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5 Skills We Had to Learn Living in the Remote Mountain Forest

No. 032 Reading Time 4 minutes

“Tumse na ho payega, idhar do.“ Dadi said snatching the crowbar from us.

(You won’t be able to do it, give it to me)

We couldn’t believe that we could not even dig proper holes.

India is a country with cheap labor. We do not have a DIY culture in the cities.

Plumbers, carpenters, and electricians are just one call away.

There are no large stores like Home Depot in the city.

But in this remote village, everyone is a handyman.

When we moved here, we came unprepared. We never visited a hardware store before. We were absolute noobs.

Our first mud building provided a steep learning curve.

Here are 5 skills that we acquired throughout this building journey:

1) Basic Tools -

Dadi (granny) was our teacher and gave us the village life crash course. She taught us to dig holes using a crowbar, chop wood using an axe, harvest straw using a sickle, and use a pickaxe or shovel. 

2) Basic Woodworking -

We could not even nail a single nail straight. We have gotten better after nailing almost 1000 planks for the reciprocal roof. We eventually also had to learn the machine tools like chainsaws to trim the beams of the roof, marble cutter to cut the planks, and angle grinder to grind the surfaces.

3) Basic Plumbing and Electrical -

It is not only expensive but it takes a week to convince the plumber and electrician to come for tiny tasks in this remote village. We had to learn to connect pipes, taps, and even fix motors.

4) Lighting a cooking fire -

We were the kind of people who would finish the matchbox but couldn’t light a fire. Again Dadi (granny) taught us how we can use the branches of the Bhimal tree to light the fire. The branches are soaked in water for months and then the outer skin is peeled and used as sticks to light fire, as they burn faster.

5) Building with Mud - 

This is the skill we have spent the most time learning about and practicing. We can now build rocket stoves, cob ovens, benches, to even a tiny house.

In case you dream of moving to the off-grid and building a dream home you could already start acquiring these handyman skills via online and offline workshops.

We have come a long way.

From being unable to carry even a bucket of water, to carrying thousands of heavy rocks, straw bales, logs, water tanks, doors, windows, and whatnot. Sometimes, doing 4 rounds of 2 km trek one way.

Earlier, we did not trust our footing on the hilly terrain and walked like an elephant, as granny would say. Now, Raghav goes for trail runs to the river below 3-4 times a week.

Like all other things, physical strength comes with practice. Human bodies are quite adaptable. If we have the right mindset, we can achieve anything.


What you can watch - Tadelakt: A How To

Cinematic video of tadelakt plaster in a bathroom. ASMR stuff.

Kiko is best known as the author of 'Build Your Own Earth Oven.'

An enchanting essay on aesthetics by one of the greatest Japanese novelists.

Tiny Farm Friends Newsletter. Every Sunday, we share tiny valuable lessons to help you transition to the countryside and build naturally.


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