January 2019

January 2019 on the homestead

What is there to say about a month like January? It’s the doldrum of a season. Winter persists. Fall is a memory. Spring is an elusive promise that seems more like a maybe than a definite. Snow engulfs everything: trees, cars, garden fences, porches, small mammals, a box of tissues I accidentally dropped off the porch and forgot about. It’s all buried under stubborn, thick white.

I don’t mind winter and I don’t dislike snow. But there’s something enveloping about January that swallows all memories of other weather. I start to believe it’s always been like this. And always will be.

If you’re just tuning in, this is a recurring series in which I document each month of our lives out here on our 66-acre Vermont homestead. After leaving urban Cambridge, MA in May 2016 to chart this wholly different life, we’re experiencing a constant learning curve of exploration and plenty of stupid novice moments. Check out last month’s installment here and enjoy the best and worst (ok, mostly the worst) moments of our first year on the homestead here. Wondering if it’s less expensive to live rurally? Check out: City vs. Country: Which Is Cheaper? The Ultimate Cost Of Living Showdown.

The Internet and The Truck: Unlikely Co-Conspirators

In January, as sometimes happens, Mr. Frugalwoods went out of town on business for a few days. NO PROBLEM, I thought. Well, slight problem, because I’m not a giant fan of parenting our three-year-old and one-year-old by myself. But I knew I could do it. I am an educated, reasonably patient person (when I’ve been fed), and I’ve been parenting for three whole years (feels like three decades based on the number of wrinkles I’ve acquired, but who’s counting?!?).

Blissful Kidwoods in the snow

On my husband’s first morning away, I woke up before the children, which always makes me feel like I have an edge. Like I’ve bested myself somehow. I felt rested. I felt empowered. I was going to rock these three days of parenting and household management on my ‘lone. I showered and dressed (something I enjoy doing alone and not with two children in the bathroom… hilarious as they are ripping toilet paper and dressing up in my clothes-formerly-known-as-clean). With these major accomplishments behind me, I was fortified for the onslaught of noise that accompanies children who are awake.

I greeted each child with a tender kiss, made breakfast, got Kidwoods ready for preschool, and hummed as I emptied the dishwasher. Regular mother-of-the-year over here. Our adopted grandma neighbor–knowing I was solo and because she is a canonized saint–offered to drive Kidwoods to preschool and Kidwoods was ready to go when she arrived. Off they went and off I went to snuggle Littlewoods down for her morning nap. My early morning tasks complete, I sipped my coffee self-congratulatorily (definitely a word) opened my computer to start work, and after some furious double clicking, realized the internet wasn’t working. I went to the phone to call the internet people and…. remembered that our landline runs through the internet (VOIP) and thus, the phone didn’t work either. We don’t get cell reception at our home and so we rely on the internet to enable all cell phone and landline phone-related things (namely texting, calling, and funny cat videos).

I unplugged all the stuff related to the internet (and several cords that I later learned are for our printer and not at all related to the internet) and then plugged it all back in. No success. No worries, I thought, as I woke poor Littlewoods and loaded her into the truck to go to the internet-ified library.

Glamour shed

The baby and I trundled through the snow-covered roads and I gamely used the library internet to let Mr. FW know what was happening, call the internet people (as I refer to them), and check my email. Once done, I inserted the key in the ignition and… nothing happened. I tried again. And again. And again. I tried more times than reasonable because–in my mind–this was too ironic a coincidence. This kind of double gut punch doesn’t happen. I mean, there’s no way that:

  1. Mr. FW (and our second car, a 2010 Toyota Prius) are out of town
  2. Our phone and internet are down
  3. The truck (a 2010 Toyota Tundra) won’t start

On the same day. In the dead cold bum of winter. This is an unbelievable confluence of misfortune. And yet, as I sat there in the library parking lot, tipping my head back to rest on my coat collar, watching exhalations plume in front of my face, I realized it was entirely possible.

Littlewoods decided this was her moment to turn rabid–she was supposed to be taking her morning nap in a snug bed and was instead inserted in a cold carseat in a cold truck–and she decided to yell about it. And by cold, I mean that it was a maximum of -5 degrees outside. Capitulating to my new reality, I scooped Littewoods out of her carseat and retreated to the warmth of the library. I texted (using the library’s internet) our adopted grandma and asked her to come pick us up. Then I texted “this is not a joke” since I still wasn’t convinced myself.

Adopted grandma (again, canonized saint) hurried over to retrieve us, at which point it occurred to me that I couldn’t go home because, once I got there, I wouldn’t be able to leave or call anyone. So, we went to her house where I called our mechanic and–benefits of living in a small town–asked if he could go check on the truck in the library parking lot. He said he’d be happy to on his way back from his daughter’s doctor’s appointment (I love living in a small town). I spoke with our internet people again and they said someone would come by the house that afternoon. Sorted.

Our pond in January. I often feel like this downed tree.

Moving on to other problems, I realized I had no way to pick Kidwoods up from school, carless as I was, and my neighbor had to go read to children at the elementary school. I called preschool and asked if Kidwoods could stay late (“of course!” they said). My neighbor shuttled me and Littlewoods back to my house and then set off to first read at the elementary school and then pick Kidwoods up from preschool (saint, saint, saint).

Back at home, with no way to leave or communicate with the outside world, I developed a habit of constantly checking to see if the internet person was driving down our driveway. One of the reasons we own a second car is to prevent this scenario. One of the reasons we have a landline is to prevent this scenario. One of the reasons we have snowshoes and a huge tow-behind-sled is to mitigate this unlikely scenario. I was unsettled knowing that I was unable to leave and unable to contact anyone. I felt marooned. With two little kids. In the wintertime.

Arrive the internet person did and investigate the internet he did. “Aha!” he exclaimed, “your router is dead and I have a new one you can use.” A boon of good fortune; an easy fix! He set it up for me (arms full of children as mine were), we tested it, and I cheerily sent him on his way, certain that my communications blackout was ameliorated.

No car? No internet? Kids don’t care.

To celebrate our survival of the day, I made macaroni and cheese for dinner (and by “made,” I mean I opened a box and boiled water… ) and the three of us feasted like foxes around a campfire, delighted with ourselves and our cheesy treat. I put the kids to bed, I watched Call the Midwife accompanied by a glass of red wine, I chatted with Mr. FW who agreed to touch base with the mechanic in the morning, and I went to bed.

Not So Fast, Mrs. FW

Lo but I did wake up the next day to no phone and no internet. Nope nope nope. Once again they were down and out. I repeated my rituals of unplugging and re-plugging and coaxing and prodding, to zero effect. Defeated, I turned my absence of vehicle and communication into an opportunity to do some basement reorganization. We now have a fully categorized, label-ized, systematized Christmas decoration and wrapping paper area (zone? section?) of the basement. I’m not sorry. Neither are the kids, who got to play with/eat ribbon while I organized. I’m a stress cleaner and a stress organizer, so leaning into this strength is always a good idea for me. Otherwise I stress eat.

Mr. FW returned home that night and figured out that the fiber termination panel that conveys our fiber optic internet into our home had come unplugged. This panel is woefully located on the exterior of our house and prodigious amounts of snow had fallen right off the roof and right on top of the panel, yanking the cord out. We spoke with the internet people and they agreed to relocate the panel to a side of the house that doesn’t experience deluges of roof snow run-off.

Indeed, somehow we managed to have not one, but TWO separate and unrelated internet failures within a twenty-four hour time period. Mr. FW and the internet people tried to puzzle out a correlation, but there isn’t one. The internet simply decided to fail me twice: first inside, then outside. Thanks, internet.

Updated 2/28/19: whoops! I totally forgot to conclude the truck story and explain what was wrong with it! Unfortunately, it’s not all that exciting: it had a dead battery, hastened by the stretch of below zero daytime temperatures we were experiencing.

Why The Communications Blackout?

We live in a sort of Bermuda Triangle of communications, as I fondly describe it. We do not have cell reception on our property, but we do have excellent fiber internet. The challenge is that when the internet is down, everything is down. Our landline phone runs over the internet (which is cheap and usually quite reliable). The reason we don’t have a separate phone line (through a phone company) is that the phone line and internet (along with the power) all run on the same poles to the house.

Hence, if one is down, usually all three are down. If we had an actual landline phone, in this instance, it might have prevented my communications blackout, but in most situations, we lose phone, internet and power all at the same time. Mr. FW and I are currently brainstorming other methods of communication, such as a satellite communicator, ham radio operation (surprising no one, Mr. FW is a licensed operator, but I’m not…. yet), and/or pigeons. Kidding on the pigeons. Or am I.

Preventing This From Happening Again

January yard action: would be nice to get internet out here

In my ideal world, this scenario of multiple system failures doesn’t repeat itself. However, should this happen again, the anxiety, panic and fear that used to surround this scenario have evaporated for me. I’m more resilient. I feel more capable.

Each time something strange or unsettling or difficult happens to me, I chip away at the insecurities and anxieties I carry around. Every bad or frustrating event forces me to pause, kneel down, and throw away a few more of my limiting beliefs.

So that’s all well and good and I’m glad I had a growing moment. But it would be nice not to grow again in this same way. To that end, Mr. Frugalwoods (resident tech guru) replaced our internet infrastructure with an eye towards longterm reliability. AKA with more expensive, durable, commercial-grade stuff, specifically this router and this Wireless Access Point (these are affiliate links). To aid in the fiber termination panel issue, we bought these security bits that’ll allow us to DIY a fix to this problem in the future as they’ll enable us to open up the box and plug the internet back in (affiliate link).

We also added a few internet-related items to our spring to-do list:

  • Moving the fiber access panel to a different location in an effort to reduce snow-related internet injury.
  • Setting up outdoor access points so that we can get internet in the yard, which will be VERY useful for trying to communicate with one another. Yelling does not always work. Ask me how I know this.

Other Things That Happened in January

I asked Mr. FW what else happened in January and he reported:

1) Snow

Mr. FW shoveling snow. It might look like he’s doing all the work, but just remember that I had to expose a finger in order to take this photo.

There was snow. Endless snow. He cleared, shoveled, scraped, piled, and blew snow weekly, daily, hourly. We remain quite pleased that we’ve in-sourced all of our snow-clearing, thanks to our tractor (with PTO snowblower attachment) now equipped with front and rear tire chains. Not to mention our snow shovel. That thing gets a workout. As does Mr. FW. Quite glad we don’t have to pay someone to plow our driveway (at circa $75 per plow) every time it snows.

2) Firewood Depletion

We heat our home via woodstove and are burning through our firewood stash like a boss. A total BOSS. This is a cold winter. I mean, duh, winters are cold, but this winter is aberrational in both temperature and snowfall. Good thing Mr. FW built a woodshed last summer and worked his behind off (plum fell right off) to get us ahead in firewood.

The amount of labor he invests in each and every solitary stick of firewood is tremendous. He selects a tree, fells the tree, skids the tree, bucks the log, splits the wood, stacks the firewood, hauls the firewood onto the porch rack, fills the woodbox, brings the wood inside, starts the stove. It’s gratifying to know that this work is appreciated and needed.

My attempt at demonstrating the depth of our snow

In other news, he’s planning to ramp up next year’s wood harvesting as soon as the snow melts. Possibly sooner. By the end of January, we were down to a mere 3/4 of a cord* on our porch wood rack. It’s looking like this may be the first winter that we have to do two wood rack refills (read more about our wood refill process here).

*not 3/4 of a cord in total wood inventory, just 3/4 on our porch rack. The rest of our wood is drying in our woodshed.

3) Truck Headlight Replacement

The truck did not do much to put itself at the top of our “favorite vehicles” list this month as it also managed to burn out its headlights (not while at the mechanic’s, naturally). Mr. FW gamely bought these replacement headlights and set about replacing them (affiliate link). “How hard can it be?” he asked as he marched outside with tools and lights in tow.

“Fairly hard,” he responded as he re-entered the warmth of our homestead 53 minutes later. More specifically, the first headlight was tough to replace. After some extensive fiddling, he discovered he had to completely remove the headlight, which meant he also had to take off a piece of the bumper. People on the internet report that you can replace the headlight without going through this procedure, but he could not. I should note that it was 6 degrees at the time. And snowing.

Hence, Mr. FW’s hand could not fit in there with a glove on. He surmises it’s possible you could fit your hand in there if your hand wasn’t so numb that you couldn’t feel your fingers, but this is not the situation he found himself in. Once he knew what he was doing, the second headlight took him 8 minutes. How do I know it took 8 minutes? Because Mr. FW is hilarious, precise, and likes to time himself. I love that man.

Solar Check

I swear there are solar panels under there

Now that I’ve FINALLY (it only took me a year… ) written up the background information on our solar panels, I’ll include a solar update every month in this series. This is the only way for me to remember that: a) I have solar; b) you all would like to be updated on it.

In January we generated 70.4 kWh, which is not a lot. Not a lot at all. Reason? Snow covering the panels + cloudy days.

This has been your solar production update. You’re welcome.

Want More Fotos?!

While I only document homestead life once a month here on the blog, I post photos to Instagram (almost every day!) and updates to Facebook with much greater regularity. Join me there if you want more of our frugal woods. Some folks have asked about this and yes, I do try to post a picture to Instagram every day and–unlike with many other things in my life–I actually have a pretty good track record. If you’re craving more homestead pics, Instagram is your best bet.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss a post here, sign-up for my handy dandy email list in the box below. You’ll get a message from me if you do… On to February (or actually March because I’m so late in writing this… ), frugal comrades!

How was January on your own personal homestead?

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  1. Your January sounds like my February. It seems like winter will never end! Though, in my part of the country it isn’t snow, it’s just grey and cloudy and mucky and blah. The world is screaming for spring! It sounds like a horrible couple of days you had, but you are right; you can handle it! I think living in a world of so much convenience, we often forget how resilient and capable we are. However, when we are truly tried, as long as we don’t give up, I think we all surprise ourselves. If only we remembered that as the convenience returned and were more confident in all our abilities! I do love how the second day you leaned into what you know and used your organizing to it’s top notch strength! I bet you got a lot done!

  2. Liz,
    Oh my gosh these posts always take me back to the first few years I was living in New Hampshire with Little ThreeYear, who was a baby, and Junior ThreeYear, who was just three. And I relied so heavily on the kindness of canonized saint neighbors like your adopted grandmother!

    I have to say, reading this post makes me super glad I got to skip January in New Hampshire this year. Although there is a warm and comfy feeling when you’re sitting next to your fire with snow outside, I will say that marooned feeling always got to me pretty quickly and I’d feel a flash of “trapped!” panic. Hope you guys are getting some warmer-ish February temps by now!! Sending sunshiny thoughts from NC!

  3. This is why we went back to an actual landline landline. yes its antiquated but it never goes out! Thanks for the funny story,

  4. You are one of the most capable people I know! Naturally I feel I know you after years of reading 🙂 Great job pulling through such a challenging few days. I know my blood ran cold just reading this account and you survived it beautifully! Thanks for sharing

  5. You are so resilient and productive-even in the worst of times. Double kudos to you!!!
    Mary Ann Gonsalves

  6. My husband is also a ham, and I got my technical license last year as a birthday present for him. He’s into emergency preparedness, and was very happy with the gift. Plus it only took me two months of studying. Ha.

  7. Wow what an adventure! I was literally holding my breath reading the first part of the story. I’d be so scared! I’m glad everything worked out in the end. Staying at home with two kids and having things breaking on you while the hubby is away is something I’m always scared of!

    Stay warm!

  8. It’s definitely been a snowy VT winter. I’m in a similar part of VT and looking for a new internet provider. I’ve been using Comcast/xfinity but looking to switch. Who do you use?

      1. Thanks! I heard great things about EC Fiber. I think they are slated to be on my road by next year so will definitely look into them at that point!

    1. Whoops! I totally forgot to include that part! I’ve updated the post now, but yes, it was a simple old dead battery.

    1. Whoops! I totally forgot to include that part! I’ve updated the post now, but yes, it was a simple old dead battery.

  9. I’m so sorry this happened to you but I still found your description(s) hilarious! What was wrong with the truck (I missed that) Dead/drained battery?

    1. Whoops! I totally forgot to include that part! I’ve updated the post now, but yes, it was a simple old dead battery.

  10. Remember, Liz, they aren’t wrinkles. It’s a bar code & when you die and go to heaven, that’s how they scan you in. ❤😊

  11. My husband has always traveled for work, and even though my oldest kiddo is 18, I still remember how difficult that was. Back then, no cell phones, no real internet…just the library and a good Sesame Street VHS to make the long, lonely winter days go by. I’m glad to be on the other side of those days, and though they made me a more capable, resourceful mom, they were hard! Your neighbor is a gem and your gratitude for this lovely person is heartwarming.

  12. Amen to small-town Vermont helpfulness and resilience! My parents lived in your current neck of the woods for years and experienced exactly the same thing. Country people are just…..helpful, honest, and friendly. Glad they were there for you! Bravo on your self-development too, Liz. You seem to be one of the most capable people I’ve ever heard of…..yet the demons inside are often hard to conquer, and they don’t show to the casual observer. Rest assured that you ROCKED those days alone. I would have been a blubbering mass of not-very-good mothering, given all those things.

    Assuming the truck is up and running? Dead battery?

  13. We have livestock on our homestead and I’m the tech guru. So while my husband rarely travels, when he does the internet is good but cars and elderly animals ALWAYS choose this moment to give up the ghost. Just got to keep on keeping on:)

  14. Maybe I’m just a delicate Pacific Northwesterner, but we too have had an unusually cold winter. Snow that stuck around for weeks, lots of frosty cold nights and days. We ran low on what we thought was PLENTY of firewood. Currently we are scrounging around for pieces that fit our woodstove. We have more wood chopped, but it won’t be seasoned until next year. I do have an oil furnace, and it is fine as a backup, but filling that tank to the tune of 600.00 is something I don’t enjoy. The oil company will no longer break up the bill into 3 or even 2 payments and that is a lot of money for our household to dedicate to one bill.
    This is nothing like your winter, but we are going to have to seriously recalculate the amount of wood we use per season. Something we thought we had figured out. Food hasn’t been an issue (we are serious food preppers in this household) but this winter has really made us realize that we need to do some more thinking and planning on the food department as well. More variety is what I’m going to plan for next season. Anyhoo, glad you’re surviving and still have your sense of humor. I do love your style of writing. Your posts are a pleasure to read!

  15. Sounds like you had a visit from the Murphy’s Law of Military Spouses Fairy – If Murphy’s Law is gonna strike, it will do so when the military member is out of town (deployed, etc.), leaving the spouse to deal with it solo. Fortunately, you had a nice warm house (thanks to Mr. FW’s “woodworking”) and electricity! Still, wrangling two young children solo would strike fear in most hearts. Well done surviving the trials!

  16. My panels produced 86.2 KWH in January, same thing, they were covered in snow part of the month. I just installed them in November, so I can’t wait to see what they do when we have a month without snow! How frustrating with both the internet and the truck giving you issues on the same day – scary to be stranded with two little ones, I’m sure you are very grateful for your lovely neighbor.

  17. This type of weather is why we retired to south florida. Ohio weather was bad enough for us. I admire your courage. Your youth allows for the energy you have in really harsh weather, we are older and cannot deal with that again. We enjoy being able to get out yeararound. Again, I admire you and love reading your posts.

  18. Love seeing your posts. You are resilient and love how you write! I miss the snow as I’ve been in Florida now 35 years after being in Connecticut almost 30, and soon to hopefully live half each year in each place. I’m at the point where the summers here are so hot I think I’d trade them for your winters if I had to choose one place all year round, but hubby is not on board and my kids are here in the south. Love the beautiful pictures of the snow as well.

  19. Way to hang in there and realize that all these experiences contribute to growth. And was this a summary of February? You said January but I think it’s February 28 today, or at least I hope so because that means we’re a month closer to spring!

    1. This is actually a summary of January! I do my This Month On the Homestead posts as a reflection of the previous month and I’m just really late getting the January one out 🙂

  20. Ah ha ha this brought back memories.

    Years ago, when kid #1 was 5, my husband had TWO back to back business trips to DC. Where he was going to arrive back home on Friday night and leave again Sunday morning. Crazy, right? So he booked one trip for 1.5 weeks, and we used miles to fly kid and I out for a four day weekend. Great right? Sure. We had met and married in DC, still had friends there. Bought a cheap carseat to use.

    Then I come home. And, my cell phone (this was 8 years ago, I’d barely just gotten one, and it was not even a flip phone yet) was almost dead after a 10 hour travel day. Use my key fob to unlock the car door at the airport and? nothing. Huh. Use the key and try to start the car? Nothing. Turns out the very last thing Kid #1 had done before getting out of the car was turn on the dome light. Now, I barely have any juice in my phone, so I call my spouse and he calls the USAA guy to give me a jump. So we wait an hour in the parking lot, get a jump, drive 45 minutes to recharge the battery (it’s a 10 min trip home), and get home. I have to admit I was *this close* to saying fuck it and taking my husband’s car, also parked in the long term lot, and leaving him the dead one.

    I have many similar stories…of sick kids while he’s traveling, or blowing out my hamstring before his trip – so that I had to coordinate 2 different friends to take my 2 kids to their 2 schools. Plus a third friend who kindly brought home my veggie box AND pushed me in the wheelchair on Halloween.

    Our house is also a cell phone dead zone, which is the only reason we have a land line…

  21. We have kept our copper landline (which is buried) just because of the power-out-cellphone-can’t charge and then the internet-out-phone-out situation you describe here. We have a corded phone stashed in the closet so we’d be able to reach help or family even if power and internet are down.

  22. This sentence: “Every bad or frustrating event forces me to pause, kneel down, and throw away a few more of my limiting beliefs.” I may need to needlepoint it on a pillow. You are witty, wise and a great writer.

  23. My husband is also a HAM and has been asking (bugging, nagging) me to get a license for years just in case cell/landlines are not available. I told him loss of all service would probably never happen but after your story, I see that he is correct. Better start studying!

  24. Reading this gave me a flashback to spending nearly a week without power (or heat, or water) in the dead of winter in that same general area (albeit over the border in NH). We were on vacation though darn it, and we were just sure the power would be back on any minute lol. I think it took 6 days. I’m sure it was far more traumatic for the adults than for the kids. You handled your flurry of issues (pun intended!) really well in my opinion!

    A couple of years ago I took my mom and my kids up to Santa’s Village and I had zero cell phone service the entire time we were up there. My mom had a different carrier and had good service though, so maybe another carrier would work in your area? I had tmobile and she had verizon.

  25. Oh do not feel like that downed tree, spring back up and enjoy what you have, two wonderful healthy children, a loving husband, an adventuresome life, a talent for writing …. I know it is momentary but that touched a nerve with me!! (I also felt it many years ago) we here on Vancouver Island, have had the coldest February in recorded history (minus 8, sounds warm doesn’t it?) so its been an adventure here too, heating bill will be out the roof. The warmth of spring will be so welcome. best wishes, Ann S
    ps I still miss the dog. do you think of getting another?

  26. Wow, this sounds like my worst nightmare come true…and I don’t even live in the country, so I can’t even imagine! It probably makes you think of how people in the good ol’ days lived all the time, and how much we take for granted. And then when it’s all back up and running, you count your blessings again that you live now instead of 200 years ago 🙂

    Our January also involved a stressful car scenario, as we were by the side of the highway (not on the shoulder, as that was covered in snow, but just pulled over as far as we could in the right lane) to try and get our one car to start, using our other car…which had both of our children in it. And cars couldn’t see us until the last second sometimes because it was night and only one of the cars hazards were on (since the other car’s battery was dead)…it was beyond awful.

    Fist bumps all around that we’ve all survived another January!

  27. Can I say this was hilarious? Maybe I can say it now since it’s over, but def. not at the time this was happening :(. Well, I have to share this with my friend who recently went through a divorce. Just like Mr. FW does everything, her ex-hubby did too and I was envious, but not anymore… Turns out that because her husband did everything for her she stopped developing, growing, and learning as a person, this according to her therapist. So I ‘help’ her by asking her to ‘help’ me with the stuff I usually pawn off my hubby 🙂 – he’ll do things but it just takes several reminders. We laugh about it now, but it’s crazy how soon we can forget how STRONG and RESILIENT we really are…

  28. Love call the midwife. How far are you? I’m waiting for the new season on Netflix. I finally caught up! Watching tv is hard with children and shift work.

  29. I travel for work and my husband watches our two kids. I once mistakenly referred to it as a vacation because it is the easier of the two jobs. I get to sleep in an extra hour because I only have to get my self ready. I get to watch non-kids television and read books, new books, without pictures , and not children’s books for the 500th time..

      1. Ok very cool. I am in the process of upgrading to my General. I am halfway through your book, which I find very inspiring. Love this site as well. Keep up the great work! God Bless you and your family.

      2. Ok cool. I am upgrading soon to my General. I am halfway through your book, and find it very inspiring. I love you blog here as well. Keep of the great work! God Bless you and your family.

  30. I frequently experience the not-so-hilarious confluence of unlikely events when my husband goes out of town. It’s a law of the universe I think. Still, I’ve never had anything quite so special as your no internet/no truck/PROBLEM day. I did get food poisoning during my husband’s first business trip after our first baby was born. Thank goodness for my friend who worked night shift and was able to come over because I couldn’t even carry the baby. Fun times! I guess you’ll laugh about it…eventually….in 2029.

  31. We’ve had the opposite problem to snow here in Sydney. Oppressive, never ending heat. Some nights it never got below 30 degrees C. Bring on winter!

  32. What a time that was! I know you are glad to be writing about it, not re-living it. I’ve had a few instances in my life in which everything conspired against me, and they were always hilarious — several weeks later.
    We are experiencing unusually warm weather much of this winter, and right now we are having a summer-style thunderstorm. The difference between Florida and Vermont is amazing.
    I’m glad you made it through. Let us know if you decide on the pigeons. Hey, of all else fails, they’d be food in an emergency…..

  33. I read your account of January with a kindred spirit. We moved to Vermont in September, from Texas, to a large house (there are 7 of us) and winter came early this year. The early snow caught us unprepared for what was to come, and we weren’t all THAT ready to begin with, having moved from Dallas, TX. We also heat with wood, we bought a snow plow for my son’s truck, we have people who are technically savvy with alternative technology, and we did get our extra workshop/barn/building put in, even in the midst of the early snow. But it has been a “series of unfortunate events” almost weekly, and, even though there are four adults and three generations living here, these events have been daunting. At this point, we just say we have been in a steep learning curve. Nevertheless, our neighbors are also saints. We might not have survived without them. Let me add my praise to yours, and let’s hear it for saintly, helpful, knowledgeable rural Vermont neighbors. Early on, one of them drove up our snow-covered road and asked me point blank: “What do you do when this kind of thing happens?” I had all kinds of weak answers, but his response was: “No. You call your neighbors.”

  34. Your posts, replete with beautiful pictures and imagery, often make me reconsider city life, however, this post did not prompt my usual idyllic imaginings of bucolic splendor. You’ve illustrated the challenging reality of country living a little too honestly. Hmm…. On a happier note, your saintly neighbor is most definitely a godsend! Lucky you!

  35. Whew! Crazy week. To somewhat quote George of the Jungle..”Nobody died, they just got really big boo boos.” One of the huge blessings is the truck died at the library, not at the house. This scared me, we like to think through worst-case-scenarios, and we’ve found, sometimes you can’t. So glad for wonder neighbors and wonder husbands and all is good again.

  36. I’ve been considering getting rid of the landline, but now I think not. Thanks for the insights and a truly hilarious write up of what you went through. I read your posts out loud to my hubby so he can enjoy them as well.

  37. Sounds like the Vermont you write about was bypassed by the Walmart apocalypse on Mom and Pop America. I’m considering moving there from neighboring New York for just this reason.

  38. It sounds like a great idea, living remotely and not having to put up with the rat race that we all seem to be caught up in. However, I wonder if when your in your 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, how are you going to maintain 66 acres of land? cutting firewood, shoveling snow, and doing most things by yourselves? I assume at some point, your going to have to move back to a society that you will have to rely on. If your children at that point move and cannot take care of you, how will you and your husband manage? What are you plans going to be? Its going to happen. Just at matter of time. Just wondering.

    1. It’s a good question! Our plan is to live here until it’s no longer viable for us. At that point, we’ll sell our homestead and move to a smaller home, possibly in a less rural area (maybe a condo in the city!). Since we are not reliant on our homestead for our income, we could move at any time and be fine from a financial perspective. We have diversified income (including a rental property, a W2 job, and multiple freelance revenue streams) and we are financially independent. We choose to live this rural lifestyle–because we enjoy it– for this portion of our lives. Will we live here when we’re 80? I don’t know, but we will have the financial ability to live wherever we’d like to (within reason, of course).

      1. This reminds me of something Dave Ramsey often tells callers on his show, which is that most people never find their “forever” home. As needs change, children leave home, we grow older, etc., it’s perfectly natural to downsize or go off on another adventure living somewhere else, whether it’s in a condo in the middle of a city, a retirement community in Florida or a smaller home near your children/grandchildren, being financially secure gives you the option to live where you please (within reason)!

  39. I sympathize with your plight. Although as a single mom my husband was “out of town” every day, and sometimes I wish married women wouldn’t act as though the sky was falling when they have to “parent” by themselves.
    Also, remember one can survive without internet for a day!

    1. This post was a good reminder of how important it is to have a good support system, whether one is married or single, with or without kids. In my opinion, no one should have to do it all on their own, and if we’re completely honest I doubt many of us do. (For the few who do, I doubt if it’s by choice, and I feel sorry for them because I’m sure they feel lonely and overwhelmed!) Most of the people I know rely on others for help to some degree, whether it’s help with childcare, housework, auto maintenance, home repairs, lawncare, etc.

  40. I’m not gonna lie… this sounds horrifying. (All the snow and cold, I mean.) Wouldn’t you know everything goes out when you’re one parent down! But you definitely got through it, which is impressive.

  41. The winters are tough! Luckily I moved from Minneapolis to Florida bout 10 years ago. Haven’t had to deal with these struggles for awhile but this is a good reminder of the harshness of winter 🙂

  42. I agree about moving homes to fit the life changes that happen. It was hard to leave the 119 year old farmhouse my husband spent 30 years lovingly working on. The house had become too much for us to physically handle. We moved 170 miles away into a very large modern log cabin. Because the house is so new there are no “fix and repair daily ” events. The cost of living is less here and we are only 15 miles from my parents who are in their 80’s. I’m sure we will be moving a couple of more times as our bodies change. Home is where your heart is!

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