Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
As much as I would like to start this blog topic out with once upon a time… that really doesn’t apply to the daily winter life of a remote homesteader. While some would consider our chosen lifestyle unusual we prefer it. While we have electricity and most of the amenities that city dwellers have we still live differently from most. For us it is usually time to go to bed a few hours after the sun sets. We are early to bed and early to rise people. The very last thing we do at the end of the busy day is the loading of the wood stove with logs that are dense which burn well and slow. Then damper the wood stove down so the last load of wood will burn far into the night. Nature and age help with feeding the wood stove at least once during the night. For you young folks as you get older - even when taking prostate medication, you still end up getting up at least once due to a prostate that seems the size of a melon. So it is something you have to look forward to after you cross 5o years of age. That does afford an opportunity to feed fresh firewood into the stove during the night. We love to get up in the morning with coals in the fire box as opposed to having to start a fire from scratch. Little things mean a lot sometimes.
It may be five degrees outside but inside our home it remains comfortable if you keep the stove going through out the night. When we awake early the temperature has usually dropped inside the house to 51-55 degrees. Great temperatures for sleeping. At first light the dogs all need to go out so they are taken out and we stay with them until the last one has taken care of business. Then we all come inside and go to work on getting the wood stove going again and a pot of coffee started. The house heats up at the rate of 4-5 degrees per hour. Then after a brief time spent to reflect on our Creator and all the benefits of life, it is time to feed the dogs, do doggy poo patrol, and then get personal hyena matters out of the way.
Having accomplished this it is time to have more coffee, and then head down to exercise. I have a love (even at my age) of working out with a weight bench. (see photo above) It has been a life long commitment so after doing my exercise routine it is back upstairs. Our basement is only accessed from outside so often it is necessary to walk through the snow, wind or rain to get to my exercise equipment. Then it is time for breakfast. If it is a snow clearing day I plug in the block heater on the tractor for use later. The tractor heats up at about three degrees per hour and when the sun comes up the combination of sun and block heater makes it possible that I can usually start clearing in 3-4 hours.
In the meantime it is shovel work, pushing/throwing the snow away from the house where it can be accessed by the tractor and snow thrower. We both participate in the shovel work. It is also time to use the snow rake and get the snow off the roof and get it out where the tractor can get to it and push it away from the house. Having cleared all the snow it is now time for trim work by clearing walkways, deck, steps, back yard, a path to the firewood and other areas which the tractor can’t reach. With an average snowfall of 264” per year we give a shovel a good work out.
Whoa, lunch time already? Okay time to eat our big meal of the day. We divide duties and Carol has cleaned the house and brought in two or three loads of fire wood to last the rest of the day. She has also taken the dogs out, brought the dogs in several times. We never allow our dogs to be outside alone as we do have predators that would prey on them. We have wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions. While our back yard is safely fenced we do not take risks when it comes to our dogs.
Lunch being over it is time to feed the dogs their second meal of the day. Then after a brief rest (some call it a nap) it is time to check email, bring our personal blog up to date, do a blog topic for Mother (like today), answer emails and then work in a nice dog walk. We hike down the road a distance over a mile, and then back to make sure our best friends get their exercise. In the summer we usually do two walks a day but in the winter only one walk is attempted. Trying to convince the dogs to take more than one walk outside in the cold can be hard to do. They will start at the end of the driveway trying to turn around and head back to the warmth of the house.
In the evening I prefer to toss a pillow on the floor next to the wood stove and curl up with one dog after the other. For me that is the end to a perfect day. We watch televisions shows or read evenings for enjoyment to just let our minds unwind from the day. All pretty routine. I’m sure some would consider our days dull but for us they seem to fly past at the speed of light. When you live and heat with a wood stove as we do you spend much of the day keeping the fire going, tending to the dogs, work in a little play time or grooming with them, and various other routine tasks. We would not trade our lifestyle for any other lifestyle. We no longer spend our time in rush hour traffic, waiting in long lines or other non productive areas. There are few distractions living remotely and therefore we have what some would call an ideal lifestyle and others would think it was boring or to hard. As for us we love it. That is pretty much the daily life of a remote homesteader during the winter in the mountains, or at least our lifestyle. We hope that our lifestyle will inspire others and for those who don’t care for it maybe it will help you take a different direction.
For more on Bruce and Carols lifestyle go to: http://www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com