Stormy Weather

We’ve all had some crazy weather this past winter, haven’t we?  And not just this past winter – in fact the weather’s been a bit odd for several years now.  Some places are feeling it more than others – the coldest, snowiest winter in decades in the Midwest, the seemingly endless drought in California which experts are now saying has reached a new level of severity, an increase in wildfires in the west, and in February 11 inches of snow fell in Tokyo, a city which averages only 4-inches per year.  In Europe storm after storm has drenched the UK:

As of mid-February, more than 5,000 homes and businesses were flooded, and 150 square miles of land were submerged, according to news reports.

What’s causing it? Duh. Climate change!  According to a recent paper “What We Know,” by the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science, climate change is the clear answer to this question, and what’s more, it’s getting too late to do much about it.

Though recent  polls show many Americans think global warming remains a topic of scientific  disagreement, 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing climate  change — a level of consensus comparable to the science linking smoking to heart  and lung  disease, the report notes.

“The evidence is overwhelming: levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere  are rising,” the report says. “Temperatures are going up. Springs are arriving  earlier. Ice sheets are melting. Sea level is rising. The patterns of rainfall  and drought are changing. Heat waves are getting worse as is extreme  precipitation. The oceans are acidifying.”,0,234455.story#ixzz2wRSrO3jf

Do yourselves a favor and read the very sobering report.  It’s not long and it’s very straight forward. Read it with an open mind and clear thinking.

Personally I’ve been concerned about environmental issues since the 1970s.  Back then it was more local issues that got my attention, like litter (I organized a little club to pick up trash along the highway when I was 10 years old) and overpopulation of pets (I also collected money for our local humane society).  Later endangered species and pollution became a concern, and then deforestation, toxic waste sites, colony collapse and GMOs…well, let’s just say I’ve kept my finger on the environmental pulse for sometime now.

My concern for our environment is part of what has made me decide to become a science teacher.  I fear we are the Titanic heading for the iceberg – and the closer we get the harder it is to shift course.  Unfortunately shifting course is not as easy as one person at the helm spinning the wheel to set a new direction.  Shifting course on climate change is going to require a concerted effort by all nations and by people at all levels.  Frankly I’m not sure it can be done. I think we are in for some rocky times ahead.

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Calling all gardeners and groundskeepers

We took what was basically a field of pasture grass and then really messed it up moving heavy equipment, digging septic, waterlines, and cistern pits and now we have a sea of mud surrounding us. And it’s very soggy mud at that!  You can sink in up to your ankle if you aren’t careful – and deeper still in any of the dug up areas.  We all wear rain (or mud) boots from the house to the car (still parked down at our relative’s house as it would get stuck if we tried to park next to the mobile home) and naturally a lot of that mud gets tracked into the house on a daily basis.  The dogs and cats leave little mud paw prints everytime they go in or out as well.

IMAG0830We are hoping to erect some sort of porch/deck – not sure if it will be in the back or front (or both!) at some point this summer but in the meantime I’d like do something to keep the mud out!  We’ve spread straw around the entrance area and that helps some but it’s not particularly pretty.

I need some advice on good, quick growing, edible (for goats not people) ground cover for the area around the house.  I’d love to attract butterflies and bees (still hoping to get a hive one day), and of course I’d prefer not to plant any invasive non-native species!  Clover has been suggested – any other ideas?

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Past meets the present

I like history. It’s one of my favorite genres in literature, non-fiction, and film. I thoroughly enjoyed the PBS historical ‘reality’ shows – Colonial House, and Frontier House, for instance. Like those of you who watched Survivor (which I’ve never seen but have heard about) I’ve wondered how well I would do in such circumstances. Would I be able to put up with the privatizations, make edible meals out of limited unprocessed ingredients using primitive cooking facilities, haul water to heat over a fire for cleaning, cooking and even drinking, stay warm without central heating?  Would I be up to the demands of the physical labor? Could I stomach the disgusting toilets? Could I live without my internet connection?

I no longer wonder about these things – our living situation here has given me some insight into how well I would fare on the frontier.  We are not, by any means, living the life of the early settlers.  We have electricity for example.  But we have been, and currently are, faced with some of the same difficulties, notably acquisition of water.  Our water arrangement is not working well.  To put it plainly, most of the time we don’t have running water. The 1000 gallon cistern may have settled unevenly or perhaps cracked during our extreme cold weather.  The foot valve might not be seating securely interfering with the pressure the pump needs to move the water.  The pump fittings might not be firmly attached and air might be bleeding into the mix making the pump run irregularly and shut down frequently.  Whatever the issue is (I’m no plumber and I can’t afford to have a real one come fix things) it has been exacerbated by the cold weather which has contributed cracked pipes to the mix.

Dealing with this issue nearly constantly for the past month has given me the answer to the question above.  And that answer my friends is No. No, I am not cut out for the pioneer lifestyle. I am not stalwart, strong and resourceful. I’m no MacGyver, able to construct or repair all manner of things with bailing wire, duct tape and a Swiss army knife. I’m no Pollyanna, able to remain positive and upbeat during set back after set back. I’m no Superman, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound either. If I were it would make hauling water so much easier. Truly I think the only thing I have going in my favor is that I’m tenacious.  That and out of choices!

I wear down and I wear out. Priming and restarting the pump (an act that requires one to crawl in the cold mud under the trailer, unscrew the wooden cover to the pump box, unfasten the cap that must otherwise be screwed on as tightly as possible, and pour water down a pipe while simultaneously doing something similar 50-feet away at the cistern) three times a day because there is something wrong with the pump hookup and it regularly drones on without providing water and undoubtedly doing internal damage to itself is trying.

Hauling a wagon load of 15 gallons of water up hill on a muddy and rutted dirt, sometimes covered with snow, road is tiring (great for the calves but hard on the rest of me).  But what really exhausts me is knowing that those 15 gallons will be gone in a less than a day of dish washing, cooking, drinking, flushing toilets and cleaning and I’ll be heading back down the hill with the empty bottles to do it all over again.

Of course water is merely one of the challenges that face me on a daily basis.  The rest are much more 21st century however, like kids that need to be chauffeured hither and thither, lessons that need to be planned, tests that need to be graded, and animals that need to be fed and cared for, topped off with a car that needs new brakes (again, didn’t I just get brakes?), bills that are overdue and a bank account with less than $100 in it.  If this were a reality show I’d have this to say, “Vote me out!”


Posted in blogging, frugal living, history, home repairs, housing, reality shows, septic, setbacks, survivor, water | 7 Comments