A Forced Independence

This weeks’ post is a very difficult one for me to approach.  Most of the people in my life right now have no idea of the extent of what I have gone through over the past few years. Circumstances have occurred that have increased my survival skills and perceptions beyond what I would have ever expected.

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A small glimpse of the homestead.

I am not going to go into this piece with a sob story of what I have gone through.  It is enough to  say that it has been very difficult, heartbreaking, and emotionally as well as physically painful at times.  My hope for anyone reading this is that your independent lifestyle is by choice and not by circumstance.

What I have Learned

The learning experiences over the past few years have been eye-opening and I now feel that it has turned out to be a huge blessing. Waking up to only the sounds of nature and not the incessant electrical hum that we are so accustomed to is so refreshing.  Following the natural sleep cycles of light and dark has improved my health in ways I could not even comprehend.

I have learned that any food cooked in a cast-iron pot or pan over an open fire will taste one-hundred percent better than anything cooked in your gas or electric oven. I have learned that the best way to get that weight training in is to haul large buckets of water daily for cooking, drinking and washing.

Most amazing is the appearance of ingenuity when you have to figure out a way to accomplish a task without the needed materials and modern conveniences you are used to having available.

The Biggest Problem

The one skill that has caused me the largest amount of stress seems like the easiest one to deal with. Laundry. It piles up fast and needs to be taken care of quickly. I had many past years of experience washing loads of clothing in the bathtub with a washboard and hanging them out to dry. The skill itself was not the problem at this point in my life.

The laundry issue this time was entirely one of water supply. We do not currently have a large tank to fill up and use over time, and no means of getting one just yet. Instead we fill up many small buckets and use only what we have to each day.

This is a problem when faced with laundry. Laundry is one of those chores that takes a good amount of water to perform no matter how you go about it.

I have to admit that I also completely dread using that washboard. I don’t have fond memories when it comes to that tool. What I remember from those years are extremely dry and cracked hands as well as bloody knuckles from scrubbing those clothes on the board. Not what I call a fun experience.

Because of the washboard history I had, I was determined to find another way. Thankfully, I am older now and have read and talked with many self-sufficient people since that time. This go-around I am using a system of five gallon buckets of water, a little soap and a laundry plunger to tackle this chore.

My hands are so thankful for this much easier process. I still hang everything out on the line to dry in the sunshine, and the fresh outdoor scent my clothes have when I come back in with them cannot be beat. The new-to-me process is wonderful, even if we have to lug around that much more water.

The Opportunity to Return to Love

No, this is not what you are thinking. I’m not talking about the romantic, flutter in your heart type of love here. I’m talking about something much deeper. Something that made you excited to just ‘be’ when you were just a child. Do you remember what that was?  I do.

I’m assuming that love is different for everyone. Mine is music. Specifically playing the piano. I have had one in my home for many years now. It has been gathering dust and been a ‘junk’ hot-spot during all this time. Not all of the keys work and it is horribly out of tune, but it’s there. I had neglected it for years thinking there were far more important things to do with my time. I was wrong.

When my life as I knew it suddenly fell apart and the people I loved tried to destroy me, that piano became a huge comfort to my soul. I found that the emails could wait, and I didn’t have to spend twenty-four hours a day on chores. Having the time to play and heal my heart became very important to me.

I cannot even express how freeing and peaceful it was to pick up something I loved from my childhood and return to it as an adult. I have to highly recommend this to everyone out there. I don’t care what you are going through or not going through, how old you are, or what that love is for you. Go. Begin again. Learn to love life like you did when you were young.

Everyday Experience

Needless to say, I am working my way through the pain of the past few years, learning and re-learning new skills daily and truly living life instead of just going through the motions. I plan on going in-depth with specific skills, problems we have faced and hopefully a few good solutions too in upcoming posts.

In the meantime, you may enjoy viewing this very inexpensive YouTube video I found that is quite similar to the washing process I am now using.

 

Until next time,

Carrie Ann

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Welcome to Mountain Homesteading

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Hello and Welcome! My name is Carrie A. Watson and I have been a homesteader for over twenty years now. The land that I work is in the mountains of Colorado where I live with my family. Currently, my experiences have led me to a career as an author and journalist. Also included in my life experience are twenty-six years of work in the medical field.

The goal of creating this site is to share what I have learned about homesteading through the years. Learning to take care of family and home despite where you are living is an important goal. My desire is to see you succeed in whatever task you are focusing on.

Some of the topics I plan to cover here will include skills such as food production and sewing. I would also like to talk about topics like off the grid living and bartering on a regular basis. Over time, I also want to make sure I address issues that are often overlooked elsewhere. With these goals in mind, I hope you will feel free to contact me with ideas of topics you would like to learn more about.

Let’s Get Started

The most difficult part of homesteading is knowing where to start. If you already own a piece of land the process will be easier. Many people do not have this luxury though, and that should not stop you. Even if you are living in someone’s home or are now renting there are still many skills you can learn or perfect.

Doing what you can with what you have is my favorite motto when it comes to homesteading. Make use of the opportunities around you. You may have to begin learning your skills while working full-time and saving for that land. The skills you learn before you own a piece of land will become priceless you once you buy  it.

Some of the options to begin your homesteading lifestyle may include ideas such as:

  • Learning how to bake bread from scratch.
  • Trying your hand at sewing using a beginner project such as making a basic pillow.
  • Learning gardening skills with an easy to grow vegetable like radishes.
  • Create your first soap using a melt-and-pour kit as a good introduction to the craft.
  • Try your hand at making soft cheese in your kitchen.

The ideas above are good places to begin but there is another that is even better. The most important step you can do to start homesteading is to read. Research your skills before you try them. Learn about different techniques so that you can find which one works the best for you. In many areas of homesteading, there is no single right answer.

Find A Mentor

If at all possible, find a mentor in your area. There are homesteaders everywhere. In the city and in the country. A mentor will be able to give you years worth of knowledge about the area you are living in. This knowledge is priceless to have as every area is different in climate and need.

I live in a desert area that is also quite cold. Our growing season is very short and gardening can be a trial due to lack of water. I am lucky to have a mentor who can give me a heads up on local problems that I cannot find in books.

Environmental conditions not only affect gardening, but cooking as well. How successful a loaf of bread turns out may be due to humidity levels in the area. Another factor that comes into play when cooking is altitude. It is now possible to buy mixes that have high altitude directions on them. If you are using old recipes created years ago, you will not have those options available to you.

High altitude changes are only needed for people in mountainous regions. For these people though, this is a very important issue with any new recipe. I intend to share with you many of my grandmother’s favorite recipes that I have used for many years. Keep in mind when you use them that I do live in a high altitude area, as did my grandmother. This fact may mean that some recipes I post will not work as well if you are at sea level.

Until Next Time

This is where I will end this first post. It is a little taste of what is to come, and I hope you enjoy everything you find here. If there is anything you would like me to talk about in a future post, feel free to leave a message and let me know. I would be happy to cover any homesteading areas that interest you.

The goal is to have a new post up weekly to begin with. In the future there will also be a newsletter available. This will cover homesteading news, tips and products that I have used and approve of. Have a wonderful week my new friends!

May independence be yours!

Carrie A. Watson

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