If you’re the kind of person that’s up for a tree change, I think it’s probably safe to say you’re also the kind of person who is always up for an adventure.
However, if, like me, you’ve lived your entire life up until the point of tree changing in the city, it will be a massive and ongoing adventure which will also include some big and sometimes painful, adjustments.
You’ll need to personally deal with things that were NEVER a problem in city living. Or if they were, they were things it was someone else’s responsibility to fix!
Things like extended power outages when you get unexpected snow in Spring, trees down after wild and windy storms, or your roads out to the shops being closed for days due to floods.
Not to mention dealing with wildlife incursions, including managing dead things in your walls.
Or having to overhaul your tried and true approaches to cooking when your kitchen consists of a narrow bench, a temperamental 30-year old electric stove and a cheapie IKEA cooktop.
Reflecting on the adventures so far got me thinking about the traits I think have got me through them.
So here are the skills I believe are worth developing and nurturing, when you tree change.
- The ability and willingness to learn new – and sometimes unusual – things
If you’d told me ten years ago that I’d spend at least one Sunday each month with a chainsaw in hand, THAT I KNEW HOW TO USE SAFELY (!!!), I would have told you, you were dreaming!
But ‘chainsawing 101’ jumped to the top of my new skills needed list when I realised you need LOTS of wood for your fire to stay warm (have I mentioned our -6 degrees winter morning starts yet?). Its ROI is also pretty high when it’s midnight, wet and miserable, and there’s a tree down on the road between you and home.
Other ‘exciting’ skills I’ve added to the Tree Changer resume include:
- Water pumping
- Basic fire fighting systems’ operations
- Safe vehicle recovery
My least favourite, but perhaps most useful, skill is safely removing brown snakes from your kitchen when the WIRES person can’t get to you because of bushfires – definitely a story for another blog!
2. Using your initiative and a bit of creative thinking
One of the things you learn pretty quickly is that problems come up pretty quickly when you live on a rural property. And that you often don’t have the right tools at hand to solve them.
That’s when having an ability to get back in touch with your inner Scout, think about challenges a little bit differently and think through new ways to solve them is a bonus.
Everyone laughed when we bought our little electric car with limited range to the country. However, we were the ones laughing when unseasonal snowed knocked out the grid power for two days.
Our solar & battery back up saw us through the first day and a bit. When that ran out, we backed our EV up to the house and connected everything up using a special inverter. We then ran our water pump, mobile phone booster, and – importantly – the coffee machine off the car until services were eventually restored. All the while our neighbours were living by candlelight, eating meals cooked on camp stoves, and dropping by our place for phone & internet reception!
3. Showing patience and adaptability (okay that’s two traits, but I think they go hand in hand!)
When we left Sydney, we sold up our mini McMansion in the burbs, packed the majority of our belongings into boxes for storage in an old farm shed and moved the basics into our three-room shouse (that’s the technical term for a shed house – not the other thing I’m sure you were thinking!).
The plan was we’d live in our basic but comfortable shouse for a year tops, while we built our new house.
Three years, and numerous building challenges related to building on a rural block later, we’ve found a brilliant architect and builder who get us, our site and our quirky needs. All going well, we should be in our new place before we celebrate five years here 😉
While it was a big adjustment to start, I can now joke about still washing my face in a laundry tub every morning, and the various ‘fairy doors’ (read holes in the wall decorated by the previous owner) dotted around the place.
The upside is we know our land and building site well, and what is going to work best for us with our new house. And living in the shouse means we’ve been able to live here right from the start of this adventure.
So that’s my thoughts on the skills I think will help you Tree Change.
And a few teasers on some of the funny (and scary) stories to come!