We all knew it was coming. I mean, this is Texas after all. In truth, it’s amazing we avoided it for so long. But the heat has finally found us. After an unbelievably cool, record-breaking rainy spring complete with some serious flooding, the Texas summer has finally found us.
The cold can be unpleasant, but I can think of a hundred off grid ways to stay warm: bake cookies, extra socks, fuzzy sweaters, a pot of spiced apple cider, snuggly blankets. I should probably disclose, if you didn’t already know, that I spent the first nineteen years of my life in Canada, so cold doesn’t phase me all that much. So long as my feet aren’t so cold that it feels like my toenails are being pulled out (worst newspaper delivery ever), I’m just fine. But put me in anything over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and my fortitude fails, quite pathetically, I might add.
So how does one keep cool during Texas summer in a poorly insulated house with very limited electricity? The short answer? You don’t. Instead, you attempt to acclimate. The first two weeks are the worst. Your flight or fight response kicks in. You dream about moving to Antarctica. Or at least you would if you could sleep, but the heat keeps you awake all night, only exacerbating your irritation. Battling chronic dehydration due to sweating gallons per day, you also completely lose your appetite. So you’re hot, uncomfortable, dehydrated, and have low blood sugar, which basically makes you a walking storm cloud. But don’t worry…after fourteen days of mental and physical torture, you will more or less accustomed to it.
And so that is where I am now. I still loathe the heat entirely, but I am training my mind to give it little thought. Instead, we focus on drinking copious amounts of water and staying mentally occupied. I have a stack of books to give me mental solace when needed.
The sleepless nights can be strenuous. The kids bed down in the living room where has the best ventilation. Of course, they love that. They also love kayaking and swimming in the pond.
Basically, they are living at summer camp, except that they are still required to do schoolwork.
The animals, unaware that air conditioning exists, are surprisingly adaptable. The cows have become very fond of the pond, spending a good portion of their day just standing in it up to their shoulders. I feel for the Angora goats, especially Hattie who was dehorned before I bought her. (Goats circulate blood through their horns to regulate body temperature.) The chickens are turkeys drink considerably more and spend most of their day under trees.
The garden is faring less impressively. While the tomatoes and peppers are enjoying the heat, most of the other plants and trees are wallowing in self-pity.
Water is in short supply, as is customary for summer here, only this year I cannot artificially create rain with unlimited water from a garden hose. Usually, to water the garden involves hauling five gallon buckets of water a few acres. And repeat several times as necessary. The same holds true for watering the animals.
Another major challenge is storing food. With the ever rising ambient room temperatures, ice in the cooler lasts less than 24 hours, making it quite a chore to keep up with draining water and refilling with ice…after of course obtaining the ice.
Storing raw meat is particularly difficult. Cheese and yogurt will give you a little bit of wiggle room, but not uncooked ground beef. Before these last few months, I never fully grasped what a glorious invention the refrigerator is.
But summer will only last another two (possibly three) months. Time always goes faster than I think it will. And with some luck, next year will be much easier as we should be better established. Meanwhile, I have spent a lot of time gaining a new perspective of the first settlers in this area who didn’t have vending machine ice and air conditioned stores and Dairy Queen blizzards when necessary. How they managed, I can barely fathom. It would seem that we humans are much more resilient than we look.