Well, some of life’s basic necessities I suppose – like water.
No such thing as town water out here we’re completely dependent on the elements, so Doc’s installed a couple of rainwater tanks. The 2000 litres is usually plenty for the two of us, but add a couple more people and extend the stay over a few weeks rather than a weekend and the water supply starts to run low. Especially in summer when it might not rain and replenish the tanks between visits – and when people are hot and sweaty and want a shower.
Even though we are on rainwater only, with no mainswater pressure, we can have a shower. Doc has hooked up a hot water shower which runs off a combination of gas and solar power. A hot shower on a cold winter day is beautiful, but it does use a lot of water. In winter that’s ok as there’s always plenty of rain and dew/frost off the roof to replenish the tanks between visits, but in summer, when rain is scarcer, I stick to ‘bucket and ladle’ showers.
He’s also put a couple of solar panels on the roof for lighting and to run the inverter to recharge my laptop, camera and our mobile phones. The inverter is new because until I started coming out here nobody brought a laptop or camera out with them, and they either let their mobile phones go dead for recharged them with in-car chargers. But for blogging and up and downloading photos I need the laptop. We bloggers are never really on holidays, in fact holidays just give me more to write about.
In summer the solar panels get plenty of sunlight, which means plenty of power. I could run the inverter all day and still have enough in the battery to run the lights at night. But in winter, when the sunlight is much weaker or when there’s cloud cover, electrical equipment can’t be used as much and lights are restricted to no more than 2 on at once. And no mobile phone or laptop means no outside communication.
As with most things, that’s both a blessing and a curse. No communication means you really do have to just forget about everything else and relax, but if something goes wrong then you’re stuck. And we are an hours drive from the nearest doctor. While we’ve been lucky in not having any disasters, we have come close a few times – Doc’s snake incident a couple of weeks ago for one. And, for me, there’s always the worry of my children. I might go days without speaking with them at home and they get along just fine, but I think that as soon as they can’t contact me they will need me for something. Mother guilt is a funny thing!
When it comes to cooking I’m spoilt for choice. I say “I” because out here we have a stereotypically gendered division labour. I cook and Doc does the outside work. Right now I’ve got bread rising in a warm place while Doc hammers boards together for the frame of the new shed.
My biggest decision will be where to cook the bread. There’s a gas stove & oven that Doc installed in the kitchen, also a wood stove/oven in the kitchen, a gas barbecue outside, and a barbecue hotplate that fits straight over the open fire outside. Come to think of it – I don’t do all the cooking. As further evidence of our gendered division of labour, if cooking is done outside on the barbecue Doc does it. After all, if it’s done outside it’s not ‘cooking’, it’s ‘barbecuing’ and blokes can do that!
We even have a washing machine out here. And before anybody starts questioning my feminist credentials – this is where the gendered division of labour breaks down. Not only did Doc use his bloke skills to make the washing machine out of a bucket and a peach tin, he uses his sensitive, new age, bloke skills to do all the washing!
And now he’s installing a flush toilet. Life really is good – and environmentally sustainable!