For various reasons, we’re retooling the homestead this autumn. We’re unveiling “Homestead 2.0.”
For the first autumn in 2 or 3 years, I’m not hunting moose. I mixed up the application date, and lost the chance to hunt this season. That has worked out well, as we traveled during the first weeks of the hunt. Being freed of the need to take full advantage of the narrow window, I’m looking forward to spending time on all the tasks that nagged at me while in the field in previous years.
The most radical change to the life we’ve enjoyed these past 5 years (and the 13 years previous to it) is, of course, Aly’s departure for college. Our entire pattern of living will now be altered in ways we have not anticipated. It will change the division of labor, how we prepare and eat meals, how we use electricity, and especially the exchange of ideas and conversation. The very rhythm of our life will be altered.
The drive through Canada on the way home from taking Aly to college provided a good transitional period. Not only did we see new places, and enjoy time as a couple, we started listening to the audio book version of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. We’ve read it before, but hearing it again has helped us refocus our diet a bit. Not so much what we eat, but how much. Having the example of a healthy, growing teenager intent on getting the fuel she needs for her activities before them has not been optimal for her middle-aged parents. Now, even as we need to scale our meals to 2 people, we’ll be working on reducing our portion size—not a huge change, as we’ve done well, but still a downward adjustment. We’ll also expand the menu a bit, allowing main dishes of mushrooms and other foragables that Aly hasn’t cared for. In addition, we’ve resolved to try new recipes. I plan to become a better cook. I’ve always cooked some, but I’ve deferred the sous chef position to Aly, so that she can learn from her mother before moving on. Now, I intend to take that role, and branch out from there.
A new frugality seems to be our theme. Our Netflix subscription (or Quixter, as I guess it will now be called) has been on hold through the summer. When it returns on October 1st, we will have a new, far less expensive arrangement that brings fewer movies into the home. We anticipate considerable savings as Aly provides more of her own daily needs while away at college. Two people consume less resources, such as firewood, than three.
Most radically, Michelle is considering further work outside the homestead. I still hold out hope she’ll find a way to make an income here, rather than hiking out to go to town, but that remains to be seen.
Coincident with these changes, our electricity management enters a new phase. I have finally made two significant changes to our system, adding a monitor that gives us a far better sense of production and usage, and the first of what will be many DC outlets. This last has been something I’ve always meant to get to. I’ll write more about it in the future, as it’s been an excellent, long overdue step. The longer term cabin remodel we anticipate will surely include better use of DC power rather than the inverter.
I will not deny that our life will be diminished without Aly’s presence. How could it not be? But, I intend to focus on the positive changes. I refuse to use the term “second honeymoon;” I find that I despise the “empty nest” references, although the short hand phrase does come in handy. This is the “Someday” we’ve moved toward, and as I said before, we now get to see what happens next. As with any retooling, we’ll miss many of the features of the original Homestead, but we will soon adjust to Homestead 2.0. Before long, it’ll become the norm rather than the exception.