Howl If You Have To
And that was why the voice on the line seemed worried. He told me he had a truck going up my mountain road to deliver oil to a neighbor and did I need oil, because the last hundred gallons I ordered was in June. The last order before that, October 2011. In the past year I had gone from a hundred gallons a month to less than 200. I told him to deliver the oil because I was down to a quarter tank and I needed it for my hot water boiler. He asked if I got a woodstove. I told him I had and it was working like gangbusters.
When I got off the phone with that man the first thing I felt was this smug pride, like I was cheating the Foreign Oil System by reverting to wood heat. But then I started to reconsider my hubris. While I d think wood heat is a more sustainable solution, it's not the greenwashing that sold me of wood. It was that return to a system I could manage. I own trees, an axe, a horse and a harness. I can go out onto my land and fell a tree, drag it in sections to my chopping area with Merlin, and season it to put into my stoves to heat my home. It's all here. It's comforting as hell and it's something else even better than that:
I love, and I can't emphasize this enough, I love that homesteading has brought me back into more primal living. I love knowing if I'm not out there with an axe and a pile of wood I will not be warm. There isn't enough oil to keep this house at stove temperatures. Warmth means work, basic, hard work. It means splitting and making kindling and getting up in the black of the morning and making a fire. I love that when the fire is lit I can go out and feed livestock that feeds me. I love that even in a hurricane there was a pile of warm eggs in the highest hay bale in the barn. There's no wizard behind the curtain here, no switches or buttons. Instead of working for someone else for money so I can then go buy heat and food—I have found a way to barter and grow most of it. I am a long way from being 100% off the grid and out of debt but I am aiming for that, and working towards that, and like a fat girl in the gym sometimes just putting on the spandex is half the battle. It's the intention that gets you to the effort.
I'm a hunter now. I heat with wood. I can ride a horse to town. I own a horse cart. I have a bow and broadhead arrows. I have a stack of wood. I have stoves. I have a little bit of land on a mountain the bank hasn't kicked me off of yet. It's a start. And if it means bunching up the muscles in my collar bone and howling to keep it, I will. I like living a primal life here. I like knowing the lamb and the mutton blood. I like stalking, and singing, and chopping firewood and grabbing reins. I am where I belong and in this short gift of life I have learned some dance steps.
Watch out for the girl you'll meet in June. She's already got her hackles up.