Sunday, July 29, 2012

Settling in

We're finally moved inUpstairs is still a mess of boxes, but we'll get to that when we feel like it.  The downstairs living area is quite settled, so we added some pictures to the left.  We've cooked some delicious meals on the wood stove, and John even baked a loaf of bread in it!  We've seeded the lawn with clover and rye, and now we're working to get the cedar shakes on the exterior.  Can't wait to be able to post pictures of that once it's done - very tired of the black tar paper look.

Admittedly, the act of "flipping the switch" from a normal American lifestyle to off-grid living was a bit daunting.  We didn't know what it would be like or whether we would really be up to the challenge.  Nearly 3 months into it, we're still figuring it out but overall the transition has been fairly smooth.  Some things have been easier than expected.  Our wood stove is easy to start up, heats up quickly, and is a joy to cook on (and even baking is pretty easy).  John's gravity-fed water system works perfectly, with good water pressure at all of the sinks and even in the shower.  Pumping up the head tank in the attic only takes about 20 minutes a day if we keep up with it (or about 50 minutes if we let it run out).  It's a meditative chore that neither of us minds doing (and a good upper body workout!).

Some things are exactly as we expected them to be...  Emptying the humanure buckets is one, and doing laundry by hand is another.  We have a great set-up for the laundry, but it still takes time and you have to do it on a sunny day so the clothes can dry.  I tell myself that I could be spending an hour driving to the gym to do a 20 minute workout and drive back - or I could spend it working on the laundry.  Probably about the same number of calories burned either way.  ;-)  And emptying the humanure buckets...well, there are many philosophical reasons why this is a great thing to do and I try to remind myself of these...but really the best thing about it is that it only takes 5 minutes.  

And some things are not working out quite as well as we had hoped.  The root cellar is now up to 60 degrees, so it's not exactly working like a refrigerator (though that may have been an unrealistic expectation to begin with).  We have been buying blocks of ice and keeping a cooler for things like butter and yogurt.  And we just have to eat things within a day or stocking up on a week's worth of groceries.  The other thing that hasn't worked too well is our small solar panel system.  It barely keeps up with keeping the phones charged and allowing us quick email checks on the laptop.  We have to go somewhere with power in order to do any real research online, or to do something like write this blog entry.

All in all though, we're very happy in our little house and we're learning how to live this new life a little better each day.  Hopefully I'll get a chance to add another update before another 3 months has gone by...stay tuned!