The Country Living “learning curve”
If you're considering relocating from a more urban/suburban area to one more rural, don't underestimate the size of the learning curve "country living" requires.
A case in point: septic systems.
I relocated this summer to a much more rural location from Silicon Valley. For the first time since I was a child, I'm not on city water or city sewage.
California has had a wet winter so far. The rains have caused flooding in my back yard where the leach field is (how many of you suburbanites know what a leach field is?). The flooding wasn't so concerning…until the unpleasant smell started.
Well, turns out the septic tank was full. So, this morning a cleaning team has been pumping it out. In the process, they discovered the leach lines leading from the tank are compromised, which is causing an overflow of untreated water to bubble up in the yard.
Gross. But that's part of life in the country, where you're trying to live resiliently and independent of centralized municipal systems.
To be more specific about the problem we've discovered, the leach lines are joined together at intervals by circular junction boxes. The crew realized that several of these boxes are broken and are making their way across my yard as I type, digging man-sized pits down to each box to inspect and replace, if necessary.
Here's what the process looks like so far:
Fortunately, I'm renting, so the rental management company is footing the bill for these necessary repairs. But I've still been intimately involved in the process and suffice it to say, my knowledge of septic systems has grown substantially (from a low baseline) over the past several days.
I raise this example to underscore the point that those new to country living (and unschooled in the many practices it requires) should budget both time and money for the "unknown unknowns", if they relocate to a rural area.
My septic system was hardly on my radar screen a week ago. But I quickly had to make it a priority because life without one gets unpleasant fast. Beyond the time distraction and the trauma inflicted on the lawn I've been trying to resurrect, I think of the unwanted blow this would have made to my wallet had I owned this house.
The 6 months I've spent here since moving have proved to me that a rural lifestyle is right for me. But it's also taught me that resilience is continuously earned. You're never "done", and things never work perfectly. And you need to realize that fate, Mother Nature, or the government can change the rules of the game on you at any moment.
So as it relates to preps:
- Invest the time to understand how the systems you depend on work, so you can troubleshoot intelligently when needed to (it's much preferable than having to scramble once a system fails, as I'm having to do right now)
- Make sure you have the most important tools (in advance) to troubleshoot with
- Maintain your sytems dutifully. Maintenance is far cheaper than repair work.
- Include an "unknown unknown" reserve in your household budget. Unexpected problems will arise, so increase your budget's ability to absorb them when they do.
I'm sure there are other good tips more experienced homesteaders will add to this list in the Comments section below.
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