Thursday, December 29, 2016

Is a little peace too much to ask?

Yesterday was a bit of a stressful day here in the mountains. Everything seemed normal and calm. I was cleaning up from baking for 2 weeks, holidays, and then recovering from an illness that decided to pay us a visit. Watching movies with the granddaughters and just relaxing.

Should add that we live off grid, 6.5 miles from blacktop, 10 miles from a gas station and 40 miles from a larger town.

Our son was fixing a neighbor’s 4 wheeler and was going to plow the driveway if he could get it fixed. He and the youngest granddaughter took it for a ride and there was a guy who was not dressed for the elements walking along our road. He said that he and a friend got stuck in the mountain and ran out of gas. Son gave him a ride down to our place and the only vehicle here was the one wood truck. He left with the granddaughter and the walker to go into town, 10 miles away that has a gas station, to get gas for our other truck and this guys truck. 20 min after they left I got a text from a friend that works in town that there had been a shooting by our house and asked who lived at an address. I called her right away and told her that they had left in the wood truck with a stranger and were headed into town. She told me that the sheriffs and Highway Patrol were all over town. We had no way to contact my son or to let him know that he had a criminal, possibly armed, in the truck with him and his daughter.

Called husband at work and told him to start home and keep and eye out for son because we didn’t know where he was going at this point. Called Sheriff department and gave them a description of the guy, son, granddaughter and truck. Then waited…

Husband got to town and found son in the fire station being questioned and called to let us know he was OK. Called the neighbors, 2 miles away, and let them know that there was still an armed guy who was wounded running around out here.

One neighbor is ½ mile from us and she was home alone with 2 kids and not very good cell service. Her husband was at the end of our road, 6 ½ miles away, with my husband and they couldn’t get a hold of her. She has no idea what is going on. I had no vehicles here that ran to get there. Tried to start the 4-wheeler and couldn’t start it. So I took 3 dogs, big dogs, my gun and cell phone and went for a walk. Thru waist deep snow drifts then down the road ½ mile to find her house empty. She had gotten a text from her husband to come to my house and decided to go to town instead. I called husband who was with the deputies and told him I was walking back and he gave the sheriffs my description so they wouldn’t shoot me. Got back home and brought in enough wood for the night so we didn’t have to go out after dark if it wasn’t resolved by then. Sat on the couch with the pistol on my lap and the rifle by my side watching movies with the girls.

They got the guy in another cabin about a mile from our house and finally let everyone come home.

Yesterday my cell phone was a very important tool to us. It allowed us to know that there was a danger we would have otherwise not known about. It allowed us to communicate to neighbors, family and the sheriffs. Vital information was exchanged. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be sitting here with no idea what happened to them when they left and didn’t come back. And I don’t want to think about what would have happened if the other guy would have come to our house with a story about an accident and we would have had no idea that he was armed and the circumstances.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Off grid anniversary!!

One year ago today we moved off grid. No batteries. No solar panels. No water. But we had a lot… We had: a 1950’s trailer with an addition that we had stripped out and cleaned up.  A wood stove.  A generator.  A few battery powered lights. A battery powered shower pump. 20 gallons worth of water jugs. 93 years (between us) of learning from our grandparents, parents and any way else we could prepare for this. A dream. Guts.

We have made a lot of progress on our goals this year but not as far as we wanted to be at this point. 

We had a lot of clean up to do and we have most of it done.  Last winter we spent one day every weekend tearing down and cleaning up and starting a fire. The next day was feeding the fire and cutting firewood for the house. We made it just fine.

So where are we now? We now have goats and kids, chickens and a garden spot for next spring. We have the area cleared out for the house build in the spring. We have a barn that is almost finished for the goats and a chicken house for the chickens. We have a 1000 gal tank for water that we fill from the neighbors well or from town until we develop a spring or dig a well. We have a composting toilet system in place. We have solar panels and batteries so the generator is just a back up now.  Yesterday we installed a water heater shower unit.  It’s not pretty but yet it’s beautiful.

We wanted to have our house done by this winter but unfortunately that was not to be. Mike was only working part time during the summer and we didn’t have the funds to dig out for the house. It was very discouraging to not be able to get that done, but we are comfortable in our home. I am in a job that I love and Mike now has a job that he likes as well. Our dream was never to be able to make a living off of our land so having good jobs was very important. Everything happens for a reason and sometimes you just have to wait for the blessing cause it comes in its own time.

So one year later we are happy, and have had some interesting experiences.

Something that has amused us is the responses people have said upon learning about us living off grid. Here are some samples for your own information or amusement:

Do you go to bed when it gets dark?  No we have lights just like you.

How are you online if you are off grid? Well, this is 2016 and we have this nifty little thing called a cell phone that is equipped with a hot spot. Actually, this one is a little controversial because some people believe off grid is like going back in time. This isn’t the case in most situations. Most off gidders embrace technology and we probably have a better understanding of it then most grid connected people. We need to be able to understand how solar power works and what a charge controller or inverter does as well as the difference between AC and DC or pure sine wave and modified sine wave power. On grid is just plug it in and it works.

How do you cook? Well on a stove or in an oven of course.

How do you get food? Anything we do not grow ourselves we buy at the store. We are in Montana not Antartica.

What do you do for heat? Wood stove

How do you keep your clothes clean? We don’t.  We wash them at a Laundromat until we get a better source of water and more power for our own washer.

How do you wash dishes? In the sink, that is possible ya know.

Where do you go to bathe? UUUHHH… My shower.

The best was when Mike went for a job and they found out he lived off grid. They expressed concern that he wouldn’t be clean enough to work in the garage. You know like we don’t shower everyday and put on clean clothes.

And the latest: You are still connected to the grid, it is just a self reliant one. This one is like saying my car is public transportation for just my family.

Most people have been really supportive and genuinely interested in what we are doing. Their questions are just a way of learning. But it is a sense of amusement.

It’s always an adventure and we enjoy most of it. One year closer to our goals.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

You win some, you lose some.

We had our first kids born here this week. Beautiful babies. Mike had to help with the delivery a little, but every thing ended up fine. First time mama is doing very well.

We have always taken the kids immediately after they were born. We milked and this would allow us to milk and get the kids away early. However our barn isn’t finished and the goat that delivered first is a mini so hand milking is very difficult. She does have a nice bag and looks to be a good producer but very difficult to milk with such tiny nipples. So we have left the kids with her. She will let us milk her but we are allowing the kids to drink as well. Not entirely sure how that will work out, but we will see.

Because the  barn isn’t done the goats are also not in a fence. The goats are out at night because of the bear activity. I don’t want a bear to get into the pen and they have no where to go. They freely raom the property and keep the weeds under control.  But we were a little concerned with coyotes and bears after the kids.  Our neighbor on our back line lost 3 lambs a couple of weeks ago and we didn’t want that to happen here. So we brought up a dog pen and stuck it up by the house with mama and babies in it for the first night. They did well and after that she didn’t keep them in there and instead buts them in the crawl space under the house. The other goats all stay close and keep guard.
One thing that we have noticed is how much goats act like deer. Mama will take the kids somewhere and put them down to nap, then wander off to graze. Then she comes back to get them, much like a deer does with a fawn. Of course a fawn doesn’t have a dog keeping an eye on them like these kids do. Our cockapoo , Reese, thinks that he has to watch them if mom isn’t near, and of course they get plenty of attention from the girls. 

A few weeks ago we traded our buck and a bred boar doe for a doe in milk. When we looked at her she was healthy and happy. When they brought her a week later, she was very ill and appeared starving. We spent a week nursing her back to health. Finally got her healthy and was able to get some milk from her. She was the goat that didn’t know she was a goat and she always wanted in the house and wouldn’t run with the other goats. She was finally starting to make friends and would go to the meadow with them and we were hopeful that she would be fine. 2 nights ago we were awakened by a goat screaming outside the living room window. She was on the ground in obvious distress. All the signs were anaphylactic shock. We have no idea what actually happened to put her in that condition. No sign of injury or illness.  I know that we should have epinephrine on hand, and we always did when we had goats before, but every trip to the store I’ve forgotten it. So my negligence led to us losing our first goat here.  I believe that her body and organs were damaged from the state she was in when she came here and despite our efforts to get her healthy again, it was too much for her. We have no idea how old she was but from experience, I would guess at least 5 years maybe more. I do know that whatever happened to her before, but she was happy, cared for and loved the last few weeks of her life.

Everything doesn’t go as planned all of the time but you learn from it and go on.  You accept the good with the bad. This life isn’t all good and wonderful. Some parts are very tough to deal with, but it is all worth it.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

some updates.....

Been busy around here the past few weeks. Since we only have a short summer we get as much done as we can. We got the rest of the trailers torn down and the rubbish burnt. 

I will need to add that pic later as I didn't bring it with me. 

We have been working on the barn. I will try to take some video this weekend when we are working on it. 

We also have officially started on our house. One log peeled!!! Only 50 or so to go. 

Have a good week everyone!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Turning a dream, into a plan and into reality

The name of our blog and Facebook page is “ Nothing happens unless first a dream.” It is a very profound statement if you stop to think about it. Some people have no dreams or no vision of where they want to be. I feel sorry for those people.  Most people have a dream of where they want to be in 10 years or before retirement or some other milestone marker.

We’ve been told we are dreamers and have unrealistic dreams. Our dream was to live off grid in the mountains in Montana. Crazy? Maybe. Unrealistic? Nope. No dream is unrealistic, unless you are dreaming of living on mars or something like that.

The Plan

Dreams are not enough to get you where you are going. You must turn those dreams into a plan if you want them to become a reality.  The difference between them is that a plan has goals and deadlines. We have always had a plan, but when a plan wasn’t going to work, we regrouped and made a new plan. We went from a fifth wheel camper in a campground to a home in a converted garage on a piece of land that we were looking to buy.  We could have made it work but it wasn’t going to ever get us to our dream. It was beside a highway, on grid and didn’t meet our criteria.
One segment of a good plan should define the tangible elements of the dream in quantifiable measures. We laid out a list of criteria a long time ago about what we wanted in a piece of land.
Our land needed to be:

South facing and in the mountains
Some trees
A workable home site and garden site or greenhouse location
Access to water
Winter access
Not too far from some “civilization”

Notice I didn’t have good growing soil on the list. I knew that we could amend the soil to be able to get us to a suitable soil.

We were able to find this property by a private sale and it met all the criteria but one. No water. There is a year round creek across the road and by talking to neighbors and others we knew there are several seasonal springs on the land. I also researched the wells in the area and found that the 2 closest to us were under 100 feet. So water wasn’t a concern as it was a fixable issue, and we could haul water till that issue was resolved. It is south facing, has a lot of trees, is 10 miles from the local gas station/convenience store and is located on a county maintained road.

There were good places for building and gardening. The land also had a LOT of makeshift buildings on it. Some of them were nothing more than a slide in truck camper set into the ground and a makeshift frame built around it covered in tarps.

So our plan had changed again. We were planning on buying bare land, starting from scratch, camping for the summer while we built a house, and having things in place before winter. Instead there we were cleaning up 12 plus years of neglect, moving to a piece of property we had only spent 3 weekends on, in October, in the middle of a snowstorm. We had taken a trailer that was in the best shape and stripped it out and scrubbed and painted to make it livable for the winter. This wasn’t our original plan but it was still a path to our dream.  See the difference?  Your plan is the road to get you there but it needs to be flexible.  Unless you have an unlimited amount of money to accomplish your dreams, you need to be able to have a flexible plan to resolve the different issues that pop up along the way.

This doesn’t just apply to moving off the grid or homesteading. My daughter had a dream of being an RN. She started school in a very good nursing school. Circumstances on where she was living and working for school made her change her plan. She changed schools. She didn’t change her career, her dream, but she did change her path, her plan. She is now an RN living in a different state then she planned, in a relationship she didn’t plan, having a life she didn’t plan, and these are all improvements, but she has realized her dream.

Don’t sabotage your dream without a flexible plan.

It is so easy to get stuck on a plan and not change it and sabotage your dream in the process. When we first got to our land we planned on putting the house on the east side of the land and the barn on the west. A few weeks in we noticed that the barn would have the best view, best access and best shelter from the wind. So we flipped it. That meant more work, because we had to remove three trailers that were fastened together under a large roof and filled with trash before we could even start on our house, but it was the right move to make.  We also planned on putting in a larger barn that would house our goats, milking area, feed storage and chickens. Then a bear showed up and began making a pest of himself. So now we have built a smaller chicken coop, that has no food storage, and a smaller barn that will house the goats, milking area, some food storage and is built from logs to keep the pesky bear out.  We will also put in a separate animal food storage area later. We can keep enough food for a couple of weeks in the barn but we would like to be able to store a couple of months in another building.

The reality

Our reality is that our dreams are not fully realized yet. We have the land, we’ve cleared a lot of trash, we’ve built some things we needed, but it is not a full realization of our dream. We have a long way to go but we are still working our plan. Our full dream is still out there in front of us. We have a destination in mind and we can see it. It is so close we can almost taste it. We have accomplished parts of it so part of the dream has come true. Some parts have gone thru the complete dream, plan, and reality process, and it is so rewarding to see parts of your dream in place and be able to fully visualize the rest.

You can turn dreams into reality. You just need a plan to get there.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

After effects

So you have probably all seen our show on Discovery. We have dealt with a lot of emotions this week regarding the show and the after math. We have had old friends that were really concerned that we were starving and that thought that we were on the verge of breaking up.  They thought that I had transformed into some crazy woman and poor Mike couldn’t do anything to make me happy.  We even got a letter from a well meaning , although a little crazy, homeless woman that wanted to come live with us and teach us all she knew about gardening. 

We have been told that we are pathetic, live in a rat trap, and are failures or will fail. People feel sorry for Mike cause I am not happy with anything and we fight all the time. None of this is the truth. We are happy and do not fight. We are living the life we want to live and building our home, not just a house, together. We are not failures in anything and will not fail.

The show was able to portray me that way because they are the ones that made me mad. They flat out lied about a lot of things and wanted me to lie. Well I don’t lie and when you make me mad, I don’t hide it either. They also thought they were going to make me do some things that I wasn’t going to do. Like bring my goats here when we didn’t even have feed bowls for them or feed or even a water bucket. I fought for my animals because no animal deserves to be treated that way.  They also would not put anything in place to make it easier to accomplish our future goals. Kept telling me that I make too many plans and dream too big. Tried to convince me to not make any plans just make it through today. That is a recipe for failure if I ever saw one.

Mike doesn’t like confrontation and wouldn’t give them any, he just sent them to me. That is the way we work.  Kind of better that way because it would have been a whole different kind of show had his temper flared up.

It didn’t really bother me too much. Kind of just dealt with things and moved on. Then Friday night happened. We don’t have cable or satellite so I didn’t get to watch the show.  I saw some comments before I went to bed and then when I got up in the morning. I was shocked and appalled at what this has turned into. I guess it didn’t push my buttons when it was me but when it was someone else, well…

I had exercised extreme restraint in the past week, for the most part, but this pushed some buttons for me. The couple on Friday nights show were shown like they abused their animals. People were saying things like the ASPCA should have been called. Their friends and people who knew them were defending them  and posting links to their farm website and facebook pages that showed what their life was really like.  The fact that they were misrepresented even worse then we were really made me mad. I felt so bad for them.

So I went back to social media and started responding to people that believe everything they see on TV.  Had some good conversations and cleared some things up. Most people were seeing through the editing but things didn’t make sense to them.

So you may ask, why did we do this show. Well at first it was presented that they wanted to show people what it was like to live off grid. How hard it was and what it was really like. They talked about putting in a well, a house, barn stuff we needed. When you look at all we had to do, just bringing in an excavator for a couple of days is a huge help. So that is why we did it, not that we “needed” the help but because it would have given us a leg up.

There are things that we are not supposed to talk about and reveal to the public but people deserve to know that some things are not as they seem.  Later I will do a post that has all the down and dirty details on what not to do. If discovery wants to do a show about living off grid and actually inform some people then they should actually listen to people who live it and show the why behind some of the stuff not the drama. I feel really sorry for folks that watch this and think that some of these things work.

But we don’t work all the time. We have fun too. Last weekend we went fishing with some friends. So this is how my hubby spent father’s day. Fishing in the Missouri river. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Our home, the set of a show.

Back in November, Mike saw an ad on line that was looking for people that had gone off grid. I sent an email just as a whim although I didn’t think anything would come of it. They were looking for people who could use help in getting an off-grid homestead established. They wanted to do a show where they would provide you with things you needed. We got a reply, then did a couple of phone calls, sent in some videos, did a few skype calls and still didn’t think it would lead anywhere.

Well it did and in February they came for 2 weeks to shoot the episode, and last night we watched it at a friend’s house.  It was a very interesting experience. Having 15 people milling around for 2 weeks when it is usually just the 2 of us… Interesting is the word.  Being fitted with a microphone every day when you have personal space issues is not fun. J (But the crew was awesome) Needing to turn off said microphone when you need to have a phone conversation with work. Knowing that every personal conversation you have is being heard by someone. Leaving my home to go to work with all those people there. Not a very comfortable time for us, but fun.

Then last night we watched it and the whole time friends were texting me saying that is not the real me. Well that is me, just edited.  Except for one thing….. I am not a dreamer, I am a planner. The difference between dreams a plans is goals and deadlines. The fact of the matter is that we have plans and we accomplish the plans that we make. We are always adjusting the plans. That is what you do but you make a plan, otherwise how do you know where you are going.

Our son and his family live here now and the plans have changed. Not drastically but they have changed. We have been working our plan. That is what you do.  

So if you’re wondering if it is worth it. Yeah, we planned on carrying water till May and it saved us 3 months of hauling water and the expense of the tank. We got stuff growing earlier then we could have.

If you are thinking about doing a show like this my advice is to not do it unless you have a sense of humor. In this age of social media, people think they know things and believe everything. So if you can’t read someone posting their opinion without taking it personally, don’t do it. Reading the comments on line just make me laugh. People that know us, know us, and that doesn’t change.  They know we had livestock for over 10 years,  we grew all of our own vegetables, we hunt, we fish for food and we know how to do stuff. They know that we have always worked.  I currently work all week in town and yes I drive an hour each way.  We then work all weekend on our land. We have done a lot of work in the 9 months we have been here and we have a lot to do and the summer isn’t forever.

That being said…I am off to work on bear proofing our livestock feed. We have a bear that is making a pest of himself. He is getting in the feed almost every night. He doesn’t eat it all just dumps it over, takes a snack and moves on. He has also stopped up to our house a couple of times and tried to get into our freezer on the porch that we use as a refrigerator, he visits a neighbor about a mile away as well, but has been more destructive there. I am starting to wonder if he thinks white chest freezers are his personal lunch bucket. Nothing we have tried has worked so far so again we adjust the plan and keep going.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Chicken coop and a visitor

Over the memorial day weekend we built a new chicken coop. We got peeps in March and then acquired 6 laying hens in April. We didn’t have a place for them so we set up some dog coops that were around the place for their temporary home. This is what they were living in.

  Not a very good set up but it worked for the short term. So we started to build a coop that will better suit their needs and ours as it was very difficult to feed, water or gather eggs.
We started with very uneven ground and started leveling it before we began building.

We put some railroad ties down and leveled them then placed a portion of fence on top of it. Once it was all level we started building.

We put the frame up and sided the walls with old fence boards. This will work for the summer but we are planning on the chickens being in the barn for the winter.
Everyone helped us get the coop up.

We added a door and a window that were on the property. We also made a little chicken door.

Once the coop was up a friend at work called and asked if I wanted all the chicken wire that they took down in their yard to put up chain link. There was 150 feet of fence and a bunch of wood posts. Mike and I ran into town to pick them up. We put up the fence, added a gate and finished the coop.

The chickens loved it.

They were in their house for 4 days when Mike let the dogs out one morning without looking out and there was a bear in the feed freezer. It had knocked down the old peep pen wire and flipped the feeder. The dogs saw the bear and the chase was on! Dogs eventually came back but this was the mess. Mike went down right away and flipped the freezer back up but his was the scene.

Because we don’t have a barn completed the feed is kept in a freezer outside the goat pen. Our goats free range most of the time and they were in a habit of going in the pen at night but they could come and go as they please. They were not in their pen and now we don’t put them in for their own safety. They have a better chance of escape if they are loose and not trapped in a pen. They stay close to the house so we are not too worried about them.  
The next night the bear came back and knocked over the compost bin. What a mess!! Well now we are stringing a few strands of electric fence with a solar charger around it.
Now the freezer is locked and we make sure there is no other feed around to tempt our visitor. It is a black bear so at least it isn’t a grizzly!!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Destruction before construction
Due to the fact that there was a lot of junk and scrap buildings on our property, we needed to do a lot of destruction before we can even begin construction.  So tear down and burn it is. A lot of the buildings we just burnt in place.

This building was in the way of the place we want to put our house. So it had to come down. We couldn’t just burn it for several reasons.
  • We wanted to salvage some of the wood and metal.
  • We didn’t want that big of a fire and the risk of other things burning.
  • We needed to keep part of it for storage.

So we took it down and burnt the burnable stuff in pits that the neighbor came and dug for us.
It looks like a total mess right now but it is getting better.

This is now the front with the storage part still standing. Going to get some plants started out front now that most of the stuff is out of the way and we wont be hauling stuff over the beds. We still have about 3 loads of metal that the neighbor is picking up. 

Getting a better view of what my view will be when the house is in. A lot of the trees are coming down because they are damaged and are a fire hazard. 

We have also been raking and burning the years of pine needles that are everywhere.  Again it looks like a mess right now but there is progress. The thing with raking is that when you rake an area you end up with 3 piles. The burnable stuff, metal (car parts, nails, and many other things we have found), and trash that can’t be burnt like glass.

Our past 2 months have been taken up with all of this cleanup effort.  We did make a trip to PA for Emily’s graduation. We are very proud of her and her new title of RN!!
We got to spend some time with family and friends for a few days and then headed home.
On the way we had the opportunity to see a baby antelope that had just been born. Little guy was just figuring out how to use his legs.

We are now back to work and starting to work on building. Going to be a long busy summer.

Monday, April 25, 2016

November 2015-January 2016

We had a lot of work to do to just be able to move to the property. We wanted to move there so we wouldn’t have to pay rent and the payments for the property. We knew that we would need to haul water all winter and had to get set up to be able to do that.

In this process you discover how to break your “needs” into what is truly “need” and what is “comfort.”  Then you meet the needs and evaluate which of the comfort is most important.

Our needs were shelter, water, heat, lights, and a means to cook. Pretty basic needs at this point.  
We were able to completely strip one of the trailers that had an addition on it and although it isn’t structurally very good, it was good enough. The issue was the animals that had decided to call it home. We removed all the old furniture and ripped up all the carpet, all 5 layers!!! We cleaned out all the cupboards and drawers. Cleaned, scrubbed, sprayed with bleach, cleaned again and lined with vinyl. We cleaned a stove that was there also. It was a terrible job, but 5 cans of oven cleaner later it looked like new.  We then bought enough 5/8 OSB board to cover the floors. Shelter and a means to cook: check!


Water was a necessity for washing, cooking and drinking. We bought water to drink and cook with but buying water to wash with was a little out of our budget. So we hauled water from town in 5 gal containers. We got very good at conserving water in this process. On a whim, I had bought a crock with a spout a few months before we moved. That crock sat on a little stool by the kitchen sink and that was our “running water.”  It worked to wash dishes and our hands.  Water, check!

Keeping warm in a 1950’s trailer in the mountains in Montana was going to be a challenge.  Especially with no wood-stove in the place.  We raided one of the other trailers on the property and moved a wood-stove up.  There had been a stove here so there was a stove pipe of sorts thru the roof but the safety of that set up was very questionable. And the stove was close to the wall. A 60 year old wall made of wood. We bought some cement board and put it on the floor and wall as an insulator. We also bought a section of triple wall pipe to go through the roof. It isn’t pretty but it works. To feed the stove would take a couple of cords of wood for the winter.  We were behind on this, very behind. But there was a lot of downed trees and standing dead trees and Mike worked every weekend cutting wood to keep ahead of it.  Heat, check!

The winter nights in Montana are very long. 4 PM to 8 AM long. That meant that during the week we were only home in the dark. So lighting was very important. Initially we had battery lights and a solar outside light that would charge during the day and would light up our house at night. We also needed a way to charge cell phones and such and have a battery pack that I would charge at work for that need. We researched what we needed and bought 2 solar panels, a charge controller, 2 golf cart batteries and we had an invertor. Mike built a temporary stand for the panels and we hooked it up. We had enough power to do what we needed but none extra.  We were able to get 20 led automotive lights and sockets from Amazon and we bought a spool of automotive wire and switches. My mechanic ran lights from the batteries and we had lights that operated on switches. We dismantled a candle holder that fit just right into wide mouth canning jar lids. So we covered the lights with jars. Lights, Check!

Our needs were met but there are some things that are needed to make life bearable. SHOWERS!!! We could bathe in a bucket but that wasn’t the best option. So we bought a rechargeable camping shower. This is the shower we use
It recharges in about an hour and one charge will do about 10 showers. We heated the water on the stove in a big coffee boiler and filled a 5 gal. bucket. Then we showered with that. Yes, you can shower and wash your hair in just 5 gallons. Wish I had known about these at church camp when I was a teenager!

One of the other things that we needed was a way to keep cold food cold. We didn’t have enough power for a refrigerator or a freezer. So coolers it was. We kept things like eggs, butter and cheese in a cooler and used powdered milk. We later set our freezer outside and it keeps things cool during the day and we prop the door open at night to cool it down.

Most of our winter that wasn’t spent cutting wood was spent making plans. We planned out our house, barn, and greenhouse and how to get the property cleaned up. I like to be as efficient as possible when working on big projects so we had to have a plan. It would really suck to put up a barn and realize that you would rather have your house there.  We also tracked where the sunlight hit at different stages in the winter and what trees blocked the sunlight in otherwise perfect areas. While we have actual daylight for 8 hours in the winter, because of our location in the mountains, the sunlight doesn’t shine everywhere the same.  Because of this, placement of buildings and removing the right trees are very important. So planning it is.

We were able to set ourselves up to live comfortably this winter and accomplish what we needed to survive. And we did a little better then that. More to come.....

Monday, April 4, 2016

I've been contemplating starting a new blog. Been working on several different ways to go about it. Then I come back to here and say just work with what you got.
So I will be working on changing some stuff over the next few weeks and making my blog more active.
We have done a lot of work and had a lot of experiences over the last few months. So I will go month by month to catch you all up.

But first: We talked a little bit about the property we bought. I debated a lot on if I wanted to put pictures up before it was done or just the before and afters. Well I am going to show you what we started with and you can follow along with us on our journey.

Let me warn you that these pictures are of land that has been neglected for many years. Most of our woods looked like this.

We had a lot of stuff to clean up. The whole property needed to be raked and was covered with 6-8 inches of pine needles that had accumulated over stuff (car parts, trash, broken glass) and was like a mat. We are still working on that. 

There was stuff everywhere. There were also some "buildings" on the property. They were either trailers that were in very poor condition or they were a log frame with tarps and tin stretched over them. They were falling apart and some had fallen into a heap. 

There was one trailer with an addition that we fixed up to live in temporarily. 

We did a lot of work to it to even be able to live here temporarily. But it does have its benefits. 

There is also another landing that is higher then this place.

The place that we decided to put our house was occupied by 3 single wide trailers that were together under a roof to make one house. The roof leaked and everything was rat infested so they just need to go.

The view from our house location is great and will be better when we get everything cleaned up out front and some trees taken down that need to come down. 

Yes, this is a lot of work. Yes, we may be crazy. A lot of work has already happened and it looks a lot different now. They jury is still out on the extent of our craziness. 

Our plan is to have a house to live in, a real barn and a shop for Mike before fall. I'll keep posting our progress as we go.