Rural Life in the UP of Michigan Some stories about life on 160 rural acres in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

January 11, 2015

Really Nice

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin0 @ 9:27 pm

The other night Alice was sitting in her spot on the couch reading, Franco was on his rug sleeping, and the fire from the Jotul stove in the living room was throwing its light across the room. I looked at Alice and said, “this is really nice.”

We’ve been here nearly 40 years, and have done a lot of the work ourselves. At the beginning, I don’t think I ever visualized what the final product would be, because the work has been divided into fairly discrete projects. Still every project came out of our heads, and there must have been some sort of blueprint that governed them all, because the result has been a home we both really appreciate and enjoy.

We have friends that move a lot, something we haven’t done in so long that the thought of it scares me. But that is how they get the home they want. It is one way, and a fine way; it just isn’t the way we happen to have done things. When something in the house breaks or wears out, we replace it, usually with something we know will work for us because we’ve tried others, and have talked to people about their experiences. Once they get working again, they become part of the functioning home.

A lot of our satisfaction comes from eating food we’ve grown and harvested, wine we’ve brewed, heating with wood we’ve processed, and giving maple syrup we’ve made. In our 20s, we dreamed of going “back to the land.” I think others told us it would be hard, and they were right. And we are far from self sufficient as things stand right now. But we get closer every year to being able to feed and keep ourselves warm, and do it with style and grace. The feeling I get from all this is “really nice.”

Winter Exercise

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin0 @ 9:13 pm

We’ve gone through several weeks of lots of snow and cold. With the cold comes problems keeping things running, and keeping vehicles unstuck. Fortunately, our community has the skills to help out with these problems in all kinds of weather.

One thing I’m noticing about myself is as the years go by I’m a bit more reluctant to get outside when the temperatures are low. And my rational mind knows very well that keeping consistently active is important for overall health, both physical and mental. I’ve kept up with the regular exercises, but have had to struggle to keep active otherwise. I thank my dog Franco for getting me out for daily walks. Franco is still a young dog, and he needs to get out and stretch his legs daily.

But it is the firewood that really makes me get out and doing. Our woodshed it attached to the garage/workshop. The firewood I feed the fires with is stored in racks inside the entryway to the house. That means a carry of 200′ or so to fill up the racks in the entryway. While I’m filling the woodshed in the summer, I don’t give much thought to the fact that I’ll be carrying every stick of this wood through the snow, across the yard, and into the racks, and from there into the fireboxes, and after that the ashes out to the dump pile. This adds up to a lot of trips, all of which are good for me.

Today it was real cold outside but the wood racks were getting low, so I braved the weather and did my trips. Once I get out and going, things are fine, but it is the getting going that is getting hard for me. My neighbors have horses, which get them out and active with the daily chores. I know lots of people that ski and snowshoe too.

One thing we tell new-comers to our area is to make your peace with winter. You can’t fight it, so you might as well declare a truce at least. If you can get out and enjoy it no matter what the weather throws at you, you’ll be fine.

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