One Week In
Personal entry follows.
I haven't had a cuppa coffee in an entire week. Considering I'm a guy who would drink an average of 2.5 pots of coffee each day, this is a significant change. That said, this is but one of the many things about my life that are undergoing nothing short of tectonic shifts at this point in time.
I could discuss the 2,000 mile drive, spread out over 6 days or so. But just imagine a long highway, punctuated with few hills, some snow (in the middle of frickin' May, for cryin' out loud) and sleet, one short stay at a no-tell motel - only long enough to log into the wifi and book another hotel across town, and lots of wind buffeting the Car like a one-prop plane in a thunderstorm.
One thing I will share in specific: Motel 6's are pretty much the same all across the nation. When in doubt, look for one of those and you know exactly what you'll have at the end of the night. Not spectacular, but consistent.
My typical daily routine is that of an eco-tourist, and it will be for maybe three more weeks. In general, it seems like I'll be a good fit for the team when I become a full-fledged work intern, which is what I had hoped for. Of course one week isn't a flawless barometer of my fitness for this group and this lifestyle, but I have good feelings about nearly everything.
I wake up round 6am. I wash up (I will discuss this in more detail in a bit) have some food, usually hit the outhouse to go to the bathroom, rinse up again, and take care of a few more morning tasks. The morning meeting is at 8am, where it's discussed what the day's projects will be. It's no itemized, written list of tasks like life was when I stayed in Vermont for a similar situation years ago, but since everyone's treated like adults and nearly everyone is 100% responsible, work is actually done, and it's not just pissing up a rope or mindlessly laboring.
I arrived Saturday, met nearly everyone that evening, settled in on Sunday, then first day of work was Monday. Right now, I spend the first half of the day with the interns, and the second half on my own thing. There are still a few issues I need to work out - primary among these being storage space for my belongings - but I've also needed to supply most of my own food and checked-out a PO box at the nearby town's post office.
The pace had been so different from what I was used to, I ended up taking naps nearly immediately after I'd eaten lunch for the first three days. As my endurance improved and my body began to acclimate to the unfamiliar climate, I started my evening walks from one end of the property (the lower end) to the other (along a hiking trail to a higher elevation).
Another thing I'd been doing throughout the day is taking a shit. This is a more detailed process than in most places. So if you've never heard of a "composting toilet," then let me describe this version for you. First off, you pee somewhere else. They suggest you find a tree or bush or even a garden bed area, devoid of plants. Once that's sorted, you shit in what looks to be a typical outhouse, drop some sawdust on your deposit, then go away.
This thing does NOT smell bad at all! The simple technology is still pretty impressive to me. Of course, keeping pee out of the poo is a major step in the right direction, and I'm still practicing that.
I've also been putting effort into documenting my homesteading skills. I won't go into too much detail about those, however the main goal behind this is to indicate to others that I've built up familiarity and skills in certain areas of homesteading. When I want to move somewhere else, likely a homesteading community of some sort, I can point at my inventory of documented skills, and say, "Hello. Contrary to all popular opinion and appearances, I'm not a complete idiot. Have a look at this list of all the things I can do while staying at your place. May I move in with you all?" If they need something built, something cooked, something sewed, etc. I can likely be of use and this is a first indicator of that to someone who doesn't know me and needs an independent assay of my worth/fitness/productivity/etc.
And there's the Kitty Factor. Oh! So many cats live here. They're all becoming accustomed to me, and it's a treat. I'll be gardening, digging holes and whatnot, and here comes a little grey striped furball that just needs some attention Right Now. So I'm happy to oblige, then hop back into my own tasks, re-energized.
So, after one week in, I'm not dead yet. I think I like it here. I think I still have a lot more adjustment to do before I'm a full intern. Finally, I'm glad I took this leap. It all seems well worth my time and energy.