Sunday, November 3, 2013

What types of questions does your family have regarding living off-grid?

As I put things together to write a book one of the things I have been thinking about has been what my family thinks about my choice to live off-grid. I have not talked with all of them but I am fairly certain that they really don't have a clue why I decided living off-grid was the right thing for me. Hell, sometimes I don't either.

The one that is really hard to explain it to is my Mom. She is in her early 80s and really misses me as I live over 3 hours away from the rest of my family. When I lived in the same town I would go over to her house at least 3-4 times a week to visit and have a meal or two. So it is hard for her that I live so far away. Now I am not an only child or anything like that. I have 4 sisters and 1 brother. My one sister, Tammy, lives with her and Mom sees my sister, Karen, and my brother, Steve, almost daily. And then she sees my other sisters, Vick and Debbie, at least once or twice a week. I talk to my Mom almost every day so it is not like she does not hear from me but it is still hard for her. I am not certain if I will ever be able to make her understand.

We have a family group on FB so I posted there to see what type of questions my family may have for me. My sister Karen asked me a question that I never really gave much thought to. She asked if I ever questioned my ability to do the work it takes to live off-grid as I get older? I guess this is not something that I have given much thought when I decided to live off-grid. But after thinking about it I think one of two things will most likely happen. One - I will have all my systems in place so that I will no longer have to haul water and I may have a different heat source for the house that does not involve having to deal with firewood. These are the two big items when it comes to basic needs that I would worry about. The second is that I will have moved on to some other phase of my life and not be off-grid any more. I don't plan on this being the case but never say never. But I figure barring any major accident/injury or illness I should be good for another 20+years.

So this was one of the questions I have gotten from one of my family members. I guess there are things I need to think about as I get older and how to make living off-grid work. Aging and physical issues will be something that I will need to include in the various projects and planning stages that I am thinking about right now.

So what questions have you gotten from your family?


Sunday, October 20, 2013

I am thinking of writing a book...

I am seriously thinking about writing a book that would focus on women living off-grid and why. This would include all women not just ones doing it on their own but all women. I am thinking about developing a series of questions and then putting them out there for off-grid women to provide responses and then compile them all together under various issues/topics.

I would love to be able to contact women from all over and talk with them and if possible to visit some that might be within a certain driving distance or maybe further away. Who knows.

Do you think women would be interested and sharing? Do you think this is crazy or is it something that might be interesting for people to read about?


Every day chores that I tend to forget about.

There seems to be certain times of the year that I end of forgetting to focus on the regular every day type chores, like cleaning my house. Don't get me wrong it is not a pig pen or really gross or anything. I just tend to let things pile up on the table and cabinets or I don't dust or sweep as much as I probably should. I then have to take a weekend to clean and put things in their places. I wish I could say this is a byproduct of living off-grid but I was like this before. I was really hoping I would change the bad habit once I moved. No such luck.

Some times I wonder if I am the only one that tends to do this. At this time of the year I really want to be outside enjoying the last of the nice weather and to get things buttoned down for the winter months. Then I realize that I have a huge pile of books, mail and other things on the desk in the office and I cannot get anything done because I cannot find anything, even the top of the desk. So I have to stop and take the time to get things cleaned up and put away.

I know that doing this ends of taking up more time than it would if I just put things away in the first place. But when the sun is shining and the weather is great there seems to be an evil fairy talking in my ear telling me to go outside and work as I can always clean and put things away in the house when the weather is bad.

I am going to really try to change this habit over the next month. My goal is going to be to try to put things away as they come in the house, to put things where they belong and not on the table and to put books back on the shelves when I am finished. I think if I start putting habits I have for doing projects outside toward the every day chores I might be able to get control of my bad habit of putting off chores when the sun is shining and the weather is great.

So wish me luck.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Firewood - where can I get it, how much and what is it going to cost me.

One thing I have learned is it is key to find reliable sources of firewood if you don't have time, skill or wood available to gather your own. My problem is a combination of time and skill. I work full time and only have limited time to do things around the property. I also lack the skill to drop trees. Once they are down I am good to go. So for now I order the majority of my wood from local providers.

It can be hard to find a reliable source. If you are lucky you will live in an area where you have a number of choices. But where do you look? I always check out the bulletin boards on any local business that have them. Some might not be where you would expect. In my area the local laundry has a bulletin board that allows for local businesses to put up their information. I have seen everything from baby sitting to businesses that will haul anything. So always check them out. Also local hardware and farm stores usually have them. Some are not in obvious places. The one at the local Tractor Supply Store is back by the restrooms and office. If you don't see one ask the store employees.

Another source can be local papers. Look in the classifieds and you should find some listings of businesses or there may be people who just have some wood to sale or get rid of for the hauling. It never hurts to check it out.

Of course you can also do a search on the internet to see if there are local businesses. I actually did this recently and found a number in my area. Some were not in business any more but I found enough to give me a good selection. I also found an Ohio website that listed businesses that sold firewood. The site contained a number of contacts that dealt with the lumber industry.

Once you have some contact information you need to start making phone calls. Some of the basic questions you need to ask is what type of wood do you have and is it seasoned and for how long. Also you need to know what they charge per cord. Ask if you can pick it up and if so what is the cost for that. Hauling your own is usually cheaper even if it is more work. Lots of businesses can provide delivery but you will pay extra for it and some will only deliver if you purchase a certain amount. So if possible save the money and haul your own. While it is more work it can be a lot more satisfying.

Last little bit of advice always get more than you think you are going to need. If this is your only heat source than you don't want to be running around trying to find firewood for the last month or so of winter. Most places will be sold out or they will only have firewood that is not seasoned. So plan for needing more and if you don't need it you are a little ahead for the next winter season.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Next project - installing insulation in ceiling

Now that the solar project is wrapping up I am moving on to the next important project before it gets too cold, installing insulation in my ceiling.

Currently the inside of the house is unfinished. Insulation needs to be installed and then drywall or whatever I decide to do to the walls. My goal for now is to get the insulation installed so that the house is warmer this winter. Hopefully over the cold months I can work on getting some walls up and getting things finished inside.

I am going to be starting my project in the next couple of weeks as I need to wait to have access to a tall ladder to reach the ceiling. I have decided a long time ago that waiting is better than spending money on either purchasing a ladder or renting something. I really look long and hard at what things are worth spending money on and what things are not. Waiting is free. I also plan on asking for some help from friends and family. I think I can do this on my own but if I have help it will get finished faster. I think once I get started it will go fairly quickly.

So soon I will have another project marked off my list and then I will be on to the next.


Solar installation - getting it wrapped up

Thanks to my friend, Doug, we are getting ready to wrap of the solar upgrade project.

We have connected the new panels and the new charge controller. I need to install the breakers and fuses, once I order and get them, and I can call this project finished. So it will take about a week to get my parts. I hope to finish it up next weekend.

I think this is going to make a huge difference for me. My old system was over 12 years old, batteries are about 5 years old. The old panel was only 75 watts. I would have to use a generator to charge my batteries when it was cloudy or I would have to use my generator when I needed to spend a lot of time on the computer/internet. Now I have upgraded to a total of 470 watts and this should be enough for what I need for now.

I do need to test the batteries to make certain that they are still holding a charge and that I don't have any dead cells in them. I am hoping to upgrade the batteries this Fall/Winter but I have other projects that are ahead of this on my list.

So on to the next project: insulation.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gotta do it...organizing the office.

You know how there always seems to be one project that you always keep putting off either because there are more important or fun ones to work on first. Well that describes me and organizing my office.

I think part of the issue is I work in an office and am always dealing with paper and files and organizing so I just don't want to do it when I get home. Also I really rather be outside or reading a good book instead of shuffling papers. I keep telling myself that when it is done I won't have to do it again but I just cannot seem to convince myself.

Well today is the day to take back my office. To clean and organize so I can finally say it is done and I will be able to locate files, receipts and manuals. I am afraid that when I moved I just kind of dumped everything in the room and left it. When I was on the Board and an officer for Wisteria I had those files/papers organized. It was easy when it was for others such as what I was doing to Wisteria but I could rationalize not working on my files because it was only my files and no one relied on my being able to get my hands on things quickly. But I realized that I relied on being able to get my hands on things and that I was putting others before myself.

So since the beginning of the year I have been focusing on the things I need to do for myself and this is just one more area and an area that I have been putting off for a long time. So the weather is going to help keep me indoors as according to the radar it is going to be raining until after 2:00pm and this will be the perfect time to take on the office. I have started the process by pulling everything out of the file cabinet and other places I have stuck things. I am going to make a fresh pot of coffee and just start with a pile and go from there.

Not as fun as other projects I have done while living off-grid but still a necessary one.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Installation has started.

My friend, Doug, came over Saturday and starting installing the lines to hook up my new solar panels. I am really excited to be increasing my solar power. I have been living with only a 65 watt panel and will be increasing to two 235 panels. This will greatly cut down the amount of time I have to use my generator to change the batteries when the weather is crappy and I hope to be able to add a few extras to my house such as DC ceiling fans.

I was not much help in the digging of the trench but was able to help get the wiring lined up and in the pipes that we buried. One problem that we ran into was wasps had made a nest in the wire box on the solar panel frame. We forgot to plug the hole when we installed it and the wasps moved in. Always good to keep a can of wasp spray handy.

Doug is going to come over this week and finish installing the charge controller and hooking up the batteries so hopefully by next weekend I will be running with more power and less use of my generator.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Always thinking - water

While I was mowing yesterday I was thinking about water. More specifically the hauling, storage and use of water.

I am not connected to a well or the local water company so I haul what water I use. It is not much usually it is enough for cooking and cleaning. I have access to a shower at another location and use that the majority of the time. I also have purchased a battery operated camp shower that I use when I don't need to wash my hair. There are other times I just heat up some water and wash off.

While I can continue to do this I really would like to store a larger amount of water so that I can have a shower at my place and extra water should I need it. I usually haul my water in the blue containers that people use for camping that holds about 6 gallons of water. I have about 4 of them that I use and I can usually make the water last through a week or so. This is without using it for showers.

So I was looking online at various containers and found 55 gallon barrels from that I am thinking about getting. I want to get at least 2 of them and then I would get a tank to put in the back of my truck to haul at least 100 gallons. The issue will be how to get the water from the tank in the truck to the barrels in the house. Gravity won't be much help since everything is fairly level here unlike my friends who can park their truck at the top of a hill and let gravity do the work for them. So the hunt is on for the right type of pump I can use to pump the water from the tank to the barrel.

There always seems to be some type of puzzle to figure out when dealing with basic services. I guess this is part of the fun of being off-grid, the challenge of finding ways to do for yourself and not having to rely upon on-grid systems.

Looking forward to more puzzles and challenges.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Time to get to mowing

I am setting here enjoying the morning and thinking about the things that I want to get done today. One of the main things is to mow the yard/road areas.

I won't be able to get an early start as it is very wet from the dew and so I will need to let it dry a little more before I get started. I do enjoy mowing. It is not something that you need to be in a hurry to get done and you tend to notice things around the property as you are mowing. I see different plants and bugs and such while I mow and in some cases I find bird feathers that I add to the hat I wear when I mow.

So mowing, while it is something that has to be done, is one chore that you don't have to bust your butt to hurry and get it done. Relax and enjoy the time when you are all alone on the mower and can just think your thoughts without others interrupting you.


Saturday, September 7, 2013


I am excited that in the next week or so I will be increasing my solar input with the installation of a new charge controller.

I currently only have a 65 watt solar panel installed and have been functioning with it and my generator for the last few years. I purchased two 235 watt solar panels last year and have been waiting to be able to afford a new charge controller to get it all installed. My friend, Doug, put the panels up for me and I just needed a new controller and wire, none of which is cheap.

So with my local tax refunds, that I did not know until April I could file for, I was able to purchase the missing parts and am ready to get everything installed. I did quite a bit of research and asking questions before I decided which charge controller to purchase. I decided on the Outback Flexmax60 MPPT controller. It will allow me to grow to a certain extent but I don't foresee me needing to add much more to the system as I really don't use a lot of electric and for right now it is just me. The inverter I use right now is only a 750 watt inverter. I purchased a 1500 watt inverter to connect to the new system once everything else is hooked up.

Once this is installed and I am up and soaking up the sun I will move to the next step of purchasing new batteries. I am not certain of the age of my current ones. I hooked them up about 3-4 years ago but I don't know how old they really are and they only last so long.

Again I am really excited to be upgrading and I won't have to run my generator as much as I have been which will be really nice.


Monday, September 2, 2013

One of my major projects - moving the kitchen

One of my major projects is relocating the kitchen closer to the bathroom. The first photo is the old location and the second is the new location. I want to do this to keep the plumbing closer together and not have to worry about lines going from one end of the room to another as the room is about 20 feet long.

This is a project I am definitely going to need help with as I have discovered that plumbing is one area that I fail at. So I need to line up some help or hire it done. Plumbing is an area that I am more than happy to pay someone to do it for me. I have learned that while it costs it saves me in time and frustration which for me I worth paying out the money.

So the plan is to basically flip the area from the way it is currently. The kitchen is in the front near the door and the bathroom is located at the opposite end of the room. I have purchased a metal kitchen cabinet set that I think was popular in the 50s to use in the new kitchen. They need to be either painted or covered in some manner before installing them. I was able to find them at the local Habitat for Humanity Restore location in Athens, OH. This is a great place to get building supplies and other things if you have one in your area. They will also take donations if you have things you want to donate.

The water/drain lines for both the kitchen and bathroom have to be installed as well as moving the propane lines for the hot water heater, the stove and the refrigerator. Installing and moving the lines is the part that will cost money as this will have to be done by someone who knows what they are doing. This is going to be the expensive part of the whole project but hopefully not too costly.

Once the move is made I have decided to make a lounge/reading area in the old kitchen area as the lighting coming in the large windows at the end of the room will be a nice place to sit and read or work on the computer. I already have a vision of sitting in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea reading a book while it snows outside.

So again lots of planning is happening right now. Hoping to get a chunk of the projects done by the end of the end.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Plotting and Planning

While sitting here enjoying my coffee I have started to make a list of all the things I need to get finished on my house. To say that there is a lot is an understatement.

There are the basic house building things like insulation, plumbing, wiring and drywall/paneling and siding. There seems to be so much to do and so little time and money to do everything that needs to be done. I think some folks have a glamourized view of living off-grid but do not really understand the reality especially if you are working by yourself with limited funds and time. Then you have all of the day to day work required when you live off-grid that eats up time and money.

So what to do. Winning the lotto would be nice but not a reality so prioritizing, seeking help and trying to find building material used or cheap is the way to make things happen. Asking for help is another thing that some of us need to get used to doing. I am really bad about asking for help but I am usually right there to give it. So might feel out some folks to see about getting help with some of the bigger projects and see if I can line up some help to get things knocked out.

Plotting and planning to try and get things done. I think this calls for another cup of coffee and more list making.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

What to do on a rainy day?

Well it is a rainy day here this morning. I guess I will work on the inside of the house. I have some cleaning and organizing that I need to go with paperwork and in the office. I have been putting it off since it both boring and time consuming. But once it is done I will feel a lot better and the office will be a better place for me to work in and use.

There always seem to be so much to do outside when the weather is nice that I don't want to stay in the house and do thing that need to taken care of. I guess I tell myself I can do it when the weather is crappy and I don't want to be outside but that never seems to happen in any reasonable timeframe.

So time to get things accomplished.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The things we do to live the dream.

It is 5:20am and I am dressed and ready to head to the office for the day. Three days a week I get up between 4:15 and 4:30 in the morning to get ready for work. I then have a two hour drive to and from work each day. The other two days a week I work from home.

Now I must say I am not a morning person. I don't want to have conversations in the morning and I don't want to listen to annoying talk radio. So it is a good thing I have a two hour drive before I have to talk with anyone. I listen to the local NPR station for Athens and then when I get close to Columbus I switch to the local NPR station there.

I decided that the trade off for living off-grid and in a beautiful location is worth it. Some people think I am crazy but I think we all are to a certain degree when we are working toward something that we are dreaming of making a reality.

So time for lots of coffee and to hit the road.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Do you have an off-grid Bucket list?

It seems that everyone is talking about their Bucket list and what they have on it, what they want to put on it and what they have been able to mark off of it. This has gotten me to think about my off-grid Bucket list and what all I would want to have on it and how I would get things marked off.

Now my list would probably be huge and ever growing as I think of more and more things to add to it. The issue for me would be how to decide what item I would like to mark off. Do you come up with a plan and prioritized the list and decide to go from there or do you just see what opportunities present themselves and take them.

I think I will start my off-grid Bucket list with all of the things I would like to that are not required but would be nice to have in the future. First on my list - wood burning hot tub.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Feeling pretty good

I had a pretty good weekend. I did nothing exciting but I got a lot accomplished this weekend.

For the last year or so I have just been pitching items into my large shed without really putting things away properly. It created a lot of issues when I was looking for things. I would know that I had something but would not be able to find it with out a lot of digging and wasted time.

So this past weekend I decide it was time to take control of the mess and get it organized. Luckily this weekend was great for this type of project. It was not too hot and there was no chance of rain. I started by pulling everything I could out of the shed into the yard. I really recommend do a massive cleanup in this way. You are not limited by space and you can really see what you have and since you have to handle it you are forced to deal with it and not just move it to another location in the building.

I felt really good by the time I was finished on Sunday. It took most of Saturday and about 3 hours on Sunday before I called it finished for the weekend. There is still things to address like how to get rid of a washer and dishwasher that I am not certain why I have. There are kitchen cabinets that need to be installed and lumber to deal with but I can access my tools and can see what other things are there and there is floor space that allows me to work in the shed that I did not have before.

So overall it was a good and productive weekend.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Is it just me....

While working on cleaning my large shed yesterday it hit me, I have a bunch of stuff. There are tools, paint, equipment, plumbing parts and building supplies. Stuff I don't recall getting but seems to have magically appeared in my shed.

Is it just me that seems to have a collection of things that run from one end of the spectrum to the other or is it something unique to the off-grid/country life style. I know growing up in the country my Dad always seemed to have a bunch of things, similar to what I have now. So I cannot decide if it is something I learned from him or just part of the off-grid/country lifestyle that you never throw anything out cause you might need it or someone you know might.

Just something I got to thinking about while cleaning the shed. I do realize that if I am going to have this type of collection I really need to be more organized about it. If I am going to keep stuff I really need to be able to find it when I need it.

Back to cleaning the shed and to seeing what I have that I did not realize I did.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Time to get the day started.

Lots of work planned for today. I have been going there a purging stage in which I have been cleaning out closets, drawers and papers. I have now decided to move to my large shed.

When I moved to my house I had a bunch of stuff from my basement and garage that ended up being put into the shed but not in an organized way. I know some of the stuff is not needed or will ever be used so it is time to get in and purge. I want to make the shed a place where I can actually work and do things in but right now I cannot even get into the door.

So I am off to discover all of the things I forgot I had and probably don't need. I will gift what I can to people and the rest I will put up on Freecycle for folks to take or I will take to the Reuse or Restore charities.

I will post before and after pics later.


Friday, August 23, 2013

The little things that make me happy.

One of the things I missed the most when I started living off-grid was not having a toaster. I could live without a microwave but I really missed not having toast with my breakfast and then I remembered the camp toaster my twin sister and I had in our camper. It was long gone but the hunt was on.

Now I remember being able to find these things at WalMart and other stores but all of a sudden they were not being stocked. Luckily I was passing by Cabela's and stopped by and was able to pick one up. I am now happily making toast again.

Living off-grid makes you really think about what electrically appliances you really need but it also makes you think about alternative replacements or whether or not you really need the appliance in the first place.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Time to start getting ready for Autumn and Winter

I was listening to the local NPR station on my way to work this morning and they were talking about the leaves changing colors and how great is should be this year. While I enjoy the colors of Autumn the story now has me thinking of everything I need to do to prepare for the colder weather.

I still need to finish putting up my insulation in my house and I need to clear out the area where I want to put my firewood. I am hoping to get a layer of gravel down before I start having it delivered. I have a whole list of things that I need or want to get down outside but never seem to have the time to get things done. Some can happen when the weather is cooler so I won't worry about those but there are things like cleaning out the sheds and organizing that I really don't want to do when the temp starts to drop.

So here to spending a few hours on Saturday going around the property and deciding what needs to get down before the weather gets cold and what can wait to be done when the temp drops.

Based on what turns up on my list I might have to see about recruiting people to help. I know a lot of people that would be willing to help just need to get organized so when they show up I have everything needed to get the jobs done and then plan something fun for the evening. It is times when there is a push to get a bunch of stuff done in a short time period when I think about how much easier this would be if I had a partner but then again I don't want to have to rely on someone else to help make my dream a reality but it would be nice to have someone to share the ride.

Well time to get motivated and moving.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Taking contol of my life. It is all about ME!

I did not realize that so much time has passed since I have written on my blog.

I am embarrassed that I have not been on it for over a year. I don't know where the months have gone. I thought I would faithfully post every day but I never realized how life can get in the way.

I think I had bitten off more than I could handle at the time I started this blog but I have gotten rid of most of the distractions and am focusing on my life and what I want to be doing personally, while what I was doing was important it took a great deal of my time and energy. Now it is all about ME!

So here is to a new beginning for my blog and to getting more focused on my personal life and not getting sucked into other peoples projects that take my time and energy away from what should be important to me.