Homesteading!

Homesteading!

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Here I was out in my off the grid cabin, having survived the night, toilet installed, and ready to give this homesteading business a go!

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My first night out alone in the cabin with a blizzard raging against the outside.  I felt like a pioneer, Henry Fonda on the back of an old Hudson during the dustbowl, Captain Ahab with his whale, Beryl Markham in her bush plane.  I was tackling this whole winter cabin thing for the first time and alone.

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I woke up to the most spectacular WINTER WONDERLAND.

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It was absolutely awe inspiring and mind numbing.  I thought the cabin was magical before,  now I was convinced some little leprechauns were going to come digging around for their pot of gold.  I had obviously landed on the other end of the rainbow.  I felt like Dorothy stepping onto the yellow brick road, now let’s just hope I don’t find a witch wearing red shoes under the cabin come the spring thaw…

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First chore?  Get outside and take some photos!  ( I think our homesteading pioneers just rolled over in their graves. And their little cow too. )

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I decided since the neighbors had graciously offered up some of the logs from their woodpile behind their cabin, and having gotten handy with the sled it would be fun to see how it did with massive stumps of wood.  Here goes nothing!

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It went great!

At first.

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Then not so great.  Then the sled kept on tipping over.  Then I kept on tipping over.  I finally decided that sled and stump were probably never going to be friends.

So …using my best homesteader reasoning skills I decided to just roll it.  I think we’ve all seen this cartoon.  First I stood and rolled it like a mechanic rolls a car tire,  then it got too heavy with accumulated snow so I pushed it, then it tipped over, then it was too heavy for me to stand up, so then I cleaned it and started over again.

It’s truly amazing I didn’t roll over any important body parts, only a foot and a hand.  By the time I got that one to the door I was soaked with sweat,  panting with exertion,  covered in snow and splinters,  and deliriously happy!

I decided to go get one more just to prove I was no wuss.

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SPLINTERS.

I would like to chat about them for a minute.  Let’s just say that I was not prepared for how thoroughly I was going to get to know those little guys.   Just like I was unprepared for the phenomenon of frozen mice.  They don’t tell you about this crap in “Cabin Digest”.

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Cabin + wood walls + wood floors + wood shelves + wood ceilings + wood loft ladder + firewood = a hell of a lot of SPLINTERS!

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I somehow manage to get at least 3 every time I touch anything in the cabin.  I am considering carrying a sandpaper holster to sand every surface before I touch it.  Would a tweezer necklace be too gauche?

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I had a minute, ok fine maybe it was a whole half hour, where I contemplated how our forefathers dealt with fixing wooden wagon wheels.  They must have had some spectacular full body callouses to not have enough wood lodged in their skin to start their own matchstick company.

Logs now happily installed in the mud room it was now time to chop one!

Hmm, ok.  I’m accident prone.  My boyfriend is constantly telling me I have a serious problem with gravity.

When I was getting talked into doing my first beauty pageant by the summer camp swim instructor, who was a young first time pageant director trying to get contestants, I had to tell her that she really didn’t want me walking down a catwalk.  In fact she probably didn’t want me walking in heels at all.  I asked her if there was a Miss Clutziology that I could try out for?

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I was contemplating all this as I pulled out the axe and starting thinking about how to tackle this whole chopping wood thing.  Then I started thinking about how likely it was that I would injure myself in some way while being at a cabin with no road access and nobody around to perform emergency triage.

I wasn’t necessarily worried about chopping a finger or an arm off, I thought the biggest hazard was me knocking myself out while trying to swing the axe then ending up knocked out cold on the floor, reminiscent of Bridget Jones being concerned about being eaten by wild dogs.

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With my luck it would be the White Walker version of the frozen mouse I had found in the sink.  A whole army of albino, glassy eyed, rodents nibbling at me one splinter at a time.

Maybe I’ll save wood shop for next time?

Next up- SNOWSHOE ADVENTURE!

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After agonizing for a couple weeks about which snow shoes to buy, reading a million reviews, talking to friends, and then sussing out the sexy factor, I finally decided on the Tubb’s Flex TRK for Women.   *** Snowshoe review below!

I for some reason or other decided to follow some ski tracks up the mountain.  While being extremely hard core as planned,  and quite scenic with all that snow and all,  (movie buff line there,  see if you can guess)  I however did not plan out my homesteading properly since my legs were already wrecked from towing logs.   I’m looking for an oxe for sale or rent.  Serious inquiries only.

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Tubb’s Flex TRK Snowshoe Review:

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I have been snowshoesing in the past and have had torturous experiences.  Being that the only way to get to the cabin in the winter was cross country skies or snowshoes I knew I needed to make sure I was getting something comfortable and easy to walk in.

All the reviews on the Flex TRK bragged about how easy they were to trek in and I was ready to give them a go.  They did not disappoint!   While being light weight and attractive to look at (hence the sexy factor) I was ecstatic to learn they lived up to their reviews.  I was mostly going to be walking on pretty straight forward trails and these seemed to excel at this.

After researching men’s snowshoes for my boyfriend we decided on the MSR Denali’s since he was planning on doing a lot of off trail extreme hiking in his.  I decided to join him on some off trail adventures and the Flex TRK’s did great at this as well!   I came down some steep terrain and they gripped pretty darn good for a clutz like me.

The Denali’s seemed to perform great as well although my boyfriend has spent a lot of time worrying they weren’t on all the way or right.  One benefit of the Flex TRK is they have a marker for the Right versus Left shoe.  Also, once they are latched properly you don’t have that my shoes are coming off feeling.

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The only negative I can list is that although they claim to be easy to get on and off I have been having trouble with the bindings.  Now they perform great when it’s warm and sunny but trying to hook them in the cold when it’s snowing can be a bit trying   But I guess that goes for anything you do in the cold and the snow as a friend pointed out!

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The Feel

The Feel.

I try to capture the feel of what it’s like to own this place.

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As the snow starts to drop slowly I find myself drawn outside.  As the flakes grow stronger and bigger it becomes an inescapable urge.

I often walk outside in whatever I have on.  Jeans and house slippers,  pajama pants and a coat,  if I’m lucky I’m wearing my boots.  I’ve walked out in my socks before only to realize it when my foot crosses a rough stone or branch.

As I walk outside tonight with a crisp class of white wine in my hand I am struck by just how alone I am.  Divinely alone.

The only tracks in the snow I see are my own.

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I look around observing the cabin and listening to the endless rush of the waterfall.  It’s majestic in it’s crescendo.  It feels never ending and permanent as few things are in life.  It calms me.

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I walk towards the lake as I am also drawn there.  I slip along my favorite path in the snow, hearing the slow,  silent,  hiss of my boots compressing it.

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Often as I arrive at the lake I look across to the bridge and see people there looking back at me.  I wonder what they are thinking as they see a girl across the lake in a red hat looking back at them.

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I wonder if they wonder what I’m doing out there,  clutching the stem of my glass in my chilled fingers, but loving the delicious feel of the chill of the glass, against the chill of the wine on my lips,  against the chill of the air,  and the moist snow just touching my braid as it escapes out of my hat.

I walk deeper into the forest along the lake path.   I glance up the trunk of a lonely old gnarled pine.  As I’m looking up the snow flakes are hitting my face, touching my eyes, and enveloping me in a veil of white softness.  As my gaze becomes locked in an embrace with the upper reaches of the tree I observe all the shades of the trunk and the crinkled branches like an old man’s face that has spent a lifetime on the sea.

The sea of the forest.

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I think about religion.

I was raised catholic but nothing has touched me as deeply as moments like this.

Moments where you aren’t listening to what you should believe,  moments where you just believe.

Tears start to glisten in my eyes as I think about the universe and how we are graced with moments like this.  I think about my grandfather and the way his blue eyes crinkled up at the corners when he smiled and how much I miss him,  I think about my family,  my boyfriend,  my friends,  how lucky I am to have people who care about me, my nieces and the joy I have every time I see them grow taller,  stronger, more excited about what life is bringing.  And I think about this cabin.  How every moment I’ve spent here has brought me closer to the universe and how the universe speaks to me through the trees.  Is this religion?   The religion of the forest?   It could be.

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As I walk down to my favorite log jutting out into the lake and the snow starts falling more rapidly I see a male and female mallard both flying from opposite directions through the snow.  They land in unison on the glassy lake and immediately swim towards each other , only to join together in a perfectly choreographed pace.  Side by side.

As humans we can only strive to be as graceful in life as two mallards swimming side by side on a snowy lake in the mountains.

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