Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
As I sit here looking out at the snow gently falling I marvel at the intricate beauty of snow in the mountains. We just had a snow storm that was predicted to provide us with 18 -34” of snow that did not materialize. Today was forecast to be an inch or two and so far we have 6” with no sign of letting up. March and April are the two months where we can receive substantial amounts of snow sometimes accumulating up to 3 or 4 feet in one storm. So what does someone who homesteads at 9,750’ elevation do when the snow is falling and the accumulation is growing steadily?
One thing I seem to neglect is keeping in touch with friends and family in a meaningful way. There are the social media avenues but I really like to receive a card or letter and I believe that others like to as well. When I go to the Post Office to collect our mail it is usually catalogs, junk mail, or bills and when there is a letter in there I get excited. To know someone has taken the time to sit down and write a letter to us is a fun experience to be on the receiving end of that letter. So on days like today I write letters and cards to send to family and friends. It seems writing letters is quickly becoming a lost art and I find that sad. Getting an unexpected letter is exciting and I can hardly wait to get home to open one so we can sit down and enjoy it together.
Then there is the maintenance and upkeep of our four dogs. Snow days are good times to give them a thorough grooming. That includes a complete brushing and pet-a-cure for 72 toe nails. Even though the temperature is just a few degrees below the freezing mark, we need to keep the wood stove going through out the day. Then there are the birds that want to be fed and can go through a feeder of bird seed in the blink of an eye. To feed the birds we need to shovel off and sweep the deck and shovel the walkways even though it may still be snowing outside.
Carol likes to bake and will make fresh bread or cookies which serves two distinct purposes. I love fresh bread made by hand and not in one of those bread makers. The other purpose is that it warms up the back of the house and the smell of fresh bread in the house is delightful. A slice of fresh bread with butter still warm from the oven is a delight second to none.
When it is snowing outside this time of year it is also a good time to go through seed catalogs and plan my garden as soon as the 6-8’ of snow melts off the garden boxes. That actually happens pretty fast this time of year when it can get up to 50 degrees during the day. It is also a good time to rest weary muscles and read a book. We know when the snow stops that we are going to have to move it mostly by shovel. With a heavy snow like this one it can take two or more days to move it. Days like today are also excellent times to rearrange the pantry or sort through our clothes and get them organized.
When it is snowing heavily like it is presently it is also a good time to clean up tools, sharpen, clean and adjust chain saws, and make sure all the outdoor equipment used outside in the summer is ready to go when needed. If something inside needs fixing it is done when the weather outside keeps us inside.
So what does someone who homesteads at 9,750’ on the side of a mountain do when it snows? I guess the short answer is we keep busy doing those tasks that we sometimes neglect in favor of being outside on good days which just happen to be the majority of days when living in the mountains. That book I have been wanting to read, that letter I have been intending to write, the careful grooming and play time I have wanted with the dogs and a host of other tasks. This may sound boring or unnecessary to some but to us it is wonderful to glance outside and see the snow falling quietly and softly and just enjoy getting caught up on projects we sometimes put off in favor of being outside. For us it is enjoyable to be able to stay inside on days like today and just accomplish non physical activities. That is one of the true benefits of living in the mountains or remotely and it is a time of recovery and balm for the soul.
For more on the lives of Bruce and Carol McElmurray go to: http://www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com