Noise Or Silence – Is It For You?

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray

Living in a small cabin in a remote area of the mountains can produce absolute silence or noise.  Depending on your attitude to noise or silence it can be annoying or beneficial. First let me say to those who may be hearing impaired that you have my total empathy for not being able to hear the minute noises from various and sundry places in your environment. For us who have normal hearing, the noise from various parts of our environment can sometimes be interesting or intimidating. Living in the mountains sound travels for great distance and is actually amplified by the mountains and contour or the terrain. The air is thinner and the higher you live the clearer noise becomes. We hear noise from over a mile away when the source is nothing more than a hum. We hear vehicles on the main road that transects our community and is over a half mile away, like they are in our living room. The railroad track is two miles or more distant and we hear the train sitting on the tracks with the engine running. Sound travels great distance in the mountains.  

I’m often asked  questions about living as we do and it is difficult to include the variety of  features that go into living in such a remote area.  One of those areas is adjusting to sound or lack of sound. When the house is closed up during the winter – like it is now – you can hear noises that are different and more contained. For example, when the refrigerator comes on you can hear it throughout the entire house. Or when the well fills the holding tank in the basement  with tasty water you hear that noise. Or the satellite box which makes a host of  noises whenever  it has a mind to. Or one of the dogs snoring, scratching and making their tags jingle as they address an itch, or toe nails on the hard floor. All inside noise that we get accustomed to and take for granted.

Then there are the outside noises where early in the morning the birds will sing and chirp at dawn, or like now when we hear the elk bugling, or the coyotes howling and yipping or the occasional wolf howling its lonely sounding tune. Or during the summer when we hear the bee’s buzzing or the hummingbirds humming. The wind whispering through the pine trees or the aspen leaves rattling as they quake in the wind. Or the hush of snow falling with no other noise interfering with this awesome time. Or the sound of snow sussing off the roof when it gets to heavy to remain there. All pleasurable sounds for sure.   

Then there are the strange noises that we experience. Like when I shave with my multiple blade razor and it sounds like I’m zipping  my face off and on. Or when the wood stove sucks in air because of the wind outside is drawing air through the small opening. Or those strange thuds or bumps from outside like when a bear gets up on the top of the propane tank and puts its nose on the window to look inside. Most noises we hear and identify but often there are those in which we have no clue what or where they came from except to know that some critter either large of small is moving around outside. Sometimes we see the dogs with ears alert trying to identify sounds we can’t hear ourselves

So living as we do sometimes has absolute total silence which in and of itself can be deafening. So should you be planning to live somewhere as we do, you need to be prepared to adjust to the noise or  total absence of it. If you are lucky you will never adjust to the noise or silence and continually be amazed and inspired by it as we are.  

So today is our noise mitigation day where we suck the dust out of electronics so they run quieter, and clean refrigerator coils and other appliances to allow them to run more efficiently and quiet. We have to actually plan and perform these essential duties on a regular basis or we wake up in the night to even stranger noises. Therefore, living as we do, noise is part of our every day life and must be dealt with in various ways. Some people can’t stand silence and some are annoyed by noise. If you can’t adjust to either, maybe homesteading in a remote area is not for you.  If you are more flexible and can handle noise or the absence thereof, you will be rewarded greatly.