I should explain. I had my first hot shower in my own home, in my own bathroom, in months. My furnace stopped heating water back in March and I don't have a bathtub yet, so it remained fallow for half a year.
Please don't think I was neglecting my hygiene. I had plenty of solar showers in the woods after long runs, showered at friends' places, and swims in the river. I know people with hot tubs and have the agency to just hunker down for a good sponge bath — I was mighty clean — but it's not the same as enjoying a hot shower up in your own home.
I gotta say, it was orgasmic.
So why did I go so long without it? The reason is the same reason I wrote, deleted, and rewrote this post four times already today; because I have learned that being honest about money online receives punishment. If I talk about not having hot water or a flushing toilet for months people will think I am using hardship for donations. And the people that would help me without question, sadly their kindness pales in emotional comparison to the emails and comments I would get from people who hate me. Why accept a pat on the head when there are people out there ready to kick you as hard as they can in the stomach at the same time?
So I didn't write about it.
This summer was a rough one. Bad things happened. If I wrote about those issues people would want to reach out and help me, which is very kind but I honestly would not have used their help to get hot water again. I would have used it to just pay the mortgage so the bank stopped sending that creep who takes pictures of my house every month from the road to prove it is "occupied". I would have used it to stop the people from the Electric Company from literally driving up to my house and banging down the door to turn off the power unless I wrote a check right then and there. I would have used it to stop the bank from repossessing my only vehicle that was so broken down it was unsafe and illegal to drive anyway...
I wouldn't have used a single penny to fix luxuries like hot water and flushing. What's the point of hot water and a bathroom if the bank takes the house it's in?
I don't want to be that girl. I know in the past I have been that girl. But now it goes against my faith. It goes against everything I have learned in the past ten years. It goes against everything homesteading and farming has taught me.
So I figured it out.
This summer I designed my ass off. If you follow me on Facebook, you know this. I was ruthless in marketing logos and design work. I bet some of you got sick of the constant sales and promotions but know that Facebook was my Farmer's Market. It was a way to reach people and not only make some money but honestly help others make their own farms and brands better. Facebook let me reach thousands in moments and those efforts saved this farm.
Thanks to logos I was able to make a mortgage payment every 4-6 weeks (still behind 2 months as of today, but as a solid payment maker I think the farm is okay). I found a reliable replacement truck that actually runs and got it financed through Kiva. Guys, I have the title in hand! I did this because I had no way to travel off farm without it and knew if the bank repoed the broken-down Dodge I still had wheels. I got my root canal, finally. I have three cords of seasoned firewood outside and three more on the way, plus a woodshed being built to hold more! (A barter with a local guy who wants logos for a sawmill/horse business). I paid off the last of my credit cards! I got more time from the Government on my student loans. I paid off all of last year's hay and have zero hay debt going into this winter.
This is all the silent, uphill, crawling you don't read about but is happening in this little house on the mountain. If you think my life is playing with animals, listening to music, and riding a pony you have no idea...
And you know what? I was okay. All this time I was showering in the woods and using an outhouse the lights never got turned off and no animal ever went a single missed feeding. I raised a puppy. I got Gibson's split paw healed. I earned my black belt. I got my runs up to 8 miles an outing. I lost 20 pounds! I trained a new hawk. I got my tooth fixed without health insurance. I got the plumbing fixed and the hot water flowing from the taps again and most importantly - I stopped apologizing to strangers for living a life that makes them uncomfortable. If you don't like me, don't respect me, or don't want me in your life - go away. Stop bothering me. I have shit to do.
And I am so sick of Agents of Caution. Spend your energy elsewhere.
Guys, I got through it. I got through it and that hot shower tonight was a baptism. Just a few weeks ago that shower was flooded with backed up septic waste but tonight on a new shower mat and a bleached basin it was holy. It was healed. It had seen the worst I could do to it and was made whole again. Joseph Campbell just came. THAT'S a hero's Journey!
My bank account tonight is negative and I can't even drive to the local gas station to get some diesel for the furnace, but I am still proud. I am still here. I have remained self-employed, kept this farm, paid my taxes, lived the life of my dreams, and improved my health and home while barely scraping by for FIVE YEARS. As far as I'm concerned Cold Antler Farm is the closest thing we have these days to the American Dream. A place where you get to punch self doubt every day in the face in the name of actual liberty. That's the kind of truth worth going a while without hot water for. That's the kind of fuel that keeps me running on vapors and gritted teeth.
So, I am okay. I'm broke but I'm rich. I'm single but I'm loved. I'm scared but I'm excited. I'm feral but I'm trained. I'm living life in a way that lets me wake up each morning howling. If I forget that there's a dark horse and a smart dog that will remind me. I'm a luckless slinger and a hard charger.
And yes, I know I'm always in hot water. I like it that way.
I fucking love it.