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Silly Comments on the "Self Sufficient" Lifestyle Choi

    • 1132 posts
    October 13, 2017 8:26 AM PDT
    Started my first fire of the year last night...and clearly my skills are rusty. Oh well. I'm sure in a couple of weeks I'll be back to normal with my fire starting. I also started my "winter math" ...I know exactly how many energy logs I have and if I burn 2 per night I have 140 nights of heat. I lay in bed and calculate how many days until the nights will be warm again, how many nights I will be on vacation or staying elsewhere...and how hard it will be to get wood or more energy logs up the hill on foot/in a sled if I run out. Some people count sheep to fall asleep...I count compressed sawdust logs. I guess all those story problems in math class were soemthing I should have paid attention to! If I have 278 logs and I burn an average of 2 logs per night (0 per day), and want to stay warm until the first of April, how many days of vacation do I have to take and how many friends can I mooch off of when it gets really cold?

    We had about 4 inches of snow at my place this morning too and it was coming in big wet blobs of snow which I stupidly decided to drive in. I could see NOTHING. A logging truck passed me and I stuck to his/her tail lights for about 7 miles until I was out of the worst of it. Then the truck took off at 65 but I was only going to do about 45 in the first slushy drive of the season. Next time I will call the highway conditions phone number and make more informed choices...probably still bad choices but more informed.
    • 1132 posts
    October 26, 2017 10:27 AM PDT
    I've managed with only 2 fires so far this year...stretching the north idaho energy logs out. If I can keep avoiding fires I can get further into spring with some heat. I wish I had a little 12V space heater to hook to the "load" connectors on my solar controller. Maybe one will turn up.

    I managed to tip the solar panels for winter by myself. People who said they would show up to help just never did. Oh well. Good to learn to do it on my own. I put them all the way down for solstice (almost vertical). Not the most efficient for this month, but it will mean I don't tip them again until late january or even Feb.

    I've fed the bees and put dry sugar in the top for winter emergency feed...will add as much more as I can this weekend during a warm afternoon. Hope they make it! I treated for mites again in 2 of the hives (the 3rd...I'm down to 3) was so aggressive I couldn't get in there. Hope they are aggressive with mites too. Without brood/babies over winter the mite population will drop so I should make a note to treat the hives earlier. I found a good chart about when to treat based on mite population growth through the season.

    I took a vacation to Denver to see my architect friend and try to get my drawings finished...he's a bit overly meticulous so it's slow. I've given him a Nov 6 deadline and then I go to the permit guy, ready or not. Or so I hope.

    I have a couple of friends moving closer to me and I'm trying to figure a way we can share a flock of sheep. They will live about 45-60 miles away, but they are home more in the winter and I am home more in the summer. We might be able to work something out for both of us.

    I have tomorrow off so hope to get manure and mulch around the fruit trees for the winter. And maybe spread some seeds around the land. It's raining again so a good time to throw out whatever seeds I can get my hands on.
    • 1132 posts
    November 7, 2017 9:56 AM PST
    So, my friends who might move closer...they put an offer on a place quite near another friend. This would make for 1 stop shopping when visiting or farm sitting for either or both. It is about 45 minutes from me, but that's a big improvement on the previous 2 hours away. it's also about 15 minutes from Moscow Idaho and I am there at least 2x a month, usually once a week or more for the food co-op and laundry and general errands. So that's cool.

    As for the's COLD!!!! down to 16 last night but mercifully the wind was very very mild. It was 44 degs inside when I got up and just like last winter, that's a great motivation to go ahead and get up and go to they gym. It's either that or burn more wood, getting the place barely warm before I give up and go to work. So, i got up at 4:15am and left for the gym.
    A colleague came with his son over the weekend to check on hunting options at my place. I've been wanting someone to kill something there before I become known to the deer and elk as a sanctuary with lots of free fruit tree starts. They didn't think they'd bother this year but found a good spot for a tree stand for bow season next year. I said that was awesome. They offered to plow the driveway now and then with a 4wheeler but it seems a bit much to drive 30minutes to plow a driveway. I said "no" but admitted I may think differently if winter gets super snowy.

    I went to the "farm and food" expo in Spokane WA last saturday. Learned a few good new skills and wasted time in a few of the classes. "How to keep noxious weeds off your property" turned out to really be "which toxic herbicides to use once the weeds are already there"...uh...not for me. We never got past the herbicides. Didn't even make it to goats. Nothing whatsoever on prevention was even planned. Oh well. The rest of the day was productive.

    The snow this morning at my place was about 6-8" deep with a nice powder for teh top was actually tempting to skip the gym and go sledding. It might melt or crust over hard today. I guess it's time to get the snow shoes out!
    • 1132 posts
    November 14, 2017 10:05 AM PST
    I got the plans out of my architect friends hands and tried to go to the county permit guys for a plan review. BUT they staff and process had changed. Still, one guy (not the guy I spent months sucking up to...he seems to not be there anymore), took 10 mins to look at the plans and was impressed that they were professionally done. That helped. I'm going to consult by phone with a cordwood guy in wisconsin and then it will be cheaper (and cooler) to get my architect friend licensed in this state than to get an architect or engineer here to stamp the we might do that. Though my friend is putting himself under too much pressure and wants outside validation of the design regardless.

    Anyway, the plans look super cool to me and no immediate redflags for the county but no real review either.
    • 1132 posts
    November 14, 2017 10:10 AM PST
    also, I'm liking the brand new used pickup inspite of the mouse infestation...just invested in a "tin cat" type mousetrap because it's slightly less gross than emptying the snap traps and can catch more mice. I've also peppered the thing, including engine compartment, with blocks of poison. I hate doing that but I would hate having to replace the wiring even more.
    Anyway, have used it for work and for picking up a giant roll of chickenwire and a variety of other tasks. I'm practicing with the 4wd and auto-4wd. I drive it a couple days a week and the car the rest of the time. So far I'm getting right at 17.8mpg in the truck. Not great compared to the car where I get 26 in the winter and 28 in the summer. Oh well. I'm trying to drive less in general but my life choices may not support that.
    • 1132 posts
    December 8, 2017 9:28 AM PST
    I thought I'd post a couple of final things before the forums shut down.

    Life at the homesite is going well. I DID turn the fire down a bit toooo low last night. It was 39 inside when I got up. I heated my pants and "foundation garments" up with my electric space heater for a few minutes (yeay solar!) to avoid that gasp I have to do when I put on icy cold clothes. The sunny weather makes that possible since I know the batteries will charge up during the day.

    I found good winter work pants at a thrift store yesterday..jeans lined with flannel. I had worn out all my other lined jeans.

    I did have a minor set back with the office food supply. While I was out of town over thanksgiving a mouse got into the office. I USUALLY have every thing in metal tins in the "pantry drawer" but...of course I had let my guard down and the little bugger bit into all the high dollar items like the "epic" brand jerky that I found a great deal on (not a great deal if you lose the lot to mice)...lesson learned. I emptied the drawer and salvaged whatever didn't have mouse spit on it and rounded up those metal containers again...with the extra tight lids! I put a mouse trap in the drawer too. Gross but one must fight the good fight!

    I find myself doing "winter math" again much wood have I burned vs how much winter is left vs how many nights for a hotel when it's too cold or I get cabin fever.

    Next week I have a phone meeting with a cordwood building expert to help me finalize my plans for the real cabin! My cousin the builder came to my mom's house over thanksgiving (he drove 3 hours. nice) mostly to see my plans. He's a minnesota norwegian so he never stated that directly but eventually, after coffee and lefse and chat, he asked if maybe I had them with me. That's as direct as he's going to get. He approved and gave a suggestion for a stronger type of post rather than doubling up on regular wood posts.

    So, things are moving along.

    My friends who used to have a place 2 hours from me now have a place 45 min from me and promise me a steady supply of mule manure. That's actually pretty cool. Before it was too much hassle to get but now I'm within 4 miles of their house when I go to town to do I can wash my clothes and then go load manure. Yeay! The fruit tree starts will be happy. I will be sure to let it rot well before I throw it on the orchard.

    I think that's all the updates for the moment! Thanks for the support and suggestions and encouragement over the years. I will keep posting at my blog now and then and might do another here before the big shutdown.
    • 1132 posts
    December 15, 2017 10:03 AM PST
    I just got off a conference call with my architect friend and a cordwood building consultant in Wisconsin! Good tips for the next cabin. I'm probably going with a rubble trench under the foundation. It will hold up the very heavy walls...1000lbs per linear foot 8-10feet high. AND it will allow ground water to move through. This probably makes me decide that the 2nd story of the wall can be something just insulation and siding. he had great notes like to make sure if I get logs milled special as posts and beams, to have the mill give me the slabs they cut off the sides AND to give me the sawdust. I can use the sawdust in the mortar mix maybe or as insulation in the wall. He also showed us how to put an extra lift at the peak and "heel" of the roof so we can get more insulation int here. I like that. He loved the 6' porch I want all the way around. It will save the walls from getting direct rain and snow on them so it will last for ages.

    this seems like a move forward!
    • 1132 posts
    December 23, 2017 8:49 AM PST
    Well, it's a cold snap and we'll see how things survive. It's not COLD cold, just single digits above zero. The bees may not make it. I went into winter with 3 hives, 2 in bad shape and 1 in mediocre shape. The mediocre hive is still buzzing when I listen to it. The other two...I could hear NOTHING...DANG! I did what I could other than bringing them in the house and breast feeding them. I can't really see spending hundreds of bucks each year to keep hives alive through winters. It's not cheap getting new bees so that's not a good option either. My hope is that after some years of fumbling, I will have a variety of bees that can survive here. If the mediocre hive makes it (from a carniolan queen 2 years ago and requeened this year themselves...old queen left with the swarm that became one of the weak hives), I will try to get another queen from that hive through a split or something and see if I can't catch a swarm from somewhere in the vicinity to keep the genetics varied with new drones to breed the queens to.

    I don't know how the wee shed fared last night in the cold as I slept at the office. It's time for end of the year reporting at work and I LOATHE it so I put it off till the very very end. We were supposed to work yesterday but when I got in, after taking off Thursday to celebrate the solstice, I found that work was canceled and we were given an extra day off for the holiday...and yet my report was still due. I got most of it done by 11pm but too tired to drive 30min home and spend a couple of hours to heat up the place before bed, only to drive back up first thing in the AM to finish the last bits of the paperwork and report writing. So, thanks to keeping a yoga mat and blanket in the car, I slept here in my gym clothes. Not the first time. And now! It's only 9 am and I've pretty much got the grant nailed down. Yeay! I am going to take a good break, proof read and submit it. Then I don't have to be back at work until Wednesday...we get Tuesday off as well.
    That's several days in a row to enjoy my land, watch movies, and hang out at my friends' house when I get too cold.

    Happy Christmas to all!
    • 3354 posts
    December 23, 2017 8:54 AM PST
    Happy Christmas!!! that sucks with bees
    • 1132 posts
    December 27, 2017 2:58 PM PST
    thanks! and does kind of suck with the bees.
    I've been away from the homesite for a few days and don't know if I'll make it home tonight. I MUST be at work tomorrow because stuff is due to the agency that funds my salary...and I'm waiting on other people to get it done. I can't risk not being here to send it in. With snow coming and icy roads I may end up staying at the office. not fun, but better than nto being funded.
    • 1132 posts
    December 29, 2017 4:09 PM PST

    I'm heading home from work and don't expect to have internet access until 2018 and the forums may be gone by then. If they are: this is the formal goodbye!

    Thanks for the support you've expressed through this and other threads. It is much appreciated. I posted my blog address over at the general forums and I'm at Frugal Village under the same name as here "MaggieTrudeau" (still not my real name...)

    It's been lovely

    • 1132 posts
    January 4, 2018 2:07 PM PST
    I'm so glad we're all still here! Frugal Village is good, but I am more comfortable here.

    Anyway, I'm thinking I'm burning more wood this winter than last winter. I'm trying to keep it to two NIEL logs (brand name...sorry) per day, but I seem to be closer to 2.5. I don't know if I'm keeping the place warmer or what. I might be. I need to count up the remaining logs nad make notes in the homesite records so I can check things next winter. I might not be staying in town as much and while that is cheaper than buying wood, right now, i can only get more fuel up to the shed by carrying it up on my back or towing it in a sled while I go uphill in snow, it's cheaper but really tough to get it up there. If any of you know exactly which day in the spring I can stop buring wood, please let me know...ah, if only we could know such things.

    Other than that, things at the homesite are going well. I got home at about 6pm last night to the clearest darkest sky we've had in a while. As I walked uphill from the vehicle to the shed, it looked like the milkyway ended on my roof. So pretty.
    • 316 posts
    January 5, 2018 1:59 PM PST
    Hi Maggie,
    Good to read you are doing well on the homesite! Happy New Year to you and everyone here.

    I realized we really need to learn how to burn our fire better. I go through three normal logs in maybe one and a half hour or an hour.
    Husband was even faster, he left the door open so a lot of oxygen.

    That date is May 15 for sure by the way, after the Ice Saints ;-), in Europe. Maybe there is a mathematical way to calculate the exact day in your place on the earth ;-).
    • 1132 posts
    January 10, 2018 9:03 AM PST
    My new culvert (new last summer) is paying for itself. With it raining on snow for the last few days the new bigger pipe was nearly topped off in the little creek through my property. I haven't been home in the daytime lately to see it properly but with my headlamp I can see that the water is really moving through. With the old, smaller, pipe it would have been over the top and backing things up. I am seeing more erosion just downstream but that makes sense with more water going through and hitting some newly cut banks. I'm getting a gravel bar developing it looks like. I wonder if I can dig that gravel out when the water is down and use it on the driveway or for raised garden bed drainage.
    • 1132 posts
    January 12, 2018 10:37 AM PST
    I met the neighbors! I live next to a rest stop on a highway...right next...the septic drainfield for the rest stop is on my property. The state hires people to clean it in exchange for a double wide trailer and a big lawn. There have been 5 or 6 different sets of caretakers since I moved in so we'll see how long this couple lasts. They are older, probably retired, which will work better. I met them at a library in the town 10 miles away. I was picking up more movies and audio books, I think they were using the free wifi. The librarian is new to the area and was asking about plant sources. I was asking where she lived and described my place and this couple comes up and says they wondered who lived there. They seem nice and spent at least part of a year living in a wall tent on the north side of the ridge that the rest stop and my place are on (south side though). The wife immediately said I could come over if I needed a hot shower and the husband wants to shoot a deer. We'll talk when deer season opens if they are still there. Could be interesting people to know since they've lived rougher than I have and are probably a bit older and still trying it.