A Few Things I’ve Learned Since Moving to the Woods
As my daughter would say, “For sure!”
My whole family has learned some incredible lessons on our new homestead. The first of which revolve around the realization that modern day living is SUCH a luxury.
Our first full season down here was the harshest winter Tennessee has had in over 15 years. We northerners cannot complain though. We left Milwaukee just in time as that poor city was doused with more snow then it could handle. When I look at pictures of yards belonging to family and friends, it makes my stomach turn. Here in Tennessee we only got a total of 1 inch of snow all season.
Our modern day log cabin is absolutely set up with heating and cooling and running water, but my husband and I had full intentions on keeping the electricity usage to a minimum. With that said, our goal was to primarily use the wood burning stove in order to heat our home well.
Wow! What a goal to try to achieve.
When we moved in October of 2013, I was 15 weeks pregnant and useless. My husband was the one to move all our stuff and to prep the home for winter. It was our first time ever prepping a log cabin. Needless to say, time was against us. Chopping wood with an ax lasted for a few weeks when finally my husband gave in and borrowed my dads chainsaw. We replaced the blade a few times after chopping down plenty of sick trees on our property.
What we didn’t think about was how long that wood would need to dry out before we could actually burn it.
We made it through March with wood, thankfully, but we did not burn everyday. Some days were warm enough not to. Other days, our heater was turned on. Which brings me to our next first world problem and lesson learned.
The ground is much different down in the South. Most homes cannot have basements because of the rock and clay. You simply cannot dig deep enough. Well, that rule goes for pipes too. I had no idea that our water and electricity was not buried more than 24″ deep. So if the ground freezes, you could be in big doo doo.
Thankfully, our biggest issues were that our hot water did not last as long as one would want it to in the dead of winter and our electric heat would run all day if it were below 20 out. That makes for a very large heating bill.
This summer our goal is to chop and stack enough wood to get through the next winter season.
Now that Spring has come and Summer is making its way here, there have been other lessons learned. You might be thinking that these are all basic rules of thumb in the woods. You would be right.
Tick checks are mandatory every night before bed. I’m currently learning how to make different types of organic bug repellents.
Watching where you step so to not cross a snake is very important when playing outside. We started bringing a gun with us on our nature hikes.
Identifying plants before touching, smelling or tasting is extremely important. We now bring a plant guide booklet with us outside.
Most of all, play everything a bit more safe since the nearest hospital is an hour away. So far, that hospital has seen hosted us twice. Once for the delivery of my son (the hour drive while in labor was not any kind of fun) and the second was to check on my daughter’s finger to see if it was broken or not. It was not.
Let me get into a harder lesson learned. Keep in mind, I am learning these things solely because this new country lifestyle, that I am learning to love, has challenged this ol’ city girl to expand and grow in more ways then one.
Planning is the number one priority in our homestead. We have to plan every outing to a T.
Well, we live so freaking far from the “normal” things my family and I are accustomed to, that traveling to those places calls for us to be gone from home for the ENTIRE DAY! Going to Target, or Starbucks for a treat, has become a once a month event whereas before we went nearly weekly.
Excuse me for not being able to give this habit up completely…yet.
My husband and I love supporting local farmers, we did when we lived in the city too. Our new hometown has plenty of wonderful food and art to offer at very reasonable prices. Again, when we need food that we aren’t growing ourselves, we plan for an entire day out of the home for travel time and visiting time. Most of the farms we have made acquaintances with offer exciting stories when we visit and sometimes even horse back rides to entertain the kids.
In addition to planning outings away from our home, we have to plan our days at home very well too. With all the animals we have started to care for, as well as the garden and orchard demands, there is little time for any flex in scheduling. Add our job responsibilities that allow us the privilege to own our homestead AND our biggest responsibility, raising children, and our schedule is full.
Planning our daily routine has been a great challenge for me. The world I came from, my schedule has always been planned for me. My bosses would outline my responsibilities. I was told when to eat lunch and that I only had one hour to do so. When I wanted to take a day off, I had to have it approved. Managing a homestead, raising children and tending to animals requires all of my attention, all of my love and gives me the upper hand as to when we eat, sleep, work and play. I never get a day off, but I never need one because I love what I do now.
Prepping, planning and playing it safe…a few lessons learned so far since I moved my family to the woods. As time moves forward, I will continue to make note of the things I am learning.
Until next time…