Time for a Fresh Start


Erin C      

It has easily been six months since I've written a blog. I can tell; my brain has about a thousand tabs open and I can tell that I haven't put any of it to paper lately. A big part of successful homesteading is keeping records on hand each year so when it's time to start Homestead Thing A again the next year, you know what worked and what didn't. Instead of keeping up with much of anything, I have been engaged in the "I will remember this and write it down in a couple of days" cycle in which nothing gets written down or remembered. This, in turn, clutters my brain even more.  So here I sit, on the fourth day of the new year trying to figure out what we need to work on this year to improve. And I'm trying to put to paper all of the thoughts I have had about our homestead, our progress and failures, resolutions that will help us shape up the plan for the coming months, and still try to remember what the plan for the rest of the day is as I try to get ready for a weekend at work. 

First and foremost, our resolutions; they are family resolutions because they revolve this year around ways to make our homestead work better and home improvement projects that we just can't put off anymore. From there, the plan for the year unfolds, as we chart monthly what we want to accomplish and find a place for it in the budget. This is not a new idea, this is something that many families do, if not all at once, in small bites over time. We will plan the garden and order seeds; we will plan additions to our livestock and make room in the farm budget for feed or bedding as needed. And one thing that is very important for us is to plan for the home improvement projects that are a must. 

This year, I resolve to learn everything I can get my hands on about plumbing. Installing pipes, toilets, and showers all the way down to slope for proper drainage and air vents that ensure working systems. How to insulate properly and what impact the distance from one side of the house to the other has on hot water but also water drainage. I want to learn about grey water systems, and draw up plans for installing an outdoor shower. This desire to learn about something that typically people call a professional to do stems from the lack of working plumbing we are experiencing in our home currently.  When we bought the house we are living in, we hired an inspector and followed him around for hours as he checked every aspect of the house. The plumbing passed with flying colors. The problem, as we are finding out, is that no one lived in the house for months leading up to our purchase, so of course everything flowed the way it should; it hadn't dealt with daily use in a very long time. Now, we have a shower that drains so slowly it could be the next day before it is empty.  We have a toilet that just doesn't work. The other toilet flushes sometimes, but sometimes you have to run a load of laundry to get the toilet water to go down. The kitchen sinks back up and the washing machine struggles. There are gurgles, bubbles, and all manner of bizarre noises coming from different parts of the pipes. The septic tank has been emptied multiple times and we don't think it's the problem. What may be the real issue is that when the house was built, the slope the pipes were plumbed to was not nearly enough to compensate for the distance some of them have to go.  At this point, we are ready to tear our hair out and build an outhouse. Instead, we are going to learn about plumbing, not only so that we can fix what we have the skill set to fix, but also so when a plumber does come out, we know what we are looking for when they try to fix something. And also, so we have a base of knowledge for the day when we build our own house. 

This year, I resolve to expand my creativity. Vague, I know, but bear with me. We have six massive pine trees right against the house, and they very badly need to come down this year. This will leave us with so much wood lying around. We will burn some of it in the fire pit, we will cut some of it into boards to use in farm projects that don't have to live forever (or for very long) and I want to learn how to use our power tools to make small, decorative hand crafted items from the wood we will have an overabundance of. Maybe I should change my resolution to learn how to use our power tools.  Either way, my Etsy shop is about to have some funky new things in it.

This year, I resolve to learn more about drainage, including berms, swales and gutters. Oh yes, gutters. Whoever built this house put rain handlers on the roof instead of gutters, so water just pools against the foundation, which is not good for any home. But while gutters is a large part of the equation, using the lay of the land to find ways to redirect water that is running downhill against the house is important too. And this year I think we should learn about gathering and storing water for later use. We need to investigate rain barrels, but also multi-tiered filter systems that the water can run through and then go on to water a garden or flower bed. 

1/6/2018 3:48:46 AM

Erin, you sound determined. That's quite the list to attack for this year. Being on the tail end of life, I have given up on resolutions and just make plans that can be changed, delayed, or cancelled. ***** Those that have followed my blog over the years know that plumbing has been my greatest thorn in home ownership. Big trees in the neighborhood was one of the reasons I bought the house but tree roots love sewer lines and can creep through the smallest crack in the pipe only to expand and fill up the line. It's almost become a routine call every couple years to clean out the sewer line. ***** It can seem like there's no time to take care of injuries when living on a homestead but as you are finding out it's not wise to ignore one that might be inconvenient for a time but over the long run is better be taken care of. I hope and pray that your injury is restored quickly. ***** I'm looking forward to hearing more about your homesteading adventures this year. ***** Nebraska Dave

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