Here’s how I kicked off the week. I already had a jump-start on feeling awesome with the successful Moonshine Lamp project that I knocked out over the weekend and I decided to continue on that theme and make this a “power week.” You know, serious productivity, no distractions, and a lot of getting shit done. I started out Monday by getting a head start on my chores and hauling my huge country garbage bin out to the road first thing in the morning, instead of doing it last minute as I was rushing off to work.
I threw a coat on over my pajamas and felt good, empowered, ahead of the game, I may have flexed my muscles a bit and felt a little like superwoman as I walked outside… right up until I happily slammed the door behind me and, thanks to my automatically locking door, stranded myself out in thirty-degree weather, in my pajamas, in the middle of nowhere, without my keys.
And I have to tell you, I stood just outside the door with my hand on the knob, mouth open in disbelief, and spent a good ninety seconds trying to process what to do next. The pervasive thought going through my mind was, “If only I had my phone…” Except, if only I had my phone what? Who was I going to call? I live 30 minutes from any family, no one has a key to my house, and all the Twitter updates in the world weren’t going to be able to wish the door back open for me. (Why I wasn’t saying, “If only I had my keys…” is still a mystery to me.)
So I hauled the garbage out to the road, did a few calisthenics to keep any important parts of my body from freezing off, formulated a plan B (break a window) and plan C (start jogging down the road in my hot pink polka dotted flannel pants and flag down the local farmer on his combine… to what end, I have no idea) and then started searching for a key I thought I’d hidden somewhere on the property in case this ever happened, but, of course, had no clear idea of where I actually hid it.
Somewhere in that 25 minutes of general insanity it occurred to me that I’ve been through some big life changes in the last six months, but up until this point I’d never actually taken the time to think through the implications of being single and somewhat isolated from the general public. For the last 5 years there has always been a partner to call on, or a close neighbor or family member just down the road, and to be honest, I got used to having that safety net.
The truth is, while there are plenty of friends and family members who would be there for me if I needed it, the only way I feel completely comfortable is being self sufficient. (From the girl who insisted on installing 14-foot long pieces of siding on the house all by herself, this is a shock, right?) And while I’ve been getting by on luck, it’s time to be a little more planful about my future life as a single girl living out in the country. So here’s my short list of must-haves I’ll be incorporating into Hillside Cottage for safety, comfort, and general quality of life.
1. Impossible To Get Locked Out Unless You Lose Your Actual Brain Door Hardware– At this point I’d say we don’t need any more context on why this is a good idea.
2. Door Entry Alert Chimes- I’m not a fan of of big security systems that require activation, deactivation, and potentially awkward explanations to local law enforcement. It doesn’t make me feel safer, and the truth is that even as a single woman, I’m not worried about being able to defend my home– perhaps you’ve heard, I’ve got good aim with a hammer. Okay, and I keep some heavy artillery around as a backup in case I miss. Regardless, I don’t need a full blown alarm system on my house, but since the main living space for Hillside Cottage is upstairs I have a feeling I could start straining my ears at the first sign of a noise on the main floor to determine whether or not to go on high alert. Some simple entry alert chimes will take the guesswork out of it.
3. Tractor/Mower – Well seriously, every country girl needs a tractor. More importantly, however, is the ability to plow myself out from under a foot of snow if winter around here starts acting like actual winter. Right now my big plan is to four-wheel-drive my way out of it, or just hole up in my house until spring.
This sub-compact tractor from Kubota can work as a mower, backhoe, loader, or post hole digger with the right attachments. I totally need one.
4. Generator – I’ve also been rolling the dice when it comes to maintaining power in my rental. At least twice last year the power went out for 2 or more days, and I was in a much less rural area then. So getting a generator (and figuring how to hook it up to my panel) is high on the priority list, even though it’s hard to fork over the cash when it’s 50 degrees outside in February. Plus there are probably some other items on my Storm-slash-alien survival list that I need to start hoarding in the basement like a crazy person.
5. Bottle-less Water- This is more of an annoyance than a necessary-so-I-don’t-freeze-to-death item, but since all of my paper goods get burned, and my compostables go to the garden, my only recyclables are the dozens of plastic water bottles I go through a week. Dealing with hauling them to the recycling center was never actually my job before, but I can tell you this… it’s a pain in the butt. And even with a bigass softener on the house, the water where I’m at still has the distinct flavor of rusted nails. Or blood, if you’re feeling a little vampire-ish. So in an effort to save the environment and not end up buried in plastic water bottles, I think I need one of these:
6. Remotely Accessible Thermostat – I once left my house in the middle of January for a long weekend in Vegas and while I did not come back married to a stranger, I did come back to a house whose interior temperature was somewhere around 12-degrees. When the water in your toilet bowl is frozen solid, you know there’s a problem. And since there isn’t anyone to check on the house for me when I’m away, one of these thermostats that can be monitored and controlled via iPhone is not just a cool trick, but an absolute necessity.
Okay, and it’s kind of a cool trick.
7. Independent Car Battery Jumper– I actually love my big SUV specifically because I’ve owned it for the better part of a decade with no mechanical problems (which includes the time I accidentally drove it into a ditch, where it laid on its side until AAA came, and then once all four wheels were on the ground, drove off just like new). I’m not sure if you can use a tractor to jump start a car battery, but if not, it probably couldn’t hurt me to have one of these around… at least until I give in and buy myself a vintage pickup to take up the third spot in my garage.
I feel pretty confident with these additions to my already enormous tool collection, I’ll be set to take on anything life throws at me– whether or not I’m stranded outside in the snow in my hot pink pajamas.
What tools and equipment do you keep on hand for self-sufficiency?