Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cabin Life: Reflecting On Winter, And Spring

Wood PileWell, we had a nice March thaw.  I’m not sure it really made things better, but it sure was pleasant to have a couple days of sunshine and warmth.  I was even able to let the fire go out for about thirty-six hours, marking the longest period I’ve gone without a fire in the wood stove since January.

While I enjoyed shoveling in just a shirt with no gloves necessary, I was still a little upset at having to shovel.  Needless to say, I have had more than my fill of shoveling this winter.  The driveway is passable, but not in good shape.  The ruts I made when the snow was soft are now essentially the tracks I have to take to get in and out of the cabin.  I basically have no say in how I get up and down the driveway, but so far, I’ve still been able to drive it.  I don’t mind hiking, but if it can be avoided, it seems silly to hike.

I did lose a lot of snow this week though.  I was listening to NCPR the other day and they said that there was no snow left where they are in Canton.  I am jealous, and still sporting about a foot of snow everywhere.  And now it’s snowing again.  Oh well, April is close, and with the days getting longer, it’s only a matter of time before the white stuff is gone.

In the mean time, the loss of almost two feet of snow has made it easier to complete some chores.  If I’m home during the day, I can burn the junk wood that’s out front under a couple of tarps.  I don’t mind burning the softwood, even though it means checking the chimney regularly.  I’ve been saving the little hardwood I have left for when I’m not going to be home for a while.  So far, it’s working out alright.

The other thing I do a couple of days a week which is now easier is taking the bucket to the compost bin.  I would just have a compost pile, but Pico is a little too eager to eat whatever is in there to leave the compost unguarded by some fence.

With no running water, I have to haul in all the water I use.  I use snow and ice to keep the kettle on top of the stove full, but that’s just for some humidity in the air.  Amy lets me fill my five-gallon jug at her house, and I go through about ten gallons per week.  Last winter, I was using the sink and drain, and the drain kept freezing.  I assumed that this was a unique situation.  I’m probably the only person who has no running water or indoor plumbing and still has to deal with frozen pipes.

So I disconnected the drain and replaced it with an old cat litter bucket.  The bucket under the sink doesn’t hold five gallons, but since a lot of my water gets drunk by either myself or the animals, I only have to empty the bucket a couple times a week.  Since it goes onto the compost, it’s almost like I have a garbage disposal.  All my scrap from cooking and washing dishes goes into the bucket and right out to the compost bin.

It may be a small accomplishment, but I’m pretty proud of the system.  I don’t waste any food scraps, nor does the water just go down the drain to foul up the woods where it drains.  Since I’m often cooking for one with a limited supply of water, there’s not a lot of waste.  But the compost bin is slowly filling up, and once I start adding dead leaves and grass, I should have a nice product in a year or two.  As long as Pico doesn’t eat it all.

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Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.

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