Wednesday, November 18, 2009

the basics of the homestead

Bein backwards as we are(we cant help it, manthing is polish ) we began our big foray into homesteading by building a log cabin on the property. There is the main shack that was originally meant to be a barn but because of circumstance became the house.. Hmmmm.....Lets start by starting from the proper beginning, how the property became ours...

the story behind the property
Manthings daddy and his wife bought the place back in the 80s. He hauled a camper up here and began working on his retirement homestead and was building the barn when he fell ill. Because of his health issues he turned the barn into a crude small house.Being that the area was very rural at that time there were no building codes , as such the house is built as if there were no codes.

Fast forward a few years and manthing had the opportunity to buy the land because his fathers health was too poor for the conditions here on the land... He has been here full time since 1992. I joined him in 2002..

backward beginnings
When I first came down we lived in a camper that we had pulled onto the property because his ex wife was living in the house(economic reasons and health issues... to make a long story short).
We used to sit around the campfires and picnic tables chatting before dinner in the evenings with folks that were passing through or stayin for a spell.. One evening we began talking of building a cabin as a joke more or less and the feller here at the time came up with plans.. Little by little our stick cabin became a 12x14 authentic log cabin with a loft that is 12x7.

We quickly learned while building it that had we been true pioneer homesteaders we would have died our first winter on the land The cabin also took over 2 yrs to build but we did take a year long break.. We are lazy hippies , remember During this time we either stayed in the camper or camped out and built another out door kitchen with mud oven in another area of the property.

Once the cabin was built we needed an out door kitchen and then a new outhouse needed to be dug since the original was full.. Manthing and i then moved to the cabin for a couple years and only passed by the main shack for coffee in the morning and showers on occasion..

For economic reasons when his exwife moved out in 2007 we moved back to the main shack. It didnt make sense to have power, burn a fire in the house and stay in the cabin . It simply made sense to come down here and use the cabin for our getaway weekends in the woods .

the shack
Now the shack is a simple domicile to begin with and because of where we live and our lifestyle it is bare bones when it comes to decorating, furnishings and its inhabitants.. We dont do curtains, we dont do much furniture, dont do tv,no cell phones, no cable, no play stations, dvd players, no beds, no air conditioning, no makeup n jewelry, mirrors or clocks.. There are lots of canning jars, seed tables seed containers, other containers i use for dry stuff, lots of books and magazines ,, drums and dust!

water and sewage
The house has no well or city water system. All of our water comes from the rain. The cistern is a 1500 gallon block made room with gutters running into it.. We use rain barrels as needed and recycle grey water as needed. All of our drinking water comes from a spring on the property that we go to and fill up jugs weekly There is a spring fed pond if we need to haul water for any reason and there is a small seasonal creek thru the back portion of the land.. with just two of us here these days, the cistern gives us plenty of water, however because of past issues with drought and more people here we are very conservative with what we use.. Conservative to the tune of about 150 gallons a week for all of our needs and animals needs .

For showering we use a solar shower bag in an old claw foot tub with a shower curtain around it. For dishes we use dish pans and of course for bathroom needs we use the outhouse.. Oh and for laundry i use an old wash tub , plungers and a mop wringer.. We did actually use our plumbing until last summer 2008 but the septic was full and it was going to cost no less than 600 to pump so we decided to switch to the aforementioned.

fuel for heat and cooking
Much like the plumbing, last spring(2008) the propane needed filling and it was when the gas prices spiked. It was over 400 bux for a little bit over 100s gallons. We decided then that it was the last of our propane deliveries.. So we built an oven with a grill cook top out of an old wood cook stove and brick and that became our newest kitchen ..All of our cooking is over wood. we also heat solely with wood in the winter and i use the wood stove for most of our cooking in the winter months..

Keep in mind that we could afford to fix or remedy all the empty / full stuff. We simply choose not too. We decided back in 2007 that we really needed to reign in unnecessary spending and conserve what money we had. We knew manthing was going to become unemployed in the near future. we knew we worked in construction and when it went away it was going away for a very long time.. We didnt n still dont know how long or bad this depression is going to last. We also decided that we could very well be sent back in time to live in a sense and that we were going to be as prepared and comfortable with frugal to the extreme living before we needed to be..

We use the sun as much as we can here. From dehydrating to lighting, to drying clothes and warming water. We use as much of the energy from it as we can.

In the last two years we have halved our electricity usage. We do not have solar but are looking into a small system to run a couple lights and small radio. We could however live off grid without solar if need be. A day of hard core canning and we could have the freezer emptied. One of our goals this year is to eliminate the freezer entirely.

We still have telephone and internet, something that is almost necessary in order to job hunt these days. The net is also our only connection to the outside world. The phone is our only means to connect to the net. If things continue to look gloomy in the world and if needed the net would be the next thing we axe from our life..

We go to town and buy supplies one time a month. If it wasnt for having to buy animal feed we would cut that back to every other month. Town is honestly the most stressful thing in my life although it is only a two hour ordeal. We do cheat and take blankets to the laundrymat on occasion. They are not fun to wash by hand..

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