Living without running water.

Yesterday I took the first shower I have had in over 4 months. That’s the longest I have ever gone without a proper bath. For some reason, I think this is a note worthy accomplishment but when I announced it to the woman that works at Subway she just looked a little embarrassed for me.

My cabin doesn’t have running water–I carry my water from a spring about 1/4 of a mile away. It’s really easy to live with out running water. I just put 4 one gallon jugs in my backpack, when I head out for my walk, and pick up some water on the return trip. (Now that I’m in trail training mode, I put the water in at the begining of my walk.)

the big tubWhen I first moved here I would drive into town a couple times a week for a coin operated shower at the laundry mat. But now, I’m proficient at staying relatively clean with less then 1/2 a gallon a day of water. I bathe in a little enamel basin most days but some days, about once a week or once every two weeks, I scoop 4 gallons of hot water out of the big pot on my wood stove into an 11 gallon galvanized wash tub and have a sit down bath. After I bathe in the water I throw my clothes in it. After my clothes are done soaking, I ring them out and hang them out to dry. After that, I mop the floor with the same water, then I use the water to wash out my composting toilet.

For hand washing during the day I keep the enamel basin full of water and just keep using the same water over and over.  When I get so I don’t want to reuse the water anymore, I dump it and start over.

Another note worthy accomplishment: I bought my cabin furnished. It came with a small bar of soap. Two years later I’m still using that same bar of soap. I wash mostly with baking soda, as I learned to do in this Mother Earth News article “Keep clean without running water”

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Hermit, long distance hiker, primitive cabin dweller, seeker.

3 thoughts on “Living without running water.”

  1. I wasnt living in a cabin but a township home when I had no running water. I also shared the home with a husband, three sons, five cats and one dog. My well had run dry and due to horrendous circumstances beyond our control we went without running water for about a year. When I finally was able to put a bladder system in my garage with many headaches to come, I had limited water again. People take water for granted and waste it. I appreciate every drop I am able to use to shower with, drink, and use to dispose of waste in my toilet. It had one good side effect, my young sons do not take water for granted either.

  2. You do not know what it is like to live in a modern world without running water. I graduated from high school fifty years ago this month and lived in a hundred year old farmhouse without running water, without a bathroom, with no place for privacy, and with several sisters. And the water we carried into the house in buckets from a well was very hard, over 1000 parts per million calcium, which means that soap did not work in it.

    Now imagine sitting in a classroom with your high school peers all day after not having had a bath for four months, and being fat too. And the only cleansing your body had that morning was a quick scrub down with a worn-out wash cloth in a makeshift kitchen sink that drained into a five gallon bucket, in hard water that was lukewarm at best if you were lucky, and with a bar of handsoap that did not work. Imagine that you had to get up before five a.m. and take care of farm animals and milk several cows and run the milk separator and clean everything up before you had breakfast and a chance to clean your body as best you could and change your clothes before walking a mile down a lane of yellow clay mud to meet the bus after it had been raining three days and you had to find a place to hide your muddy overshoes and clean as much yellow clay mud from your jeans using torn-off grass before boarding the bus and knowing that your body was emitting a cloud of stench as you walked down the isle past seats full of girls with freshly bathed, perfumed bodies in skirts, white blouses, and patent leather shoes, to the back of the bus where you would have empty seats to surround you. Oh, you could not know.

    I was lucky. Now imagine that you were one of my sisters. Life was even less easier for them. Try to imagine their stories. Try to imagine taking a bath in a tub, just like the one you have hanging on the wall of your shack, in an uninsulated house heated by a small wood-stove in the middle of winter. In a tub containing two or three gallons of hard water heated in kettles on the kitchen range, kettles that had a quarter-inch of hard lime coating their insides. Imagine that tub sitting next to your parents’ bed, because that was the only room in the house with a little bit of heat that offered any privacy. Our bedrooms were on the second floor and had no heat, meaning that we would spend as little time in them as possible.

    Could our lives have been any easier than the settlers’s lives in the 1800s? I would venture that ours were worse, because in the 1800s everyone lived that way. Living that way in the 1800s was more the norm than the exception. Living that way in the 1960s was not the norm. We were lepers to be shunned. We just existed and did not have our own lives. We could not drive into town for a coin-operated shower. We could not hide our shameful faces. There were no holes to crawl into. We longed for the day when we could leave home and move into our own places with running water and a bathroom…

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