It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice

Click here to view the original post.


After finishing school, Jocelyn and Jarvis had $96,000 of debt from student loans, credit cards, and buying a small rural property. This is the story of how they paid it off in just 20 months, and then built themselves a debt-free custom tiny house for their family of 4.

After ignoring their finances for a long time, the couple finally faced reality one night when they sat down and added up all of their debts, and compared it to the revenue they had coming in.

When they realized how much they owed, they decided to make some drastic changes so they could pay it off and stop worrying about money. To start, they moved to a smaller apartment, changed jobs, shopped second-hand, froze a credit card in a block of ice, switched to using cash only, and made a budget that allowed them to chip away at their debt.

They had a white board with a list of all their debts, which they updated every time a payment was made so they’d continue to be motivated. After 20 months, they were completely debt-free. After that, they continued with their minimalist, frugal habits and were able to save up enough money to build themselves a custom tiny house on wheels.

They’ve been living in the tiny house for over two years now, with their two children, and plan to continue living in it for as long as they can. They are currently saving money to buy a small acreage where they will build a larger off grid home and keep the tiny house as an income property.

We’re very inspired by this young family’s dedication to improve their lives by paying off their debt, by their awareness of their energy consumption, by their efforts to buy less and live a low waste lifestyle. They’re trying to make positive change in every aspect of their lives, and that’s not always an easy thing to do.

Thank you, Jocelyn and Jarvis, for sharing your story with us! And for the beautiful day we spent at your place! Thanks for watching! Mat & Danielle

Web
Analytics

The post It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Water glass eggs?

Click here to view the original post.

One of the things that some of my neighbors have done when moving out to the country is get chickens, some do it for the meat, but most do it to harvest eggs. One problem is getting too many chickens for the number of people living (and eating) in the household. It’s near impossible to buy just a few chicks or fertile eggs from a catalog, they often insist that you buy a dozen or more, usually more, that’s because of the mortality of live chicks being shipped out. Some of the chicks will die, either in the shipping process, or shortly after arriving. And it’s cheaper (per chick) to ship more than fewer. Some of the wiser neighbors will go in with another family or neighbor and split the chicks, but many will go ahead and order way too many chicks and will end up with far too many eggs at one time once the hens start laying.

Personally I would say that for one or two people, no more than 4-6 laying hens, if you think about it, each hen will lay one egg per day, unless you eat a lot of eggs, or are selling the eggs, then it doens’t take long to be overrun with eggs.

There are, however, ways to store the excess eggs where they will not go bad. And anyone who has been around laying hens know that they slow down egg production in the winter, so it’s a good idea to be able to save that excess of eggs for the winter when you will be getting fewer to none.

Before refrigeration was available, people would use hydrated lime to store the eggs, it keeps them from going rancid and if done properly, it’s said that you can keep eggs fresh for up to a year, possibly longer if kept in a cool place.

The best time to start this is in the spring going into summer, only use clean but unwashed fresh eggs, do not try this with store bought eggs as they have been washed and no longer have their protective “bloom” on them, the pores will be open and the eggs will suck in the hydrated lime making the eggs inedible.

Watch these two videos to see just how simple this process is.

Web
Analytics

The post Water glass eggs? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Elk encounter 3 years later

Click here to view the original post.

 

Those who have followed me for a few years should remember my elk encounter from about three years ago, it did quite a bit of damage, but PB was able to do “Bobbage” and make everything work again. Most of my front end was “customized” by that elk encounter 3 years ago, the air conditioner condenser and the radiator along with everything else up in the front area got pushed back about 4 inches, most of the hardware in there wasn’t attached to much anymore. And the 2 aforementioned items became concave where the elk body was cradled in the front of my truck. So replacing the concave radiator with a spiffy new flat one meant more customization by PB, also known as Bobbage, that magic he does when faced with a puzzle like this.

This is what an elk cow does to a radiator, the “encounter” actually happened in March of 2015, so all in all, that radiator has held up pretty well considering… It finally sprung a leak over the weekend, I was going to drive to one of my farther towns to work this morning when I discovered it was more than a small leak. Thank the Lord above that I didn’t end up on the side of the road. The auto parts house 2 towns over had a radiator in stock and I got it.

After getting home, PB started working on it, eventually most of the neighborhood ended up over here lending their hands, tools and lots of moral support. Now I can go to work tomorrow. I am truly fortunate to live in such a caring neighborhood. I am also thankful that I know enough to be able to confidently call the auto parts stores in town to get what I need. And I’m thankful that I have the kind of job where I can take off a day without causing too much trouble.Though some might consider this a run of bad luck, I think this new year is starting out pretty well.

Web
Analytics

The post Elk encounter 3 years later appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

10 years later…

Click here to view the original post.

It was 10 years ago on December 22 when PB and I (and our little chihuahua Pekoe) pulled up on our property, it was 3:30 in the morning, it was 14 degrees F, the wind was blowing a gale, we had driven for 12 hours, but we made it, we were finally here, we were about to embark on our new and exciting life living 100% off grid.

We had planned on this for less than a year, yet this was something we had each wanted from childhood. It was a bit ironic, we had really never discussed our dreams to live like this, I assumed he wouldn’t want to give up his business or leave his family, he thought pretty much the same thing about me. But once we did broach the subject, we both realized it was really a mutual dream and we wasted no time making it happen.

I had worked for Best Buy for 10 years and had a small nest egg saved up through the company stock plan, little did I know that the bottom was about to fall out of the stock market, I cashed out at just the right time, and it was enough for us to purchase a bit of acreage in far west Texas, in a tiny community.

It was raw land, with absolutely nothing on it, no driveway, no pad, no utilities. In fact, it was near impossible to get up onto the property, it went from street level (unpaved dirt road) to a creekbed, then straight up about 10-13 feet, forget trying to drive up there. The real estate lady didn’t even want to take us beyond the creek bed. It wasn’t until we went back to the property a few hours later on our own that we climbed up the bank and were awed beyond belief at what we were seeing!

A quick phone call later and we had permission to spend the night on the property, we needed to see where the sun set and rose, and how much light the property actually received since we were going to go all solar. We pitched our tent and watched the sun go down. The following morning, we knew the property was perfect for us, I was in the realtor’s office throwing money on her desk. We made an offer and 30 days later we owned this little piece of paradise.

That was the summer of ’07, PB began driving out here and spending a week at a time building our soon to be SkyCastle. By the time it was nearly the following Christmas, we were here in a 16×16 box on stilts.

The “stilts” happened because PB set the corner posts, he was going to cut them down to size then decided not to build so close to the ground, making the top of the posts the main floor. When we arrived to start living here, nothing was finished, 2 out of the 4 walls were builder’s plastic and wire and there wasn’t a proper roof yet. Life was rough, primitive, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

A lot has happened in 10 years, some of you have followed me the entire time, some have dropped in later, either way I appreciate each and everyone of you.  Here is what the SkyCastle looke like as of today.


Here’s looking to another 10 years!

Web
Analytics

The post 10 years later… appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

East Jesus

Click here to view the original post.

I think most everyone is familiar with “Slab City”, an abandoned military base in the Sonoran desert in California. This desolate place is a favored home of snowbirds living in campers and RVs during the winter. The summer temps can reach 120F but there are still year round residents.

There is one section called “East Jesus”, it’s an artist’s commune, a bit of a radical playground, think Stephen King meets Tim Burton. Wikipedia says:

East Jesus

East Jesus is an experimental, sustainable and habitable art installation located in the Slab City area. There is no religious connotation in the name East Jesus – it is a colloquialism for a place in the middle of nowhere beyond the edge of service availability; the off-grid facility operates with no municipal utilities. In early 2007, Charlie Russell left his job in the technology industry, packed all his belongings into a shipping container and sent it to a trash-strewn field where he began to surround his two art cars with sculptures that would become the foundation works of East Jesus. The Chasterus Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit formed after his death in 2011, has since guided the curation and expansion of East Jesus.
“East Jesus” sculpture garden entry

Made from discarded material that has been reused, recycled or repurposed, East Jesus encourages visitors to imagine a world without waste, in which every action is opportunity for self-expression. Assemblage and mixed-media art cover nearly every inch of it, interior and exterior. Sculptures and installations are constantly in development throughout campus, and the musical performance space holds a public address system, a stage lighting system, and a studio grand piano. There are also a solar power system with a battery bank made up of expired batteries disposed by telecom companies. Photography, multimedia art, performance art, writing and music are integral parts of a larger fabric, which their artists collectively are continually weaving. East Jesus artwork is living, growing and ever-changing, and embraces the thousands of varied voices from contributing artists who have added to the installation. Each day, residential staff gives dozens of free tours, and hosts visiting artists and overnight guests.

Have you been to Slab City? If so, what did you think of it?

Web
Analytics

The post East Jesus appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

A day in the emergency room

Click here to view the original post.

 

I spent today in the emergency room, not for me, but for a friend. I had gone to church and found out my friend had slipped on ice on her way out and broke one knee cap (fully in half) and hurt her elbow. I left church and went to her house, the first responders were there, the ambulance wasn’t there yet. Where we live, there is lots of land between the houses, becoming injured when you are by yourself can turn into a death sentence, fortunately her neighbor was outside and heard her yelling for help. If it hadn’t happened that way, it would have been hours before anyone else would have found her, and she was laying on a wooden ramp, on ice and couldn’t pull herself up.

This makes me think about the risks of living by yourself in a rural, isolated area. Most of the time, it’s not a problem, but the day you fall or have some other medical emergency, if you can’t get to a phone or get someone to hear you, an otherwise minor issue can become life threatening.

I know many people who want to live off grid or homestead are going to tend to be in rural, isolated areas, places where your neighbors are few and far between. So, what do you do to balance your wanted isolation and your safety?

One thing you could do is to carry a phone, assuming you have a cell signal, a cell phone, or if not, then a wireless landline, as long as your phone works, you could at least call for help assuming you are conscious. Honestly, I don’t have a good answer if you don’t have a way to call for help, perhaps have a buddy system where a trusted neighbor checks on you from time to time. This would be especially helpful if you are older or in poor health.

Out where I live, cell phones don’t work in most areas where people live, fortunately for my friend, even though she is older (70 years old) she is in fairly decent health and was able to call out loud enough for the far away neighbor to hear. If she hadn’t been able to get the neighbor to come over, I would have gone over there after church to check on her, but that would have meant laying in pain, in the cold, on the ice, I suspect she would have survived, but would have been much worse for the wear.

My friend is going to be OK, she has a fully broken knee cap, something I think is better than injuring tendons or other soft tissues, bones can be pinned back together and heal well, soft tissue or connective tissue takes a lot longer to heal. She does have a hairline fracture near her elbow but that will heal itself, she is looking “forward” to an extended hospital stay and lots of physical therapy before she is able to come home. Our small community has pulled together to take care of her dogs and house until she returns. What is your backup plan?

Web
Analytics

The post A day in the emergency room appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Van life in Vancouver

Click here to view the original post.
Van life in Vancouver

Van life in Vancouver

Wow, that is my first thought about Atli and how she lives! She is a part-time bus driver, she can afford to work part time because she doesn’t have rent or other major housing expenses. Before Atli started her mobile life, she noticed a few other fellow bus drivers living under a bridge next to where they all worked, they lived in vans and were actually teased about being the “trolls under the bridge”, but instead of joining in on the good natured teasing, Atli decided she wanted to be one of those trolls.

Atli purchased and with the help of her dad, converted a commercial looking van into her home. I love that her dad helped her in this, that so reminded me of my dad, even the pictures of Atli’s dad made me think of my dad, it is so very sweet.

The van is very non-descript, she can park it anywhere and not draw attention, something that helps keep her safe, no one is going to pay attention to what looks like any ordinary commercial van, she purposely kept that appearance by not installing windows on the sides and by building in a bulkhead with a small door just behind the front seats. That also helps with privacy.

With the lack of windows, Atli felt that she needed to have some natural outdoor lighting so she installed a skylight right above her bed in the back, this not only gives extra natural light, she can look at the stars from the comfort of her bed. Atli also installed 2 roof vents, one has a fan, the other does not, this helps with ventilation, especially in the warmer more humid times of the year.

The van is fully insulated, not only to help keep the temps more enjoyable, it also keeps down condensation from the inside metal surfaces. Atli used a lot of wood in her van, personally I would have not used the tongue and groove wood as it does add a lot of weight, I would have preferred a lighter (weight) paneling, maybe something that had a light colored finish, but that is merely my opinion, everyone has their ideas.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE how much room she has inside this van, it’s not cluttered or crowded at all, she can fully stand up and walk around, there is plenty of storage and she can cook real meals on her 2 burner cook top. There is running water and a sink, cleverly made from a stainless steel bowl purchased from a dollar store. There is a pull out table with lots of room for eating or working, it fully retracts under her bed, a design feature that I find very handy.

The only “lack” in this setup is a bathroom facility, no toilet and no shower, things that Atli doesn’t require because she is able to use the facilities available to her at work and at the gym.

Atli does escape for a few months in the winter and tries to make it to the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in Quartzsite Arizona each year. She is also putting together a monthly van dwellers meetup where she lives most of the year, it’s the first Sunday of each month in the summer months in the Spanish Banks parking lot, see the end of the video for more details.

Web
Analytics

The post Van life in Vancouver appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Privacy? They are listening

Click here to view the original post.

I grew up in the time when cable TV boxes were supposed to have a camera or at the very least a microphone inside so they could see (or hear) what goes on inside your home. I remember covering up the cable box at night before going to bed. I don’t know if that ever really happened or if it was one big conspiracy. Today however, nearly everyone has smartphones, tablets, computers, smart TVs, smart appliances… all of these have cameras and microphones, and with the apps on them, they DO listen to you, many silently await your command to come to life and answer your queries. Have you ever had targeted ads that happened because of something you merely TALKED out-loud about?

I have gotten used to targeted ads online, I know that Google and other websites actively track what I type and where I go online. Honestly, I don’t mind the targeted ads because if I am going to have to look at ads, they might as well be something I’m actually interested in. What does disturb me is the alleged eavesdropping on my conversations when I’m talking to a friend in person, not over the phone.

Do I have proof of this? No, not hard proof, BUT I have seen enough to satisfy my own suspicions. Let me give you two examples that have happened in the last few weeks and today.

About 2 weeks ago, I was with a few lady friends, we had been discussing women being abused, this is not a subject I search for online, once we moved on to another subject, I wanted to demonstrate how Google assistant works by saying “OK Google” to activate it without touching the phone, I did a search for something innocent, I think I asked “where am I”, it answered me, then it populated the the ads and some of the results with things related to women being abused, books, websites and the such.

Now fast forward to today, I was scrolling through Facebook, I noticed an ad for a FB page promoting handmade rustic dolls made of fabric, it really caught my eye because it was a different ad than I usually get, most of my ads have to do with Amazon products that I have looked at lately, watercolor related items and the such, I have NOT done any searches for handmade dolls in the last 2-3 years.

I had been in a dollar store on Tuesday, I was looking for colorful knee high socks, I explained to my friend who was with me that I intended to make sock creatures (dolls) with them as Christmas gifts, I find it quite curious that I suddenly get ads for handmade fabric dolls a couple of days after merely DISCUSSING this in person with a friend.

So now, what to do? I know this happens, even if “I” don’t have a digitally connected device on me, other people do, I need a phone for work, yes I could turn it off when I’m not using it, I could turn off all devices in my home, but quite frankly, that isn’t likely to happen. As far as I know, “they” are only using this to direct personalized ads to me, which I actually don’t mind so much, if I’m going to have to see ads, I’d rather it be for products/services I’m really interested in, I just wonder how else this data is being used for… is it being saved somewhere? Is it potentially going to be available for human consumption? Could it potentially be used against me at some point?

What say you? Has this happened to you?

Web
Analytics

The post Privacy? They are listening appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Stealth camping in the city

Click here to view the original post.

Most of the people I know of who live in their vans or other vehicles are travelers, they camp, they don’t tend to live in the city, not so for Jay, he lives in a retired U-Haul truck with his cat and a great dane! Yes, I said a great dane, as large as those tend to be, it’s apparently not too big for this conversion.

I like how Jay did his conversion, he kept everything very simple, which kept the weight as well as the cost at a minimum. Though the weight was much less of a factor since he used a commercial moving van as the base, it’s meant to carry a lot more weight than standard build vehicles.

I have always thought that U-Haul moving trucks would make a great camper van, they have plenty of power, they have lots of space, the kind of space you can use to create your own personalized living space. The other nice thing about the U-Haul (commercial style) trucks are they are inconspicuous, you will not draw much attention, especially if it’s painted white, it will blend in with any other commercial vehicle in the city.

Jay does in fact use his van as a delivery vehicle, so he is actually driving it around town, he left a space between the back roll up door and the inner wall/door so that he can place the items he delivers without showing that he is actually living inside his vehicle, and when he’s not using it in town, ie in a safer place, he can leave the roll up door open and use that space as a porch.

I was a bit surprised to find that Jay needs 2 air conditioners to keep the box cool, mainly for his animals, but only during the hottest part of summer, I wonder if he could add any more insulation, especially to the roof area, that might help keep the box from overheating and help keep in the cool air.

Watch and enjoy, let me know if this is something you would like to do, I’d be curious to know how you would implement this.

Web
Analytics

The post Stealth camping in the city appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Stealth van build and tour

Click here to view the original post.

Could you live in a van? I could if I had this one, it’s designed to be a “stealth van”, it has loads of space and the space is used in a most logical and efficient manner. I like that it is tall enough to comfortably stand, even for the taller chaps. It does have a bathroom, as of the time of this video, the bathroom only contains a toilet, but it will eventually contain a shower.

The video briefly shows and explains the following features of their van:
-Garage and storage area
-LPG storage box
-Bedroom
-Natural light and ventilation
-Benefits of a ‘stealth’ style conversion
-Kitchen and dinette area
-Overhead storage cabinets
-Bathroom and toilet area; and
-Battery storage and supply (lithium phosphate)

Web
Analytics

The post Stealth van build and tour appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Fantasy cottage by the sea

Click here to view the original post.

Do you remember the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel? Well, if they had a house today, this would be it! Located next to the ocean in Vancouver BC, this 600 square foot cottage is so unique on the outside, the first thing you notice is the roof, high pitched and covered by custom made cedar shakes. Next are the windows and doors, all locally sourced and made.

Once you pass through the gorgeous front door, you are immediately struck with the contemporary look of the finish. It was designed to be functional as well as beautiful. The loft bedroom is spacious enough for a queen size bed, and the tall ceiling makes it easy to walk around without having to crouch.

Living in a small castle myself, I can appreciate the fact that people will stop and look at your house if you live in an unusual house, ours is a bit more private than this is though since it’s right on the water, passing boats have a magnificent view of this cute tiny house.

Watch and enjoy!

Web
Analytics

The post Fantasy cottage by the sea appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Amazon is full of wind

Click here to view the original post.

Amazon (the dot com, not the rain forest) is in the wind business, who knew? Well, as one of the larger businesses in the USA and the world, I find it a good thing! I have certainly given plenty of my own money to Amazon, not complaining though, living out here in the rural wilds of far west Texas, stores are not easy to come by, it takes hours of highway driving to get to any sort of major shopping venues, so having a world of products delivered to my door is nearly a necessity.

This article popped up in my Facebook newsfeed, I was surprised, I didn’t know that Amazon had this sort of thing on their website, I assumed it was just sales and sales related, it appears they write articles as well, hope you enjoy! Link to the original story can be found at the bottom.

Powering a Clean Future
How Amazon Wind Farm Texas impacts a community

Amazon’s largest wind farm to date is adding more than 1 million megawatt hours of clean energy to the grid each year.

Growing up here in West Texas, wind is something that you cussed, not something that you considered an asset to our community.
– Judge Ricky Fritz

Amazon Wind Farm Texas is an array of 300-foot-tall, white turbines that dot the landscape just outside the West Texas town of Snyder. There are more than 100 turbines and their scale is enormous. When the blades are spinning, they cover an area nearly equal to two football fields.

Amazon Wind Farm Texas was built and is owned and operated by Lincoln Clean Energy, a leading developer of wind and solar projects across the United States.

“Investing in renewable energy is a win-win-win-win – it’s right for our customers, our communities, our business, and our planet,” said Kara Hurst, Amazon’s Worldwide Director of Sustainability. “We now have 18 wind and solar projects across the U.S. with more than 35 projects to come. These are important steps toward reaching our long-term goal to power our global infrastructure using 100% renewable energy. ”

Officials in Snyder, Texas say the investment has already given their community a boost, since the wind farm pays out cash directly to landowners, schools, and the community-at-large for the use of local property. And tax revenue has increased 200 percent in the county, thanks to the massive investment.

“The wind energy and those turbines have directly affected our bottom line positively and helped stabilize us in a tough economic time the last several years,” said Scurry County Judge Ricky Fritz.

Judge Fritz said the community has undergone a massive shift. Traditionally, residents made money off of what was underground, namely oil. But prices are constantly fluctuating, making revenue difficult to rely on. They also make money from the land itself, through ranching. Today, they’re profiting from what’s just above that same land – the wind.

“Growing up here in West Texas, wind is something that you cussed, not something that you considered an asset to our community. So now, with the wind energy here, we’ve taken something that was an irritant and made it a source of income for our communities,” said Fritz.

Amazon has launched 18 wind and solar projects across the U.S., with over 35 more to come. Together, Amazon’s projects will generate enough clean energy to power more than 330,000 homes a year.
Amazon Wind Farm Texas

SOURCE
https://www.amazon.com/p/feature/pxd3et5w29xn9m6

Web
Analytics

The post Amazon is full of wind appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Are you nuts? When can we come visit?

Click here to view the original post.

Friends, family, most of us have them, and for most of us they play an integral part of our lives and decisions we make. Making the decision to completely change your life, the way you live can have some pretty interesting, potentially disturbing reactions from those around you.

Moving and living off grid is a fairly big life change, it often means moving to another place, most likely it’s going to be much farther away than you realize. Chances are that many of your less close friends will eventually fall away, you will be meeting new people and making new friends anyway. Family, well that’s another story, they tend to stick with you (for better or worse LOL)…

You will likely get one of two reactions, the first is the “Oh wonderful, a new vacation spot, when can we come visit?” and the other is “Are you nuts?”.

Let me address the second reaction first. It’s an unfortunate thing that so many people don’t follow their dream or are such negative people, those are the ones who will most likely try to talk you out of making your move. They are often the ones who don’t like or want change, especially in their family dynamics, so any major changes you might make would be perceived as a threat to them. Don’t let someone else’s fears or concerns stand in your way. It can also be hard on those who are close to you and rely on you for more, they might see your leaving as a removing of their safety net, whether financial or emotional. That is something you will have to work out with them, again don’t let someone else’s fears or concerns stand in your way (assuming they are adults and you aren’t responsible for them).

Make no mistake, the people in the “Are you nuts?” category might be pretty persuasive in their arguments to stop you, from trying to scare you with all the unknowns, to threatening to cut you off from them, yes you probably will make some mistakes, yes things will happen that are out of your control, but don’t let that stop you from living your dream. Hopefully the negative Nancy’s will come around once they see you are doing fine and life didn’t end for them just because you left.

Now, to the other reaction, hopefully you will experience more of that side from your family and friends. Moving away, there would of course be some tears, but if they are happy for you it’s all the better. If they can see some benefit for you and them, that is a big help. Your place would more than likely become a destination for visits and vacations, you might even convince some of your family and/or friends to move where you are and live the off grid life as well.

Either way, change is never an easy thing, but hopefully it’s a positive thing in the end. Fortunately our families and friends are supportive of our decisions, it wasn’t easy to leave them all behind (some 500 miles to the east of us), but everyone has adjusted and most of them come out to visit on a regular basis.

If you are already living off grid, what does your family and friends think? If you aren’t yet off grid, what kind of reaction do you expect?

PS
I LOVE the title of this page (URL), I don’t exactly choose it, it uses the title of the article and if it’s too long, it truncates it, this is more true than you would realize 😉

Web
Analytics

The post Are you nuts? When can we come visit? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Essential Crafter

Click here to view the original post.

There was a time when if you wanted to learn how to do something, especially a trade, you found the person with the most knowledge and you apprenticed under them. Today that generally doesn’t happen. Many learn from family members, a father or mother, older sibling and the such, I wonder just how much of that goes on these days with both parents working and kids being raised in daycare… but I digress.

Back to my point about learning how to do new things, or in this case, old things, older methods of doing, building, creating, ways that are being lost with every grandfather and grandmother who passes from this world. Fortunately there is still a source of information, while not as good as hands on learning, this is a pretty good substitute, especially if you already posses a basic set of skills. Anyone with a computer, laptop or smartphone and an internet connection can tap this source, it’s YouTube.

PB turned me on to a particular YouTube channel, he refers  to himself as the Essential Crafter. His channel features a little of everything, from woodworking to metalsmithing, safety and the such. I will say that he has caught PB attention for the moment. Here are a few of his videos, watch and enjoy! Let me know who your favorite YouTube’ers are 🙂

Web
Analytics

The post Essential Crafter appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Confessions of a off grid granny

I cannot believe it’s October already, the days are still warm but the evenings and nights are getting cooler, it’s almost sweater weather! I am so looking forward to our first woodfire in the wood stove. I have a little confession that I’m going to tell you, but don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret just between us… I’ve been looking for a set of footed pajamas, just like the ones I wore when I was a little girl. Yeah, I know, it’s a little silly for a 50+ year old grandma to want to wear footed PJs, but it’s what I want. I have looked around and there are quite a few to choose from, but most of them are in the $30+ range and I’m not ready to spend that much money on something I’m going to lounge and sleep in. The really good ones, the thick cushy ones are a lot more expensive than that! I think what I’ll end up doing is making my own, I found a quite a few tutorials on YouTube about how to make these and I like the idea of knowing what they are going to be made of.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, I’m also thinking about Christmas, with Halloween a month away and Thanksgiving the following month, Christmas is truly right around the corner. If I start now, I’ll have plenty of time to put together some fun homemade gifts. I tend to think too complicated for these sorts of things, I need to simplify my ideas, I have lots of raw materials out here on my 6 acres, twigs, rocks, sand… Turning to YouTube I am in the process of getting some crafty DIY ideas, here are some I found.

Actually this first one I’m thinking about making for a friend whose birthday is on Halloween, I looked around and found some solar rechargeable lights for Mason Jars that would work great with this.
https://youtu.be/jgufxIUwslw

https://youtu.be/6t7wnNg8tkc

https://youtu.be/pAmwWuyr6Ng

https://youtu.be/TJe_fM1rZCQ

https://youtu.be/0nIaBlpOsEQ

One more 🙂 actually this would be more for Halloween, but you have a month until that hits…
https://youtu.be/r8P2va94ml0

Web
Analytics Made Easy - StatCounter

allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”>

The post Confessions of a off grid granny appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Confessions of a off grid granny

I cannot believe it’s October already, the days are still warm but the evenings and nights are getting cooler, it’s almost sweater weather! I am so looking forward to our first woodfire in the wood stove. I have a little confession that I’m going to tell you, but don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret just between us… I’ve been looking for a set of footed pajamas, just like the ones I wore when I was a little girl. Yeah, I know, it’s a little silly for a 50+ year old grandma to want to wear footed PJs, but it’s what I want. I have looked around and there are quite a few to choose from, but most of them are in the $30+ range and I’m not ready to spend that much money on something I’m going to lounge and sleep in. The really good ones, the thick cushy ones are a lot more expensive than that! I think what I’ll end up doing is making my own, I found a quite a few tutorials on YouTube about how to make these and I like the idea of knowing what they are going to be made of.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, I’m also thinking about Christmas, with Halloween a month away and Thanksgiving the following month, Christmas is truly right around the corner. If I start now, I’ll have plenty of time to put together some fun homemade gifts. I tend to think too complicated for these sorts of things, I need to simplify my ideas, I have lots of raw materials out here on my 6 acres, twigs, rocks, sand… Turning to YouTube I am in the process of getting some crafty DIY ideas, here are some I found.

Actually this first one I’m thinking about making for a friend whose birthday is on Halloween, I looked around and found some solar rechargeable lights for Mason Jars that would work great with this.
https://youtu.be/jgufxIUwslw

https://youtu.be/6t7wnNg8tkc

https://youtu.be/pAmwWuyr6Ng

https://youtu.be/TJe_fM1rZCQ

https://youtu.be/0nIaBlpOsEQ

One more 🙂 actually this would be more for Halloween, but you have a month until that hits…
https://youtu.be/r8P2va94ml0

Web
Analytics Made Easy - StatCounter

allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”>

The post Confessions of a off grid granny appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Confessions of a off grid granny

I cannot believe it’s October already, the days are still warm but the evenings and nights are getting cooler, it’s almost sweater weather! I am so looking forward to our first woodfire in the wood stove. I have a little confession that I’m going to tell you, but don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret just between us… I’ve been looking for a set of footed pajamas, just like the ones I wore when I was a little girl. Yeah, I know, it’s a little silly for a 50+ year old grandma to want to wear footed PJs, but it’s what I want. I have looked around and there are quite a few to choose from, but most of them are in the $30+ range and I’m not ready to spend that much money on something I’m going to lounge and sleep in. The really good ones, the thick cushy ones are a lot more expensive than that! I think what I’ll end up doing is making my own, I found a quite a few tutorials on YouTube about how to make these and I like the idea of knowing what they are going to be made of.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, I’m also thinking about Christmas, with Halloween a month away and Thanksgiving the following month, Christmas is truly right around the corner. If I start now, I’ll have plenty of time to put together some fun homemade gifts. I tend to think too complicated for these sorts of things, I need to simplify my ideas, I have lots of raw materials out here on my 6 acres, twigs, rocks, sand… Turning to YouTube I am in the process of getting some crafty DIY ideas, here are some I found.

Actually this first one I’m thinking about making for a friend whose birthday is on Halloween, I looked around and found some solar rechargeable lights for Mason Jars that would work great with this.
https://youtu.be/jgufxIUwslw

https://youtu.be/6t7wnNg8tkc

https://youtu.be/pAmwWuyr6Ng

https://youtu.be/TJe_fM1rZCQ

https://youtu.be/0nIaBlpOsEQ

One more 🙂 actually this would be more for Halloween, but you have a month until that hits…
https://youtu.be/r8P2va94ml0

Web
Analytics Made Easy - StatCounter

allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”>

The post Confessions of a off grid granny appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Confessions of a off grid granny

Click here to view the original post.

I cannot believe it’s October already, the days are still warm but the evenings and nights are getting cooler, it’s almost sweater weather! I am so looking forward to our first woodfire in the wood stove. I have a little confession that I’m going to tell you, but don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret just between us… I’ve been looking for a set of footed pajamas, just like the ones I wore when I was a little girl. Yeah, I know, it’s a little silly for a 50+ year old grandma to want to wear footed PJs, but it’s what I want. I have looked around and there are quite a few to choose from, but most of them are in the $30+ range and I’m not ready to spend that much money on something I’m going to lounge and sleep in. The really good ones, the thick cushy ones are a lot more expensive than that! I think what I’ll end up doing is making my own, I found a quite a few tutorials on YouTube about how to make these and I like the idea of knowing what they are going to be made of.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, I’m also thinking about Christmas, with Halloween a month away and Thanksgiving the following month, Christmas is truly right around the corner. If I start now, I’ll have plenty of time to put together some fun homemade gifts. I tend to think too complicated for these sorts of things, I need to simplify my ideas, I have lots of raw materials out here on my 6 acres, twigs, rocks, sand… Turning to YouTube I am in the process of getting some crafty DIY ideas, here are some I found.

Actually this first one I’m thinking about making for a friend whose birthday is on Halloween, I looked around and found some solar rechargeable lights for Mason Jars that would work great with this.
https://youtu.be/jgufxIUwslw

https://youtu.be/6t7wnNg8tkc

https://youtu.be/pAmwWuyr6Ng

https://youtu.be/TJe_fM1rZCQ

https://youtu.be/0nIaBlpOsEQ

One more 🙂 actually this would be more for Halloween, but you have a month until that hits…
https://youtu.be/r8P2va94ml0

Web
Analytics Made Easy - StatCounter

allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”>

The post Confessions of a off grid granny appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Confessions of a off grid granny

I cannot believe it’s October already, the days are still warm but the evenings and nights are getting cooler, it’s almost sweater weather! I am so looking forward to our first woodfire in the wood stove. I have a little confession that I’m going to tell you, but don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret just between us… I’ve been looking for a set of footed pajamas, just like the ones I wore when I was a little girl. Yeah, I know, it’s a little silly for a 50+ year old grandma to want to wear footed PJs, but it’s what I want. I have looked around and there are quite a few to choose from, but most of them are in the $30+ range and I’m not ready to spend that much money on something I’m going to lounge and sleep in. The really good ones, the thick cushy ones are a lot more expensive than that! I think what I’ll end up doing is making my own, I found a quite a few tutorials on YouTube about how to make these and I like the idea of knowing what they are going to be made of.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, I’m also thinking about Christmas, with Halloween a month away and Thanksgiving the following month, Christmas is truly right around the corner. If I start now, I’ll have plenty of time to put together some fun homemade gifts. I tend to think too complicated for these sorts of things, I need to simplify my ideas, I have lots of raw materials out here on my 6 acres, twigs, rocks, sand… Turning to YouTube I am in the process of getting some crafty DIY ideas, here are some I found.

Actually this first one I’m thinking about making for a friend whose birthday is on Halloween, I looked around and found some solar rechargeable lights for Mason Jars that would work great with this.
https://youtu.be/jgufxIUwslw

https://youtu.be/6t7wnNg8tkc

https://youtu.be/pAmwWuyr6Ng

https://youtu.be/TJe_fM1rZCQ

https://youtu.be/0nIaBlpOsEQ

One more 🙂 actually this would be more for Halloween, but you have a month until that hits…
https://youtu.be/r8P2va94ml0

Web
Analytics Made Easy - StatCounter

allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”>

The post Confessions of a off grid granny appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Aircrete!

Click here to view the original post.

I’m certain that most everyone reading this is familiar with using concrete for building material, there are various ways to go about using concrete, from preformed blocks and slabs to pouring in place (forms). There are many different ways to buy and mix concrete, the two main types you will readily find in your local home center are Quickcrete and Portland cement. The Quickcrete and the like are ready mixed with everything in the bag, all you need to do is add water, it’s convenient but more expensive. Buying Portland cement is better IMHO because you can make whatever kind of mix you wish, we use sand and gravel from our creekbed to mix with our Portland, PB has a formula that he keeps in his head, mixing it by feel and consistency, it works great for us. There are other things you can add to the cement mix to strengthen it and/or make it lighter.

One type of mix is made with paper and cement, it’s called “papercrete”, we have some papercrete blocks that were made by a neighbor we never met out here, he had moved and a friend of ours was cleaning up the property and thought we might like the blocks. They are OK, not very structural though, some of the blocks are very spongy and crumble easily, other blocks are stronger, it was easy to see which ones were the first batches and which ones he had learned from. We are using them as the filler for a curved fence that is going around the front yard area of the SkyCastle. PB is encasing them in his own mix of cement to give it strength.

Earlier today I ran across a great instructional video showing how to make “aircrete”, essentially it’s just Portland cement, water and dishsoap. I was really blown away by how simple the whole thing really is. It makes very lightweight but strong cement, it can be poured into forms or made into blocks that can be made into structures. It looks very easy to work with and goes very fast.

Apparently, in the past, you could get aircrete but the process required large heavy expensive commercial equipment, it wasn’t something that the average DIY person could easily do, but with some ingenuity there are now ways for the non-commercial person to make their own aircrete.

Watch and enjoy!
https://youtu.be/b9Gmor0I3mw

web
analytics

The post Aircrete! appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Never buy grain for your chickens again!

When I picture raising chickens, it’s always free range (of course!), I see a farmer walking through a flock of hungry chooks tossing handfuls of grain onto the ground for feed. It seems that Karl Hammer has figured out how to raise chickens, over 600, without having to purchase even one bag of grain. Watching this video, it’s amazing to see all of these chickens roaming free, scrambling over and digging up tall mounds of compost. Karl is a compost king, he has various (and huge) compost piles set in strategic places to funnel and capture the leachate that drains through and from each pile into the next. This is designed so that none of the nutrients are lost and they don’t end up polluting their potable water source nor the neighboring properties.

These compost piles consist of many different sources of material, from cow and donkey manures, waste food from various restaurants from town and the other things you would find in a compost pile. They are HOT, meaning they are active, in fact, Karl is producing his first batch of black garlic in one of the heated piles. I had never heard of black garlic, but it’s something I am very interested in now, you can learn more about it here.

I started watching this video thinking I was only going to learn about chickens and compost, but Karl has much more up his sleeve than that. He raises and uses American Mammoth Donkeys (Jackstock), seems they were very important in history, in the USA and in other countries, one of his jacks ancestry goes back to an animal that was given to President Washington by the King of Spain, another gift came from the Isle of Malta.  (LINK) These animals not only provide valuable manure, they are working animals, pulling equipment and being guards for the other livestock on the farm.

Watch and enjoy the video, I certainly did.
https://youtu.be/IWChH9MHkHg

web
analytics

The post Never buy grain for your chickens again! appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Never buy grain for your chickens again!

Click here to view the original post.

When I picture raising chickens, it’s always free range (of course!), I see a farmer walking through a flock of hungry chooks tossing handfuls of grain onto the ground for feed. It seems that Karl Hammer has figured out how to raise chickens, over 600, without having to purchase even one bag of grain. Watching this video, it’s amazing to see all of these chickens roaming free, scrambling over and digging up tall mounds of compost. Karl is a compost king, he has various (and huge) compost piles set in strategic places to funnel and capture the leachate that drains through and from each pile into the next. This is designed so that none of the nutrients are lost and they don’t end up polluting their potable water source nor the neighboring properties.

These compost piles consist of many different sources of material, from cow and donkey manures, waste food from various restaurants from town and the other things you would find in a compost pile. They are HOT, meaning they are active, in fact, Karl is producing his first batch of black garlic in one of the heated piles. I had never heard of black garlic, but it’s something I am very interested in now, you can learn more about it here.

I started watching this video thinking I was only going to learn about chickens and compost, but Karl has much more up his sleeve than that. He raises and uses American Mammoth Donkeys (Jackstock), seems they were very important in history, in the USA and in other countries, one of his jacks ancestry goes back to an animal that was given to President Washington by the King of Spain, another gift came from the Isle of Malta.  (LINK) These animals not only provide valuable manure, they are working animals, pulling equipment and being guards for the other livestock on the farm.

Watch and enjoy the video, I certainly did.
https://youtu.be/IWChH9MHkHg

web
analytics

The post Never buy grain for your chickens again! appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Never buy grain for your chickens again!

When I picture raising chickens, it’s always free range (of course!), I see a farmer walking through a flock of hungry chooks tossing handfuls of grain onto the ground for feed. It seems that Karl Hammer has figured out how to raise chickens, over 600, without having to purchase even one bag of grain. Watching this video, it’s amazing to see all of these chickens roaming free, scrambling over and digging up tall mounds of compost. Karl is a compost king, he has various (and huge) compost piles set in strategic places to funnel and capture the leachate that drains through and from each pile into the next. This is designed so that none of the nutrients are lost and they don’t end up polluting their potable water source nor the neighboring properties.

These compost piles consist of many different sources of material, from cow and donkey manures, waste food from various restaurants from town and the other things you would find in a compost pile. They are HOT, meaning they are active, in fact, Karl is producing his first batch of black garlic in one of the heated piles. I had never heard of black garlic, but it’s something I am very interested in now, you can learn more about it here.

I started watching this video thinking I was only going to learn about chickens and compost, but Karl has much more up his sleeve than that. He raises and uses American Mammoth Donkeys (Jackstock), seems they were very important in history, in the USA and in other countries, one of his jacks ancestry goes back to an animal that was given to President Washington by the King of Spain, another gift came from the Isle of Malta.  (LINK) These animals not only provide valuable manure, they are working animals, pulling equipment and being guards for the other livestock on the farm.

Watch and enjoy the video, I certainly did.
https://youtu.be/IWChH9MHkHg

web
analytics

The post Never buy grain for your chickens again! appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

30 days and it’s ready

Click here to view the original post.

I had so much fun watching this couple condense a 30 day conversion into a short video, as I saw each part, I thought that’s just how I would want to do it myself! I am not familiar with a “Sprinter Van”, but it’s a wonderful size for this purpose, it’s compact enough that parking will not be a problem, it is not going to look like people are camping or living in it, so it’s perfect for stealth camping in town. It looks very presentable, from the outside it looks like just a normal van, nothing that would draw attention.

Being smaller, it does not have any sort of bathroom facilities, no dedicated toilet, no shower area, but it does have everything else one would need. I love the couch that converts into a bed, the design for that is so ingenious, it is well insulated. The kitchen looks great, I LOVE the deep sink, so often in van conversions, the sink tends to be very undersized, especially in the depth, this sink does not have that issue. The tiles look good, but that is the one area I would have deviated, mainly because of the weight it adds and it’s not flexible, I wonder if it will eventually crack or tiles start popping out, hopefully not, but with all the movement, vibration and flexing, I don’t have much faith in it to maintain integrity.

The way they permanently mounted the Vitamix mixer is ingenious! It looks great, will not move around and is usable in place. The rest of the kitchen is equally well done. Watch the videos and enjoy, the first video is an overview, if you want to see more details, watch the rest of the videos in the series.

https://youtu.be/obQt4WxTYV4

web
analytics

The post 30 days and it’s ready appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Internet gone!

Click here to view the original post.

With all of the hurricanes and wildfires going on here in the USA, we haven’t been plagued by any of those tragedies, but we have had our own little hiccup, it was just a taste of being out of communication, a reminder of what can happen when things go wrong. In the middle of last week, our internet suddenly quit working, no advanced notice, I was actually online when it happened, it just stopped, something that happens on a semi-regular basis but usually only lasting a very short period. A few days later it was still out, I found out that a large fiber optic line was cut a few towns away, it was affecting most of our towns, I heard that stores were not accepting credit or debit cards, possibly not even checks, only cash. I assumed that the problem would be fixed rather quickly because of the number of stores not able to fully do business.

As the weekend rolled into Monday, a holiday, I was still waiting for my internet to come back on, I was learning that my neighbors internet was back up and running, but mine was still out. I had tried to troubleshoot my system, one thing I discovered was my antenna/receiver was full of water from some sideways rain we had earlier. I drained it and could see that it was getting power, the green light that indicated power as well as a separate light indicating that the LAN was working. The other lights that indicate the strength of the signal, were not on.

Once Tuesday arrived, I was finally able to get a-hold of my internet company, sure enough, our internet to the neighborhood had been restored, it was just mine that wasn’t working. I knew I wouldn’t be home all day on Tuesday, an unusual set of circumstances would result in the SkyCastle being empty for the majority of the day (something I’ll tell you about in a future post, link to be added once it is live), since our place is not near the road or even really visible from the road, it is not easy to find so the internet tech folk would not be able to visit on Tuesday. I figured they would be able to arrive on Wednesday, but the day passed with no tech visit. Another phone call later, it would be later in the afternoon on Thursday before it would be fixed.

Needless to say, I have been really missing our internet, I was able to check my email at my neighbor’s house, but it’s satellite internet and painfully slow, my cell phone does not work where I live (no one can use cell phones out here), I could do a little when I was out on the road, but honestly when I’m out, it’s because I’m working and don’t really have time to play with the internet, and using the internet on a smart phone is not easy or convenient.

Our internet was finally restored, turned out the water that had gotten inside the receiver had indeed caused the unit to reset itself and it was no longer connected to or receiving a signal from our neighborhood antenna/repeater. This was just a little taste of what it may be like in the case of an emergency, whether it is caused by nature, bad weather, sun spots, CMEs, or man-made, cutting a fiber optic line, hitting a utility pole and the such, when the power or communications are interrupted, you quickly realize just how isolated you are, at least that is true for us living out here in such a rural area.

Fortunately, I did have some backup, I could check my email at my neighbor’s house, though that was about all I could do because of that system being so slow. I did have other neighbors who offered the use of their internet. I could do some things on my smart phone while I was out on the road, I had considered taking my larger tablet and using my phone as a hot-spot, an option if things get really bad.

What is your backup if your internet goes out at your home? I suspect many of you who live in town can use their smartphones for internet access, I have mixed emotions about our ability, or lack of ability to use a cell phone out here… we have had the opportunity in the past to have better cell phone coverage out here in the neighborhood, but most people out here really do not want it, mainly because of the ugly cell phone towers that would need to be installed. I know that eventually it will happen, and quite frankly I’ll probably get over the look of the ugly cell towers for the convenience of being able to use my cell phone on my property and at my house. It will also open up the ability to use the internet through my cell service.

I use my internet as my main source of communication, education and entertainment. I use the Google voice for my home phone, I rely heavily on YouTube and other sites for entertainment as well as education, and for my main source of entertainment, I use Amazon’s Prime videos, right now I’m binge watching Star Trek The Next Generation and I just signed up for a free week of Britbox and I’m watching as many Britcoms as I possibly can this week, will probably keep it for a few months.

That is how my last few weeks have gone, how about you? Anything interesting going on?

web
analytics

The post Internet gone! appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Internet gone!

With all of the hurricanes and wildfires going on here in the USA, we haven’t been plagued by any of those tragedies, but we have had our own little hiccup, it was just a taste of being out of communication, a reminder of what can happen when things go wrong. In the middle of last week, our internet suddenly quit working, no advanced notice, I was actually online when it happened, it just stopped, something that happens on a semi-regular basis but usually only lasting a very short period. A few days later it was still out, I found out that a large fiber optic line was cut a few towns away, it was affecting most of our towns, I heard that stores were not accepting credit or debit cards, possibly not even checks, only cash. I assumed that the problem would be fixed rather quickly because of the number of stores not able to fully do business.

As the weekend rolled into Monday, a holiday, I was still waiting for my internet to come back on, I was learning that my neighbors internet was back up and running, but mine was still out. I had tried to troubleshoot my system, one thing I discovered was my antenna/receiver was full of water from some sideways rain we had earlier. I drained it and could see that it was getting power, the green light that indicated power as well as a separate light indicating that the LAN was working. The other lights that indicate the strength of the signal, were not on.

Once Tuesday arrived, I was finally able to get a-hold of my internet company, sure enough, our internet to the neighborhood had been restored, it was just mine that wasn’t working. I knew I wouldn’t be home all day on Tuesday, an unusual set of circumstances would result in the SkyCastle being empty for the majority of the day (something I’ll tell you about in a future post, link to be added once it is live), since our place is not near the road or even really visible from the road, it is not easy to find so the internet tech folk would not be able to visit on Tuesday. I figured they would be able to arrive on Wednesday, but the day passed with no tech visit. Another phone call later, it would be later in the afternoon on Thursday before it would be fixed.

Needless to say, I have been really missing our internet, I was able to check my email at my neighbor’s house, but it’s satellite internet and painfully slow, my cell phone does not work where I live (no one can use cell phones out here), I could do a little when I was out on the road, but honestly when I’m out, it’s because I’m working and don’t really have time to play with the internet, and using the internet on a smart phone is not easy or convenient.

Our internet was finally restored, turned out the water that had gotten inside the receiver had indeed caused the unit to reset itself and it was no longer connected to or receiving a signal from our neighborhood antenna/repeater. This was just a little taste of what it may be like in the case of an emergency, whether it is caused by nature, bad weather, sun spots, CMEs, or man-made, cutting a fiber optic line, hitting a utility pole and the such, when the power or communications are interrupted, you quickly realize just how isolated you are, at least that is true for us living out here in such a rural area.

Fortunately, I did have some backup, I could check my email at my neighbor’s house, though that was about all I could do because of that system being so slow. I did have other neighbors who offered the use of their internet. I could do some things on my smart phone while I was out on the road, I had considered taking my larger tablet and using my phone as a hot-spot, an option if things get really bad.

What is your backup if your internet goes out at your home? I suspect many of you who live in town can use their smartphones for internet access, I have mixed emotions about our ability, or lack of ability to use a cell phone out here… we have had the opportunity in the past to have better cell phone coverage out here in the neighborhood, but most people out here really do not want it, mainly because of the ugly cell phone towers that would need to be installed. I know that eventually it will happen, and quite frankly I’ll probably get over the look of the ugly cell towers for the convenience of being able to use my cell phone on my property and at my house. It will also open up the ability to use the internet through my cell service.

I use my internet as my main source of communication, education and entertainment. I use the Google voice for my home phone, I rely heavily on YouTube and other sites for entertainment as well as education, and for my main source of entertainment, I use Amazon’s Prime videos, right now I’m binge watching Star Trek The Next Generation and I just signed up for a free week of Britbox and I’m watching as many Britcoms as I possibly can this week, will probably keep it for a few months.

That is how my last few weeks have gone, how about you? Anything interesting going on?

web
analytics

The post Internet gone! appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Karen and her Casita

Click here to view the original post.

I spent some time today listening to Karen describe her life and how she ended up living in a small Casita travel trailer. I am wowed by her story, she has lived a very interesting life, has experienced both the good and the bad, and she has a nice story telling style that is easy to listen to (as well as watch)…

The Casita is a relatively newer style of fiberglass travel trailer, instead of being made with a metal skin, there is nothing to rust or bend out of shape. I suspect they don’t have the leaking problems that other travel trailers have, my friend Beth who has lived in various travel trailers and RVs can attest that the older style units have a propensity to leak, and often in the worst place, usually right over your bed in the middle of the night.

Karen shows how has customized her Casita for her life, it looks roomy and comfy. She is one of a growing population of single ladies living a mobile life, some might call her fearless, I see a sensible lady with lots of experience and enough know-how to not be intimidated by anything.

Enjoy the videos
https://youtu.be/aNz_6-YfrGc

https://youtu.be/0dreaL4iVPU

web analytics

The post Karen and her Casita appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Empty shelves

Click here to view the original post.

What is the first thing to disappear off the shelves in an emergency? Water, that is the main thing I heard people on the news saying, everyone was out of water, and of course food is close behind of the things that will be stripped from the shelves. Fuel, batteries, paper plates and other things that don’t require washing. I have said it again and again, don’t wait until the emergency is on your doorstep to begin to prep, be ready long before that storm, hurricane, power outage or whatever might occur. It’s not a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN, these things will happen and you can either be the folks standing in long lines, possibly leaving empty handed, or you can be the smart people who are ready for whatever may come.

It’s so much easier to prep ahead of time, you can do it little by little each week or payday, rather than worrying about how much money you will have to spend, that is IF the water, food and fuel are even available, you will be sitting at home, safe with your family, ready to ride out whatever is coming.

This is something I will never understand, people who live on the coast, they KNOW that each year there are possibilities of storms, hurricanes, cyclones, tropical storms, and yet when it happens, the news is full of stories of empty shelves at the grocery stores, long lines, running out of fuel at the gas stations, the hardware stores running out of plywood sheets to cover windows… this goes for people living in other areas that are prone to natural disasters, earthquakes, wildfires, storms, up north where they can get deep snow and ice, anyone who lives in a place that can have weather that can cause power outages or prevent you from getting out.

Even if you are on the thinnest of budgets, you can buy a few extra cans of food, things that don’t require heating, buy an inexpensive MANUAL can opener and make sure it works properly. You can buy up one or two gallons of water a week or payday, those only cost a dollar or so each, you don’t have to get the expensive H2O, get the cheapest you can find and stash it away. Buy up some cheap paper plates and plastic eating utensils, some wet wipes and hand sanitizer. Don’t forget about your pets, a few extra cans of food will not break the bank.

Try to have some comfort food, snacks that do not require refrigeration or heating. If you have children, it’s a good idea to have a few coloring books and crayons or colored pencils to help keep them occupied. Also you can invest in some board games, chess, checkers, Life, whatever you like, you can find these inexpensively in the dollar stores.

Depending on the time of the year, you will need to keep warm or cool, warm clothes and blankets will get you through a cold snap, if it’s summer, you will just have to open the windows (if you can), or sit outside, have some clean spray bottles filled with water to mist yourself and hand fans will help keep you cool until the power comes back on.

The important thing here is to have all or most of these things BEFORE the emergency hits. I sincerely hope everyone down in southern Texas on the coast and the other states on the gulf coast get through this OK, hopefully folks will learn from this and not be caught off guard next time.

web
analytics

The post Empty shelves appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Making a difference in India

Click here to view the original post.

I might be called a “climate change denier”, but it would be more accurate to say that I do believe in climate change, I just don’t believe it’s caused by man. Of course I understand we can have a small, local influence, it’s quite possible (and has happened) that we can mess up things on a local scale, but I don’t believe it’s enough to cause GLOBAL changes… (ducking from the rocks I just felt fly by my head LOL).

That being said, I do believe there are cyclical changes, the earth heats up, the earth cools down, and as these things occur over long and short cycles – with or without man being on the scene, I wonder why we aren’t working toward creating technology and methods that would allow us to live in harmony and thrive in the changes that are coming? I can see the corruption of the powers that be, those who want to stay in charge no matter what, let’s kick them to the curb and work towards learning to take advantage of the coming changes so that we can continue to live and eat.

I listened to a NPR story about people in India who are doing just that, instead of trying to fight or slow down global climate change, they are focusing their efforts on changing how they farm and live to work with nature. They are experimenting with new and different crops than they have traditionally grown, they are learning what works and what doesn’t, that really excites me.

Listen to the podcast from NPR about what these ingenious people in India are doing, let me know what you think 🙂

Original article can be found here:
http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/08/20/543881831/as-indias-climate-changes-farmers-in-the-north-experiment-with-new-crops

web
analytics

The post Making a difference in India appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Eclipse Monday

Click here to view the original post.

I suspect that unless you are living under a really big rock, you know about the solar eclipse that will be happening on Monday. It’s been all the rage on Facebook and other social media, actually giving us a welcome reprieve from all the other social garbage that has been floating around the last few weeks.

There have been a glut of “eclipse glasses” being sold all over the internet, I’ve been hearing warnings about some of them being fake and could potentially allow damage to your eyes if you use them to look at the sun, even during the eclipse. I’ve also been reading the obligatory “Where will you be during the eclipse?” posts, well for me, I’ll not be looking at the sun, not with special glasses or anything else.

I’ll not be where the total eclipse will be happening, I will also be working tomorrow, if everything lines up correctly (pun not intended), I’ll be on the road, leaving Presidio Texas heading toward Marfa Texas when the sky will go dim. I will have my camera and hope to snag some interesting photos if anything picture worthy presents itself to me.

Perhaps I’ll even make an impromptu pinhole projector and see what I can see. Sooooo, what are you going to be doing tomorrow assuming you live where the eclipse is going to fall?

https://youtu.be/KUAnKsW93xU

https://youtu.be/QHVFYsQn9uM

https://youtu.be/0QOLPHHDGj8

https://youtu.be/cZhFOB8_ses

web
analytics

The post Eclipse Monday appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Manual counterparts

Click here to view the original post.

You decide you are hungry, you get up from the couch, you pause your TV show on the way to the kitchen, you get a can of soup, you use the electric can opener, you pour the soup into a bowl, you pop it into the microwave for a couple of minutes, you get a soda from the fridge, pour it into a glass of ice from the freezer, you take everything back to the living room and resume watching your show as you enjoy your food…

Now lets assume the power has gone off for whatever reason, doesn’t matter if it’s a major power outage, or some drunk ran into the power pole at the end of your street, how would that scenario play out differently? Well, obviously you aren’t going to be watching TV, and when you get hungry, you still have everything in your kitchen, but you aren’t going to be using most of it.

How are you going to eat? If you are smart, you will plan ahead, long before you are sitting in the dark. Cans of food are great for blackouts, they don’t require refrigeration. But with a can, unless it’s a pop-top type, you will need to open it, that requires a can opener, hopefully you have a manual can opener in some forgotten drawer, hopefully you know how to use it, yes some can openers can be tricky to use. I only use a manual can opener, and as a backup, I have a P38, an old style Army can opener that works no matter what.

Now, how are you going to heat your food? Forget the microwave or electric stove, if you have a newer gas stove they usually have piezo electric lighters, but you can still light the top burners with a lighter or matches. If you don’t have a way of heating your food, then you can get a propane camp stove, they come as one burner all the way up to a regular stove top with an oven. Of course you can always use a grill (USE IT OUTDOORS!).

Hopefully your electricity isn’t out long enough that you run out of water, yes even your water tap will stop pumping water eventually, so you will need to have a source of water for drinking, cooking and cleaning.

It’s good to have some other manual tools for the kitchen, instead of using a food processor, you can use knives or even a manual chopper. A whisk will mix your food or drinks instead of a blender.

There are many foods you are probably keeping in your fridge that don’t really require the colder temps, things with vinegar in them, pickles, relish, ketchup, mustard and the such. Of course mayo doesn’t last long outside of the fridge. Butter and eggs will last a surprisingly long time outside of the fridge.

Having backups for the electrical items we use are not only handy but can help us get through in more comfort. What things can you think of that would have a manual counterpart that could be used?

web
analytics

The post Manual counterparts appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Living here vs there

Click here to view the original post.

When we left the big city, well more like the outskirts of the big city, we lived in a trailer park on the edge of Irving Texas, it felt more rural because right across the street was lots of industrial and empty land, but even so, this was in the middle of what we called the metroplex of Dallas and Fort Worth. We had all the usual utilities, electric, water, sewer, gas, phone, cable, trash pickup and the such. There were grocery stores and other major shopping within a very short mile or so driving distance. We had neighbors, lots of them very close by, there was no getting away from people.

Living in this plethora of people, we had very few friends, really just one or two to speak of and they didn’t live nearby. We honestly didn’t know our next door neighbors, oh we were on nodding terms with them, we would recognize them if we saw them at the gas station, but we weren’t very close with any of them, we never visited them nor them us.

When we moved out west, to a very rural area, with few people, very few people, we expected to become hermits, to not have much if any contact with the few neighbors we had out here. We didn’t know anyone and expected to continue living like we did in Irving, with little contact with the people out here.

It didn’t take long to discover that this wasn’t going to be the way we would live, moving into a tiny (but spread out) community, everyone knows what everyone else is doing, word gets out fast that there are new people around and the community quickly jumps in to meet you and make you feel welcome. One of the things that we have learned living so far away from any major town and so far away from other people is the safety net that is available in the bigger cities just isn’t here in smaller communities, so it’s up to the people to look out for each other and help each other as much as possible.

We have more friends since moving away from people than we have ever had before, and I like it! We have a network of people out here who will jump in and help each other when there is a need, such as a vehicle breaking down, if you are stopped on the side of the road, all you need do is wait a bit for the next car (or truck) to come along and you will get a ride. If you need work done but don’t have a lot of money to pay, then people will donate or barter their time and skills.

Of course, along with all that familiarity comes some drawbacks, I mentioned that living in a small community, everyone and I do mean EVERYONE knows what everyone else is doing, sometimes that can become a problem, especially if there is a tendency for gossip. I have learned that a good line of communication is the key to slowing the gossip train, nothing will eliminate it, but being a bit proactive to get in front of it, and not getting upset by it when it happens to you goes a long way to getting along in a small community.

It’s really easy to think that just because you don’t see many (or any) other homes in your line of site from your property, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t “eyes” out there, think you can put in a septic system without anyone knowing? Think you can build something without anyone else knowing? Think again, there will be someone who sees the materials coming in, there will be someone who knows the person at the check out lane of the hardware store where you made your larger purchase. Once one person knows about it, it doesn’t take long to get around the neighborhood… it’s just part of living in a small community. You lose your anonymity when there are fewer people around to notice what you are up to, which is opposite of what you think should happen. When you are in a larger city with lots of people and lots of eyes, they tend to ignore what is going on around them, it probably doesn’t affect them so they just don’t care to know what you are doing, you are just another face in a sea of faces.

Yesterday, we had a cookout with a few friends over, something that is common for us to do on Friday evening, it was very much a spur of the moment thing this time, but a few phone calls and text messages later and we had a small crowd of friends gathered around a grill full of hot dogs, sausages, corn on the cob and other goodies. One of our long time friends said that he knew of a new lady who had moved in up the road, it was decided that he would go get her and bring her to the gathering. We had already met her once out on the road, so it wasn’t like an abduction (LOL), she grabbed her banjo and came down. We had the best time getting to know our new neighbor, chatting with old friends, listening to good music and eating tasty food.

This is something we rarely did back in the city, we would have annual get togethers with family once or twice a year, but never weekly gatherings of friends, especially not at our place. I really love my life and feel blessed each and everyday.

For the record, I’m not negatively judging living in the city, I know there are those who love living in busy bustling places, then there are those like me who enjoy a slower pace. To each their own. Tell me which you prefer?

web
analytics

The post Living here vs there appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Hitting the wall

Click here to view the original post.

PB and I have lived off grid for nearly 10 years now, by Christmas this year it will be 10 years. Have you ever done something for so long that you grow tired of it? I will admit, I have hit the off grid fatigue wall… I don’t mind living off grid, I love having few monthly bills, I love being more independent, and I know that I am able to go longer than most at living this way. I hear the comments, usually second hand, wondering how I can stand to live like I do, I suppose they mean living in a more primitive manner, dealing with our own waste (human and otherwise), LOL if they only knew 🙂

Actually, when I think about it, I’m pretty satisfied with how I live, I couldn’t imagine living any other way, in spite of the fact that I occasionally hit that wall, it just makes me stop and think about just how fortunate I truly am, I am living my dream, even if that dream wakes me up from time to time to review and revise what is going on.

I know that one thing that is bothering me right now, we are in the beginnings of our rainy season. We go most of the year with minimal rain, until about mid July, then we get rain, a lot of rain, often on a daily basis. The SkyCastle is pretty well built, it’s sturdy, but since we used quite a bit of recycled (read:used) materials, some parts of it aren’t as “comfortable” as it could be, the roof is one of those things.

We leak, when we get hard rains, sideways rains, hail and the such, we have a few areas that leak inside the house. The roof is made from lots of other people’s castoff metal sheets, a neighbor would be tearing down a shed or other building, or maybe they were re-roofing their home, we would end up with the used materials, it was good for everyone involved, they didn’t have to take the scrap material to a landfill that is FAR away from here, and we got free material to build with. So there are lots of mismatched pieces of metal, different sorts of panels and all of them came with holes from previous use.

It has been something we have lived with and dealt with for many years, since we don’t get a lot of rain for most of the year, it’s pretty easy to ignore it and deal with it when we do get our rains. This year, it’s starting to bother me more. This evening, PB and I sat on the 3rd floor deck, watching the sun go down and swatting mosquitoes. I asked him to work up a plan along with cost estimates for material to re-roof the main part of the SkyCastle, that consists of the living room/kitchen, bedroom and shower area. We also want to build a deck space up there that covers most of the roof, that would give us more outdoor space for us to enjoy and to entertain our friends & family. It would also give some extra thermal protection during the hot part of the summer, which is already over with BTW, can’t complain much about that, except that it lasts about 1-2 months and does get hot, just not humid, it’s bearable, but the extra shade created by another layer (the deck) on the roof would make it even better.

There are a few other things that are causing me to feel like I’m hitting a wall, I will even admit that I briefly considered getting a power pole planted on our property (gasp!!!). Only as a backup, for when the batteries don’t get enough of a charge, for when PB wants/needs to use tools and equipment that require more power than we can generate, but that thought was brief and is fading away. For the cost of getting power on our property, I could easily buy and install a bigger solar system, it was honestly just one of those poor pitiful me moments, we all have those right? Well, I’m getting over that, not to worry, I am not actually going to do it. I only write this to you to be honest, it’s not all roses and unicorns living off grid. We have lasted this long and will continue to push ahead.

I’ll let you know what PB comes up with about the roof, hopefully before next summer (and then rainy season) we will have a spiffy new roof and a party deck for entertaining.

web
analytics

The post Hitting the wall appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Healing update

Click here to view the original post.

On July 10, I posted about getting bit by something, probably a spider, not likely of the recluse variety based on how quickly it blew up, but something sufficient to cause me to go to the doctor. Now nearly 3 weeks later, I’m almost at 100% on how I feel and my leg is looking better, even though there is still a nasty looking sore, and it’s still discolored, the crater is filling in, there is still a lump under it, the skin around it is peeling like I had a sunburn. I call it good. I’m not someone who is afraid or concerned about scars, as long as they are reasonable size (ie I wouldn’t want to be scarred all over my body), I’m not concerned about having small scars here and there, this will most definitely scar and I might end up with a discolored patch on my leg for quite some time, maybe even permanently.

This did make me sick, very sick, the kind of sick that puts you in bed for days. It really zapped my strength, I could really tell it when I would walk around on my mountain, I could take about 5 steps and felt like I had run a marathon, it was physical exhaustion. I would seriously hate to have a chronic condition that made me feel like that all the time, I have a new appreciation for those who have those types of chronic fatigue syndrome and other illnesses that just steal your energy.

Fortunately, it’s all but over for me, I’ve been working, doing longer days with the merchandising company, I’m glad I had a light couple of weeks during the worst of it. I believe the antibiotics that I took also had a hand in slowing me down. It really seemed to affect my digestion quite a bit. I could eat and the next day I felt like I still had that food in my stomach. I took the antibiotics faithfully for the 10 days they were prescribed, well almost faithfully, on about the 7th day, I quit taking the nightly dose of one of them, I still continued taking both of them during the day.

On the 10th day, I had a follow up appointment with my doctor, did I mention that I really like this doctor? It had been about 30 years since I had seen a doctor before finding him, a combination of being healthy enough not to need one, and not wanting to go see one. When I found this doctor, he was treating a friend of mine and spent nearly an hour going over a blood test that he gave her, that and the fact that he is a D.O. and combines modern medicine with food therapy and supplements, he is right up my alley.

I went to see him on the 10th day, he was happy with the way my leg looked, and according to my blood workup, everything looked good, I do not have Lyme disease, something I knew didn’t happen from this bite but could have occurred from previous tick bites, everything else looked good too. Something I noticed was my white blood count was not elevated, so apparently I did not have an infection, so it was just my body reacting to the toxins in whatever spider bit me.

I did mention to the doctor about how the antibiotics were really messing with my digestion, something that is to be expected since it doesn’t discriminate between the bad and the good bacteria in your system. He told me to eat some yogurt, real yogurt not the sugarized adulterated dead yogurts you tend to find on the grocery store shelves. He also suggested kombucha or some other way to get some probiotics into my body. I gladly accepted the advice, in fact I went straight to the grocery store (I know, a grocery store, I didn’t have a healthfood store that I could go to at that moment, it’s in the next town over) and bought the best real yogurt they had, with live cultures. A few days later I did hit our “local” healthfood store, it’s 40+ miles away one way, I found a plethora of yogurt and other goodies with living probiotic cultures. I could tell the difference within a few days.

At any rate, I’m good to go again, I’m able to work a full day without feeling exhausted, I can walk up my hill, even jogging a bit. I did get my refills on the antibiotics so that IF that happens again, I don’t have to go to the doctor and I’ll not wait as long to start treatment.

How has your month been? Hopefully better than mine. 🙂

web
analytics

The post Healing update appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Going old school batteries

Click here to view the original post.

The Achilles’ heel of every off gridder has got to be the battery bank. It is generally the most expensive part of the system, especially if you are going big, but for even those of us who run a small system, the batteries are the part that are the most problematic as well as expensive.

I am hard on my batteries, I freely admit it, I run them down on a regular basis, I have gone though 3 sets of deep cycle batteries in 9 years. I have never had a large system, 2-4 batteries at most, fortunately we have never needed a large system, we run a few lights, radio, laptop, tablet, cell phone, router and internet antenna, a 12 volt water pump, a few fans and the biggest energy eater is our converted freezer to fridge unit. There are the occasional power tools that are used, but for the most part, on a daily basis, it’s just the first set of items listed.

I am on the poor side of the financial scale, I am in fact considered at poverty level, but since we have so few bills, the property and vehicle are paid for, we do pretty well on not much money. I generally don’t have the kind of money to put out all at once to get a bigger battery bank, I would also need to upgrade our solar panels (bigger and more) before even considering getting more batteries.

I did a search on YouTube for off grid batteries just to see what would come up, I know that battery technology is getting better and better as well as cheaper to buy, but to my surprise, an old technology came up in the search, Edison batteries. From what I have read, they are pretty indestructible, it’s even claimed that they would be the last batteries you would ever need to buy.

There are a couple of companies that are making and selling those batteries now, of course they are not cheap, especially since they claim to be essentially forever batteries. Watch this video and let me know what you think.
https://youtu.be/-nlD2NCJGXk

The post Going old school batteries appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

What bit me?

Click here to view the original post.

Being sick or injured is one of the things that you still have to deal with when living off grid. This summer we had a lot of insects, many of which bite or sting. Most of which aren’t really a problem, more a nuisance than anything else, but on occasion a tiny little bite can turn into something really nasty. This happened to me, I spend last weekend in bed with flu like symptoms, aching joints, headache, 0 energy, I couldn’t even walk up my hill without feeling exhausted.

The reason? Something bit me. It happened while I slept, it wasn’t a painful bite, it apparently didn’t even wake me up. I suspect it was a spider, but honestly I just don’t know what it was. This bite was on my shin, it started out looking and feeling like a mosquito bite, small, red, itchy… then it blew up, almost literally. It swelled into this hot, painful, red purple lump going in two different directions. I did try some home remedies, I’m usually successful at taking care of my own ailments, but this one turned into something that was becoming life threatening over the weekend.

By Monday, I had determined I needed to go to the doctor, the bite had really turned bad, growing into something that isn’t recognizable as a normal leg, I was running a fever, going between shivering cold and dripping with sweat. I wasn’t going to go in, almost had myself talked out of going in, then I saw the red spots that were popping up all over my body, it was almost like chicken pox all over again. That was the deciding factor for me.

Everyone who saw my leg was convinced it was a brown recluse, and it certainly had that look, but fortunately the doctor didn’t agree with that diagnosis, saying the reaction happened much too quickly for it to be that. But we are still unsure of exactly what did bite me.

Now, 3 prescriptions later I am on the mend. I still don’t know exactly what bit me, it sufficiently horrified the doctor and his staff, they took blood to find out if I have staph (they are treating me as if I do for now), lyme disease and no telling what else, I did hear something about a full CDC panel, whatever that means.

I’ll know more next week about what they find. I am already feeling better, I’m past the worst of it and will be able to go back to work in a few days. Fortunately it’s a lite week at work this week, so I was able to push my jobs to the end of the week.

It’s amazing to me that something that started out so tiny and insignificant could turn into something potentially deadly in just a few short days, of course these things almost always happens on the weekend. I’m just glad I was able to get this taken care of, infections like this aren’t something to mess around with. Even the most ardent DIY’r and off gridder needs to recognize when something has gone past their ability (or supplies) to take care of themselves, there is no shame in going to the doctor and having a professional medical person to take a look at a problem.

web
analytics

The post What bit me? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Prosnowboarder’s golden ratio

Click here to view the original post.

It took a little over 5 years for pro snowboarder Mike Basich to build his 225 square foot off grid cabin, the work during the winter was the hardest because of the cold. Basich designed the cabin himself based on the Golden Ratio, everything grew from that.

The rock work by itself is impressive, along with the native and natural materials incorporated in the build, this is a blend of engineering and beauty.

The cabin is wired 12 volt, mainly for the most efficient use of the battery power he uses. Basich says being attuned to nature means that he is able to keep his solar system smaller, going to sleep at dark, waking at dawn meant that his solar setup cost him around $500 instead of the amount he would have spent to be able to keep the lights on into the night.

I hope you enjoy this video of Basich’s cabin as much as I did.
https://youtu.be/J73GTfj0x-E

web
analytics

The post Prosnowboarder’s golden ratio appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Cooking with the sun

Click here to view the original post.

There are several different ways to use the sun in cooking, aka solar cooking or solar ovens. If you live in a sunny place, the desert, anyplace with unobstructed sunshine, you can use a solar oven to cook most meals.

There are parabolic cookers, these are like using a hot grill, you pretty much have to be right on top of it all the time to cook with these.

There are panel cookers, these use a silver (usually mylar) foil covered cardboard, the DIY ones are often made from a window shade made for vehicles. The nice thing about these are they are very portable, light and easy to set up. The bad thing about them is they don’t reach and maintain a very high temperature, and being light weight, they can blow away in wind.

The third major kind are box cookers, these work just like a small oven, they can be made of a cardboard box, or for a more permanent solution, made of wood or plastic. It is essentially an insulated box with a glass top and to make them work even better, reflectors are added to the top. This is the kind I like best.

I have scoured YouTube in search of the best build, I see many mistakes being made, mainly in the materials used in building them, you don’t want to use anything that will off gas or become toxic when it becomes hot, using styrofoam, some types of glue, some kinds of wood even will out gas toxic fumes when heated, I cringe when I see these being used.

I found one video that really jumped out at me, though I’m sure there are many more, I liked this one. The first video shows how it’s built, I will admit that my ADD struck and I had to move the video along a bit, but the build is solid. The second video shows a whole chicken being cooked in this solar oven. Enjoy!
https://youtu.be/yPRkwnpv-C8

https://youtu.be/uMh3N8lq1Ik

web
analytics

The post Cooking with the sun appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Cooking with the sun

There are several different ways to use the sun in cooking, aka solar cooking or solar ovens. If you live in a sunny place, the desert, anyplace with unobstructed sunshine, you can use a solar oven to cook most meals.

There are parabolic cookers, these are like using a hot grill, you pretty much have to be right on top of it all the time to cook with these.

There are panel cookers, these use a silver (usually mylar) foil covered cardboard, the DIY ones are often made from a window shade made for vehicles. The nice thing about these are they are very portable, light and easy to set up. The bad thing about them is they don’t reach and maintain a very high temperature, and being light weight, they can blow away in wind.

The third major kind are box cookers, these work just like a small oven, they can be made of a cardboard box, or for a more permanent solution, made of wood or plastic. It is essentially an insulated box with a glass top and to make them work even better, reflectors are added to the top. This is the kind I like best.

I have scoured YouTube in search of the best build, I see many mistakes being made, mainly in the materials used in building them, you don’t want to use anything that will off gas or become toxic when it becomes hot, using styrofoam, some types of glue, some kinds of wood even will out gas toxic fumes when heated, I cringe when I see these being used.

I found one video that really jumped out at me, though I’m sure there are many more, I liked this one. The first video shows how it’s built, I will admit that my ADD struck and I had to move the video along a bit, but the build is solid. The second video shows a whole chicken being cooked in this solar oven. Enjoy!
https://youtu.be/yPRkwnpv-C8

https://youtu.be/uMh3N8lq1Ik

web
analytics

The post Cooking with the sun appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Huge tiny home!

Click here to view the original post.

This has to be the biggest tiny home I’ve seen to date, it’s 37 feet long and 8.5 feet wide, 13.5 feet tall, it weighs in at 19,000 pounds. This is built on a goose-neck trailer base, with a triple axle setup (3000 pound each). It would take a larger truck to pull this.

This thing is a monster! A beautiful monster though, it doesn’t look for feel like a tiny home, I suspect this would be one that you would place somewhere and leave it instead of traveling around with it.

The bathroom is huge, it contains a full size tub & shower and even has a washer/dryer unit built in. I love the stairs, mainly because of the drawers built into each step, and the bottom step can accommodate a full length broom.

One area that is small is the closet, it is very small, there are built in shoe racks, but that’s the best you can say about that. I suppose if you live in a tiny home, even one this grand, you will still need to be a bit of a minimalist. 🙂

Watch the video and let me know what you think about this tiny home.
https://youtu.be/9FqHINIs4Rc

web
analytics

The post Huge tiny home! appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

It’s solar, what could possibly go wrong?

Click here to view the original post.

troubleshooting

When you are doing your own solar system, the key words here are “doing your own”, you will have to be in charge of troubleshooting if things go wrong.

Sometimes, often you can recognize there is a problem but can’t quite figure out what or where the problem is. You test each separate component and each of them seems to be working, but altogether there is a problem somewhere and it’s frustrating.

I am the unofficial “Geek Squad” tech person in my neighborhood, I can’t tell you how many times I have been working on a computer, taking everything apart, putting it back together and have it work, and I have no idea what I did to make it work, the same thing happens with solar systems. Perhaps it was just a loose connection, or who knows what, call it a happy accident.

I recommend building your system yourself rather than paying someone to do it, mainly because you will have a better understanding of how things go together, the hows and whys. The only exception I can think of is if you have the money to pay someone to come out and fix things each and every time things go wrong, of course then you are at the mercy of someone elses time schedule. There is nothing better than being able to do it yourself.

Watch this video about troubleshooting a solar system.
https://youtu.be/7zOodG3F_Ds

web
analytics

The post It’s solar, what could possibly go wrong? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Showering felt so good today!

Click here to view the original post.

When one lives off grid, you are generally your own fix it person, not always, but often. That is certainly true for us, we designed, built and maintain our off grid system, all the utilities that would normally be in the purview of the utility companies or a commercial repair service company, we take care of ourselves.

One of the big things we take care of has to do with our water system. When we first moved out here, before our water system was really set up, I would walk to my neighbor’s house to collect 3 gallons of water per day, why 3 gallons you ask? Simple, it’s how many empty one gallon water containers I had. We learned during that time how to really REALLY conserve water. Before you think we moved out here to leech off of our neighbor, we were set up to get water from the community well, several miles from us, but since our neighbor very kindly offered the use of his tap, we gratefully accepted.

Since then, we have greatly expanded the water setup, we have several large water storage tanks, some are set up to collect water from the roof, that is something that will be improved upon in the very near future, to the point where we will get 100% of our water from the sky.

On the inside of the SkyCastle, we have a 12 volt water pump, the original one we had came out of an RV, we liked it well enough to continue with that line when it came time to buy a new one. The nice thing about the 12 volt system is even if the batteries that store our electricity are too low for the inverter to work, there is still enough power to run the pump.

In the beginning, we just used the pump, it was (and still is) inside the SkyCastle, just under the sink, every time we turned on the faucet, the pump came on making our home sound like a gas station air pump. We eventually installed a second hand pressure tank. The water pump would pressurize the pressure tank, which meant the water pump didn’t come on as often but ran for longer periods of time.

Eventually that pressure tank failed and we purchased a new one, a spiffy shiny blue tank that sits under the sink in the kitchen. The reason we have so much of our system inside the house is to keep things from freezing in winter.

Now that we had our water, sink and shower plumbed for use, we needed to be able to heat the water. Enter the Eccotemp L5 portable propane powered water heater, honestly it’s designed to be used OUTSIDE, not inside, but since our home isn’t what you would call tight, I don’t mind running the one in the kitchen, installed right over the sink. The other one for the shower though, it doesn’t run as often, but it’s used form much longer periods of time, so we felt it should be more outside, the shower area is semi-outside, it is enclosed, but is very much considered an outside room. Makes showering in the winter more of a challenge, but it’s doable.

Since the shower unit is in an unheated room (for the most part), during winter, when the risk of freezing overnight is a possibility, we do drain that unit. It is really simple, there is a drain plug in the bottom, simply unscrew the drain plug and allow the water to drain out. The plug has a rubber o-ring to keep the water from leaking out and eventually that disintegrated, amazingly enough the one in the kitchen seems to be OK, perhaps it’s because we don’t mess with it, the kitchen never freezes.

I looked around to find out what size o-ring was needed, their website had a post about that, a custumer asking the very same question, the answer from their technical help dept was less than stellar. The question was posted several years ago, I popped into the thread and asked the same question. Meanwhile, PB grabbed the rubber-less plug and pulled out his o-ring collection from when he was a repairman.

Within a few minutes, he brought me the plug sporting a brand new o-ring, the size is “010”, easily found on Amazon unless you are lucky enough to know a repairman with a box of o-rings handy. 🙂

I took a shower today, I’ll not admit how long it had been since I’d had a proper, real, long shower (long as in 15 minutes or less, it has a timer that shuts off after 15 minutes). I had been able to use the kitchen sink to shampoo my hair and do a washcloth bath, I’m OK with not having regular full on showers as long as I can wash up everyday, but eventually even this off grid primitive gal needs a full on shower.

I was happy enough to post on Eccotemp’s forum the answer to the elusive o-ring size, hopefully they will approve my post (as of the writing of this article, they have not).

This was a good week to get to shower, this is the hot part of our summer, just before the rainy season, this is 2-3 weeks of uncomfortable HOT and often humid times, multiply that with no AC in my truck, I never got that fixed from the elk incident. It has been a hot and sweaty few weeks, getting a shower today was such a luxury!

If you want to see how one of my farther south neighbors collects water, John just posted a video all about it, fascinating and worth the click on the subscribe button

https://youtu.be/6gqPDjDdRis

web
analytics

The post Showering felt so good today! appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Missing my dad on Father’s Day

Click here to view the original post.

Today is Father’s Day, a bittersweet day for me. My Dad was instrumental in my interest in living off grid, as well as actually getting to live off grid.

I grew up in a very tight knit family, we had a few close friends, but mostly we depended on ourselves, the family, to get through life. We would gather around the TV and watch Nature, Jacques Cousteau, NOVA, we also enjoyed watching Grizzly Adams. Those shows molded my love for nature. We walked an odd line though, one of loving nature and one of being conservative, we were definitely not tree huggers (not that there is anything wrong with that, said in my best Seinfeld voice).

I have wonderfully fond memories of sitting with the family and watching these shows, then heading straight out to emulate what I had watched, building tent forts, digging holes in the dirt to see what lived there, saving the baby sparrows that always fell out of the nest built over the porch… neither of my parents made much of a fuss when I brought home a grass snake, toad or horned lizard, and believe me, I brought home everything I could find.

We lived in the suburbs, though we all dreamed of moving to the country, plans were always being made that would end in us buying some acreage out in the middle of nowhere. I remember when my dad and I discovered the Monolithic Dome Homes located in Italy Texas. We took a day and visited the site, they are very friendly folk who don’t mind people wandering around. We spent years after that drawing out plans for the dome home we were going to build, I can still see it in my mind. Life would be perfect.

Unfortunately our family never fulfilled those dreams, at least not until I had my family and they were grown up. Most of my family is familiar with how I live now, my mother was the only one who never got to see my current home, she passed away 15 years ago. My dad did get to be part of it though. He came out for his first visit before there was anything built on the property. We set up tents on the lower part and spent several hot days enjoying the peace and quiet, meeting the neighbors and getting the lay of the land.

After that, he would come out and spend a month in the summer with us, his first extended stay was the impetus to build a separate bedroom, I loved my dad but we needed some separate space (LOL). He enjoyed helping us, both financially as well as keeping us stocked up in goodies. About a month before his impending visit, he would call and ask me what we needed. Dad would buy up toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex, can goods, dry goods, he would bring out an extra propane can to leave with us, filled of course. His truck bed would be filled with all the love he could pack into it.

It’s been over 5 years since his last visit, we just used the last of the toilet paper he brought out, believe me when I tell you, those were precious rolls.

My dad will be forever entwined in this property even though he never lived here, his heart was here and always will be.

Thanks Dad for my life, my loves, my stubbornness, my sense of adventure, my DIY streak and everything else I received from your DNA. I miss you.

web
analytics

The post Missing my dad on Father’s Day appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Meet Gladys

Click here to view the original post.

She’s burgundy, discrete, low cost and can take you wherever you want to go in comfort, well as long as you are named Dylan Magaster 🙂

The nice thing about living in a converted van is they are discrete, you don’t necessarily LOOK like you are camping out or living in your van, you can drive it nearly anywhere, you can park it without drawing unnecessary attention.

I like all the wood features inside this van, it is setup to cook, including a refrigerator – which is actually a converted freezer! Of course, being a female, I would want a toilet, Dylan speaks about not having issues using public toilets, I personally prefer using my own equipment, but that’s just me. It would be easy enough to have a small portable potty, either a commercial one or one I made.

https://youtu.be/voV-db9xgkE

Are you cut out for van life? It’s definitely not for everyone, nor is living off grid for that matter, so it’s important to try it out first. See if you can rent or borrow a van for a vacation, or even just a weekend. These folk suggest just spending the night in a WalMart parking lot to see if you are OK with doing that. If you have been to a WalMart parking lot, you no doubt have seen all the campers and RVs sitting on the outskirts of the lot, those are people who are traveling through and just want a spot to spend the night. WalMart allows people to do this, mostly in hopes of the travelers spending some green inside their stores…

I would think you would need to be good with having limited stuff, my friend Beth who has cycled between living in a van, to pulling a small camper to now living in a larger RV is always talking about getting rid of “crapola”, her word for too much stuff. I also think you are required to be part gypsy, you must enjoy traveling, something I don’t wish to do quite honestly, I’m a major homebody and once I find a spot, I want to nest.

Watch this video to get an idea if this is the life for you.
https://youtu.be/4mMbIFyRpu4

web
analytics

The post Meet Gladys appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Modern vs retro tiny home

Click here to view the original post.

From ultra modern to a retro 50s look, you can have just about any look and style you wish in a tiny house.

My first thought when I looked at this tiny house is it’s inside out, though it’s really not. The outside looks like you can attach many different things to it, very modular, not sure if in fact you could do that, I can see a planter box being held in a groove, one of many on the outside.

The inside of this tiny home has very clean lines, it has an uncluttered appearance, with most parts hidden behind walls & doors. I love the sideways Murphy bed, it gives me ideas as to what we can do with an extra full size mattress that is being stored behind the couch in the living room in the SkyCastle.

Watch and enjoy
https://youtu.be/UqxxFZ1JoVY

Then there is the 50s themed tiny home. With the shake shingles on the outside and the retro green color all the way through, this tiny house begs to have a housewife in pearls and a frilly apron baking cookies in the full size stove.

I LOVE the vintage refrigerator and the metal trim on the shelf & counter edges. The clever way the stairs are built into the tiny dining table. I do have to wonder how long the hydraulic pistons for the bed will last, how hard are they to replace and how hard are they to find? I’m guessing the builder has a line on those and as long as that builder is still in business, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Watch and enjoy
https://youtu.be/DX5LN5TV_ao

Which look do you prefer? The vintage retro look or the sleek, clean, ultra modern look?

web
analytics

The post Modern vs retro tiny home appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

What is? What if?

Click here to view the original post.

I watched a man die at one of the stores where I work doing merchandising. He just fell over and died right there about 15 feet away from me. I didn’t go over, there were already several people gathered around, 2 people were performing CPR on him, the store had already called 911. I stood back and prayed silently as I continued to work.

I watched the paramedics work on him and take him away. I saw one of the paramedics in another store later in the day and asked about the man, she told me what I already suspected, he didn’t make it.

As you can imagine, that weighed heavily on my mind the rest of the day. I have now witnessed 4 people leave this earth, each had a somewhat different affect on me, this one made me think about just how fleeting and temporary life truly is. This helped put life into perspective, what is really important, what is really insignificant, what do I need to go ahead and do instead of putting it off for later. I wonder what that man might have done differently that day had he known it would be his last day to spend here on earth…

These words are not meant to bum you out, but rather are meant to get you to look at your life, let go of the insignificant things, realize what is important, live your life to the fullest each and every day… Hug someone you love.

All too often, we put off what we really want to do, we get caught up in the minutia of life and focus on the insignificant parts. We all have things we want to do, at least I can say that I do. But going to work, doing a job we hate just to make ends meet, taking a vacation once or twice a year and believing that will recharge us for the rest of the year. I’m not saying quit your job and become a bum, you should be reasonable, but you could be using that time while living day to day to work toward living the kind of life that is more satisfying.

What are your goals? You DO have them, right? What would you do differently today if you knew you were going to die tomorrow? Of course that is an extreme, but we ALL have an expiration date, we just don’t know when that is, it could be before you finish reading this sentence, it could be tonight, tomorrow, next week, next year, in 10 years… you get the idea, it’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of when, not if.

So what are you going to do with your life? Here is what I decided to change, I have been wanting a camera, a good one, I can make money with it, it will also be pleasurable for me to use. Nearly everyday, I see some scene that I could snap a great picture of, but I keep putting it off. I do it for various reasons, there are always more “important” things to buy, there is money coming but it isn’t here yet, the problem with that thinking is, yes, the money does come, but I don’t spend it on the camera and it gets nickle’d and dime’d away.

I have the money saved right now to more than buy the camera I want, there is nothing stopping me from buying this camera, right now, the only thing standing in the way is me, my pitiful excuses, well no more, I am buying that camera, I’ll have it in my hands by the middle of next week. I’ll test it out and write a review on it, I’ll write about it here.

What would you change right now if you could?

The post What is? What if? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

SkyCastle wall and updates

Click here to view the original post.

The last few weeks has been quiet around the SkyCastle, spring is here, flowers are blooming, the days are warm and the nights are generally cool, making for great sleeping! Speaking of sleeping, it’s something I should be doing right now, but being the night owl I am, I am still up messing around on the internet.

I do have to work tomorrow, but work has slowed down from the insanity that ensued for a couple of months, now it’s down to a steady pace. I was offered a second job, and it came at the perfect time. I’m now the Foster Grant gal in far west Texas. It’s really a simple and easy job, I already knew the district manager from about four years back when he trained my friend who used to work with me. I was essentially already trained, I just needed to learn the administration part and I was good to go. Fortunately it’s in stores I’m already working in as a merchandiser. This will help get me through the lean times that hit during the holidays for merchandisers. Most stores don’t want us in there doing major projects, or really much of anything else during their busy season so our hours get cut until after the first of the year, when reset season hits for us and it starts all over again.

PB is still working on the wall, he has dug a trench around the outer perimeter and is pouring concrete in the trench as a base for the wall to rest upon. I am continually amazed at how quickly he can do something with just hand tools, and he did most of the digging while I was asleep so he not only got the trench dug, he did it really quietly so as to not disturb me, he is so sweet.

I assume he is going to move the wall to cover the concrete, mortaring the bricks into place one by one, it’s really looking good. He still had a lot more of these papercrete bricks, I asked him how tall the wall will be and he said around 6 feet tall when it’s all said and done. I don’t doubt anything he says about building, previously he said he wanted to build the SkyCastle up a couple of more floors, we already lived on the second floor, he has stopped at 4 floors tall, the 4th story being the observation deck, as I said, I don’t doubt anything he sets his mind to do.

Oh I almost forgot to mention, he and a good friend of ours built a carport, putting the roof on it just today, the roof was reclaimed metal from another neighbor, the one I mentioned giving a haircut to last week, bartering in action! All that needs to happen is a few finishing touches, moving more stuff out of the way and I’ll have a place to park my truck that is out of the sun and most of the weather.

One last thing, I have been in the market for a camera, I have been able to take great pictures with my tablet, most people can’t believe I use a tablet but I do and it works great, the only thing it doesn’t do well is zooming and low light photography. I narrowed it down to a Sony QX1, a Nikon CoolPix B500 and a Panasonic Lumix FZ80.

I really like the Sony camera, but it is just a hair outside of my price range right now, especially since I’d have to buy a lens (or three!) to go with it. I had been leaning heavily toward the Nikon because of the long optical zoom, 40X, but all of the images I kept seeing that people snapped on that camera looked flat, nothing had a pop or wow factor, I saw one photographer who took great pix AND he also was a master at post production so his pictures looked pretty good, but for the most part, I wasn’t impressed with the image quality. Then I found the Panasonic, has better zoom (60X optical) and more features I liked. But the most important part is the sample pictures I saw taken from this camera had great color and depth, pictures taken by average people looked good so I knew that anything I can do to them after that will only make things look even better.

The only thing I’m waiting on are some Amazon.com gift cards to roll in from some extra curricular “secret shopper” things I’ve been doing that pay in gift cards, I’m nearly halfway to being able to cash in and should get enough this coming week to get another $50 from them.

I really do need to get in bed, even though it’s not a big work day, it’s still a work day coming up in a few hours, I can sleep in a bit, but will need to get up and get out of here at a reasonable time. Night all!

web
analytics

The post SkyCastle wall and updates appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

SkyCastle wall and updates

The last few weeks has been quiet around the SkyCastle, spring is here, flowers are blooming, the days are warm and the nights are generally cool, making for great sleeping! Speaking of sleeping, it’s something I should be doing right now, but being the night owl I am, I am still up messing around on the internet.

I do have to work tomorrow, but work has slowed down from the insanity that ensued for a couple of months, now it’s down to a steady pace. I was offered a second job, and it came at the perfect time. I’m now the Foster Grant gal in far west Texas. It’s really a simple and easy job, I already knew the district manager from about four years back when he trained my friend who used to work with me. I was essentially already trained, I just needed to learn the administration part and I was good to go. Fortunately it’s in stores I’m already working in as a merchandiser. This will help get me through the lean times that hit during the holidays for merchandisers. Most stores don’t want us in there doing major projects, or really much of anything else during their busy season so our hours get cut until after the first of the year, when reset season hits for us and it starts all over again.

PB is still working on the wall, he has dug a trench around the outer perimeter and is pouring concrete in the trench as a base for the wall to rest upon. I am continually amazed at how quickly he can do something with just hand tools, and he did most of the digging while I was asleep so he not only got the trench dug, he did it really quietly so as to not disturb me, he is so sweet.

I assume he is going to move the wall to cover the concrete, mortaring the bricks into place one by one, it’s really looking good. He still had a lot more of these papercrete bricks, I asked him how tall the wall will be and he said around 6 feet tall when it’s all said and done. I don’t doubt anything he says about building, previously he said he wanted to build the SkyCastle up a couple of more floors, we already lived on the second floor, he has stopped at 4 floors tall, the 4th story being the observation deck, as I said, I don’t doubt anything he sets his mind to do.

Oh I almost forgot to mention, he and a good friend of ours built a carport, putting the roof on it just today, the roof was reclaimed metal from another neighbor, the one I mentioned giving a haircut to last week, bartering in action! All that needs to happen is a few finishing touches, moving more stuff out of the way and I’ll have a place to park my truck that is out of the sun and most of the weather.

One last thing, I have been in the market for a camera, I have been able to take great pictures with my tablet, most people can’t believe I use a tablet but I do and it works great, the only thing it doesn’t do well is zooming and low light photography. I narrowed it down to a Sony QX1, a Nikon CoolPix B500 and a Panasonic Lumix FZ80.

I really like the Sony camera, but it is just a hair outside of my price range right now, especially since I’d have to buy a lens (or three!) to go with it. I had been leaning heavily toward the Nikon because of the long optical zoom, 40X, but all of the images I kept seeing that people snapped on that camera looked flat, nothing had a pop or wow factor, I saw one photographer who took great pix AND he also was a master at post production so his pictures looked pretty good, but for the most part, I wasn’t impressed with the image quality. Then I found the Panasonic, has better zoom (60X optical) and more features I liked. But the most important part is the sample pictures I saw taken from this camera had great color and depth, pictures taken by average people looked good so I knew that anything I can do to them after that will only make things look even better.

The only thing I’m waiting on are some Amazon.com gift cards to roll in from some extra curricular “secret shopper” things I’ve been doing that pay in gift cards, I’m nearly halfway to being able to cash in and should get enough this coming week to get another $50 from them.

I really do need to get in bed, even though it’s not a big work day, it’s still a work day coming up in a few hours, I can sleep in a bit, but will need to get up and get out of here at a reasonable time. Night all!

web
analytics

The post SkyCastle wall and updates appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

What are your super skills?

Click here to view the original post.

How do you get what you need and want if you have little or no money to buy? I assume you have some sort of skills, something you know how to do and can do it pretty well… there must be something you can do, maybe it’s a job you do or have done in the past (or present), maybe it’s a hobby you enjoy, maybe it’s a talent you have, whatever it is, you can offer that skill in trade for something you need or want.

This is called “Bartering”, it’s an age old method of trade rather than using money, it just cuts out the middleman, you simply trade your skills with someone who needs what you can do for something they have, whether it’s a skill they posses, or an item, or even cold hard cash.

For me, I am able to do things that not everyone knows how to do or wants to do. I used to be a licensed cosmetologist, which is a fancy way of saying I know how to cut hair. I actually don’t enjoy cutting hair, which is why I don’t do it professionally anymore, I did it for 10 years, I paid off the student loan I got to go to school to do hair, the only reason I stayed in it the last few years is I was offered a management position in a department store salon and thought it would be interesting. It was interesting, until I developed another interest, computers.

But that skill is something that not everyone knows how to do, honestly I kept it a secret for quite a few years after moving to our off grid home. Little by little though, the news got out, I still keep it on the downlow, but people still ask me to cut their hair and I usually agree. I don’t do the ultra modern cuts, mostly just men’s haircuts and traditional haircuts for women, and no chemical processes, no color, no perms… just haircuts.

One of my neighbors (and good friends) get haircuts about once a month, they have chickens, lots of chickens, which means they have eggs, lots of eggs, so I get eggs from them and they get haircuts from me. We do other things for each other as well, he sharpened my work knife for me a few days ago, yes that is something I could do, but I asked him to do it for me while I was cutting his wife’s hair.

A few days ago, while cutting another friend’s hair, yet another neighbor and friend stopped by, I ended up giving him a haircut in return for some metal sheets to use for the roof on a carport that PB is building for me. That wasn’t planned, it just happened. In this process, I am very careful about sanitation, I keep a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol in my kit, everything gets sprayed and sanitized between “customers”, it doesn’t matter if I’m working in a salon, or in my front yard, I must use common sense, I must protect myself and my friends by keeping things sanitary.

Another “skill” I posses is I am pretty good at fixing computers. I am no computer expert, but I know enough and have the patience to be able fix problems, be it hardware or software, I’ve been able to fix what has been put in front of me to date. Again, I’m trading out services for either things I can’t do or for things I don’t have.

Did you know that there is even an IRS section for bartering? I know that because I used to “work” at a country store in the center of our neighborhood, I didn’t earn a paycheck, but rather I was paid in barter, I earned an hourly “wage” that was traded for goods at the store, food, snacks, medicine, fuel… I had worked consistently before that and knew I would probably work a regular job after that, I didn’t want the IRS to wonder why I had dropped out of the system, so when I found the section for bartering, I put in my “wages” there, I never had to pay tax on any of it, there just wasn’t that much financially involved, but it kept me in the system and off their radar.

If you are just trading on a small scale, then obviously you don’t need to let the government know about it.

Another way we barter is for our water. We get our water from our next door neighbor’s well, in exchange we look after his house while he’s out of town. We also do upkeep and cleaning on his house, small maintenance, the normal things that need looking after on a regular basis. It works out well for both of us.

Think about what your skills are, even something you don’t think of as significant, it can be a lifesaver if you find yourself in need of something and don’t have the means to pay for it. It’s best to have your network in place first though, you don’t want to have to go out and find someone in need of your skills right when you are needing something yourself. Word of mouth works wonders here, having your skills out there ahead of time means it will be easier and quicker to get what you need when the time comes.

So, what are your skills? Do you barter now? Let me know in the comments below!

web
analytics

The post What are your super skills? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Is rooftop solar a challenge to power companies?

Click here to view the original post.

electric meter

As more and more people are installing solar panels on their roof, I hear my friends talking about wanting to do grid tied solar so that they can make their electric meters run backwards and get a check from the electric company. I always hate to burst their bubbles, it is possible to do that, but it’s never as easy as it seems.

The electric companies are there to make money, that’s their bottom line, nothing wrong with that, but they will protect their ability to earn a profit at every turn. They need to be able to maintain the infrastructure they have developed that gets electricity from point A to point B and beyond. When just a few people were putting solar panels on their rooftops, it wasn’t a problem, but once solar panels came down in price and more people could afford them, it is becoming more commonplace to see solar panels adorning rooftops in neighborhoods.

Earning money from the power companies is a bit more complicated than just turning your meter backwards when you are generating more power than you are using. Many power companies would require a second separate meter to measure how much electricity you were putting back into the grid. They didn’t pay you what you were paying them per kilowatt either, just like any other industry, there is a wholesale and retail price. You are paying the retail price for your power, anything you sell back to the power company is done at wholesale price.

The power companies are trying to keep themselves ahead of the game, some are experimenting with charging extra fees if you are generating your own power while their customer, though in the case of the power company in the podcast, they quickly dumped that idea. They state that they aren’t trying to stop people from using solar, but are trying to make it work for everyone.

Listen to the show and let me know what you think.

web
analytics

The post Is rooftop solar a challenge to power companies? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Is rooftop solar a challenge to power companies?

electric meter

As more and more people are installing solar panels on their roof, I hear my friends talking about wanting to do grid tied solar so that they can make their electric meters run backwards and get a check from the electric company. I always hate to burst their bubbles, it is possible to do that, but it’s never as easy as it seems.

The electric companies are there to make money, that’s their bottom line, nothing wrong with that, but they will protect their ability to earn a profit at every turn. They need to be able to maintain the infrastructure they have developed that gets electricity from point A to point B and beyond. When just a few people were putting solar panels on their rooftops, it wasn’t a problem, but once solar panels came down in price and more people could afford them, it is becoming more commonplace to see solar panels adorning rooftops in neighborhoods.

Earning money from the power companies is a bit more complicated than just turning your meter backwards when you are generating more power than you are using. Many power companies would require a second separate meter to measure how much electricity you were putting back into the grid. They didn’t pay you what you were paying them per kilowatt either, just like any other industry, there is a wholesale and retail price. You are paying the retail price for your power, anything you sell back to the power company is done at wholesale price.

The power companies are trying to keep themselves ahead of the game, some are experimenting with charging extra fees if you are generating your own power while their customer, though in the case of the power company in the podcast, they quickly dumped that idea. They state that they aren’t trying to stop people from using solar, but are trying to make it work for everyone.

Listen to the show and let me know what you think.

web
analytics

The post Is rooftop solar a challenge to power companies? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Truck garden

Click here to view the original post.

Growing up I had heard of truck farms, usually small family farms, when the produce is ready, the farmer takes the produce to a farmer’s market in a truck, thus the name “truck farm”… but this is a different concept, this is actually a garden that is contained in a box truck!

This truck came to Nick Runkle and Justin Cutter in a roundabout way, large windows had been placed in the box part of the truck when it had been a mobile art gallery in its former life. The windows made it a perfect greenhouse, which is exactly what it became. Getting their funding from a Kickstarter program, they reinvented the truck to make it a fully functioning greenhouse on wheels.

As part of the renovation, the truck was converted to run on waste vegetable oil, making it even more sustainable. Where is it legal and upon getting permission, they are able to pull up behind a restaurant, they pop a hose into a barrel of waste cooking/frying oil, they hand crank the oil into a tank where it is filtered 2 times before being used as fuel. The truck comes complete with rain water catchment and its own composting box, so nothing goes to waste.

Not only are tasty veg grown inside of this truck, it is used as a teaching tool, going around to schools, spending the day teaching the kids all about sustainable gardening, from kindergarten to universities, they travel all over the USA, spreading their knowledge and wisdom.

https://youtu.be/h-g74F-U9yU

web
analytics

The post Truck garden appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

When snakes attack

Click here to view the original post.

rattlesnake

Earlier this evening, the sun had gone down just far enough to be called dark, but we could still see. PB and I (and the dogs) were down at my neighbor’s property doing some maintenance on my truck. We had gathered up all of our stuff to carry up to the SkyCastle, we started up the trail when we heard the sound that will make your blood freeze, it was a rock rattler. PB was within one step of stepping on it and it wasn’t happy about any of it.

Honestly, I had heard it about five minutes earlier but thought it was a cicada, a large insect that buzzes just like a rattler, I have yet to hear a rattlesnake that sounds like they do in the movies, they sound like an insect buzzing.

PB was about to step on this rattlesnake, the only thing he had in his hand right then was a small propane tank, he slammed the base of it down on the snake pinning and injuring it enough to keep it in one spot. We didn’t have a flashlight so I had to move my truck around so that my headlights would illuminate the scene while PB lifted the propane tank and cut off the snake’s head with a shovel.

A few weeks ago we encountered another snake in front of the SkyCastle, that time it was Zoe who discovered it, fortunately she was faster than the snake and didn’t get bit. We think this might be a sibling of the snake we dispatched today as they were the same size, but no guarantees on that, it’s just speculation.

We have been out here 9 years now and unfortunately have to kill several rattlesnakes each summer, we don’t enjoy doing it, but if they are near the SkyCastle or around the areas where we or the dogs walk or congregate, then they have to go, they are just too risky to leave around.

Rattlesnakes, like any other snake, they don’t really attack, they will defend themselves though, it’s all too easy to walk up upon one or startle one where you don’t expect to see one, they are quite capable of taking care of themselves and aren’t really out to bother us, but since we live where they do, it’s inevitable that we will encounter each other, I do my best to make that as little as possible.

I recently found a good article about what to do if you are bitten by a rattlesnake, especially if you are in a remote place. The article said you shouldn’t cut and suck the venom, you shouldn’t use a tourniquet either, both of those methods are more risky than the venom. The main thing was to remain calm and walk out to get help if you can’t make a phone call.

Personally I don’t want to have to deal with that sort of thing, I generally watch where I walk, don’t blindly step over things that might be hiding a snake, though after tonight, I’ll be even more careful. What about you, are there dangerous snakes where you live? If so, how do you deal with them?

web
analytics

The post When snakes attack appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Bug season!

Click here to view the original post.

Duck season! Wabbit season! Does that bring back memories of the old Bugs Bunny and Daffy (along with Elmer Fudd)? I grew up watching that, now I am adding my own responses to it in Elmer’s voice, today I add “Hehehehe, it’s bug season!”

Spring has sprung, except for the last two days of our last(?) cold snap, we have been having warm, even hot days and more importantly, warm nights, which brings out the bugs. Tonight as I sit in my fuzzy PJs and thick robe for probably the last time until next fall, I don’t worry about insects as it’s too cold for them. But rest assured, the bugs are coming.

We had a relatively mild winter, PB really didn’t even have to cut wood, we survived off of what we had leftover from the previous winter, as a result, I suspect the bugs will be prolific this year. Some of the bugs are interesting and fun, others are merely annoying, still others are a pain in more than one way.

I have gotten quite used to the bugs, though I still don’t like them coming inside the SkyCastle unless they are well behaved. Most aren’t, but right now we have a largish spider, a funnel web of some sort that has taken up residence in and around our solar stuff on the inside. She (all spiders are “she” until proven otherwise) has stayed put pretty well, but I noticed her web is getting pretty dusty and filled with moth carcasses, it’s going to have to go, probably sometime tomorrow or the next day we will encourage her to vacate, hopefully without having to dispatch her, I’d much rather have her out on the front porch growing fat on the myriad of moths and other light loving insects that are attracted to our glass door.

With bug season upon us, it’s time to re-evaluate the tightness of the SkyCastle. That means checking windows and doors to make sure they close securely, checking for new and widening cracks in the floors, walls and ceiling, anyplace that has an opening wide enough to push a credit card through is wide enough for spiders, scorpions and centipedes to enter.

I will also be going outside in the evening, just after dark and hunting scorpions. I haven’t had to do it much the last few years so I’ve become lax, it’s time to get out there in the warmer evenings and actively hunt the scorpions. Normally I’m a live and let live kind of gal, but a few years back, we had a rash of scorpions inside the SkyCastle, one got me good on the finger, we were killing one and two each night INSIDE the house, that’s when I declared war on them, or at least the ones within a 10-15 foot diameter around the outside of the SkyCastle.

I use a blacklight LED flashlight to light them up like a cheap kid’s glow in the dark toy. They light up a bright green and don’t seem to know they are lit up. Using a regular white flashlight, the scorpions are well camouflaged, in fact if I have one in a good spot, I’ll go back and forth between the blacklight and the regular flashlight and they practically vanish from sight under the white light.

As far as the annoying bugs go, it’s mostly the moths and other creatures that are attracted to the light coming through the front door, which is actually a window that slides open and closed. We don’t have a curtain, so the bugs that are attracted to the light have nothing to stop them except for the glass itself. I end up going nuts while I’m cooking and the big and small moths are playing kamikaze dive-bombers right into the pot or pan of food I’m cooking. Then when I’m using my laptop or tablet in the dark and it’s the only light, those same insects (the ones who haven’t died in my stir fry) are buzzing around my screen. I wouldn’t mind if they just landed there and stayed still, but no, they have to land, fly around, land, fly around and so on…

For tonight, I can sit here, un-assaulted by the insects in the cold room, not minding the cold toes, knowing this will not last, it is a last respite.

What about you? What insects do you deal with where you live?

web
analytics

The post Bug season! appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Another brick in the wall

Click here to view the original post.

Another brick in the wall

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update on the SkyCastle. This is going on our 9th summer out here, we started out with raw land, just under 6 acres on the side of a mountain in far west Texas (yes, Texas has mountains).

box on stiltsWe went from a box on stilts with 2 out of the 4 walls being builder’s plastic and wire. Now things are quite a bit more advanced now, growing almost organically over the last few years.

So now, the newest thing PB is building is a wall. We were gifted a large load of papercrete blocks (https://www.off-grid.net/what-are-we-going-to-do/) almost a year ago, we debated as to what to do with them… my idea being a keyhole garden, PB wasn’t as on board for that as I was. We had even started to regret getting them.

PB had been wanting to put up a wall around the sitting area in front of the SkyCastle, to protect us from the wind, to delineate the sitting area, he wanted to put it up closer to the sitting area, I thought we should make it bigger, following the walkway/path that we take around the front. Last week when I came home from work, PB had placed a line of papercrete bricks around the outer perimeter of our sitting area, where I wanted it to go, it looked pretty good there.

For now he just has the blocks laid out and some wire around the whole thing, he will ultimately use concrete to encase the blocks and make it more permanent. We will also have to clean up quite a bit of brush and tree limbs that litter the ground out there, it’s really a snake haven. Last week a small rock rattler almost got Zoe, our terrier mix dog, fortunately she was faster than the snake and it didn’t get her, but it was close, that was right out there where we sit.

Here are some pictures of how things look for now, I’ll post more updates as they happen.

The post Another brick in the wall appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Build your tiny home like a boat

Click here to view the original post.

It’s a funny thing, I had always thought people who built tiny homes, especially the portable ones did build their homes like a boat, water tight, flexible, but I suppose I was wrong about that assumption.

Tiny home like a boat
There are different approaches to building, it’s like the old saying, everything looks like a nail if you are a hammer… so if you are a carpenter, you will build as a carpenter does, which is not the same way you would build for a marine environment.

Building a home that is also your vehicle, you need something that will flex without cracking or breaking, no nails were used, it is all mortised, glued and screwed. This tiny home built on a truck is a one of a kind, it’s filled with unique beautiful and useful items, I really love their stove! It does seem tight and cramped, maybe it’s the table that sticks out in the middle, I think I’d shrink that down or make it where it folds out of the way, just my personal observation, obviously they live with it just fine.

He mentions gypsies, this does have a gypsy feel and look to it. Watch and enjoy, let me know what you think below 🙂

https://youtu.be/iAusQYscQZ8

web
analytics

The post Build your tiny home like a boat appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Frugal noodle

Click here to view the original post.

frugal

Let’s use our frugal noodle to come up with some frugal ideas. For me personally, I’ve grown up frugally, I didn’t know or even understand it when I was younger, I just knew we didn’t throw things away until they were used up, worn out and even then it was probably saved for parts. We didn’t call a repairman when things broke, my dad fixed it, we didn’t go out to eat, my mother cooked, and she cooked from scratch. For us, it was just a way of life, we didn’t have the money to pay someone else to do the things we could do for ourselves. I suspect that even if we had been wealthier, my family would have still been the same way, frugal.

Being frugal is about saving money, but it’s also a mindset, here are some of the ways to be frugal, I suspect it will remind you of your grandparents 🙂

1. Save jars. Frugal people never throw away good glass (or even plastic) jars or containers, especially if they have a good lid and a wide mouth. When we moved off grid, I remember bringing out a few boxes of empty jars.

2. Buttons, did you grow up with a button jar? I did. Every button was saved, even if it was just one button, they are infinitely useful. If you have a shirt that is going into the trash, be sure to cut off all the buttons and save them.

3. Fabric, even small fabric scraps are handy, from patching things to quilts, fabric scraps are very handy to have around. I even save the legs of jeans I cut off for shorts.

4. Newspaper, it has so many uses after it’s been read, from wrapping gifts, crafts, cleaning glass, filler in boxes for moving or shipping…

5. Bread ties, this so reminds me of my dad, we had this junk drawer (don’t laugh, you have one too), it was full of straightened bread ties, they are great for tying other things together.

6.
Rubber bands, this was one of the other things in the junk drawer, all sorts of rubber bands, they are so useful, and if nothing else, you can make a rubber band ball to keep you amused. Of course, rubber bands have a limited life, especially out here where we live, it’s so dry that the rubber becomes brittle, so they have to be used quickly…

7. Hardware, drawer pulls, hinges, screws, nails, anything that you could take off of anything that would be tossed in the trash, again this was stored and found in that junk drawer, or perhaps in a small glass jar.

8. String, I have fond memories of this piece of wood with a long length of string wrapped around it, it belonged to my dad, he would dole out a length of string to use for what he was working on, but he didn’t cut it, it was often one of his projects where he would need a straight level line, then he would carefully wrap the string back onto the piece of wood. Occasionally he would have to cut a piece to use in something, it was always done with care so as to not use too much. Other string, if quality string and long enough, it would be wrapped up and saved.

9. Food scraps, when cutting up vegetables, carrots, onions and the such, the bits that are cut off can be frozen, when you get enough, you can make a very tasty stock, either a vegetable stock, or used with meat trimmings to make meat stock. You can also compost what’s left over to enrich your garden.

10.
Time, it’s the one thing that can’t really be saved and yet it can, it can’t be put up for later, you can’t make more of it, you can waste it, but understand it’s a most precious and valuable commodity, once gone, once it has passed by, you can’t get it back, so make the most of the time you have each day, it’s not a matter of getting more done, but make the things you do during the day meaningful things.

What about you? What do you do that is frugal? What would you like to do that is more frugal? Let me know below in the comments.

web
analytics

The post Frugal noodle appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Planting by the moon, hype or help?

Click here to view the original post.

I was born in 1965 so I grew up less than one generation removed from those in my family who really farmed and those who went through the Great Depression. We saved everything, we didn’t throw anything into the trash until it was used up, worn out, reused and even then, it would be more likely put aside for parts…

I remember hearing my dad talking about “planting by the moon” as I grew up, one summer he decided it was all nonsense and would just plant whenever, with no regard to what the moon cycle was doing. Well, that year our garden wasn’t as good as it usually was, after that, we went back to planting by the moon.

What does that mean? Well, to simplify it, anything that is harvested from underground (root vegetables, carrots, onions, potatoes) need to be planted by the “dark of the moon”, when the moon is past full going toward the new moon. Anything that is harvested above ground, (corn, tomatoes and the such) should be planted by the “light of the moon”, meaning after the new moon going toward the full moon. If you get an “Old Farmer’s Almanac” it will get even more detailed as to the specific dates when you should plant based on the moon phases.

There is science behind this, it’s not hocus pocus, the moon affects water on earth, just look at what it does to the tides. Here is a video explaining how all of this works.

https://youtu.be/kYtnZPuP4zk

What about you? Do you plant by the moon? Do you believe in it or do you think it’s nonsense? Let me know below!

web
analytics

The post Planting by the moon, hype or help? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Is it healthier to live off grid?

Click here to view the original post.

Are there health benefits to living off grid? I’d say yes, for me there definitely are. First, I find living in a more simple manner is much less stressful, of course I’ve been a more laid back type of person to begin with, something that I believe has helped keep me in a healthier state of mind.

Having fewer and smaller bills tends to keep the stress levels down as well. Since I have fewer and smaller bills, I am able to work fewer hours outside of my home, giving me more time to spend at home, another stress buster.

What about more physical health benefits? In my case, living on a mountain side without a way to drive up the hill to my house means I am hoofing it, walking, hiking up and down, usually carrying something uphill, things like groceries and packages. I know that has kept my more fit. It’s something I don’t even notice anymore, until I’m walking up with a guest and they are complaining about how hard the walk up is while I’m in front of them breathing pretty normally.

Now to the less tangible, something that perhaps can’t be measured but is something I feel is just as important. In this modern world, we are surrounded by electronic pollution, that is caused by electronic appliances, faulty wiring, radio waves, bluetooth, wifi, I could go on… living off grid, having fewer appliances around and not having them powered on all the time, having fewer radio waves because of the very rural area, cell phones don’t work out here, neighbors are few and far between so there is much less wifi going through the air. There are some who don’t believe this can cause health problems, there are others who do believe it causes health problems, that is up to you to decide, but true or not, I have much less of it around me. I can actually turn everything off, wifi, radios, every electronic item and have the barest minimum of electromagnetic pollution, it’s really nice to know I can cut everything off at the flip of a switch.

So yes, I do believe there are health benefits to living off grid, there definitely is for me, what about you? What is your opinion of this? Please let me know below.

web
analytics

The post Is it healthier to live off grid? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Is it healthier to live off grid?

Are there health benefits to living off grid? I’d say yes, for me there definitely are. First, I find living in a more simple manner is much less stressful, of course I’ve been a more laid back type of person to begin with, something that I believe has helped keep me in a healthier state of mind.

Having fewer and smaller bills tends to keep the stress levels down as well. Since I have fewer and smaller bills, I am able to work fewer hours outside of my home, giving me more time to spend at home, another stress buster.

What about more physical health benefits? In my case, living on a mountain side without a way to drive up the hill to my house means I am hoofing it, walking, hiking up and down, usually carrying something uphill, things like groceries and packages. I know that has kept my more fit. It’s something I don’t even notice anymore, until I’m walking up with a guest and they are complaining about how hard the walk up is while I’m in front of them breathing pretty normally.

Now to the less tangible, something that perhaps can’t be measured but is something I feel is just as important. In this modern world, we are surrounded by electronic pollution, that is caused by electronic appliances, faulty wiring, radio waves, bluetooth, wifi, I could go on… living off grid, having fewer appliances around and not having them powered on all the time, having fewer radio waves because of the very rural area, cell phones don’t work out here, neighbors are few and far between so there is much less wifi going through the air. There are some who don’t believe this can cause health problems, there are others who do believe it causes health problems, that is up to you to decide, but true or not, I have much less of it around me. I can actually turn everything off, wifi, radios, every electronic item and have the barest minimum of electromagnetic pollution, it’s really nice to know I can cut everything off at the flip of a switch.

So yes, I do believe there are health benefits to living off grid, there definitely is for me, what about you? What is your opinion of this? Please let me know below.

web
analytics

The post Is it healthier to live off grid? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

No go shopping

Click here to view the original post.

no go shopping

Are you ready for no go shopping? What is no go shopping you ask? It’s when you live out in the boonies and there isn’t a place to go shopping within a reasonable distance. Where I live, it’s 20+ miles into the nearest town, takes about a half hour if everything is going right, of course there is the stopping to chat with a neighbor on the road, then the stopping to chat with a neighbor at the mailboxes… then when you get to town, you are likely to find someone to chat with, and at the store, no getting around the fact that you will most likely find someone to chat with there, so going to town for a quick trip to the grocery store isn’t going to be quick after all.

Where I live, if you want to go anywhere with real shopping, I’m talking malls, big chain grocery stores, WalMart, Sam’s Club, real restaurants and the such, it’s a good 3 hour drive at highway speeds. It’s something we don’t do very often, maybe a monthly thing at best, it’s usually more a quarterly thing, well planned and executed, it’s at least a day trip and sometimes requires an overnight stay.

What do we get in return for no go shopping? Well, living where there aren’t many other people for one, it’s nice to not hear or see your closer neighbors most of the time. It’s quiet, dark at night, and private.

We have come to rely on delivery services for many of our purchases, besides groceries (I wish we could order more grocery items) we can order just about anything we could want out here. I am an Amazon Prime member, it’s paid for itself many times over, it’s something I pay for each year without fail. I know my UPS delivery driver by name, I know the FedEx drivers too, though they seem to go through many more of them than the UPS company. Of course there is also USPS, we all know our postal workers, the only problem is our mailboxes are some 6 miles from my home, so for me, it’s more convenient to order things that will come UPS or FedEx so it gets delivered directly to my home.

I don’t even mind the few day wait, I know if I were to go to the closer town to buy what I would order, first if it was even available, it would be very expensive, taxed and I’d still have to wait a day or two before I’d be able to go there. If I planned to go to the bigger farther town, it might be a week or more before I could get out there, so it’s better for me to order through Amazon Prime and get it in 2 days, delivered to my door.

I just ordered a pair of boots, some socks (gotta have new socks to go with the new boots LOL), and some 200 clear plastic 5X7 sleeves. The boots and socks are obvious, but what’s up with 200 clear plastic sleeves? I’m finally getting my photos printed up to sell in one of the shops in town, actually several shops, I need to protect the prints, I can’t imagine where all I would have to go to pick up just those 3 things in a physical store.

So what do you prefer, shopping in a brick and mortar store or shopping online? Let me know below 🙂

Hate shopping?
Survivalist shopping list

web
analytics

The post No go shopping appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Bonita domes

Click here to view the original post.

bonita domes

I think I have always been attracted to unconventional homes (I live in a small castle after all…), when perusing my YouTube page with all the suggestions of what I might like to watch, this definitely caught my eye. I’m not sure how much was the color of the building, I do love the warm yellows and oranges, and how much was the dome shapes. As a teen, my father and I went on a short trek to Italy Texas to visit the Monolithic Dome homes factory, I fell in love with domes right then and there.

I LOVE the organic shapes on the inside as well as the outside of these structures, I wondered if the counter tops were custom cut, then on a closeup, I could see they looked like concrete, so they could be poured into any shape they could create. I like the individual separate spaces for each use, the shower dome, the kitchen area, the kiva pit. Living in the desert myself, dealing with the winds that blow, I know the importance of having a protected space if you want to have an open fire.

The shower dome looks really interesting, I want to make a separate shower space for us to use, it would be a seasonal space, used when the weather was warm, it would be away from the SkyCastle, organic in shape and using solar to heat the water, but I digress from the home I’m talking about here.

The best way for you to experience this is to watch the videos for yourself.
https://youtu.be/5SFnUjeS-AY

https://youtu.be/evsu9NOo4hQ

A dome to make me jealous!

web
analytics

The post Bonita domes appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

How to properly (and safely) dehydrate water for long term storage

Click here to view the original post.

dehydrated water

For those of us who live off grid, and others who camp or are just interested in prepping for whatever may come, having a source of clean potable water is high on the list of necessary things. You can easily go out and purchase dehydrated foods of all kinds, these are commercially available, you can also dehydrate as well as can your own foods. But it’s always been a challenge to safely store clean water for drinking, cooking and cleaning, until now.

Someone has finally come up with an easy way to dehydrate AND can water so it can always be ready for you, this takes up much less space than fully hydrated water, if stored properly, it will not go bad, it cannot leak, it weighs practically nothing in the dried state and can be quickly and readily re-hydrated with nothing more than clean pure water.

I found this video with step by step instructions, that was a lifesaver for me, I have always wanted to try this but was afraid I would make a mistake and sicken everyone in my house, possibly even causing death, but this guy really laid it out, step by step, simplifying it so that even I couldn’t mess this up. Now I need to go out and buy more mason jars.
https://youtu.be/toTdiRUC1zk

I couldn’t believe this, for those of you who don’t want to go through the trouble of dehydrating your own water, or like me were afraid of making a mistake in the process, I found a company that sells dehydrated water in #10 cans, these are large enough that several would last one person a week or more (depending on how carefully you metered it out), though probably not recommended you could always add more water to stretch it out and make it last longer.

And for those who want or need a smaller amount, try this.

Now I am wondering about the difference between dehydrated and freeze dried? I suppose you could try freezing some of the dehydrated water just to see if it would convert to freeze dried, I suspect it would store even longer then…

Let me know what you think below in the comments, have you tried this? If so, would you do it again? And do you have any tips & tricks to make this even easier?

web
analytics

The post How to properly (and safely) dehydrate water for long term storage appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Travel trailer living with 3 boys?

Click here to view the original post.

Travel trailer living with 3 boys?

…and 2 dogs. Wow, that is amazing, I’ll first give my un-requested opinion about it… honestly I don’t know how they do it, living in an RV with one or two consenting adults is one thing, even with a young (read YOUNG) child, but once you have more than one kiddo, especially when they start getting near the teen years, I just can’t imagine. That being said, apparently this family is doing this and doing it well.

I think this must be some good experience for the 3 boys, being home schooled on the road, they are getting an education they would never get in public school, and I suspect it’s a much safer environment since they can choose where to stay at any particular time.

I did enjoy getting the tour of the trailer, there are many really interesting and handy features of this trailer, I especially love the large pull out drawers. The square nesting pans really caught my eye as well, I cook on a stove that came out of an RV so I have the same issues with round pans bumping into each other if I use more than one pan at a time, will have to look into that.

Another thing I enjoyed about this video is it’s real, this is how they live, it’s clear they didn’t do any major tidying up before the camera came in, I’m sure there was some tidying up, but I noticed the washcloth hanging in the shower and the stuff laying around, so this speaks real to me.

I don’t know how long they will continue living this way, I’d love to know what the 3 boys think of this lifestyle. I do believe this will be a positive life experience for them. Enjoy the video and let me know what you think below.

https://youtu.be/C9suPtfAWSk

Survivalists-top-prepping-tips
home-sweet-home-in-an-rv

web
analytics

The post Travel trailer living with 3 boys? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Growing in a bale

Click here to view the original post.

Straw bale gardening
Straw bale gardening, it’s becoming more and more popular. I wondered if it would be as good as growing in raised beds, I had great luck growing in raised beds using a thick layer of straw as a mulch, the Ruth Stout method. A few years ago, one of my neighbors and friend who had very poor soil, in fact she had mostly rock. She took a large chain link fence dog kennel and 4 or 5 bales of hay and gave it a go.

That year, we had a gardening round-table in our community, we discuss tips and tricks for growing at our elevation and climate, my friend mentioned that her garden was going crazy, we were invited to come over and take a look after the meeting, I think most everyone at the meeting eagerly went over to see her garden.

It was unbelievable, the plants were bursting out of the dog kennel, when she went inside the kennel, you couldn’t see her anymore, the plants completely obscured her. The plants were quite happy and healthy, she didn’t even try to keep the plants inside the kennel – allowing the birds and other animals to nibble on the plants that were escaping the chain link fencing.

Seeing her garden really sold me on the straw bale gardening method. One thing I’m going to be contending with starting this year are gophers, they have been around in other parts of the neighborhood, but I’ve not seen them around this area. This year, I’ve started to see the tell tale signs of the gophers, they are small, not like the ones I remember in California, those created holes large enough to step in and break a leg. Our gophers our here make holes that are only a few inches across, though they do create lots of piles of dirt. I’ve seen them around the garden area on our property, I suspect they will be very interested in whatever I choose to plant in the garden.

https://youtu.be/juzf5VGMjCA

 

 

 

 

 

https://youtu.be/UfItdfkRikU

I’m thinking that growing in straw bales, closer to the SkyCastle, I can protect it better than out farther away. What about you? Have you grown in a straw bale? If so, how did it work for you and are you going to do it again? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Strawbale gardening dangerous?
keyhole gardening
gardening roundtable

web
analytics

The post Growing in a bale appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Not in my face!

Click here to view the original post.
flashlight

flashlight etiquette

 

We live in one of the darkest areas in the lower 48, there are even laws on the books pertaining to outdoor lighting to prevent potential light pollution for our local observatory. One of the things that are a must have item are flashlights, I keep one or two in my truck at all times, I prefer two but one is usually being used to get me up and down the hill in the dark.

When we have family and friends over, I try to have enough flashlights to go around for everyone to use, and because we actually USE our flashlights, they are often in varying states of power, some being brighter than others. In practice, I have come up with a list of flashlight etiquette.

  • Do not shine a flashlight in anyone’s face, it is rude, it will blind the person and affect their night vision for quite some time. Shine your light down as much as you can instead of up. If you must shine it at a person, shine it well below their face so they aren’t blinded by the light, this also includes dogs, cats or other animals, they don’t want to be blinded either.
  • Try to have enough flashlights for everyone, or at least one for every 2-3 people.
  • If you don’t have enough to go around, be sure to give them to those who would be most experienced with them, those old enough to be able to help illuminate the path for someone else.
  • Be sure to give the brightest flashlight to the one who needs it the most, it’s up to you to decide who that might be.
  • If you are walking with other people and your light happens to be brighter than theirs, keep your light away from them, their eyes will grow accustomed to the brightness of their light, if you shine your brighter light around them, you will overcome their light and they will have a harder time using their dimmer light while their eyes re-adjust to their amount of light. If they ask you to light something for them, then go ahead, but don’t just shine your brighter light in front of them.
  • If you are in a situation where there aren’t enough flashlights to go around and you are holding the flashlight, walk behind or beside the person without a flashlight but shine your light around them or in front of them, you don’t want to walk behind someone and shine the light on their back, that casts a shadow directly in front of them, making it even harder for them to see the path.
  • Instead of turning your light off and on as you need it, try covering it with your hand or pushing it up against your shirt or pants, that helps extend the life of the light and the switch.
  • Before turning on your flashlight at night, cover the light end first, that way you can slowly bring the light up by uncovering it, and if you have one of the new multi-function lights that has the blinking or flashing function, sometimes that can come on the first switch and you don’t want a strobe effect when you first turn it on. By covering it first, if it does start to strobe, you can make it stop without blinding or annoying others or yourself.
  • When I walk up and down my hill at night, I will often cover part of the light with my fingers so the light is slightly dimmed, I point it on the ground in front of my feet. Keeping the light dimmed this way allows me to keep my night vision in better shape and if I need to see something better, I just need to uncover the light. I don’t have people camping around me, but if you are in a camping or hiking situation with other people around, keeping your light dimmed is a courtesy to everyone else.
  • If you are in a camping situation, don’t shine your light toward other people’s vehicles, campers or tents at night, it’s disruptive, rude and might get you hurt if you offend the wrong camper.
  • The main rule though is never shine your light in someone’s face, it’s really an easy thing to accidentally do, but keep your light pointed at the ground as much as possible.

I’m sure there are other tips and pointers, if you have some, let me know in the comments below 🙂

web
analytics

The post Not in my face! appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

The trash on trash

Click here to view the original post.
    The trash on trash

The trash on trash

When we lived in the city and had city services, one of the things that was taken care of with no thought at all was the trash. Two times a week, a big closed dump truck came by and took our trash from the curb, all we had to do was have it bagged up and set out by the curb. I remember hearing the trash truck coming and running to make sure the trash was all out there. We didn’t worry about how much trash we had, or how much room it took up as long as we weren’t getting low on trash bags.

The city did provide blue totes for recyclables, hoping the neighborhood would take the trouble to separate out some of their trash, cardboard, glass, and plastic, some of the neighbors did it, some didn’t, honestly it was just easier to put everything in a bag and drop it by the curb.

I also remember, that even then PB tended to condense our trash, he was a human powered trash compactor, crushing plastic and cardboard containers, we rinsed our food containers so it didn’t stink (and attract animals), things like milk jugs and glass bottles were stuffed with cut down plastic and paper trash so they wouldn’t be large empty spaces in the trash bags. We had fewer but heavier trash bags. PB also enjoyed going out and chatting with the trash guy as he helped toss our trash bags into the truck.

Move ahead several years and we are now living on a mountain side in far west Texas. We don’t have “local” trash pickup, not even in town. There is a trash service of sorts, you can rent a small dumpster that is kept in a central location in the neighborhood, many of our neighbors do that. They go in together, several households to a dumpster because of the cost, it’s several hundred dollars per year (over $300 last I heard). Dumpsters are very coveted, you don’t want to be seen putting your trash into someone elses dumpster.

There is a trash dump in town, it’s not a landfill though, the trash is put into large dumpsters and a company comes by and takes the trash away, presumably to a landfill in some other town. There are fees for using this place, a couple of dollars per trash bag, a set fee for a truck or trailer load. We have used this place before and it’s pretty convenient, they even have recycling dumpsters that are free to use, for cardboard, plastic and glass.

Honestly though, we take care of our own trash most of the time. First of all, we generate very little trash, especially as compared to everyone else, I really notice it when we have visitors stay over or when I’m at someone else’s house. Before trash is even generated, I am considerate of what I buy, what kind of packaging it comes in. Paper and cardboard are the best, this can be burned, whether as fire starter in the wood burning stove, or outside in the burn barrel. Plastics get condensed, as well as metal cans. Again everything gets rinsed off so it doesn’t attract animals. Food leftovers that aren’t going to be eaten get composted.

We end up going to the dump about 4-5 times a year, we do have a truck load of trash, neatly condensed, clean and ready to be tossed into the appropriate container, metal into metal, plastic into plastic, glass into glass.

For those of you who live in more rural areas, how do you deal with your trash?

You might also like
https://www.off-grid.net/the-power-of-trash/
https://www.off-grid.net/cash-from-trash/

web
analytics

The post The trash on trash appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Why are chimneys on the outside?

Click here to view the original post.
Why are chimneys on the outside?

Why are chimneys on the outside?

Unless you live in a very tropical or year round warm area, you will need a way to keep your home warm. For many of us, that means having a wood burning stove or a fireplace. Have you ever noticed that chimneys are often built on the outside of the house? Ever wonder why?

There are very good reasons why chimneys are often built on the outside. It had a twofold purpose, one was safety. Originally chimneys weren’t lined with anything, just a stack of barely mortared rocks, you might even be able to look through the cracks and see the flames on the inside.

There was always a risk of fire, back in the early days there was not a fire department to come put out a fire, nor was there insurance to cover any loss, and losing your home, especially in winter could have been a matter of life and death assuming you survived the fire. People had to take care of themselves, if there was a chimney fire, if it was on the outside of the house, you could lasso the chimney and pull it down, allowing it to burn itself out in the safety of the yard instead of burning down your home.

The other issue is space, many of the cabins built back then were small but functional. They needed to keep as much room free in the main room as possible, you couldn’t have a fireplace taking up valuable room elsewhere in the house, so it was put on an outside wall. I understand that issue, our place when it was first built was a very small, 16×16 room, we made the front door a sliding door rather than one that would open into the room, that saved us some very valuable floor space.

Watch this video to learn more about chimneys and their location.

https://youtu.be/IrtcgXREz-Y

You might also like
What does your wood stove say?
Heard of a Walker Stove?

web
analytics

The post Why are chimneys on the outside? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Working on it!

Click here to view the original post.

Living off grid, you might ask, what I do for a living? Actually I have the best job in the entire world, IMHO… I am a merchandiser for a large nationwide company, I thoroughly enjoy my job and I still have time to do the other things I want to do. We typically slow down during the holidays though and it makes me wish for more hours during the slow time.

Be careful what you wish for… the company I work for (Driveline), we do merchandising, mainly in Dollar General stores, Walmart, and a plethora of other stores, it’s a great company to work for. I have been with them for 4 years now, and did merchandising for 10 years for another company when I lived in the DFW area of Texas. Let’s just say I enjoy merchandising.

During the holidays, from about Thanksgiving until after the first of the year, our business slows down as the retail stores ramp up for their biggest time of the year. The stores do not want us working and blocking the aisles during their peak time. It’s nice to work in retail and have less work during the holidays, but it makes for tiny paychecks. Thus the wishing for more hours.

Now our reset season has started in earnest, and it’s busier than ever for all of us. So I go from working just a few hours each week to working 12+ hours a day, not counting the drive time getting there and back. For me it’s a minimum of 40 miles to my nearest store, and a good 100 miles to my 2 farthest stores. Mind you, I am NOT complaining, I am very happy to have the work, I do wish they could spread it out a little more, but that’s just the way it is.

So what does a merchandiser do you ask? Well let me tell you, I go in to the stores with a printed list of jobs, mostly having to do with moving products around. Sometimes it’s just a few products, such as the store getting in a new product and getting rid of an old product line. When you walk into one of these stores, you will notice (or maybe not) there is a place for everything, so we remove the old-going away items and place the new items. Sometimes it’s a full reset, which means everything comes off of a particular section, shelves may move, cleaning happens, new tags go up and the product is placed back in their new configuration.

It’s a good job and I love doing it. I enjoy getting to set my own hours, it’s almost like being self employed, in that I have to be able to manage my own time, though with all the extra work right now, I am working a lot, but it’s worth it. Even though this is a large company, it has a small company feel because you are often working on your own, not with other people, in fact for me, I rarely get to see another Driveline employee for most of the year. Another nice perk is besides not working a lot during the holidays is they don’t want us working on the weekend either, that is unheard of in retail!

I would suggest that this might be a good job to have, if you live in a rural area (like I do) chances are they need some one to work the Dollar General store and/or Walmart in your area, if you live in a bigger town, they are most likely looking for people to help with the work that is going on right now. You do need to have reliable transportation and you need to be in fairly decent physical shape, you don’t have to be superhuman though 🙂 We have many older gray haired peeps working for us. Personally I consider the physical parts of the job to be a good thing, it helps keep me healthy, that’s what I keep telling myself as I squat for the umpteenth time or climb up and down a ladder to get product from the top shelf…

If you live in the USA and are interested, go here to check out the company.
http://drivelineretail.com/careers.htx

Women off grid

web
analytics

The post Working on it! appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Tiny house build in Alaska

Click here to view the original post.

I’ve never been to Alaska, I live in what most would consider a challenging place to live, on an undisclosed mountainside in the high desert of far west Texas… but I have to give props to those who live year round in Alaska, those are some really tough people 🙂

The people have to be tough, and their homes have to be equally as tough, this tiny house is built very to withstand the wilds of Alaska and honestly has most (if not all) of the amenities I would want to have. I thought that having an elevator bed, one that would go up and down would be a great idea, apparently someone else had the same thought and actually did it. This works and works great!

I really love the amount of open space as well as the storage space. Each space has been well thought out and is multi-functional, most components have at least 2 to 3 functions each, I’d say that this tiny home is the pinnacle of all the tiny homes I’ve seen to date.

https://youtu.be/lHjJd4tkvSU

web
analytics

The post Tiny house build in Alaska appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Tiny house in BC

Click here to view the original post.

This tiny house has a rustic beauty that I like, the wood and corrugated metal makes me smile, it reminds me of the old barns and homes out here in far west Texas. The warm look is mirrored by the tight envelope created by a soy based foam insulation, allowing the home to be heated by an equally tiny marine style heater.

This tiny house is designed to be self sufficient with solar power, 12 volt goodies to run fully off grid, or you can hook up to regular 110v power. I might have changed the tiny sitting area and made it more of a wider bench so that it can seat more people and be used as a guest bed.

I do like the mudroom entrance, giving you some separate space before you enter the main space. I also like the ladder design. The closet is great, it’s large, often that is lacking in the tiny homes, but not in this one.

The wet bathroom is something I would like in my home, it creates more space for taking a shower, another thing that is usually lacking in a tiny home, this is designed very well.

Enjoy the video tour
https://youtu.be/ypKCTKZ34rk

web
analytics

The post Tiny house in BC appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Baking soda hacks

Click here to view the original post.

I think just about everyone has a little orange or yellow box of baking soda in their kitchen cabinet, it’s inexpensive, especially if you are willing to forgo the name brand, though I have found the large, super sized box of the name brand stuff in my local stores really cheaply priced, either way you go, it’s worth stocking up, you can even find it in by the bag.

I think everyone knows the main use, putting it in baked goodies to give them some lift, and the other tried and true method of putting an open box in the fridge and freezer to keep down odors, there are many MANY other handy uses for baking soda.

You can drink a very dilute mixture in water if you have an upset tummy, it is essentially going to neutralize the acid in your stomach, giving you relief.

If you have a buildup of hair product on your hair, you can add a small amount of baking soda to your shampoo in your hand, shampoo your hair as normal, rinse and be sure you condition your hair well afterward, it will strip out anything that isn’t your hair, don’t do it very often as it can be harsh. As a former hairdresser, I can attest for this working, I learned this in beauty school and continued using it to this day.

You can do a baking soda scrub on your skin, it will gently exfoliate your skin leaving it squeaky clean.

You can use baking soda as a tooth paste, you can use it straight, but most can’t deal with the salty taste, you can add mint essential oil, xylitol will add a sweetness that is actually good for your dental health. You can also mix in some coconut oil which is also good for your teeth.

One use I have re-discovered recently, it’s great for stinky shoes, and yes, this off grid gal sometimes has stinky shoes 🙂 I tried it before and found the straight baking soda was a little uncomfortable on my feet inside my shoes, it felt a tiny bit gritty, I wanted to try it again and added corn starch, making a 50-50 mixture, I out it in a fine shaker bottle. I shake a very small amount in each shoe and shook each shoe to equally distribute the powder. It felt quite normal, not gritty, the addition of the corn starch made the difference. It works every time, no more stinky shoes.

There are many other uses for baking soda, I have only touched on a few personal uses, there are many other uses from personal, health, cleaning, deodorizing and the such… what do you use it for?

web
analytics

The post Baking soda hacks appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Living in a tree stump – past and present

Click here to view the original post.

 

I lived for a short period of time in Oregon, it was many MANY years ago, I still remember the first time I visited there, I would get behind these logging trucks hauling felled trees. I was amazed at the size (diameter) of these trees, each truck would be hauling one to three trees, they were huge. A few years later when I moved out there, I noticed the logging trucks were hauling many more but smaller trees, they might be hauling 5 or more trees per load. Based on the size of the trees I was seeing the first time I visited, I can’t even imagine how large the trees were 100 or more years ago.

In the early 19th century, there were many folk looking for a life in the pacific northwest, logging was the way most earned their living, the result of logging meant there were lots of very large tree stumps around, they weren’t useful for anything and were mostly ignored by the loggers. A few ingenious free thinkers saw a way to use these very large tree stumps, as their homes. They were doing the tiny home thing long before it would become a movement in modern times.

All they needed to do was hollow out the inside, leaving sufficiently thick walls on the outside and build a roof over the top, cut out doors and perhaps windows, and viola they had a nearly ready made home.
https://youtu.be/49xLYCcLeE0

Fast forward to today, and in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, British Columbia, a modern day “pioneer” is living inside his own version of a tree stump home, the difference is he is living minutes away from a major city center. Unfortunately Matthew is dealing with addiction and other problems, he does have a roof over his head, this video was uploaded in 2009, I sincerely hope his life has gotten on a better track since then.
https://youtu.be/o3Csn3EPveI

web
analytics

The post Living in a tree stump – past and present appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Ford Ranger tiny house

Click here to view the original post.

I love YouTube for the plethora of entertainment as well as the educational value, just about anything you would want to learn can be found there. Today I found 2 tiny home videos, one of which really hits home for me. That would be the tiny home build on a Ford Ranger pickup truck. For those of you who aren’t familiar, a Ford Ranger is a small, very small pickup truck, there is nothing full sized about it. The reason it really tugged at me was I got my mother’s Ford Ranger after she passed away, she didn’t have many possessions, but had told my sister and I that when she passed away, which ever of the two of us needed it worse would get it, that fell to me as my vehicle had just bit the dust and I was in real need of a reliable vehicle. Several years later when we were moving to our off grid home, we traded it for a classic VW Beetle (bug) knowing it would last longer on our rough roads out here, I do miss driving that little truck.

https://youtu.be/4K6rSTeUOT4

The second video about tiny homes features a small trailer build, it’s 60 square feet, but contains everything you would need in an aerodynamic and tasty package. I like the corrugated metal siding, it’s my kind of style, he even calls it “the outhouse” LOL. It contains a couch/bed, a kitchen, a shower and composting toilet, and a big screen TV, there is lots of room in this very small space. I don’t know if I could LIVE in such a small space, but it would be great for traveling around, living part time.

https://youtu.be/bDZV2_hXAYk

The post Ford Ranger tiny house appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

John’s nomadic house truck

Click here to view the original post.

 

The older I get, the more I like seeing grey haired (geezers) living the life! This is no different, yes John is living his dream, he has built 12 tiny homes on wheels so he has the process down pretty well, he knows what he likes and what doesn’t work as well.

I like the looks of his house truck, it’s large enough to be spacious, it is high off the ground and 4 wheel drive, but it also has a compactness to it that makes it look easier to drive and park. I could live like that if I was to become a mobilista. What do you think? Do you like it?

https://youtu.be/wLqX7qbLqbUv

web
analytics

The post John’s nomadic house truck appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Please don’t eat the bunnies

Click here to view the original post.

I’m really concerned about how people, especially young people will fare if/when TSHTF, I am right now, as I type, having a conversation with a young lady (23 years old she told me) on a Facebook group about frugal living. There have been some photos posted of people butchering their meat animals, chickens, roosters, rabbits and the such, though as I went through the page, honestly I saw only a couple of photos of someone with the dead animal in the photo that they intended to butcher.

This particular young lady posted a plea to the group to not post photos of animals being slaughtered (her words) for meat as these animals are cute and in her mind shouldn’t be considered for food, or at the very least not discussed on the FRUGAL living group as this “upsets her”. She posted a couple of pictures of cute baby chicks and baby bunnies to drive home her point.

I carefully penned a reply explaining why it’s frugal to raise and butcher your own meat animals, and that I’d prefer to see an animal raised on a home setting or small farm setting and butchered in a humane manner rather than animals being raised in commercial settings, never seeing the light of day, never touching the earth, being fed soy based feed, growth hormones, antibiotics, to have never felt the loving hand of a human and the such.

I wrote in the most polite and empathetic manner possible, but the conversation quickly degraded to her asking me why I don’t raise cute puppies for meat. You can see the full conversation below, I blurred out the names for privacy purposes. For the record, she also told me she does eat meat, just not red meat or rabbits. I am not interested in bashing or making fun of this young lady, I am sincerely concerned about the lack of knowledge as to where our food comes from, and the future of our society, especially if things go south.

web
analytics

The post Please don’t eat the bunnies appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Watching TV off grid

Click here to view the original post.

pff grid TV

One question I frequently hear is how do I get TV or movies while living off grid. I will tell you that I have been living on a mountain side, in the high desert of far west Texas (yes, Texas has mountains), I am in a very rural place far away from any city centers. I cannot put up an antenna, even a high gain one to get over the air TV stations, we only have one radio station that comes over the air as well. So how do I get my entertainment?

Well, first of all, I refuse to pay to watch TV, so no satellite, cable or anything like that. I do have (somewhat) high speed internet, fortunately it’s an unlimited kind of service with no data caps, so as long as our internet is up and running, I can watch streaming videos as long as I wish to. For those of you who have data caps because of satellite internet or using your cell phone service for internet, I have some suggestions below. Second, I don’t have the power to waste on a regular TV, even one of those low energy LED or LCD TVs, so I use my laptop or even better, my tablet, it doesn’t use very much of my precious power.

I have several online sources for watching TV shows and movies, I’ll name a few here. My go to streaming service is Amazon Prime, I get loads of free (included with Prime) TV shows and movies, lots more than I could even begin to watch, they are also beginning to add their own produced original TV shows and movies, some I like, some I wouldn’t give you a nickle for, but that is just my taste, yours may vary.

One I just watched recently is Mr Church, a superb show starring Eddie Murphy in a serious role, it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while, I recommend a box of tissues to go with it, you’ll need it 🙂

At $99 a year for Prime, it’s a chunk of money up front, but it includes free 2 day shipping, since I buy many things through Amazon, it’s worth it to me, the included streaming videos (and music) are a big bonus to me, not to mention the myriad of other goodies included. Recently they have added a monthly rate if you don’t want to or can’t cough of the yearly fee, it’s $10.99 a month. You can try it free for 30 days here Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial.

A few other places to stream TV shows and movies, Hulu and Netflix. I have used Netflix before and was happy enough with them, but ran out of shows I liked so I dropped the service. Hulu, I’m less excited about, though I have many friends who love it. The main reason I dislike Hulu is their commercials they insert in the shows, even if you pay for the premium service, there are commercials, sorry but that’s just annoying, so no Hulu for me.

Of course, one of the biggest streaming video sites is YouTube. There is even a premium service through YouTube where you can watch movies and TV shows, though I have never really looked into that, it’s there. If you do searches, you can find where people have uploaded full TV shows and movies, it’s not legal and eventually they get caught and their channel vanishes, but for a while the show is there to watch, I’ll leave it up to you whether or not you wish to watch shows like that, I’m not suggesting you do it or not, I’m just saying it’s there.

Now for those of you who have data caps and can only download so much per month, most satellite companies give you a period of time during the overnight hours to download all you want without it counting against your data bandwidth allowance, I don’t know if cell phone plans have that, but I know that satellite companies do.

With Amazon, you can download shows and movies on a portable device such as a tablet or phone (apparently not on a computer or laptop) to watch later, I have never done that, so I’m not sure exactly how it works, I just know it’s available. You can download YouTube videos easily even though it’s no setup for that, there are many YouTube video downloaders out there, just search for them. Download the shows during the overnight hours while your satellite company isn’t keeping count of your bandwidth, then you can watch these shows at your leisure.

If you are more adventurous, you can find just about any TV show or movie streaming online, I would classify these sites as very risky, and you are more likely to get a virus on your computer by going to theses kind of sites. The legality of these sites is often questionable, chances are you wouldn’t get into trouble unless YOU are uploading to them, personally I wouldn’t risk using a site like that, at least not without having some heavy duty protection, such as addons to your browser that will aggressively block java, javascript and popups (and probably a slew of other things I haven’t even thought of).

Have I missed anything that you know about? If so, please let me know in the comments below.

web
analytics

The post Watching TV off grid appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Cooking from scratch

Click here to view the original post.

cooking from scratch

Cooking and eating are two (of many) pleasures in life for me, I learned how to cook from watching my mother who was a fantastic cook. She could take just a few basic ingredients and make a meal fit for a king. I remember pushing a kitchen chair up to the counter and standing on it so I could see and help my mother cook. My first dish that I made all by myself was scrambled eggs, standing on a kitchen chair to reach the stove top, of course my mom was right there, but she let me do everything myself, I was so proud of that plate scrambled eggs.

My mother cooked everything from scratch, we never had boxed or pre-prepared anything, I will admit that I was a bit jealous of my friends who ate TV dinners from foil trays, they ate macaroni and cheese from the blue box, and white bread from plastic bags, I thought we were just too poor for such luxuries. Little did I know how lucky we were to have a mom who was talented in the kitchen. Once I was older I discovered just how tasteless that institutional food really was and appreciated my mother’s skills all the more.

One thing I learned from my mom was how to cook without having a recipe to follow, I call it “cooking by the seat of my pants”, I know how to follow a recipe, but I also know how to tweak a recipe, how to make it even better, how to substitute ingredients and best of all, how to make up my own recipe for the things I want. A few benefits of cooking for yourself is it’s usually more frugal, another reason is you know what is going into your food, no mystery ingredients (or ones you can’t pronounce) and best of all, it’s often tastier.

The other day at the grocery store, I purchased a package of English muffins, there were only 6 in the package, they were tasty but rather expensive. We quickly ate them over a matter of 2 mornings. I decided I wanted to make some, I had made them before, I know there are 2 different methods, one is to make a dough, roll it out, cut out the rounds, allow them to rise and grill until cooked on both sides. The other is the batter method, where you make a thick but pourable dough, I already knew I preferred the batter method as that results in English muffins with the nooks and crannies.

I searched through many recipes online but couldn’t find one that I wanted to use, so I just made one up. It’s not difficult, I poured some milk into a pan, added some butter, sugar and salt, I warmed it up until the butter melted (but not too hot), removed from heat, added a packet of yeast, stirred, then began to add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well until it became a thick batter. I covered it and kept warm until it bubbled up nicely, then I cooked them on a griddle top using silicon egg rings to contain the batter as it cooked. Sorry, I don’t measure anything, I just add ingredients until it looks right 🙂

egg-a-muffins

Once cooked on each side, remove from the griddle, cool a bit (that’s hard when fingers keep reaching for the hot muffins), slice each one in half and toast on the grill top. Eat as you wish, you can eat them with butter and jam, or you can put whatever filling you want, my favorite right now is a fried egg, sausage, bacon and cheese, we call them egg-a-muffins (can’t call them anything with a Mc in the name, but you know what I’m talking about). I’ll try to work out a recipe with measurements below.

The egg rings made it easy to do, both for the muffins and for the eggs, I received them to review and they work just fine, you can find them here: Silicone Egg Rings by Ozetti.

Here is a rough estimate for the ingredients, I think it should be easy enough to follow

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 packet rapid rise yeast (regular yeast will also work)
approx 2 cups flour

Add milk, sugar, salt and butter to a pan and warm until the butter melts, remove from heat, do not allow it to get too hot, add yeast, mix well, then start adding all purpose flour in half cup increments, stirring well (I use a whisk) after each addition, you want it to be a thick but pourable batter, it may take more flour. Cover and allow the yeast to work, the warmer your kitchen, the quicker it will happen, it should bubble up and nearly double in size in about a half hour. Heat a flat grill, griddle or frying pan, use the silicon rings or you can use canning lid rings (be sure to oil them), I touched the butter to the pan inside each ring, then scoop the batter into each ring, don’t fill too full. Allow to cook on a low flame for about 5-8 minutes on each side. Once cooked, allow to cool a bit, then slice in half and toast before eating.

You can use water instead of milk, if you do that you can add powdered milk or even a bit of non dairy creamer, or just go with plain water.

This batter reminds me of the no knead artisanal breads that are all the rage, the dough is wet and when you mix it, it becomes “shaggy” looking as the yeast does its thing and the gluten is developed. Let me know if you try this and how it works out for you 🙂

web
analytics

The post Cooking from scratch appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Reality of living in a tiny home

Click here to view the original post.

01 copy

By now you’ve seen many tiny house videos. Many of them are showing the building in progress, even more show the tiny house before anyone has moved in, in pristine condition. The few that do a video tour in a lived in home, well just like you would do before company is coming over, things are picked up, cleaned and made presentable. I don’t know about you, but I don’t live my life in a pristine condition, there are dishes in the sink, there are dirty clothes in the hamper, there are crumbs on my stove, you get the idea.

So what is the reality of living in a tiny home? Is it easier to keep clean and tidy or is it more difficult? What if you are the type of person who has lots of stuff, clutter? That is who I am, I tend to have lots of clutter, I would love to lean more toward tidiness, but it’s just not in my DNA, you should my collection of ebooks on busting clutter…

A few weeks ago I wrote about Ariel C. McGlothi’s tiny house in a cold climate, she does seem to keep a tidy home, I suspect it is almost a requirement otherwise you wouldn’t have any room to live yourself. She has created a follow up video answering some questions she received, and to show how her tiny home really looks, how she really lives. Enjoy!

https://youtu.be/yfc8_29Y6rs

web
analytics

The post Reality of living in a tiny home appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Bed shed in the bush

Click here to view the original post.

bed shed

Given a handful of primitive hand tools, I mean a sharpened rock, a few sticks of wood and not much more, what could you build? In today’s modern world, most of us have access to modern tools, at the very least, simple tools like a knife, a saw, hammer and nails… you can even get inexpensive tools in the dollar store. But what if you wanted to know what you could do with real stone age type tools? That’s exactly what the man behind Primitive Technology does.

It’s interesting to see him work his magic in the bush of Australia, he doesn’t live off grid or out in the bush, this is a hobby, a serious hobby, he does it just to see if he can, and based on what I’ve seen on his YouTube channel, I’d say he is successful at being primitive and getting things done.

In this video, you see Primitive Technology creating a bed shed, a protected place up off the ground to sleep that is also covered against the rain. He is seen chopping down small (diameter) trees, digging post holes (remember he is doing this BY HAND), setting the poles, lashing them together using some sort of vine that looked wickedly prickly. He thatches the roof with grasses, he weaves a bed frame and more. He also creates a fire, close enough to reap the benefits of the fire without catching his bed and shed on fire. I am impressed!

https://youtu.be/_ZXUCQc2Z78

The post Bed shed in the bush appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Legalities of tiny homes

Click here to view the original post.

legal

You want to live in a tiny home, you have done your research, you love what you see, but now you are finding out the bumps in the road about building and living in a tiny home. It seems that the reason most tiny homes are actually built on a trailer chassis, that gets around most of the “building codes” that are enforced in most towns, and even out of town in some municipalities.

But where are you going to park it? Most places will not allow you to park on a property for more than a set period of time, many areas will not allow you to park in someone’s backyard and LIVE in it, there are rules and regulations for both mobile and fixed tiny homes, it’s up to YOU to do your homework to find out what these rules (codes) are in the place where you want to plant your tiny home. I would say to get out of the city, as far as you can, get somewhere where there are very few building codes. I know that isn’t ideal for everyone, but if you are able to get far away from government intrusion, that seems to be the best way to go.

Watch this video to hear about some things you might not have considered before jumping in the tiny home movement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqoHpsz1Yss

web
analytics

The post Legalities of tiny homes appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Can you live in a tiny house in winter?

Click here to view the original post.

Cold tiny house

The tiny house movement us huge (no pun intended), and is even becoming more mainstream. The fact that most of them are built on trailer chassis make them legal in many places where a non-mobile home would be illegal. Living year round in a tiny home means it’s going to be winter for you at some time unless you live in a southern latitude that doesn’t experience much or any cold weather. For the rest of us, it means you are going to have to deal with chilly air, snow, ice, cold wind and the such.

Fortunately it would seem that these tiny homes are built well for cold weather, being small they are usually easy to heat, in fact you often have to worry more about overheating your small space when keeping your digs toasty. If you have enough insulation, it doesn’t take much to heat your tiny space. Other than overheating, another problem is moisture, condensation. Propane heat usually generates moisture, we humans also generate moisture, living generates moisture, these tiny homes being well insulated as well as being tight, you have to be conscious of the amount of moisture in the air so that you aren’t creating problems.

Ariel C. McGlothin lives in a tiny home in Wyoming, a place known for beautiful vistas as well as cold temps in winter. She deals with snowfall, which she says her tiny home handles very well, with the steep pitch of her metal roof, it sheds the snow very readily and easily, she does have to shovel snow, to make paths to the various areas she needs to get to, as well as keeping various areas around her tiny home cleared for safety and access.

web
analytics

The post Can you live in a tiny house in winter? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Who do you use?

Click here to view the original post.

internet

A few weeks ago, our internet service all but stopped working for nearly 2 weeks, I finally figured out it was apparently caused by the solar storms going on, it really made for some quiet days (weeks) since we couldn’t stream anything during that time. Once things got back online for us, it wouldn’t last, last Saturday we enjoyed a rare thunderstorm during January, and I do mean thunderstorm, complete with lots of lightening! We took a direct hit, I was online using my tablet and actually got shocked through my tablet screen, it wasn’t terrible, but it was a surprise, we heard the crackle before the strike and heard the loud boom. We figured we had taken a direct hit but didn’t know for sure until the following day when our friends across the valley told us they saw the lightning hit our place.

Fortunately it didn’t do any damage to us, the SkyCastle is well grounded so most of the energy from the hit went to ground. But the storm did take out our local internet, it was out for the next 3 days, our street was the last one to in the neighborhood to get our internet back up and running.

The first few years we lived off grid, we didn’t have internet ourselves, our neighbor had satellite internet and I went to his house to check my email about once a week. I knew before we moved out here that my internet options would be very limited so I had shut down quite a bit of my internet activities, shutting down several websites and the such. I hadn’t really gotten into buying online yet and streaming anything was not really going strong yet.

When we found out that an internet company was reviving the old internet towers out in my neighborhood, I jumped at the chance to get back online. I asked lots of questions before signing on the dotted line, mainly about data allowances, if they had any caps, I let them know ahead of time that I was a power user and would be using a lot of data. I was told that would be no problem, I could eat all I wanted at their internet buffet, so I signed up and haven’t looked back since.

Before we moved out of the big city, we had just gotten DSL, I think our speed at the time was in the 3MB range, coming from dial up (56K), that seemed really fast. After getting here, my neighbor’s internet was painfully slow, but it was pretty much the only game in town (before the wireless net was reintroduced out here). I learned that I didn’t want satellite for reasons I’ll explain below.

One question I get asked is how do we get our internet. We use a wireless system, there are antenna towers interspersed in the neighborhood, atop strategic mountains, we have to be line of sight in order to get the service. We were one of the first houses to hook up, being right across the valley from the first tower put up, actually the hardware was already in place but had gone defunct long before we moved out here, mainly because it cost too much to maintain at the time.

Our internet speed was 3MBPS (megabyte per second) down and 1MBPS up. That seemed to be screaming fast compared to my neighbor’s satellite. I had checked into possibly getting satellite, but it was expensive, slow and most importantly, this is the thing that was the deal breaker for me, they meter your bandwidth. What that means is they measure how much you download in any certain period (per day or per month depending on the company) and if you go over the amount they deem enough, then they spank you back to dial up speed for a period of time. I knew I would blow through that allotment in a matter of hours, that would not work for me.

I wish we had DSL available, we have been promised DSL for years, but we can’t have it unless we get fiber optic lines installed, they have promised those for years as well… I don’t see it happening, they have a hard enough time maintaining the copper lines, living in a mountainous area, with not that many people per square mile, it’s just not financially feasible for them to invest in fiber optics, at least not in the near future.

We pay quite a lot for internet service out here, when I first signed up, it ran $40 a month for the slowest speed (3MBPS), over the years it has gone up, it topped out at $60 for the slowest tier, I recently upgraded to the next tier, 6MBPS for $80 a month, that’s 6 down and 2 up, yes I know that is expensive and slow, especially compared to what most can get in the city. But I don’t mind really, I wouldn’t trade it for city life.

Those are our options, satellite or wireless. There is one more option, but I don’t find it to be any better than satellite, and that’s using a cell phone service, it’s sort of available, if you invest in a large antenna to capture and amplify the signal, that’s IF you can get a signal at all, honestly cell phones do not work out here for the most part, I have no problem with that either.

Today I am enjoying my 6MBPS connection, it is more than fast enough to stream anything I wish to watch, listen to or download, hopefully it will be a while before our next outage.

web
analytics

The post Who do you use? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

I know a lot about solar – I love solar

Click here to view the original post.

trump

President Elect Trump is quoted in saying “I know a lot about solar, I love solar…”, it gives me hope that Trump will work with the powers that be to encourage more alternative energy resources. The next part of Trump’s statement was about solar being so expensive, that might give pause to the solar power companies, but I hear that a bit differently, I don’t hear Trump trying to stop alternative energy, I believe he is interested in bringing the costs down even further than they have come down in the last 5-10 years. I interpret his statements as wanting to do something about the costs, making it more affordable as opposed to shutting it down. As a business man, he would be interested in getting goods and services at the best possible price, being our president, I can see him doing that for the whole of the country.

I listened to a quick podcast on NPR on this subject

The original story can be found here
http://www.npr.org/2016/12/22/506531165/renewable-energy-sector-remains-optimistic-amid-trump-policy-outlook

What do you think?

web
analytics

The post I know a lot about solar – I love solar appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

What happened to PB?

Click here to view the original post.

20170110_164631

There are some things that can be (or look) fun about living off grid, but there are many things that are less attractive, but still have to be done. One of those for us is truck maintenance. I rely on my truck for work and getting to town and back. We live some 20+ miles from the nearest town, what I tend to go through the most is tires and oil. Driving on the rough, unpaved, rocky, mountainous roads is very hard on tires as well as suspension. I drive slow to keep the damage at a minimum, but it still wears my tires out, I have to be prepared at any time to change a flat tire, and on occasion I have had to buy tires earlier than I wanted to because of having my spare on (in use) and getting another flat. I will need to look at buying tires once work starts building up again. Being in merchandising, our work slows down during the holidays, it’s about to pick up again and I can’t wait.

The other part of maintenance is oil changes, I have 2 choices, I can go in and pay to have it done in a garage, around here that is expensive, we’re talking about $60 or more, that’s just for a standard oil change and new filter, regular grade oil, nothing special. Or we can do it ourselves, like how I snuck in the “we”? Actually PB did it.

I ordered the oil and filter from Amazon, and I purchase an extra 2 quarts at a local store because my truck takes 7 quarts. It’s handy to be able to order most of what I need from Amazon, with the Prime service I have, I can get most things (including the oil and filter) here in 2 business days.

Yesterday, PB crawled under my truck and proceeded to change the oil, being able to do that ourselves saved us at least half what it would have cost to do it in town. I put a lot of miles on my truck so I need to get more regular oil changes, that will help keep my truck going for many years. One thing PB wants to do is incorporate a remote oil filter, that would allow me to use a larger filter, which would ultimately be safer for my truck, it’s something we will be looking into soon.

20170110_175957

The other thing I did while the hood was up, I anointed the engine compartment with peppermint oil, it’s for the mice, out here in the country there is a terrible problem with rodents, they have a tendency to chew on things, and those things become expensive to repair, not to mention potentially being stranded somewhere because of an electrical problem. The mint is a rodent repellent, they don’t like it. Now my truck smells minty fresh!

What have you done to your vehicles lately to improve or maintain them?

web
analytics

The post What happened to PB? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Women off grid

Click here to view the original post.

women

When you think of someone living off grid, chances are you either think of a man or perhaps a couple (or even a family), but it’s doubtful you will think of a single woman going off grid, especially an older lady. Well I’m here to tell you, there are women living off grid on their own, homesteading, doing the things that are traditionally done by the men.

As a female myself, I can tell you it’s convenient to have a man around to do the hard jobs, to do the really messy jobs, to reach the taller things, even to unscrew that stubborn lid, it’s convenient but not a requirement! I love my man and am glad we are doing this together, but it’s not an impossible thing to do on your own ladies, if you really wish to do this!

As long as you are in decent health and have a few skills, ladies you can do this. Having some smarts helps too, of course there might be somethings that are just physically difficult to do, that’s when you hire someone to help, whether you pay with money, or you trade something you can do (cooking, mending, fixing, and the such), don’t get fussy with me if you are a liberal woman and are offended by my words, this is what I would do if I didn’t have my PB around to do the heavy lifting.

Out where I live there are quite a few ladies, some in the +60 and even +70 age range who live on their own, not necessarily living off grid, but living in a wild place with no city amenities or conveniences around. Many of them grew up on ranches, but not all, some did come from the city and just made it work through their own strength and perseverance.

Here are a few ladies who are doing this on their own

web
analytics

The post Women off grid appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.