell anything. I tried not to be offended by what could be a slight to my cooking or housekeeping.
Then one night as we were putting the kids to bed, he bent down to pick up something near our deep freeze. He noticed that bad smell again, only stronger, so he opened to freezer to track the smell.
From the back bedroom, I heard him gagging, so I ran to see what was going on. I found my husband doubled over gagging, unable to speak. Once he regained his composure, he filled me in on his terrible discovery.
Side Note #1: Mr. SixFiguresUnder is tough stuff. I have a very weak stomach, so he, being the gem he is, handles all the throw up and gross, growing fridge foods in our family. I’d never seen him such bad shape.
Sure enough, the freezer had gotten unplugged, what must have been weeks earlier, as nothing was even remotely cold. Oh, it WAS BAD!
We finished getting the kids to bed and then assessed the situation. What in the world could we do with a freezer full of very, very rotten meat? This thrifty DIY girl just wanted to pay someone to come take it away! In the boonies late at night there really isn’t anyone who provides such a service.
Knowing it was going to be a long night, Mr. SixFiguresUnder (we may as well call him “the Hero” from here on out), already clad in pajamas, grabbed a shovel and headed to the back of the property where we rarely go. I went along with him to “help.” The other option was to stay in the house where the smell of death was wafting.
He chose a spot near a tree so the ground would be a little softer. He dug and dug until the hole was wide enough and deep enough to fit a freezer-ful of food and still have a few feet of dirt on top.
Of all the benefits of living in the boonies, this is not one that I would have after considered. What would you think if you saw your neighbor digging a grave-sized hole late at night at the back of his property?
Don’t let the short-sleeves fool you. It really is February. I’m bundled up in a winter coat, hat and gloves. Apparently you can work up a good sweat digging a grave. (Taking pictures in the dark is no easy task either.)
Side Note #2: Did I mention that Mr. SixFiguresUnder is tough stuff? He believes in getting a workout by doing hard work (as opposed to going to the gym), so digging an enormous hole solo is right up his alley.
Once the hole was complete, we had to figure out how to fill it. The freezer was too heavy to carry when it was full, so we had to remove the putrid contents. By “we” I mean the Hero.
My mother-in-law gave us these plastic tubs to use to transfer the
food freezer’s contents. We loaded the tubs into the wheelbarrow and made several trips out to the big hole.
The environmental folks aren’t going to like this, but we threw everything in, bags, packages and all. I would challenge anyone else to do differently!
We covered the contents of the hole with plenty of dirt. We mounded it up slightly to account for it settling and decomposing over time. Now, a year and a half later, you wouldn’t even know that we have a mini landfill in our backyard.
Details (*for those with strong stomachs*)
The plastic packaging on the turkeys was so bloated that they exploded with a pop when we (ahem, the Hero) tossed them into the hole. A partial gallon of milk that we had put in the freezer when we had gone out of town also exploded upon entry into its final resting place.
As he removed the meat, the Hero told me that the bottom of the freezer had 6 to 8 inches of pink liquid in it that needed to be dumped. I couldn’t bear to look, so I had him take a picture so I could look at it later without the accompanying smell.
Together we hefted the freezer up the stairs and far out on the property to dump the pink liquid and hose out the inside. We used a gallon of bleach to scrub the freezer thoroughly. We left it outside with the lid open for a couple of weeks before we dared bring it inside our house. We loaded it up with baking soda and plugged it back in. I’m happy to report that there are no lingering odors from the ordeal.
Living in an unfinished basement, many of the outlets are high in the wall instead of near the ground. This was the case with the freezer’s outlet. The cord from the freezer had to reach 6 feet high on the wall to be plugged in. It must have been inadvertently unplugged when someone set something on the freezer.
Many of the large-capacity freezers, like the enormous one my in-laws have, have an alarm that beeps every minute when the unit loses power. We learned the hard way that that is a very valuable feature.
Checking the freezer for power became part of our nightly bedtime routine, right after locking the door. Fortunately (or unfortunately) our deep freeze is in our “living room” so it’s pretty convenient.
I figured there had to be a way to install some sort of alarm that would notify us if our freezer wasn’t getting power or if the temperature was rising. Sure enough, you can get freezer alarms on Amazon for less than $30. Who knew?
If your deep freeze doesn’t have a built-in alarm, I highly recommend getting an alarm or setting up a routine freezer check. Freezers can save you so much money, but when things go wrong, the loss can be painful!
How about you?
- Have you had a freezer disaster?
- Do you have a freezer alarm?