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Getting plugged in:
One of the biggest challenges with buying an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere is that it actually is in the middle of nowhere. Isolation is great for getting peace and quiet, but not so much for getting internet and the UPS truck.
When we bought the house, it was well and truly unplugged. Not just from internet and cable, but from absolutely everything. No electricity, no gas line, no nothing. There wasn’t even a water heater or a furnace. So, we had to get a loan, and start making some serious decisions. How to heat the place? How should we get hot water? Gas or electric? How about electricity-on or off the grid? For power, the answer seemed fairly simple. We’ve always liked renewables, and it honestly seemed like more of a pain in the ass to get the utility people over here than to just tack up some solar panels and make sure to turn out the lights. This house gets so much natural light anyway, so we’ve found that we only really use bulbs for an hour or two in the evenings. We’re not big TV people, either.
The power turned out to be the easy part. Well, easy on the labor, not so much on the wallet. Heat was another story. We didn’t really realize this, but there are actually 1263926218 different options! I know! How can this be?!?! Anyway, nightmare to choose. Tankless vs. tankless? Gas vs. oil? On and on it goes. Well, we started with what we knew we wanted, which was a woodstove. There’s a ton of great wood around here, and it’s just so much more comforting than baseboards. Since that was done, it didn’t really make sense to get a huge water heater-after all, it was just gonna be for dishes and showers. We got a gas one, which was a bit counter-intuitive given our solar system. But, while we can both make do without much power, the one thing we both agreed on was that hot showers shouldn’t be dependent on the forecast.
Now, I’m not what you’d call a capable plumber. Far from it. I’m lucky at best, clumsy at worst. Anyway, we looked at the options, read lots of tankless reviews and decided to go for a tankless water heater. Call me crazy, but a tank is just one more thing to deal with, right? So, we’ve hooked that up, with much trial and tribulation.
And it’s official! We’re on-
We’ve showered, we’ve washed dishes, and we’ve actually mopped the floors for what must be the first time in 10 years. God bless hot water. I’ll never go without you again.
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The First Garden:
When we moved into this house last fall, things were far too hectic to think about starting to grow anything besides houseplants. This year, we’ve been itching to get outside and get digging in the dirt. With that in mind, let me introduce this year’s garden. We’ve tilled in a circle, and done paths through a compass design, marking out North, South, East and West like the good little heathens we are.
So, what’s growing? We’ve done the herb garden separately, in a stonewall bank by the house which follows the bank down to the garden and yard. It’s got the garlic covered, which is super important, as well as all our medicinals and culinary cuts. So, the garden’s going to be all veggies this year. We’ve got a bed of greens, which we’ve just seeded this week, now that the frosts have cleared for good. Kale, spinach, broccoli raab, and some spicy arugula that I can’t get enough of. There are tomatoes, beans, and peas on wire cages, which we set up over one section. The third quarter is the squash zone, with all our summer squash and cukes. The last section is kind of up in the air at this point.
We also did a small rectangular patch across the yard, which will have corn and potatoes. In between, we’re trying something a little different. I’ve never been much of a yard person. It all seems a bit pointless unless you’re in suburbia and play lots of croquet. So, we’ve torn up the grass, and planted some cover crops to help out the pollinators. We’re intending to let it go wild, so we’ve done a mix of buckwheat, oats, and clover for this year, to give things a head start!
We’re so excited. This yard gets plenty of water, without getting boggy. The new cover crops will help even more with controlling the groundwater. And it gets a nice whole day of sun, which is kind of miraculous given all the random trees planted around the house. I have a fantasy that we’ll start an orchard, but one project at a time. At this point, all our starts are super happy inside, and ready to get planted soon. Plus, we even have some volunteers in the flowerbeds around the house-must be survivors from the last residents, who haven’t lived here for years. Seeing their little green heads poke up gives me so much hope for the coming year! Yay, spring!
What are you folks growing this year? Let me know in the comments, and Happy Growing to you!