Nobody said this was going to be easy.
Our first week on the land was all about getting our systems up and running. Shelter, check.
Water: We have running water from our 10,000 gallon water tanks that were left by the previous owners. They contain water from the seasonal spring up above, which was routed into the holding tanks, and then fed down through underground PVC piped to a spigot and a garden hose. With the hose, we filled our RV water tank and got running water through the faucets for showering and washing hands and dishes. We’re not sure about the water quality, but we do know, based on environmental reports, that there’s nothing up above or nearby to cause toxic runoff, so we’re taking a gamble that it’s safe to shower and wash dishes in. However, by Day Two, the RV water pump stopped pumping. We think it’s because minute debris from the water is clogging up the entry points. When we turn on the faucet, nothing comes out. So for showers and dishes, I’m filling up a basin. A shower is a cup poured over my head, though luckily the water heater is working. The kids, on the other hand, have been enjoying their new mode of daily showering down at the creek:
Drinking water comes from our filter-anything Big Berkey water filter, which leaked until I figured out how to get the rubber washers on right. Way too many plastic bottles of water in the mean time.
Food: Found the beautiful Morgan Hill Farmer’s Market, where I got fresh eggs, veggies, fruit, and honey all produced within a 20 mile radius of our land. The Farmer’s Market is one of my happy places. I love meeting the people who make my food and got a tip from Susan at the Uvas Road Apiary that she doesn’t have garbage pick-up, but instead brings her recyclables into San Martin, where she’s allowed to bring one bag of garbage as well. Still striving for zero waste, but until we get our systems up and running, we’re finding ourselves using takeout boxes and other disposables. Cooking is more of a chore with three small burners, no counter space, no running water, and nowhere to throw food scraps, see below.
Clothing: Laundromat. Not the most encouraging of places. I’ve been spoiled by having my own washer and dryer. It’s a huge chunk of time in a depressing place with bad daytime TV playing. It makes me have real appreciation for the folks who have to do this every week, all the time. We bought a used RV washer/dryer combo and need to get it hooked up, STAT.
Garbage and Compost: I ordered garbage service, but plan to terminate it in the next month or two. Need to set up our compost bin and make it animal-proof. We saw coyote prints, so we don’t want to attract them to our bins. Until we have that, we’re throwing out perfectly good compostables, and it pains me. Problem is clever, determined ants. They threw a party the minute we pulled in. They’ve found every crevice and crumb, making it nearly impossible to eat in the RV without an ant attack. Easy enough fix—just eat outside. Where the wasps are. The minute we brought food outside, the wasps found us. Stella even got stung. While people warned us about mountain lions, coyotes, and rattlesnakes, it’s the little critters that have made us the most miserable. We managed to get a wasp trap up and take the garbage far from the RV, so that seems to have taken care of that problem. Really didn’t want to use pesticide, but I’m afraid I might’ve if the wasp trap didn’t work.
Power: My awesome, practical and talented mountain man added batteries to the solar panel system and put in the inverter. So now we have basic power. Huge.
Internet: For me, phone and wifi is at the same level as shelter, food and water in Maslow’s hierarchy of need. I rely on it for my work and being able to call 911 for help would make me feel safer with kids (see above reference to larger critters). Once Mauricio got the inverter installed, we got power to an outlet, so we were able to get a dish out there for radio ethernet signal. With wifi, we also got voice-over-IP phone and we’re in business. The four outlets that work are dedicated to the phone and internet router, and can run round the clock with our solar power. That’s cool. And highly recommend Ooma, even if you’re not off-grid. You buy the box and get very clear phone service over the internet FOR FREE. We cut $50 out of our monthly budget, and now only pay under $4 for taxes and surcharges for home phone. On the other hand, we pay much more for high-speed internet, but it’s worth it. Check out our radio internet dish attached to the manzanita:
Sure makes one appreciate a hot shower with good water pressure and fresh, clean laundry. Also makes one appreciate the sunrise when it’s so close out the window and the great horned owl who-whooooing nearby every evening and morning.