Senior Homesteading at High Elevation



Homesteading remotely is difficult but it is particularly difficult as we grow older into our senior years. Of course, it depends on the type of lifestyle lived as to how hard it is. We chose to build a small cabin and heat it with wood. We also chose to be on grid as the financial difference between being on-vs-off grid was negligible. Due to our long winter months at 9,800’ elevation we use a considerable amount of firewood each winter. Our winters can be up to 6-7 months long and we can burn up to 10 to 11 cords of firewood each cold season.

Abrupt introduction to winter. This year, the natural indicators pointed toward an early and cold winter. The insects, birds and animals were spot on because our first single digit temperatures and snow was mid-October. Normally we ease into snow season but this year our first snow was 20 inches and our subsequent snows were an accumulation  of 15 inches. That totals 35 inches of snow inside of 10 days was an abrupt introduction to our lengthy snow season.

Indications of winter. By paying close attention to bird migration, insect activity and squirrels/chipmunks gathering and storing food we knew it was going to be a different type of winter so we were prepared. As we have gotten older and in our senior years the 23+ years which we have lived here have taken a toll on our bodies and joints and we find our two most demanding tasks have become harder to accomplish. Snow removal and firewood gathering are still possible but we approach those jobs more carefully and try to work smarter. 

Aches and pains. For other seniors who would desire to live remotely, consider that as we age those tasks you can easily perform when younger will become more challenging as your joints and lower back have some accumulated years of hard use on them. Remembering how it used to be doesn’t help the present and getting anxious over how things were when you were younger can be self defeating. 

Heating needs. For example, to relieve our heating demands we have installed two electric ceramic heaters at each end of the cabin. They keep our cabin comfortably warm at night and due to their efficiency our electric bill has remained about the same. This lessens our need for so much firewood since we don’t have to keep the wood stove operating 24/7. We still use our wood stove during the daytime when it is very cold so our electric heat doesn’t have to keep the house warm around the clock. 

11/8/2019 3:11:44 AM

I admire your fortitude and resilience living in harsh conditions. The comment about the planet healing itself struck me; truly it does and in remarkable fashion. The question I often pose to climate-change doubters, however, is can we survive that healing process? The planet probably will correct our damage, but we may not be around to witness it.

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