Settling into Barn Living
For now, our farm life includes an outdoor shower and barn kitchen. Our focus over the winter had been entirely on rebuilding the barn, and making sure the animals would be comfortable when they moved. This meant putting some of the usual luxuries of houses on hold.
Our farmhouse is an 1825 cape with a small addition, which like the rest of the farm was virtually abandoned for the past twenty years. The front two rooms are in decent shape, while the back of the home is falling apart. This will be our next major project, but it is unlikely we'll start on it until later in the summer.
Meanwhile, we needed a place to stay. One of the front rooms we gave a quick coat of paint and both rooms were cleaned as much as possible. We've been able to get some electricity in the house to run a bedside light and television, and in the first front room we put a sofa, our bed, and a coffee table. It's a cozy place to relax at the end of the day, and surprisingly comfortable.
In the barn we've stowed away most of our worldly possessions, with the exception of some necessities we've got in the other front room of the house. Along one side of the barn is our kitchen. We had some large, rough-made tables that had been put together for a previous business venture of my partner's which we set up as counter space. A piece of plywood across the base of one of the tables provided me with all of the storage space I needed for cans, pots, and cooking utensils. To save space I limited myself to three cast iron skillets and was able to hang them, and lined all my spices up along a barn beam.
To simplify, we're using a pair of hot plates for cooking, as well as utilizing my slow cooker much more often. There is no oven, but the hot plates work perfectly as stovetops and my cooking has hardly been altered by the changes. Keeping a barn kitchen clean might concern some readers, but I can assure you it's easier and quicker to give the place a scrub every evening, versus cleaning an entire house once a week.
As for showering, we found a solution to that problem as well. We built a square shower stall off of one corner of the barn, and were able to get it plumbed quickly. I have quickly found there is nothing more relaxing that a hot shower in the evening sunlight, looking out over the fields. On rainy, damp days it's not as pleasant, but still an effective way to get clean.
We also set up a makeshift outhouse using a take on the camping toilet described in this Mother Earth News piece. It's not glamorous, but it's fully funcutional.
It is amazing how quickly we have settled into our new rhythms. We are living with about a quarter of the possessions we used to have (the rest is packed away neatly), and I cannot say I have found myself missing the clutter.
After a home cooked meal and a shower, it is a pleasure to kick back in a spot that is passed by a car perhaps three or four times a day. We've still got plenty of clean up and work to do, but we are cozy and comfy at our new home.