Claire Ault and Connor Fischer, who will be married in September, moved this past winter to Fischer’s family’s hunting cabin for a more sustainable lifestyle and to connect with nature.
The cabin has no running water, they shower once a week, produce most of their food and are preparing themselves for a permanent residence in the South Dakota prairie.
Ault and Fischer said they plan on remaining in the cabin for nine more months to enhance their knowledge of sustainable living.
“We have lived on this earth for 23 years, and it has provided so much for us,” Fischer said. “We want to give back to it by not creating as much pollution.”
They try to avoid purchasing food from grocery stores because they want to become more connected with their food and water sources. They pump their water from a nearby well and forage for food in the wild.
“Foraging is very detailed work,” Ault said. “We are determined to become more comfortable with foraging and to stick with it.”
Dandelions, normally considered weeds, are a spring staple in Ault and Fisher’s diets. They toss them in a salad and scramble them with an egg.
Ault and Fischer keep busy with do-it-yourself projects.
When they become accustomed to living on minimal resources, they hope to move their home across the country.
“Our motto has been we go wherever the wind takes us,” Fischer said. “One year we could be teaching environmental education, and the next year we’re ski bums working at a ski resort.”
Before they constructed the tiny house, they built a chicken coop to gain building experience.
“It’s just a chicken coop, so it doesn’t matter if we screw up on it unlike our tiny house,” Fischer said.
Fischer said living sustainably has heightened his senses.
“I saw the same trees and blades of grass day after day, but when spring came, I began to notice them grow and leaf out,” Fischer said. “It is amazing to watch the journey of life. You can sense the rain coming by the smell of the air, and after a rainfall, you can feel the plants drinking and notice them grow more.”
Ault said they are free from distractions and noise pollution and are in touch with their surroundings.
“In suburban America, there are always sounds of planes and cars,” Ault said. “In the prairie, it is pure silence where you’ll pick up on the sounds of wildlife.”
Emily Noèl Showers