It has been a while since I have had the courage to “put pen to paper” so to speak and write a new blog post. I really want my blogs to be a light hearted view of this crazy adventure I have taken my family on, and honestly the last couple months have been rough…real rough. I mean, after all, how do I call myself the Humorous Homesteader and then write a blog that will drive a person to drink? So, with the sun shining and the snow melting, I can feel the laughter in my heart once again and feel the need to share (hopefully in an enjoyable way) some of the observations from our first winter here on the homestead.
Due to the fact that I either consciously or subconsciously blocked out the first snow as it was the realization that I had failed my goal of having a house before winter. I don’t remember the exact date that the world here at Lucky Spot Ranch (oh yes, we have a name now…I love ironic names) turned white, but I was told that we have had snow on the ground since before Thanksgiving and it seems about right so I am going to go with that as fact.
I love the snow, it brings peace to my soul. There are rarely images more beautiful than a snow covered landscape so it didn’t wreck me to see the snow on the ground, but I was sad that we hadn’t met our goal. Needless to say, we were unprepared for winter. The 5th wheel was not skirted or drained or prepared in any way. But, winter came anyway, and boy she came with a fury I have not seen since I was a child in Wyoming.
I went into winter with the same enthusiasm that I have toward every single stupid thing I have ever done. I was excited to haul water to the horses and trek through the freshly fallen snow. I love the look of my big spotty horse with his chestnut neck and white bottom against the snow covered backdrop. I LOVED it! I knew that like every winter before, the snow would come and the snow would go. We rarely get to have a blanket of snow for long, so I was ok with the yen and yang of winter in Eastern Washington.
Then something happened, something tragic and unexpected, something that brought me to the depths of terror and despair. It got cold! And I mean cold! So cold in fact that we had to break waters multiple times a day, make sure the horses had salt to ensure they would drink before it froze over again. So cold that all I wanted to do was cry but so was afraid my tears would freeze my eyes shut!
The outside part was bad when it got cold, but the inside is where my mental state took the biggest hit. Do you know what happens when it is below zero for long periods of time while living in a glorified tent made specifically for summer recreation?? Do you? Well, I do! Shit freezes…and I mean solid! Ice begins to grow on the walls and windows, the closets grew a half inch of ice on the floor. You can no longer use the toilet or the water because there is no way to keep it from freezing! The floor is so cold that you don’t dare put a bare foot on it as it might just freeze in place! Thank goodness for the heating system, at least it kept us from freezing. Oh wait, there is another thing…about that heating system. Do you know what produces that heat? Propane. Do you know what happens to propane when it gets that cold? It effing freezes! And I mean blow frigid cold air into a glorified tent will no actual insulation to protect itself from the elements out side, freezing!! Frozen propane, frozen walls, frozen tears, frozen floors, frozen waters, frozen chickens, frozen horses…what else could freeze?
I will probably never forget the first night I had to get up in the middle of the night to use the POC (Port O Crapper). I am a warm sleeper so a tank top and shorts is enough to keep me toasty even with a bed frozen to the wall. I climbed out of my nice warm bed, threw on some boots and a jacket and ventured out onto the frozen tundra. It is important to note that I did not want old POC near the camper because I did not want the smell to somehow permeate the paper thin camper walls so I put it about 30 feet from our home. Did you know that 30 feet might as well be 30 miles when it is below zero with a wind chill and spitting snow in your face? Yes, bare legs being pelted with little bits of frozen water trudging through 4 feet of snow to climb into a plastic box who’s vents had allowed for a considerable amount of snow to accumulate on the lid and around the seat. It was dark so I didn’t really know what I was in for while quickly plopping my darierre down to empty a bladder that was ready to explode. As soon as my cheeks make contact with the frozen plastic I felt an instant sense of pain! Oh my hell! Freeze brand, my butt had been branded by that seat! I instantly felt bad for all those baby calves getting their freeze brands as I was fully confident that I now had a toilet shaped brand on my ass! It felt like an eternity, but was able to make it back to the camper and into my frozen bed while the burning on my butt cheeks continued until long after I fell asleep!
For me, this was the beginning of the end. The cold began to take a toll on my emotional well being. The sheer act of peeling my frozen clothes from the wall of my closet every morning took a piece of my soul. Trudging hay and water though a sea of snow became a chore that made me question my loyalty to these huge freeloading soul suckers. My car was no longer able to climb the steep ascent to my drive so it was a choice of leave it at the barn or have Todd hook me up and tow me home every night. That was not his favorite thing to do while it was well below zero. The little thing became big things and I had the mental stability of a rabid dog. It was a crap shoot…was mom going to lose her shit and start screaming profanities at everyone around her or lay down in a puddle and sob uncontrollably? Honestly, some days it was minute by minute.
So, there we were…a steep, icy drive that was nearly impossible even for 4 wheel drive, blowing wind in already sub zero temperatures, frozen…well everything…it was all frozen…solid…a block of ice! By now it had been a few weeks since the “Pooper Guy” had been able to get up our drive to clean out the POC. Because of my severely diminished mental capacity, I began to make the strangest observations. Like, for instance, frozen poo doesn’t stink! You would think that a plastic box full of human waste that had not been attended to for weeks would begin to smell so foul that entrance into said box would bring even the toughest dude to the brink of vomiting. Nope, no smell at all. Which was good because if Mount Shit, as we less than affectionately referred to the growing pile of feces, were to stink as bad as it looked then life as I knew it would be over! We couldn’t use the camper toilet for risk of breaking the probably already frozen black water tank (refer to our not poperly preparing for winter at the beginning of this blog…I wasn’t kidding…there is still shit in there…literally), so what would we do if we in fact filled the POC to capacity or over flowing?
My husband is a problem solver…and generally a pretty good one. Mount Shit had climbed its way to nearly level with the toilet seat and that was just a disgusting event waiting to happen. Mr Problem Solver went right to work to bring down Mount Shit and save the day! He grabbed a stick and headed into the plastic box with a sense of purpose. I heard some grunting and groaning and a couple loud bangs…not uncommon sounds when Mr Marcotte locks himself in that box, but today was different. Today, he was solving a problem not adding to it. As confident as he usually is, he emerged from the POC, stick in hand and smiled. “I have taken down Mount Shit”. Well, he didn’t actually take it down, more like moved it over to make room for a new mountain.
I have shared more than I really should on the subject of our toilet troubles, so let’s just say that Mount Shit had to be brought down 3 more times in the course of the 5 weeks that the Pooper Guy was unable to come and service the POC. Did you know that they can’t even suck it out if it is frozen? Frozen poo don’t stink, but is also doesn’t go anywhere!!
It was below freezing nearly daily from the end of December to the middle of January. We are finally experiencing a bit of a warm up and that has been a very welcomed thing. Not only are the walls, propane, horse waters, and floors no longer frozen, but Mount Shit had finally began to melt! I wasn’t sure what was more of an inconvenience, a frozen mountain of excrement or a stinky pond of it. Then it happened, yesterday I heard a sound that I had long forgotten…the sound of the stinky truck! The Pooper Guy had come to save the day!! The warm weather had done its job and suddenly my hero was a strange man who doesn’t mind the overpowering stench of a truck load of poo! It took him a good 20 minutes to suck up Poo Pond, but he did it! In that time 5 weeks of waste from 4 adult size people was gone! Just in the nik of time. It was a plastic box with pretty blue water and for the life of me, I don’t know that I have ever truly been more excited about something so gross in all my life!
You see, the Pooper Guy didn’t just take away the grossness of this adventure we are on, but he gave me a sense that it is all going to be ok. I couldn’t quite see beyond Mount Shit. Mount Shit became a metaphor for my life these days. Shit just kept piling up with no relief. No refuge from the people and events that seem to want to mess with my mental stability. You could move it around and make room for more shit, but eventually it would be full and there would be no more room! That is where I was…no more room. Sadly, the Pooper Guy didn’t come in and suck away all the other problems we are having here at the Lucky Spot Ranch, but in some small way not having to worry about Mount Shit has given me a sense of optimism that I will make it out the other side of this stupid, stupid adventure and maybe even be better off for it.
This seems to sum it all up…