Some people may not know what off-the-grid or off-grid means, so here it is --- The term off-the-grid or off-grid refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities.

Off-grid living is no longer a one room log cabin in the woods. It's energy independency. You don't have to rely on utility companies, you create your own power. Today, there are more than 180,000 off-grid homes in the US.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Take A Walk And Explore Nature...

71 degrees outside - 10:58 am - cloudy...

I want our children to have love and respect for nature and the world around them.  Growing up in Washington, I spent a lot of my time outside.  I could be found riding my bike around the neighborhood, building forts out of snow, helping my mom in the garden, playing with one of our many pets or lying in the grass reading a book.  My memories are full of camping trips with my family, or road trips where we would go from the sunny beach, to the snow covered mountains, to the dry desert all in one day.

One way to help instill a love of nature in our children is to take nature walks around our property.  Taking the time to be mindful of what we are seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling makes nature walks with the kids more meaningful.  Our walks are usually at a slow pace; the purpose is the journey and not so much the destination.

I am constantly asking the kids:

-         What does the sky look like today?
-         What do you hear?
-         What does the ground look like?
-         What animals can we see?
-         Are there any birds?  Insects?
-         What do the trees look like?
-         What colors do you see?
-         Can you name what this plant is?
-         Have there been any changes since yesterday/the last walk?

the little photographer in action
While looking around at the surrounds around us, we are also keeping our eyes open for signs that animals have been around.  Looking for spider webs, animal tracks, bird’s nests, etc.  When we come across a bug, bird, plant or other creature or object that has the kid’s curiosity up, we will research it together, looking up the name and the specifics about it.  So on the next nature walk the kids will be able to properly identify animals, birds, flowers and trees.

Getting outside and experiencing nature in itself is a wonderful activity.  To further captivate the imagination and creativity of our 6-year-old daughter she takes pictures during our natures walks of plants and animals for her nature book that she started last summer.

Caitlyn's Nature Book

Nature walks tend to generate curiosity and a sense of exploration in children.  They know that the world is wide open for discovery…

out for another nature walk

Fairy Lantern aka Smith's Fairybell
Caitlyn's new favorite flower {I think just because of the name}

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chicken Names…

58 degrees outside - 6:33 pm - cloudy...

Around Easter time we got twelve baby chicks, four Plymouth Rocks, four Welsummers and four Cuckoo Marans.  We choose sexed chicks, which are sorted so you get exactly as many pullets or cockerels as you want (with a 90% guarantee).  We wanted all girls but we think one of the Plymouth Rocks is a boy who we have named Captain. 

The chicks are now about eleven weeks old and are no longer fluffy balls of cuteness but rather large gangly juvenile chickens now.  They are still in the temporary coop until their permanent coop is completed.

I love the idea of stepping outside my door, greeting the flock of chickens (perhaps by name), and coming back in with an armful of fresh eggs.  It’s admittedly a romantic, possibly na├»ve vision, especially without the flecks of manure obscuring it.  In any case, I’m drawn to the idea of it, and soon it will be a reality.

The site that we picked out for the chicken coop has been prepped and now we are ready to build the permanent coop… well, as soon as we figure out what coop style/design we want to go with.  In the meantime we have had fun naming the chickens.

I made up this little sign with all the chickens names for the coop.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father’s Day…

49 degrees outside - 10:10 am - cloudy, overcast...

Wishing all you cool dads, grandpas and father-in-laws a fabulous Father’s Day with all the doting and adoration you deserve. 



To the man that makes my dreams come true…
Your companionship is my delight,
your laughter is my joy,
your dreams are my goals,
your encouragement is my strength.

Sometimes the busy days go by without me telling you how wonderful I think you are, how thankful I am for the good things you do, and how much I care about you.  I think you know these things that are always in my heart, but I just wanted to tell you again, that I love you so very much!

To my handsome husband and the wonderful father of my two adorable children… Happy Father’s Day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Self-Sufficiency…

50 degrees outside - 9:52 am - cloudy...

I have used the term self-sufficiency many times, but what does it exactly mean? 

Self-sufficiency by definition is a state in which someone or something can self-sustain oneself without using outside resources.  If you take that statement literally, it is impossible to obtain.  Each and every living creature on this planet is dependant upon outside resources in order to survive.  For instance, all animals need food to live.  Most animals (excluding people and the animals that we feed) hunt and gather food as they did thousands if not millions of years ago.  The majority of people on the other hand, rely on others to produce food.  We are no longer hunters and the gatherers, but rather consumers.  This interdependency for the most part works.  Most people buy their food instead of foraging for food themselves.  Of course, buying food means that we must have money.  And in order to have money, most of us need a job.  Thus starts the vicious circle that has gotten most of us removed from the basics of being self-sufficient.

Besides food, we need other things too – water, shelter and warmth.  Again, most people today rely on outside resources to provide these things.  People get their water from a faucet, live in a mortgaged home or apartment and rely on heat from an electric or gas utility company.  So what does being self-sufficient mean in today’s society?

raspberry jam,
one of the many items I can
We can be self-sufficient by using our own physical and mental skills to produce food, shelter and warmth in order to sustain one’s own existence.  It means not relying on others for things that you can do yourself.  It is a way of life that reduces our dependency on external resources in order to live.  Self-sufficiency for most homesteaders or people living off-grid means rekindling the skills once commonly used by past generations:  growing, raising and preserving food, making and repairing tools, cutting and drying firewood, mending and/or making clothes and even building a house or a barn.
 
raising our own chickens
This is by no means an easy feat.  It requires a ton of self-discipline and a determination not found in most people.  Especially in today’s society where over the years we have grown accustom to depending upon others to provide for our basic needs.  As technology makes life “easier”, we move further and further away from the basics and lose the skills that once sustained us.

building our own home
What is gained by self-sufficiency?  You gain a greater sense of freedom and greater control of one’s life.  You will also eat healthier knowing what went into growing and raising your own food.  You will reduce your dependency on money and reduce your need to work a stressful, 60 hour per week (or more!) job.  Instead of paying a repairman to fix something, you take pride in fixing it yourself.

How self-sufficient one becomes is entirely a personal decision.  There are plenty of things to consider and weigh.  It is up to each of us to determine how self-sufficient to become. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Little Pink Ballerina…

60 degrees outside - 11:47 am - patches of blue sky and sun shine...

the little pink ballerina
Our 5-year-old daughter started taking ballet lessons in March and just loves it!  She no longer walks around the house – instead she chasses through the rooms, pirouettes around the furniture and does an arabesque when picking up a toy off a shelf. 

Last night was her first ballet performance at a local high school’s performing arts center.  She was very nervous at first until she saw the big girl ‘fairy princess’ ballerina’s practice.  Then she was a giddy bundle of excitement.  Her 5-6 year old class, which has 5 little girls in it, danced to the song ‘Music Box’ by Regina Spektor and they did a fantastic job! 

dancing to the song 'Music Box' by Regina Spektor - {Caitlyn is on the far right}

In fact, all the 100 or so dancers who ranged from 3-18 years old and performed everything from ballet to hip hop to jazz, to river dance, all did a great job and the night was a success!

here she is after her performance
with flowers from Daddy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Crafts For Kids – Rock Painting…

54 degrees oustide - 9:01 pm - cloudy...

Our kids like to collect pretty rocks where every they go.  So I thought it would be a cute idea to make a little rock garden for them, where they can put all their little treasures that they find.  I have wanted to paint some of the big smooth rocks that we have found for a while now.  And, we finally got around to doing it.

It was so nice out this weekend that my sister brought her kids up to paint rocks with us.  We set out all the rocks, that I had already cleaned and dried, and gave the kids their own paper plates with paint and paintbrushes and let their creativeness flow.

I love how they turned out.  I still have to spray them with a sealant so the rain won’t wash the paint away.  Then we can add them to the rock garden!

We had fun, the kids had fun, what a great afternoon.




Day Old Fawn...

54 degrees outside - 5:54 pm - cloudy...

a doe with her day old fawn, born in the backyard over the weekend

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