So, the same as last year i went to a 2-week “bug-out” trip to my country summerhouse. I will share my experiences with you.
My cabin is situated outside the city, practically on the edge of the huge forest. It was small plots of land “granted” by Soviet government to citizens to grow their own produce and cultivate this land so that in the future it could be permanently settled. But when Soviet Union collapsed this project was abandoned and now there exists a “ghost” settlement of summerhouses where people visit in summer to garden or to have a rest.
Technically it was my “vacation” from work, but its purpose was to practice off-the-grid, self-sustainable living.
So, i a few packages of dry peas, some buckwheat, a pack of flour, some salt, tourist gear in my backpack and im off to cabin in the wilderness for two weeks.
There my grandfather built a small brick house, a cabin in fact. There is no electricity, nor gas, nor running water. Only a hand water pump and firewood stove inside.
First day i was busy establishing the household and cooking my first on-place meal. It took me till late night, a long evening in candle light.
I intended (and eventually did) to learn to bake pita bread. First few times were not good, but then i gained some practice. :)
I gathered and ate raddishes from my garden – both the red bulbous root and greens could be eaten – did you know that? The leaves taste the same as the actual raddish!
Also there were few potatoes left on place in storage from last year – i boiled them. From the cuttings new potatoes will grow.
There is a vegetable garden where my grandmother and i grow vegetables.
My granny’s cabbage,
my corn and squash
rhubarb and amaranth,
my raddish patch,
and my “experimental” patch where i am trying new crops, among them mustard (tiny yellow flowers).
And my topinamburs (Jerusalem artichoke).
Ah, and of course, the garlic!
We have our own garlic – do not buy it ever. Its a local variety – very hardy and very strong taste.
Here, this year’s garlic crop is drying out on the attic. This will be next year’s seeds and for eating through winter. Onions are too difficult to gro and so very sensitive, and aside from all that i dont like onions, so i dont grow them. I love garlic!
Here is this plant that reproduces as weed – its sour and used in salads.
And this is lamb’s quarters or goosefoot (Chenopodium album) – its leaves have unique flavour – it tastes to me a bit like green peas or sour cream or cabbage – rare herb that tastes like *real food*! I want to cultivate this hardy weed – will start goosefoot patch next year.
We work our land manually, by hand. Simple hand tools that have been used since the beginning of mankind.
In our garden we dont use any chemical fertilizer, nor even manure, because we dont have any animals. Only thing used is organic compost made of plant remnants.
I add organic matter in plastic container at home and then bring it to my garden and scatter right on the garden bed. Everything goes in: from vegetable cuttings, banana and orange skins, to eggshells. Doesnt look very pretty, but plants love it! I read somewhere that its called “Indian way” of gardening.
As i aim to nearly total self-sufficiency, i am saving my own seeds. For example this year’s raddish and beans and peas come from last year’s seeds.
Here you see overwintered beats, carrots and green salad (lettuce) that will go to seed this year.
There is also a fruit and berry orchard there.
Apples, cherries, plums, black and red currants, raspberry and gooseberry, and vines.
They’ve made my everyday breakfast, in other instances they are eaten straight from the bush.
Black currant, strawberry, raspberry, and cherry stalks make up a compound for a herbal “tea”.
Also i dried and stored some willow bark – it contains acetylsalicylic acid from which aspirin is made. Willow bark when boiled in water is a natural antiseptic, anti-fever aid.
Wormwood herb, drying – good for liver and digestion in general, as well as for killing worms (if there are any, LOL!).
Also, ferns are spreading on their own throughout the garden, and grandma’s flowers.
As i said all water on place is pumped with a hand pump. There is a big iron barrel outside – it is is for watering the garden. This white barrel (40 litres) here is for washing needs.
And drinking water is stored in big (5 litre) plastic bottles.
Here is a washstand i constructed. There is an old fashioned village washer and a plastic bottle hanging head down – if you fill it with water and then un-screw the cork a bit – there will be a continuous water flow.
Water that gets used in household (“gray” water) goes to water the garden. I want to make also a roof rainwater collecting system from used plastic bottles.
My discovery – equisetacea plants is excellent to wash the dishes, especially where there is grease.
Washing clothes is done in “lyes” – ashes from the stove mixed in water produce lye. Then just wash in this lye water.
What else did i do?
I scythe. I use “classic” hand scythe that has been used for centuries and is still the predominant method of cutting the grass in Ukrainian villages.
The grass cuttings are gathered by me in heaps around fruit trees and berry bushes – to give them organic nutrients. Also grass cuttings go as mulch into the garden.
When crop season is over all this plant matter is just simply dig in for winter and is let to rot directly on the plot.
Also i started building a fence.
Went to the forest to cut “pillars” and thin long branches to weave in between horizontally. This will be a traditional Ukrainian fence.
And then, i also tried to make fire by friction. Its not difficult at all – trust me, i tried it myself!
First four days it was raining hard and i havent seen a living human there – i was the only “crazy dachnik”, because noone stays there when there is bad weather! LOL!
Despite that thieves lurk and look for opportunities, so i had to have some self-defence.
Now, about the “entertainment” part.
My girlfriend visited me there
and took a daughter with her.
We had some great time there.
As i said there is a forest just across the road,
And at the bottom of the hill on which summerhouse stands there is a natural lake.
Its a pity i cant swim.
So here’s a hippopotamus in the shallow waters!
One more thing to mention: during my “holiday” i learned how little food a human really needs. Few handfulls of berried for breakfast, few pieces of pita bread in the midday, some herbal “tea” or just clean plain water and one “large” meal of boiled peas or buckwheat in the evening with green salad or raddish. That’s it.
I quit eating sugar at all, ate very little salt and no animal protein at all. As a result i became significantly slimmer and feel “lighter”.
A bit of fun for the end:
A lizard lives under an iron barrel outside. She comes out to sunbathe often.
How do i know it is a she? Over course of days she became fatter! She is going to become a mother. A pregnant lizard! LOL!
All in all, i pretty much enjoyed the weather, beautiful scenery
and ... became a little hearier! :)
thanks for the story man! off grid living at its best. A friend just lent me the book Anastasia, otherwise I wouldn't have known what a dachnik was, lol.
Andrew, YOU are a natural teacher!!! For me, 1st the Zeta Movies and now sharing this... Teaching in the best way.. by EXAMPLE! You inspire me, young man. Much Love!
Water was cold indeed, after 4 days of rain, and level of the lake increased by close to 50 cm. Lake is pretty deep (local people dive there), and there is fish! My grandfather, when he was younger, often went fishing, and never returned with nothing.
Planet Twelve said:
Andrew, thanks for sharing some of your personal stuff with us. I think it's a great idea what you're doing. Preparation!
What you are setting up at your holiday cabin will be luxurious compared to what those not prepared for the shift will have. And I don't know about "hippo" but that water looks cold. Does the lake get very deep?
Beware of those lurking theives!! (like your arsenal)
Thank you, Nancy! :)
Nancy Lieder said:
What an absolutely SUPER role model you are!
there are fish in that pond already, as i said in above reply. But the pond is not *my*, its common property, like forest.
Andrew : Yeah !!! Good, I was kind of concerned ... I thought you had forgotten your girlfriend. Me, I love garlic, too. I wish I could grow ginger, since it is a very good dressing for many salads, and it boosts your immune system. I am concerned about honey, though. Honey has many applications, including local treatment of wounds. It also improves the immune system, and it is the healthiest sweetener you may think of. But I don´t know how to do it in my future climate. Radishes are great, including the leaves, yum yum. I would think that, if you had some more time, you can raise hans and ducks. Also, is there any chance to lay some fish in your pond? Just thinking ... Congratulations, my friend.
Being next to common property, at a time when very little people (or nobody) will be there, is a splendid idea: That property will be made available for your use. Good strategy. Of consideration ...
Thank you for taking time to post all of this. Your presentation is fantastic.
Brilliant , I really enjoyed the pics and the text....am so jealous as I would love to bug out somewhere like this....
Andrew, I am floored and a little jealous. You are truly an inspiration and you seem to have had a great deal of fun. Thank
you so much for sharing. You make it all seem so simple and pleasurable. I'm so anxious to start my new life since learning
so much here on the ning. Big Smile for you :)
Even though you can't swim, you can learn to float on your back by just relaxing your body totally and raising your stomach
out of the water, arching your back a bit.....let your legs and arms just dangle at your sides and breathe deeply using your
diaghram muscles. Relax relax and it will come. Swimming is something I do to survive and not drown lol but I can float
If you remember my blog post about Victor Sergyenko (Koshasty), http://poleshift.ning.com/profiles/blogs/victor-sergyenkos-koshasty , that i posted before i went to my vacation, so he was on Ukrainian television recently, and one of the things he said that is most striking is that he doesnt devote that much time to his garden, "no more than a half an hour per day", in his own words.
Hey Andrew: You Are Legend, you know? ... Another thing, there are three other sources of protein easily at hand when you are in the countryside. Not that hard to grow, if they are not already there. Garden Scargoats, Frogs, Rabbits. All of them are now being raised, in several countries, for exports or local use. They are all considered a delicatessen in Europe, for example, if you know how to prepare and cook them. All of them very rich in protein. And, after they start reproducing, they just go on and on. Specially when you may expect a rainy or moist environment for years after the PS. And rabbits, since less people around may be expected to be hunting them, and with lots of roots and vegetables at their disposal for food, they might even become a real plague. With rabbits you should be careful, though: just don't let them get to your orchard or garden, because they will eat it up before you collect the fruits of your effort ...
Andrew, swimming is very easy. You just have to become friends with water. Suggest you use the following method: go into shallow water, with your feet touching the bottom, and then take position with back down and chest up. I mean, with your chest pointing to the sky and your back pointing to the bottom of the pond. In that position, looking at the sky if you wish, start taking a deep breath, and hold the air inside your pneumons for a couple of minutes. You will discover that the pneumons, full of air, are a natural flotation vest. Next, try to stay afloat that way, now without your feet touching the bottom. It will only take you a couple of tries to make it. Then you may experiment staying afloat that way, without touching the ground. After you have become familiar with floating, you may start moving your arms and legs, and see what happens. And also, then you can invert your position, trying to float with your belly down. It is just like playing, that easy it is. Do not go into deep water yet, just in case you get tired. When you have learned how to float, to move and displace in the water, you can swim. That position, chest up and back down, is extremely helpful. It will allow you swim rather long distances, since any time you are tired you can just lay on the water and float chest up and back down, take a rest, and relax, to then start swimming again ... If you have a good command of that position, you'll be able to swim for long distances ...