The Work Never Ends: Chores in the Tiny House

There was an old song written during the Civil War called The Housewife's Lament. Like many old folk songs there are countless versions, but the one I've learned as a verse that goes like this:

Last night I dreamed I was stationed forever
on a far distant rock in the midst of the sea
My once chance at life was a ceaseless endeavor
to sweep off the waves as they swept over me
Here in the tiny house I find myself choosing to live a life where I have a number of chores that need to be done any given day.  I find it interesting that we as a culture have spend so much time distancing ourselves from the daily mundane tasks at hand. I admit, I have been very guilty of it as well. I was lazy to tell you the truth. I suppose I still am to some degree. But now that I am living in this tiny house in the woods I feel motivating to do my chores every day. Here are some of the highlights

  • Sweeping. I've mentioned sweeping before. Really any time someone goes outside and comes back in, we have to give the place a sweep. On top of that we have a cat and she will track litter all over the place so a good sweeping helps keep that down. Not to mention she is a fairly messy eater and we don't want food all over the floor either. 
  • Gathering Water. Right now we've gotten this down to about a weekly chore. We have four containers each holding 5 gallons that we fill at the spring. The only real problem is the spring 200 feet down our mountain near the barn. So we will go down there, set the containers to fill and then bring them all up on the ATV once a week.  
  • Dishes. We no longer have a dishwasher and we don't even have a sink to leave dirty dishes piled in. When we are done eating all of the dishes have to be washed immediately.  We have a small basin in the house where we can wash things like our mugs in the morning. We enjoy cooking outside so as long as it isn't raining we will also wash all the dishes out there. 
  • Laundry. Once a week we take our laundry to the laundromat. I've thought about washing them here, but truthfully it just seems like more work than its worth. Plus, we have just discovered Bar of Soap!  Super fun.
  • Showering. Okay, I know, showering shouldn't be a chore. But there are some things we need to go to get our shower set up since we don't have any indoor plumbing. We can't just turn on the faucet.  We built our own shower. In order to get ourselves clean we have to take the pump outside and fill it with about a gallon and a half of water from the jugs that we brought up from the spring. Then we boil a kettle full (about a half gallon) of water which we can add to sprayer which makes the water the perfect temperature. Then we have to pressurize it by pumping the handle to get a nice shower experience. Even though it takes about a half an hour to get ready for my shower, I don't really miss having traditional plumbing. 
This is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of things that we can spend our time on. Beyond the daily things are constant "home improvement" projects including the building of an outdoor kitchen which will begin soon.  I promise to share progress and photos on that!


  1. Looking at your photos I have thought "There is a the perfect place for an outdoor kitchen and dining area" I can't wait to see what you do with that.

  2. There are some *really* nice alternatives to hand washing now, and most use very little water. Let me introduce you to the Laundry POD: ... There is also the WonderWash ( which is the one the Amish usually sell. I like the POD myself, although I don't have one yet. It's on The List, though! I like that I can do delicates in it without worry, and that it uses so little water.

  3. Gloria from Ann ArborJune 4, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    My only comment is OMG! Girl you are something else.

  4. Wow that is a lot of work for a shower, but it is SO cool to really understand not take any of our simple tasks for granted. Excited to see your outdoor kitchen progess!

  5. I absolutely relate to every little bit of this post. The fact is that I could have written it myself except that I don't go down the mountain to get water and I treat myself to a shower at my friend's place about once a week too, so I don't always have to tote - but still there is prep to going out for a shower too.


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