Almost three months of being on the mountain, and we’re still acclimating to off-grid living. Overall, things are great and we’re still happy with our decision to go through with this big adventure, but this entry continues where we left off from our original Confessions to provide the full picture of what it’s like to start a homestead from scratch.
The temperature has dropped to the 40s overnight and the water is cold. I think the days of hot solar outdoor showers are over since daytime temps are now in the 70s. We have a major concern about our stored water freezing in the tanks and hoses, not to mention just setting up a manageable wash stand for hands and dishes inside or closer to the yurt to use during the winter. Digging into the ground to bury the big tank(s) will be quite a chore and expense in this hard compacted clay soil, so we might look to a hybrid scenario with a half-buried tank blocked into the hillside with bales of old straw or tires as insulation, in combination with an aerator to keep the water moving. Or, we’ve been thinking of modifying this hot tub design for the tank to create a wood-fired heat circulation. Stay tuned for more about our civil engineering outcomes!!
The rains are showing us who’s boss up here. Originally thinking that our high mountain desert region was short on annual rainfall, we saw the monsoons start later than expected this year and they are here with a fury. These daily deluges have kept us from driving in/out of our place because of the mud and washouts. (You can read more about our long and winding road in a previous post.) Additionally, our plans for catching all this glorious fluid have fallen completely behind schedule. We learned that simple tarp rigging to divert rainfall into rain barrels just doesn’t work here. The force of the wind and rain has completely blown apart any and all tarp catchment we’ve tried, so we are now resigned to constructing fixed roof and gutter systems. These structures have not yet been erected and it’s hard not to feel disappointed about the slow progress, especially when the hills are wet and our buckets are dry.
We still have no enclosed outhouse or storage. Our building schedule was severely sidetracked when we ended up having to repair, rent, and ultimately buy, insure, and register a new vehicle that will haul lumber up the hill from Rio Rancho (there are no sheets of plywood to be had in Cuba). We knew we would be working the build schedule around the weather, pay dates, as well as planned and unplanned visitors, but time is running short on having the walls up before the snow flies and that is causing some major anxiety. Until we can get the hammers swinging, Terry’s tent is still up and the view is still primo from the throne!!
Firewood is being piled, but we’re still needing to cut and haul much, much more. Since we start our days working on our laptops to stay on EST work schedule and take advantage of the power during max sun exposure, the wood gathering is reserved for later in the day which finds us being regularly rained out. ‘Ostaf‘ is waiting for her stovepipe to adorn the yurt, and we hope to fire her up for the first time this weekend.
The mice. I could elaborate, but I will leave it up to you to find the words…
Finally, we are facing unexpected roommate issues. This is particularly amusing since the whole point of us going off grid was to find comfort in our own private little piece of heaven without anybody around to bother us. Well, the bother is coming from the fact that we rented a room in town just to have as a back-up plan for the winter (and to use for storage). We signed the agreement in mid-July and just now received the key!! Apparently, there is some family drama inside the house and that is spilling over into our world. Because rentals are in short supply in this little town, we are hesitant to go elsewhere so late in the season and are hoping that the situation improves over the next few weeks. Beyond that, we are actually making preparations to have a roommate at Sahalee move in next month (and, no, we don’t mean the mice). Our dear friend Mark (a wild critter in his own right) is actually placing a small 12-foot yurt on the property this year as a sort of guest house for his intermittent visits from Florida while he goes on to scope his own acreage in nearby Chama. Our friends at Groovy Yurts will be delivering the little yurt on their fall delivery tour in September, so we are helping Mark to choose a location and prepare the site ahead of their arrival. While we won’t have our buddy here full-time, it is pretty cool to have him remain our neighbor and help to improve the property. Hmmm… I wonder how many books I can fit in the little yurt?! ;P