It's a chilly and rainy morning here at the farm. The chores are long done, and the coffeepot has hit the temp where I should really heat up the mug, but this house has always only had one microwave and it's over 30-years-old with wood paneling and a yellow-faded interior and is currently in my tack room being used as a saddle stand...
I take a lukewarm sip and settle in.
I'm not heating it up. That means either setting the coffee in a steel billy can on the wood stove (which is not currently lit and won't be until later this afternoon) or on the electric stovetop. I'm not doing that because I already know the day will be full of clammy discomfort of outdoor work and chores and errands and I can wait until the house is warm and animals are fed and tended tonight to light a fire and take a warm shower.
This house doesn't have a microwave because I don't live that kind of life. That's not a judgment, darlin. I simply don't ever have to hurry to heat up coffee, or anything really. There are no pressing needs to ever rush out the door (not unless something very bad is happening outside). So you can add microwave to the long list of modern things I have either stopped using or never experienced in the first place.
It would be easier to explain what I do have: electric stove and range, fridge, freezers, small crockpot, meat rotisserie (a moving in gift for my ex from my good friend Patty who found it at a yard sale), an Insta pot leftover from the breakup I have used one time because the buttons are intimidating, a blender/food processor, electronic coffee grinder, hand mixer with cord, and a soda stream (also breakup fallout). Everything else is pots and pans and hand tools. I've never touched a keurig or air fryer. I have no idea what people do with Kitchen Aids. My coffee also only comes from either a large steel French Press or a stove-top espresso maker, neither of which use electricity.
This is intentional, too. I don't like stuff you need to plug in unless it shows me movies, plays music, or connects to the internet. I want a life where on a squalling, sub-zero, winter morning of a power outage I can still be warm, comfortable, and caffeinated no matter what. And I can tell you this much for free: when you experience a week without power on this mountain - you very quickly appreciate a little home with low ceilings, an entire story that can be closed off, and two woodstoves. Even at the coldest it's ever been, my living room has been 65 degrees when the wood stove has been roaring and tended. And if you were here sipping a vanilla latte with foam by a warm wood stove with a book, surrounded by flickering candlelight on a howling winter storm morning where you don't have to leave the house for any reason - you'd give up a life with a washing machine too.
Speaking of snow...
The coming week, soon as the next 48 hours, will see nights dipping into the 20s and possibly snowfall around Samhain. Today, in the rain, I need to go pick up some feed and get some supplies. Nothing drastic, probably 200lbs to last a few days for the pigs and chickens. (Yes, 200lbs of feed doesn't last long with 30+chickens and five large pigs.) So, like I always say, it's a day-by-day life. I did sell 10 bars of soap, my only sale the last 3 days, but it should cover the feed for the animals until Weds. I can either panic about that, or be grateful one person reached out since I posted that call to support. I am choosing gratitude and perseverance over panic. A farm can run on fumes, but hope is a higher octane.
Today, I'll be chopping and stacking wood in the rain to load the house for the coming cold. I am kind of excited to test out this fall/winter layering system. Non-cotton underwear, silk base layer, wool sweater over that, work pants, and am outer rain layer. I think the Canadians have it right when they say there is no bad weather, just bad clothing. And long ago I learned what most people wear at basecamps is what I wear to work everyday. I won't be uncomfortable doing the work, but my body isn't twenty-seven anymore. My ankle doesn't let me carry things as heavy as I used to carry. My shoulders now pinch or tear if I swing an axe too long. I honestly think my daily yoga practice is the BEST preventive healthcare I practice. I think if I can keep joints and muscles warm and stretched, even if I get sore, that it can prevent a torn shoulder or thrown-out back.
I treat my body a lot gentler and kinder these days. I had to learn that I deserved gentleness. When you grow up learning to hate yourself, you even brush your teeth and hair too hard. It took me until I was in my late thirties to be soft to myself.
I will stack the dry hardwood in various types and sizes in my silk and wool armor. I know when to throw in something quick-burning and hot like poplar or birch. I know when to add a chunk of cherry, let it turn into the kind of coals that can heat you from across a room. I have learned how to best use this stove, for both heat and cooking. It's the heart of this home, that Hob.
My life is very much like always camping, but with wifi and a shower. I promise it is a lot more comfortable than it sounds.
I used to use those fire starter logs for mornings. You know what I mean? The kind that are a reddish flaking composite of combustible whatnot and people put in urban fireplaces for show? Not a whole log, Jesus. I just buy one log for a couple dollars and use a hatchet to break it into fist-sized chunks and wrap them in old newspaper and load those with small kindling and splints to start a fire. One log can last 2 weeks of fast fire-starting in mornings but I'm trying to save my "fun money" for things like novels and occasional Chinese food take out (my local joint makes AMAZING fried spicy bean curd!) and I'd rather just spend an hour today making kindling and homemade fire starters with old egg cartons, sawdust, and candlewax than give that up twice a month.
I am pleased with the growth of the lambs and piglets. My time here with the animals, moving fences and filling feed bins has been paying off. I think this year's lamb customers will be very pleased with their shares. I hope the pigs keep filling out but we've got a good while before they get harvested. Like I said, a day at a time. But this morning, before the rain really started in earnest, I was admiring the thick fleeces on my breeding ewes. I like their condition and hope the breeding takes. I am already planning spring lambing. I have missed it so much. I hope Gibson makes it for one more lambing season this year. He is in such weaker shape, but thinking of walking out into the snowy cold to check for lambs at 2AM in early March without him already has me tearing up as I write. I need to accept he's 14.
Sometimes I think the only good I really did in this life was the life I have these dogs. There are better trained and more awarded border collies out there. But few get to to live all day and every day beside their humans, rarely ever crated, sharing my meals and bed, partners on a small farm without ever being neglected or alone. And every single day I look into that dog's eyes and promise him he will always have food in his belly, a roof over his head, and all the love he needs.
I gave my dogs everything I ever wanted for myself.
Today, Sunday, is a day I hope to not do too much client work. I try not to open design files on weekends, saving those days for rest and my social life, which admittedly is pretty bleak these days. I stay busy with the farm, work, and winter prep and at least if I do get any company they will be warm and well fed and there's so many board games and books, movies and shows, music and records here that passing time is lovely, if a little old fashioned when the power goes out.
Okay, time to actually put this coffee on the stove now, it's downright cold. I need to get that feed and get some firewood stacked, and I'll report from the first snowfall if it happens, hopefully warm beside my fire with my favorite ginger-peach tea with honey and milk and the new 1989 Vault tracks haunting me.
I hope all of you out there are safe, warm, motivated, and feeling as hopeful about this winter as I am. If you're feeling down, or anxious, or worried - please know there's a 40-something lesbian without a microwave and no idea how she'll pay this month's mortgage yet still hopeful her life will improve and truly believing it. You can get through this brunch. We're all going to make it, darlings, by and by.