It was a long cold winter
Scraping a completely offgrid sustainable farm out of dirt is no small task - even without the challenges of the harsh north Idaho climate. When we purchased our initial 50 acres of bare hay field in October 2015 it sounded so simple. As time as marched on - we find ourselves 3.5 years in with a lot accomplished and a lot left to do.
We began living on the farm full time in October 2018, our house in town sold faster than we expected. We moved into our very small and very old camper with the idea that we could get the bottom section of barn built out before winter. As with everything, it took a lot longer than we anticipated. Our tiny little 20' camper with two large dogs was terribly small. As winter drug on, the condensation and mold inside started to be a problem. We housesat for some neighbors over Christmas and afterwards decided we couldn't go back to the camper. So we moved into the 16 x 48' south half of the bottom floor of our barn. With not much insulation to speak of, temps at night got down to the low 40s. Not the most comfortable I have ever been but far better than the camper.
During an undertaking such as this, it is important to keep perspective. On October 8 all we had was a roof. By December 26 we were moved into the albeit rustic living quarters.
Small things start to really matter. Having a flushing toilet for instance. Or a shower. Our incredibly benevolent neighbors have been critical to o our survival this winter. Letting us shower and wash our clothes, feeding us and giving us an evening of warmth and comfort. Truly the best neighbors around.
By the end of January our little living space was completely functional if not warm. We finally had a refrigerator so we could stop storing food on the porch. Usually by this time of year the snow is over and temperatures become more bearable. But Mother Nature played a trick on us. February was COLD - not a single day above freezing. It snowed and snowed and snowed. Our roof leaked incessantly and we were just bone weary.
I really started to believe that winter would never end. We started getting cranky with each other and reconsidering our life choices. I think we were all just a little stir crazy. Added to all the basic living stress, my income stream stopped for the entire month of January - during which we came close to running out of hay and my beloved dog blew BOTH ACLs. Needless to say I was happy to see March blow through the door.
All in all - we survived. Our little living space survived. It was now time to get back to building our barn. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? I'm incredibly proud of our accomplishments so far - we have built every bit of this place ourselves. I feel strong and capable, ready to take on the next phase which is to have the barn/apartment completed before winter comes back!