I take three minute showers. Not, mind you, because I am dedicated to preserving the environment, or anything so noble. Nope. I take three minute showers because I have a seven gallon hot water.
Yes. You read correctly. Seven gallons.
Some of you may not be familiar with the capacity of your hot water tank. You have no idea how mine compares. Go ahead. Look in the basement or the utility closet, or whatever. I’ll wait. (Tapping toe and humming a few verses of Jingle Bell Rock.) So? Let me guess. Thirty gallons? Maybe even forty or fifty, if you’ve got more than one bathroom?
If there’s anyone out there who’s got one under twenty, send me photographic proof and I’ll send you a couple of selections from my book collection. But in case you couldn’t find your hot water heater at all, let me give you a clue.
Seven gallons is tiny.
Why, you may ask, would anyone put a seven gallon water heater in a house? Well, first off, it was done by a man. Need I say more? Secondly, I don’t actually live in a house. I live in a chicken coop. Unless I’m in the living room. Then I live in a granary.
One of the biggest obstacles to our relocation from Oregon to my parents’ ranch was housing. As in, there wasn’t any, other than the one my parents occupy, and no family should be that close. We looked at our options: buying a manufactured home, buying and moving an unoccupied home from a nearby farm. Or we could live in the bunkhouse.
My grandfather built the bunkhouse many years before I was born. At the time, it was designed to house the chickens. Only later did he move it into the yard and convert it to a one room cabin. It probably says something about my genetic pool that the chickens got the new digs while the hired man was relegated to their previous accomodations.
When I was in middle school, my parents built on a kitchen and bathroom, doubling the square footage to about four hundred and fifty. Dad bought a cute little water heater that fit underneath the kitchen counter. All in all, a cozy retreat for a bachelor.
Not so great for a couple with a three year old son.
However, we moved home in mid-March, right before calving season. There was no time to fool around with housing. Plus the snow was kinda deep. We had to make do. Then came planting season, then haying season, then harvest, and before we knew it summer was over. We’d decided rather than building or moving in another house, we’d expand our current living quarters. And rather than start from scratch…well, there was a perfectly good wooden granary sitting unused only half a mile from the house. Also, coincidentally, constructed by my grandfather. This was a man who built to last.
I won’t go into the details. Suffice to say, once we’d dragged the thing across the hayfield with the tractor, the remodel involved shoveling barley and chasing out a lot of mice. By January, though, my house had expanded by six hundred square feet, not counting the attic. Fabulous, except for one small detail.
I still have that stupid seven gallon water heater.
My husband doesn’t seem to have a problem with this. Then again, my husband doesn’t have hair halfway to his waist that has to be washed, then rinsed, then conditioned, then rinsed. By the time that’s done, I consider myself lucky to get my face scrubbed before the water goes cold. Forget shaving anything.
We have space now for a full size water heater. We even have the money stashed away. What we haven’t had is time. Between fixing the water tank for the bulls and fixing the tractor and fixing the pickup and the fixing tractor again and the water tank again, plus a few odds and ends like feeding cows and horses, my husband hasn’t quite got around to going to town to pick up my new hot water tank. So when he asked me last week what I wanted for Christmas, the answer was simple.
All I want is a ten minutes. Hot water cascading lavishly over my head, caressing my shoulders, massaging my back. A minute or even two to allow the conditioner to actually soak in to my hair. Enough time to steam up the bathroom mirror. Ten heavenly minutes.
Heck, I’d settle for eight.
There’s nothing quite like Christmas at the ranch. Stop by for a visit at Montana for Real. And have a Merry Christmas…blessed with plenty of hot water.