The Roundup -

Roughing It, 21st Century Style


We learned in school about the hardships those who settled the west endured: no running water, leaky, drafty shacks made from sod or tar paper, working from dawn to dusk to clear the land and get the crops in, sickness, cold, shortage of food; the list goes on. Our idea of roughing it today can’t in any way compare with roughing it one hundred years ago.

My husband and I are currently roughing it 21st century style. We just sold our home. We needed to sell our house in order to purchase the cabin we intend to live in by summer’s end. The cabin, currently under construction off site, will likely arrive here ready for habitation by the first part of July.

In the interim, we have set up camp on our property, making use of two different structures in the process. Our 12x16 building serves as an office and sleeping quarters, and we utilize as our kitchen area a small corner of a 12x28 shop. We do have a wood stove AND a barbeque for cooking, already a huge step ahead of those who first settled the region. Plus we have electricity which means we can make use of a microwave, crock pot, and any other electric device of our choosing. Although we have no indoor plumbing of any sort, a spring with potable water bubbles on the property, we collect rain in barrels for dishes and washing, and we rented a porta potty for use when nature calls.

We do have a place to shower off site, and I have invested in one of those solar shower kits. I am itching to try it, but the weather needs to cooperate first, as it proves difficult to heat water with a solar setup if the sun refuses to shine. So with all this in place, what more could we ask for?

The week before we closed on our house and moved up to our dream property, my husband delighted in telling people we would be homeless in a week. Hah, homeless indeed! We have a better, more spacious living space than a goodly portion of the rest of the world. It may be small, somewhat cramped at times, but it works, we have very few complaints, and most importantly this feels like home. We do look forward to the arrival of our cabin, but we are roughing it quite well in the meantime. Two small buildings work better than a camper and provide us with all we require.

We figured out already that most of the belongings we have in storage we really don’t need. Two thirds of what we own sits in a conex sea container as we await the arrival of the cabin. We miss practically nothing in that storage unit. It truly amazes me how little a person actually needs to get by comfortably.

We have encountered a few small issues, all easily fixable at this point in time. For instance, on these chilly spring mornings, using the porta potty can deliver quite a jolt to the system when bare warm flesh meets hard cold plastic. However, we discovered an easy fix. The porta potty has a split seat, not a solid round one. We sacrificed an old pair of thick tube socks and slid one sock over each side of the split seat. Now we have a (somewhat) cushioned warm seat in our throne room so the temperature outside can do as it pleases, we can sit in comfort. Those socks work beautifully.

Our second issue involved a dog, no counter space, and a plate of roast beef. We cook either on the barbecue or on the wood stove, and we employ a tea cart which stands barely two and a half feet tall as a counter top for our utensils and other paraphernalia we use to prepare a meal. When I arrive home from work, I always take our big Doberman who weighs eighty pounds and who can quite easily lay her head on the tea cart if she so desires, for a walk. While I take Ruby for a little jaunt, my husband prepares dinner.

This particular evening I arrived home, my husband was in the process of preparing a meal, so I left with Ruby for our after work walk. Ruby runs free, so she always roams several yards or more in front of me. We took a short walk, then headed back home as I felt famished and figured that a good meal of leftover roast beef awaited my return.

I arrived back at the shop, a minute or so behind Ruby. We always leave the door slightly ajar so Ruby can come and go as she pleases, so naturally Ruby had already entered the shop. I walked in behind her to discover a spatula on the floor, a few stray grease spots splattered hither and yon, the plate that held the nicely sliced roast beef distressingly empty, and Ruby licking her chops in a vain attempt to appear guiltless and to disguise the demise of the beef.

It transpired that my husband, not expecting us back quite so quickly, had left the meat on the tea cart while he ambled across the property to take advantage of the cushioning the tube socks provided. While he answered nature’s call, oblivious to the fact that our dinner lay in grave peril, Ruby and I returned home, our greedy dog helped herself to delicious roast beef without even asking, and two disgruntled old people ate cottage cheese for supper.

We learned that lesson well. We now place all edibles well out of reach of lurking dogs.

To date, roughing it in this century and in this country has proved easy. We still have internet and cell phones, and most of the modern conveniences. We have experienced a few minor issues but we’ve figured out how to make life easier, and we find that this life suits us very well. If this lifestyle inches us towards our goal of living on the mountainside in our own little cabin, what an easy way with very minor inconveniences we have to put up with in order to make our dream come true.

One last thought: When we face a small setback of some sort, I tell my husband to think of this as a great adventure. He looks at me and snarls, “This will be our LAST great adventure.”


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