Amazing what we take for granted– a shower, for instance. It’s one of those things we do mindlessly every day and never give it a second thought until it’s suddenly not available. Sitting around the house I can usually skip a day. But when you’ve been on the end of a shovel in 95 degree heat for the better part of the afternoon, a shower suddenly becomes extremely important.
I guess I’m lucky to be married to an engineer. He can usually cob something together out of practically nothing. When we built the little equipment shed earlier this summer, I saw a place to park the tractor and maybe store a few of the garden tools. Grant saw more. Within days, he’d erected a post, plugged in an old electric water heater we’d hauled up here from New Mexico and plumbed a shower head at the end of a pair of rubber hoses. There was a pallet covered by a piece of Hardiboard to stand on, and a blue nylon tarp for a shower curtain. The way the tractor was parked, the backhoe was in a handy position to prop my foot on to shave my leg.
There was a bit of a soggy streak to and from the camper, and depending on the time of day, the mosquitoes occasionally got in a bite, but all in all, that shower was heaven at the end of a long dusty day.
The next exciting item to show up was the porta-potty. Yes, we do have a potty in the camper, but everything that goes into that potty must eventually come out, and it was a major event and a many-mile drive to a dump station once a week. I decided early on it was far preferable to just go in the woods rather than have to face another housekeeping task.
Once we started building the barn and had the need to hire some outside help, we decided to “take the plunge” and order up a porta-potty. It was so easy, I can’t believe we didn’t think of it earlier. A nice young man showed up within an hour of calling, lifted the thing off the back of his truck and filled it with some clean-smelling blue liquid. Once a week it is now the potty company’s problem to come service our unit and it’s once less thing of us to worry about.
Moving the shower out of the camper drastically reduced our need for “clean” water, as we were now pumping directly out of the irrigation well to get cleaned up. Yet we were still in major water conservation mode as all the potable water still had to come from the lake. We’d not yet had either of the wells tested and were a little hesitant to drink the water. There is a natural spring about five miles down the road and we started filling our jugs there. There’s almost always someone else there with the same idea—the water tastes wonderful and is ice cold coming out of the tap.
The latest endeavor is a flock of 23 chickens. They were delivered to the local post office as day-old chicks and they’re now going on about a month of age. Right now they’re in a “feather transition,” having lost their baby down and are slowly growing in their adult chicken feathers, so they look a little rough. They’re still huddled under a heat lamp out in the shop, but within a few days, they’ll be out on “pasture” for another month, before going into the freezer.
From the garden to the orchard to the chickens everything up to this point has been a giant experiment and learning experience. It’s been fun to see what thrives and what withers in this climate. I picked our summer harvest of blueberries a couple of days ago. One of the joys of living in this part of the country is the abundance of fresh food available, literally for the picking. Yesterday we spent the afternoon with Mom and Dad at a nearby blueberry farm and got another ten pounds for the freezer. Nothing tastes like summer in January as much as a homemade blueberry pie.
Summer is zooming by. Grant is working away at house plans and we are zeroing in on a final. Most of the permits are in hand and we’re getting close to finally breaking ground. My next big project will most likely be canning and drying the harvest from the garden and saving seeds. Wish me luck!