Grit Blogs > Folly Mountain Girl

Definition of a Dirty Hippie

Rima AustinI would love to be able to come here and tell you that homesteading my little 5-acre farm is a 100-percent organic, white-cotton dream with sunflowers and butterflies. In reality, it is muddy and stinky. The tiller won’t start, the roof leaks, the barn is falling down, and the list goes on and on. I wouldn’t trade this life though for any high rise apartment in Paris, France.


The dilapidated barn was already on the property when I moved there. This will be the subject of a future post, I’m sure, when I learn how to repair a barn.

barn front

Let me start by giving you the background to my story. I am a single woman living with my three dogs on a 5-acre plot of land that was willed to me. When I received this land, it was a hay field with a dilapidated barn. In the last year, I have built a one-room cabin, an outhouse, and a fenced-in garden with five raised beds. The cabin is unfinished and the outhouse needs to be moved.

Needless to say, entering into my second summer on my farm is going to be busy. For one thing, I have to figure out how I am going to move a 200-plus pound outhouse by myself without a tractor or anyone else to help. Well, I may be fudging it a little; I have a lot of friends to help, but the minute I start explaining that we have to lift the outhouse up and away from the hole, they get a funny look on their faces, and I can almost hear the mental files flipping in their heads, files with names like: “Excuses to get out of friend’s ridiculous requests.” When that day comes for the john to be moved, I will definitely share it with you, my GRIT friends, and I will try to keep the pictures tasteful. *Wink*

The outhouse was one of the first structures to be erected on my homestead for obvious reasons. I call her Loo-Loo.

I actually came here to share with you something I was thinking about this morning as I was washing my dishes. There is a reason why hippies are dirty. Now I never really considered myself a full-fledged hippie. I go to work five days a week and sometimes I like to wear heels and tear up the town. I even spend money on non-hippie things like new clothes that are not tie-dyed!

However, when midnight strikes and the coach turns back into a pumpkin, I still live in my unfinished cabin with no electricity, no running water, and washing my dishes on a fold out table in my front yard. I heat some water on my Coleman stove, don my “camp clogs,” trudge to the wash table with my dirty dishes. The first thing I do is sink nearly ankle deep in mud, OK, nothing new. I pour the hot water in the pan and wash the dishes, so far so good. Now comes the tricky part. I take the soapy pan in one hand and the gallon jug of rinse water in the other and begin to rinse.

dishwashing station
I have no structure in my cabin that allows me to wash dishes conveniently so I have to do them outside on my makeshift dishwashing station fashioned from a fold-out table. Winter time is especially precarious washing my dishes. I do plan to move the station indoors, building a cabinet with a sink eventually.

Almost immediately I run out of water. I set the pot down and walk back into the house to refill my rinse jug from the 5-gallon water supply I keep inside.

I notice as I walk out that the mud I had all over my shoes has now been newly deposited onto my floor. Oh well, I think, I’ll worry about that later.

I take the pan in one hand again then turn it over to rinse the bottom. There, on the bottom, is a piece of food that had apparently adhered itself back onto the pan. I know this because it wasn’t there 20 minutes ago when I scrubbed the bottom of the pan. Using one finger of the hand holding the rinse water, I try to scrape it off. I lose my grip on the jug and it tumbles out of my hand and into the mud. It doesn’t stop there though, no, it rolls and rolls … and rolls. I pick it up, scrape the food from the bottom of the pan using my homemade fence post made from a tree, and come into the house.

I then come to the realization that this is why hippies are dirty, not so much because they want to be, but because they have to be. Two gallons of water being poured out onto the ground to wash dishes is an extravagance that I cannot afford, much less use more water to clean up the mud caking up on my floor. I am, however, looking for new ways to conserve water when it comes to everyday cleaning on a homestead. If anyone has tips or suggestions on this please feel free to shoot them my way.

Being able to juggle would be one, right?

I look forward to hearing from everyone, until then I am going to tackle more issues that come up when the weather turns warm and life begins to thaw on the homestead. I am sure something crazy will happen; it always does. I’ll keep you posted, my friends.

4/12/2015 7:33:12 PM

loving these posts I just joined a few minutes ago will be looking forward to more

4/12/2015 7:28:40 PM

try and find a big enough pan that will hold a dish strainer n rack your washed dishes in then pour your rinse water over them n what drains into the pan, you can use for your next wash water.. Keep Up The Good Work, I commend you on your bravery to do this solo..

3/20/2015 2:44:50 AM

Just looking at your cleaning station I would make a basic wooden grid to put on the ground so that I didn't have to walk around in the mud. Plus, can you get hold of a wooden barrel or tub? That way you wouldn't have to waste the water, but could reuse it and wash in relative comfort! No more rolling pans! LOL BTY I love your blog. I live with my husband's family in Luxor, Egypt and am trying to live a more simple life, but the constant interference from male/MIL relatives who think they know better is infuriating. I dream of having my own land, even if I live in a one-room mudbrick house, with scorpions and snakes!!!

3/19/2015 7:00:27 PM

While I have running water and electricity, after reading your post I'm a little envious of you! Good luck with your homestead! I'll be the 70's Flower Child reading every post!! Pam

3/19/2015 7:17:33 AM

Rima, Welcome to the GRIT blogging community. I can already put your blog posts on the must read list. I am into year six of retirement and started urban farming vacant lots about four years ago. It keeps me busy and brings me back to my ancestral farming roots. ***** I have to admire your so off the grid living. I'm not sure I could do without running water or electricity. I kind of like hot showers and flush toilets. To start living on five acres with nothing but a falling down barn is a huge under taking. I wish you all the best and will be looking forward to reading about your journey. ***** A bit of advice about moving the out house. Tip the house backwards off the hole before trying to move it. Not that I know any thing about tipping over out houses on mischief night before Halloween. ;-) ***** Have a great homesteading day.

3/18/2015 10:12:00 PM

I don't know how much you know about earthships but they are pretty cool and have cistern's that collect rain water and cycle it all the way thru the house where it ends up at the toilet and then is classified as Black water. At that point it is sent to outside the house to water non editable plants or grass. They are about $10'000 for the plans and stuff but when you think about its a lot cheaper than a conventional house, you get to live where you want, & the best part you get to design the house w/the architect so it's excatly how you want it. I live conventionally right now but hope to be living in one of these in a few years with my daughter. I really think it's worth looking into for your homestead. They will also come out and help you find the best place to put the house.

3/18/2015 8:48:24 PM

My grandmother told me how she and my grandfather lived in a tent for a while, and she had to carry water from the creek. She got good at conservation, fast. The main thing that she did was re-use water. She said she first washed the dishes, then the clothes, then a bath, and then cleaned the floors - all with the same water. In between, she let the water settle, then poured the cleanest water off the top to use for the next chore. This means you will need to get a large tub to let your water drain into after washing those dishes - which will also reduce the mud in the yard!