A Year In the Life
(A glimpse of 365 days)
Earthship Blog post #17
I’ve been avoiding my journal and my blog for several reasons. One, I’ve been tired, another I’ve let negativity rule how I feel. I’ve been wallowing in self-pity- things with the house have almost come to a stand-still.
I had big dreams to spend out first Christmas here in our new home. That wasn’t to be, then I dreamed about maybe having the next Christmas in our home, but we might not make that either.
We’re in the process of building our funds back up. We are looking at several ways to do that, and it all takes time, so I am learning about patience.
I’ve been reading other’s blog posts about their journey to build an earthship as well, and it has helped me to understand this is not just building a home, but building a lifestyle and building a home that will not only shelter us, but will provide food and water as well.
Being a baby-boomer doesn’t exactly help either. We have been conditioned to expect instant gratification in all things. If you don’t have the money right now, go borrow it, or better yet, put it on a credit card. I know my grandparents didn’t expect to own things they didn’t have the money for. They saved and scrimped or just made-do without. They never went to bed under the stress of tremendous amounts of debt crushing them.
Dave and I are both go-getters, we have rarely had to wait for the right time to do anything, or certainly not wait for God to give us the go-ahead.
Now I’ve gotten off the pity pot and I’ve renewed my attitude, energy and excitement. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had our share of ups and downs even now as we speak. I had to have emergency gallbladder surgery four weeks ago. (No insurance, by the way). We have had devastating news about my brother and his cancer. But all in all God is in charge, he is good and he loves us as his children.
Okay, all that said, now let’s get down to the year in review. Good and bad….The top 5
#1 A) The first day/night we arrived on the property it had to be at least 100 degrees. We had no electricity, no water and we found out the fridge didn’t work either. Oh, and to top it off, we had to borrow a camper to bring up here. I sat outside in the shade with the wind blowing fiercely. Honestly it felt like we were sitting inside of a blast furnace. I had a horrible headache and I couldn’t face trying to fit 3 adults, 2 dogs and a cat into a tiny trailer for a night of sleepless heat. We went to a pet friendly hotel for the night.
B) We now have a lovely (sometimes feels very crowded and cluttered) camper. Solar panels provide electricity, with a back-up gas generator. We have a water tank which Dave takes on a small trailer down to the town to fill up water for us. It costs $0.50 per load, plus gas, and his time. Our fridge works great and I’ve learned how to shop to be able to stuff everything for a week at a time into it.
#2 A) We had to figure out what to do with my son and his kids, nothing to do, no TV, no toys. He had a job at a motorcycle shop so I watched the kids for him, we had very long days, but the kids seemed happy once they settled into their own camper which he and I bought from a guy in a nearby town. It’s small but they seemed to be happy to be on their own a little.
B) After 18 months of trying, my son finally got a good job. The only drawback is, he has to be out of town for weeks at a time and can’t be with his kids. This past weekend he, and another guy he works with, rented a house. The kids are thrilled to have their own brand-new beds and to see the toys again that have been in storage for a year.
#3 A) We had dreams we would rush right down to the county and get the necessary permits and get everything started as soon as the dust settled on our dirt road. Many visits to the building department and fees, and more fees, and more time spent there, we were sadly disappointed that our plans were rejected. We finally contacted the architect Michael Reynolds, and he went to bat for us with the county. We got approval, but with many changes. Some of those changes will cost us thousands of dollars, but we’ll deal with that later. We had to have our septic system engineered. We paid our fees, got things started and were off. Then when the money dried up and the winter came, it all stopped.
B) After all the headaches and frustrations, we have a gravel drive-way and road (we had to pay $1800 for approval to put in a gravel driveway). We have our septic system (even though they won’t give us the final inspection till the cisterns are in). That’s okay. We have our solar system up and running. (I love this part) renewable energy. So, all in all we have our infrastructure, minus the water.
#4) The weather….Each time we faced something new, I was concerned and even a little frightened. The first night that a thunderstorm moved through, I spent the night awake counting the seconds between the thunder and lightening strikes. Sitting in the middle of a dry grass field would do nothing to stop a grass fire from devouring our little compound.
The rain while cooling, would leave greasy mud in our clay soil, making it difficult to drive out. In the road leading to our property there was a huge dip in the road that would become a small pond whenever it rained. We learned to drive around it.
The snow, while beautiful, would lead to treacherous, icy roads out of here to town. It usually melted the next day, but that only meant we would have soggy, slick mud to wheel through. My son and I were headed to a funeral in January when we got stuck in our driveway. He put some rocks down, and I insisted that I drive us out so I could make sure I could do it on my own.
B) I learned if it’s snowing, move my car to the area least likely to get me stuck. We just got a new load of gravel, so we will be able to drive out a little easier. Building our driveway and road last fall helped a lot. All the neighbors on this end of the road seem to band together and do what they can to maintain the road that the county refuses to work on.
Rain, snow, and now heat again, are something we have to deal with living this close to the earth. Once we get our home built those things won’t be quite as hard or harsh.
The one thing I haven’t gotten used to yet is the wind. When it gusts up to around 50 miles per hour or more, I worry that even the solar panels might go. We have only had about 3 really bad winds, each time I end up searching for items that weren’t tied down. This last wind took the inside of my son’s camper door off. (It was propped open and the wind tore off the fiberglass.) Wind has always made me nervous.
#5 A) Living (or as my daughter says camping) full time here has its ups and downs. We’ve had to replace our toilet twice. They don’t make ‘em like they used to.
We had water running in through the window in our bedroom, leaking all over the bed and mattress during a thaw of ice and snow.
We had a difficult time with moisture in the cupboards and on the walls, during the winter, enough that I had to wipe them down in the bedroom multiple times at night.
Our generator stopped producing electricity, which we need to run our A.C. during these hot, hot months.
We lived without the internet for 9 months. Yes, I said lived.
Our families don’t come for special occasions. Some have never even visited.
Sometimes I don’t have enough water to do the dishes. (darn) or take showers every day.
I have to drive to town to do my laundry every week.
My home is covered in dust and dirt daily.
B) Just look at our views. I wake up every morning and look out the window at the sunrise, and go out every evening and watch the sun go down and thank God for this opportunity to have this adventure.
We made it! One year in and we survived. I know we haven’t faced every circumstance that may yet arise, but we are here on our own land and we have the chance to do something different and fresh and brave. Are we even close to being done? Nope, but we aren’t ready to give in yet either.
Thank you all for supporting us on this journey. I know we don’t always have earth shattering things to share, but we are here and we are grateful for every day we have to be here struggling, laughing, crying and loving. Without your interest and kindness, we might not have the courage to push on.
Ephesians 1:16 “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”