When anyone asks us what our biggest challenge so far has been while planning our one year journey across the United States, the answer is easy: preparing the household.
Although we are still trying to figure out our exact travel itinerary, what clothes to pack, and what meals to prepare, our biggest concern is preparing the house, yard, and garden for us to be gone for an entire year.
When you think about it, simple daily or weekly chores at the house prevent possible long term maintenance issues that could arise in the future.
For instance, we have a cedar home that is stained. Although we stained the entire house, garage, and pavilion last year, there are areas that require a quick touch up now and then due to being exposed to the weather conditions.
If we let those areas go unstained, there could possibly be some damage to the wood itself.
So how are we preparing the household for our trip? It hasn’t been easy, and I am sure we will think of other things that still need to be done or considered.
However, this is what we have come up with so far in our planning process.
Because our house will be occupied for the year by family members, that takes a little pressure off of us.
We were worried that we would have to put a hold on the utilities if no one was living there. And that came the risk of having our pipes freeze during the winter months.
However, with that comes a new set of challenges.
As a homeowner, you know your house better than anyone. Those little sounds that sometimes occur out of nowhere can be a worry to those who aren’t familiar with your house.
And when there is a true, unfamiliar sound, you know if it is out of the ordinary and a cause for concern.
But that isn’t the only challenge when someone new will be living in your house.
Not only do we know the sounds of our house, we also know how to run the equipment in our house.
From the heater to air conditioner, and everything in between. This also includes the washer, dryer, and dishwasher.
And what about when it is time to add salt to the water conditioner and change the filter for the refrigerator’s water spout?
These are all tasks that we take care of without a thought, on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Although we have done a walk through with our family members who will be living there, we know we will forget to tell them something. Or that they will forget what we told them because there is so much to remember.
So now we are writing all the instructions down, hoping to make the transition a smooth one.
So our next challenge concerns our mail service.
We have previously arranged all of our monthly bills to be electronic. However, we still get mail on a daily basis.
Of course most of it is junk mail. However, on occasion we will get an important piece of mail from our insurance company, tax department, or something of that sort.
So now we have to decide how to have those few pieces of mail forwarded to us while we are on the road.
Or maybe it would be better to designate one person to help us sort through the mail over the phone?
Next comes our concern over our garden.
Because we leave the first week of September, we have decided that we will have to put an early end to the garden season this year.
Fortunately, most of the tomatoes will have already been harvested. And the peppers will be reaching the end of their peak season.
However, our Raised Row Gardening System that we have written a book about, requires some basic year round care.
We have always planted a Fall cover crop in our growing rows. Then in the Spring, we cut back the annual rye until it dies off before planting season.
Then when it comes time to plant the garden we use only organic practices.
Our original thought would be to teach someone our gardening system. Then let them use the space to grow their own food.
However, time has gotten away from us while preparing the household for our trip.
Therefore, we have decided that we will place a tarp over the garden for the year.
Letting the garden go fallow for the year will actually be beneficial for pest management and soil nutrients regeneration. Resulting in an even better garden when we return.
The Yard and Flowerbeds
So what are we going to do about the yard and flowerbeds? Well, we have recruited a family member to help us out with the chore of maintaining both.
We are in the process of teaching where the property lines fall. And also teaching our mowing preferences to the one designated to take the chore over.
Right now we have about 40 potted plants and hanging baskets that require watering. However, to make things easier, we will remove those before we leave.
We will store the pots and baskets in our barn for our return the following year.
However, the flowerbeds will need some maintenance next year while we are gone.
Luckily, most of our flowerbeds are filled with perennials, so they don’t require a ton of attention.
But, we will have to write down what to do with the plants after they bloom.
For instance, we have several ornamental grasses and daylilies on the property.
The grasses will have to be cut down either late in Fall or in the middle of winter while they are dormant.
And the daylilies will need the stems removed once they die off.
I just hope we can remember to write down all of those small tasks that need done while we are away.
Just a Phone Call Away
Although it seems like a daunting task preparing the household before we leave, the best part is that we are just a phone call away.
And even if we are in a remote area, we won’t be there long.
Hopefully, those questions that will arise can wait a day or two until we get adequate cell phone service.
And if not, we have an Emergency Contact List already set up and ready to go!
Jim and Mary