The time my husband and I spent building our cottage in the country and living off the grid was physically demanding, educational, emotionally challenging, and truly inspiring. During this time, we developed a deep admiration for our first American pioneers. Inside me, a fountain of gratitude has grown for what these people have given our country physically and materially … not to mention spiritually. These people were serious. You have to be still and make it live on the ground and build everything from scratch. Women in this period of time deserve the highest praise.
My time without running water and an indoor bathroom was rough. Going through that period of the month without access to adequate facilities is not fun at all. I can’t imagine having to be pregnant or have small children on top of that. It’s hard to stay clean in general. Laundry is a major, major business. Dishwashing is a major, major business. Anything that involves hot water takes at least twice as long as it would take. Your day begins and ends with the increase or appearance of daylight. The comfort and warmth of a simple fire can bring the greatest satisfaction and joy. There are definitely challenges at every step … but the stars are oh, so beautiful!
I was lucky because my husband was a really hardworking and intelligent man. He immediately installed our solar panels and connected the inverter to the battery bank. He set up an ingenious gravitational water system, which I would never have thought of in a hundred years. He was such a talented and meticulous carpenter. He built our porch after leveling our cabin. He installed all the doors for us. He hung the whole rock. He did all the electricity. He put all the insulation in … well, I helped with that. Most of the time, I handed him screws or nails and made sure his batteries were always charged. I did a lot of caulking. Well … and I fed him regularly, but that’s one thing, of course.
When my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I didn’t have running water or an indoor bathroom. At his death it was up to me to complete the rest of the cabin with the new bathroom and kitchen added now, alone … or it would rot and it would be all for nothing. Obviously, I couldn’t leave all that work in vain. So, since his death, we’ve finished our cabin. I think it will always be a work in progress. Most houses are, but we have reached a majority civilized state. As a carpenter’s wife, I gained many skills after many years of marriage. I put up my own floor. I framed the windows and installed the base mold. I did some of the plumbing. Works. I learned a lot of practical things.
I learned how to use a lot of power tools … which I have to admit are a lot of fun. I like to sand. I like to paint … and to my complete surprise, I’m really happy to work with metal. Who knew? These are certain skills that I would never have accessed without knowing my husband. In any case, I don’t think I’ll stay much longer in my beloved cabin. My time here is coming to an end. I feel her inside. I don’t know where, but I’m moving soon. This was a dream my husband and I dreamed of … but now he’s gone. Although this is a beautiful place, I can’t stay here. If I do that, I will get emotionally and spiritually stuck. I can’t allow this to happen. Great adventures await me, but this off-grid cottage dream must end. It’s one I’ll always remember … but in my heart, I know it’s over. Like the pioneers of the past, I must move on into the unknown. I am not afraid. I am a strong shareholder.