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Homesteading 101

April 3, 2009

This would be my year of learning:

–to setup housekeeping without running water

–to grow 15 different vegetables

–to identify poison snakes

–to bake biscuits and cornbread in a frying pan on the stove

–to start a fire and keep it going!

–to load and shoot a gun

–to split kindling for the woodstove

–to live a much simpler lifestyle and not even miss a lot of the things we take for granted or think we ‘need’!

We moved in to the ‘shack’ in April while it was still very chilly in the mornings and evenings and cold at night. So, the first thing we had to learn was how to operate the woodstove. It was very old and the damper didn’t work properly which caused the fire to keep going out. Rick would throw a ton of pine kindling in and get that going, then throw logs on top. If the logs weren’t completely dried out, the fire would smolder down as soon as the pine burned up. Rick got plenty of pine pieces left over from various construction jobs so we had a ready supply of those. The pine would burn very hot and warm up the room fairly quickly, but when the logs caused the smoldering it would cool down just as quickly.

It was extremely frustrating for me when Rick was a t work because I was on my own with the damn stove. I would split kindling most of the day and throw it in there just to keep the fire going. Rick had his axe and I had my hatchet. I, soon, became very adept at holding the pine lumber just right and coming down into it with the hatchet and splitting it. I split each piece in 1/2 then split each of those in 1/2 again. Sometimes, I would spend up to an hour doing this until I got a big tin tub filled with it. But it sure didn’t last long as I had to keep using it to keep the heat going. I built up some really strong arm muscles and many blisters on my hands during this process.

We finally realized, after weeks of this crap, that it wasn’t our naivete at this fire-building experience that was giving us problems. It was the stove itself. Rick went to town and found a good used one to buy. Between the two of us, the old one was hauled out to the yard and the new one lugged in. Damn they were heavy! Rick got all the pipes put together to lead out of the roof and we ‘fired’ it up. Shezam! It worked beautifully! Even the semi-wet logs would burn good. I was in toasty-warm heaven!

The closest town was 30 minutes away. Forktown had a population of 2500, a coffee shop/cafe,  a bar/cafe,  a laundromat/grocery store, one gas station, and a junkyard for cars/trucks. We went to the laundromat  for our water supply. They let us fill up for free. We filled 10 eight-gallon buckets every week, while doing our laundry, and hauled everything down that bumpy road in the old jeep we had. It was quite a struggle to keep the jeep on the narrow road and not go over the drop-off. Scared the shit out of me everytime because when we were going down the road to home, my side was on the drop-off side! I always let out a huge sigh of relief once we reached the flat part of the road.

There was a couple times that the water buckets would overturn and water would spill everywhere. The buckets had lids on them but they didn’t seal very well. That water was precious to us, so if we lost too much we had to turn around and go back for more. It happened enough that I finally learned that I was going to have to sit in the back with the buckets and hang on to them. Quite a feat when I had to spread my little skinny self  between all 10 of them! I felt like an octopus!

Whew! I wanted to write more but I think my hands just fell off! Kinda hard to type that way! So, I think I’ll save the rest for another post. Must go put my hands back on now……..

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2009 2:26 pm

    I was looking forward to reading more – thanks!
    My goodness, that sounds like a lot of hard work!
    Can’t imagine living like that…
    Jonie

  2. Louna Cee permalink
    April 4, 2009 3:34 pm

    Pheww!! Put your hands in some ice and come back soon to finish your post… which kept me pretty much speechless by everything you managed to accomplish in this .. ummm… house!

    Like i said before… Pheewww!

    Louna

  3. gardenbear permalink
    April 6, 2009 12:30 am

    I’ve been catching up on your blog and am looking forward to reading more! Sounds like a very hard life! I am having your blog emailed to me now so I won’t be missing any more entries!

  4. April 6, 2009 8:50 am

    Hi gardenbear!!! Welcome to my blog! I’m so happy to hear from you! Thank you for subscribing, and tune in for more ‘exciting’ tales of my homesteading experience. 🙂

  5. April 7, 2009 1:01 pm

    Wow! The work sounds hard, but it also seems you learned well as you went. I look forward to reading the rest!

    Karen

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