It's been almost a year since my last post. We are still living on the reservation. It has been quite an interesting situation. We moved out here for a job. Who knew it would be such a huge learning experience for all of us! On the rez, we are amongst people who live in survival mode most of the time. I can't help but be astonished each time I meet someone who has no home either by choice or by circumstance. Running water is not common to many of the homes. They have to collect their water either at a water station or by carrying buckets. Clothes are washed by hand as a way of living out here. I'm sure many laughed at us as we talked about this when we first got here.
Many of my students haul water daily. They feed, care for, and even butcher their animals. They chop wood, build fires, and know how to stay warm in houses that have no electricity. Many are learning how to weave, sew, and make jewelry. They work with their parents/relatives to sell at markets. They know how to ride horses. Often my students provide the care for their younger siblings. The most frustrating part of seeing all of these fantastic skills they have gained, most of their families are unable to sustain themselves financially.
So, what has our family been doing to keep learning and helping ourselves to be more self reliant? Well, first we had to learn to live in the cold unlike anywhere we had lived before. My husband and son have learned to chop wood. We have learned to build fires and use a wood stove to heat our home. Last winter, we struggled to get the stove to heat very much. Either it was burning up in our living room and freezing cold on the other side of the house, or we had struggled to get a real fire up and going. This winter has been much better, which is a good thing as it has been colder and snowier. We learned from our Canadian friends that we could put our box fan in the door of our bedroom pointing out and it would pull the cold air out of the bedroom and the hot air would rise over the fan and heat the bedroom. We doubted it could be that easy, but decided to try it. We are so glad we did! The heater in our home does not heat our bedroom, so last winter we froze unless we had our portable heater plugged in. This year we have not had to use our portable heater yet. And the temperatures have gotten as low as -2 outside. We are so grateful to our Canadian friends for this great piece of knowledge.
Our family also had to survive the summer here. Fortunately, this was not nearly as bad as we thought it was going to be when we realized that we had no air conditioning! I don't think I had ever lived anywhere without air conditioning. I was in shock and could not believe this was something that they failed to mention when telling me about housing. But it turns out that air conditioning is not an absolute necessity when the temperatures only get up to about 90 degrees. Fans in the windows help cool air to move through the house. Closing blinds where the sun is shining helps reduce the heat entering the home. Spending time outside sitting in the shade is great for the hottest parts of the day.
We have also learned a lot about sustaining our family financially. We have learned that what we are doing is not working out very well. So we have worked to increase our education over the last year. I have been working on a Master's Degree so I can not only get the type of job that I want, but also one that will pay more. We continue to read and study preparedness topics.
So, are we where we want to be as far as preparedness? No. Unfortunately, we lost most of our food storage moving out here. However, we have gained a lot of knowledge and skills living here. Everyday we have a new learning experience and are finding that we are getting good at taking what we know and applying it to the situation we are in. Our family continues to learn and work together. We are seeing leadership qualities growing in our children as they take charge in many situations involving children and even with adults. We have much to learn, but isn't that what life is for? It is a continual learning experience.