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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

First Day of First Grade...

54 degrees - 7:25 pm - cloudy, slight breeze, and cooold...

Our little girl is off to school for her first day of First Grade.
(Bet you can't guess what her favorite color is, can you?)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Town Clothes vs. Mountain Clothes...

58 degrees - 8:47 - scattered clouds...

"Mountain Clothes"
Our 2-year old and 6-year old are very hard on their clothes and shoes, like most kids their age are.  Almost all children like to play outside.  They like to run in the grass or play in the dirt.  Therefore most families have their “Nice Clothes” and their “Play Clothes”. Life up here on the mountain is a little different so we have our “Town Clothes” and “Mountain Clothes”.

"Town Clothes"
I am a type-A personality; a perfectionist who likes to be in control and have things go a certain way.  My husband may not like to admit it but he is a ‘closet’ type-A personality as well.  I dislike clutter and messes.  Everything has to be clean and everything has its own place.  Since moving off-grid and living in a home that is under construction with a yard that is still mostly dirt, we have found that we have had to lower our expectations a bit.  (When I say we, I mostly mean me.)  There is just too much to do and simply not enough time to do it.

Even though I have had to lower my expectations a bit, I still expect beds to be made every morning, clothes still need to find their way to the laundry hamper, and toys still need to be picked up before bedtime.  Yes, a messy house or dirty kitchen still stresses me out, but I am getting better. 
"Mountain Clothes"

One very large exception, at least I think it’s a large one, has been the clothes.  Stain Stick and OxiClean have always been good to me but sometimes they can’t even help with the messes our kids make.  Seriously now, how do you get tree sap out of a pair of jeans or a t-shirt?  Please someone tell me!  Before if a shirt had a stain that I could not get out, or a pair of pants had a hole that could not be repaired, they would be thrown away.  I like everyone to be dressed nicely.  That does not mean name brand everything.  Just clean, matching clothes that fit properly with no stains or holes.  These are called our “Town Clothes” and now when they get stains or holes, they turn into “Mountain Clothes”.

"Town Clothes"
In the morning when it’s time to get dressed, I will now tell the kids to pick out “Mountain Clothes” or “Town Clothes” according to what we have planned for the day.  Yet sometimes when they are in their clean “town clothes”, and I send them outside to get into the car, the will somehow make a detour to chase a grasshopper or move one more dump truck load of dirt in the backyard and end up with their little smiling faces and clean “town clothes” smeared with dirt.  And once again I try to explain the difference between trying to keep the “town clothes” clean and being able to get as dirty as their little hearts desire in their “mountain clothes” only!

"Town Clothes"
The battle between keeping “Town Clothes” from becoming “Mountain Clothes” is never ending.

"Mountain Clothes"

Another Firewood Weekend…

55 degrees - 9:12 am - foggy with a misty rain...

Last weekend my parents came up and dropped off their dump trailer so we could use it to haul down more firewood rounds.  We don’t have a big enough vehicle to pull the trailer so this weekend Tony’s dad came up with his truck to help.

Dumping the first load of cut rounds.

The guys were busy hauling down rounds of firewood...

...I was busy using the log splitter, splitting the rounds...

...and the kids were busy "trying" to help.
Jack's toy Stihl chainsaw; so he can be just like daddy.

This hopefully will be enough firewood to get us through the winter. 
Now we just have to finish splitting and stacking.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday Evening Post...

82 degrees - 5:25 pm - sunny and hot with a slight breeze starting up...

A small glimpse into our lives as we live off-grid… sort of like eves dropping.  It may be a thought, quote or a conversation; funny, sweet or sad; but it will always be true.  We will see if it resonates with you…


3:34 am
Me:  “What’s that?  Wake up!  What is that noise?”
Hubby:  (listens for a moment)  “It’s a bat.”
Me:  “What?  How on earth do you know it’s a bat?”
Hubby:  (grabs the flashlight)  “See, a bat.”
Me:  “How did a bat get inside?  We need to get it out.”
Hubby:  (opens a window and takes off the screen and continues to try and shoo the bat out the window)
………
………
………
4:06 am
Me:  “Did you get it!”
Hubby:  “Yea.”  (walks over to the window, wearing fireplace gloves and holding the little brown bat, and lets the little intruder go)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Meet Captain...

83 degrees - 2:05 pm - sunny and hot...


As it turns out all twelve of our chickens were not pullets.  We have a rooster in the coop.  Captain is one of the four Plymouth Rocks. He's a handsome guy and can stay as long as he minds his manners.  Although we had no intention of getting a rooster, his loud crow adds pleasant farmyard sounds in the mornings (actually he crows all day long).  Let's hope he stays nice so he wont have to be turned into chicken nuggets.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy Weekend...

73 degrees - 9:07 pm - clear night sky, stars are just starting to come out...

Where did the weekend go?  We have been so busy that the past several days went by in a blur of activity.  The past several days have also been very HOT, finally made it into the 90s!

We have been working on several different projects over the past few days.  Let’s start with firewood…  We originally wanted to have our entire year’s supply of firewood cut, split and stacked by Memorial Weekend.  Well, Mother Nature had a different idea so instead of being done with firewood for the year we are still working on it.  We have about 1/3 of the rounds split and stacked which equals out to be about 5 cords… well make that about 4 ½ that are actually stacked.  You see after you split the firewood, you have to stack it.  This allows the wind and sun to dry it out and then it becomes “seasoned” firewood, which of course burns soooo much better than “green” or wet firewood.  Anyways, while it is drying out, the stacks tend to dry out quicker on one side and sometimes have a tendency to topple over, which is what happened to two stacks of firewood which I will have to restack.  We also brought down another load of rounds to split and stack this week.

two stacks of firewood that toppled over


Moving right along now on to the backyard…  The large mound of top soil in the backyard is finally spread out!  Next the sticks and rocks need to be removed, then the dirt smoothed out, and finally cross out fingers that it’s not too late for a little bit of grass seed.  With that large mound of dirt gone, the backyard looks really big.


Last but certainly not least, the temporary chicken coop…  We had this really nice area picked out for the chicken coop and were trying to decide on coop plans when we found out that we may not be able to put it where we were planning.  A timber company who wants to log a near-by tract of land is looking at putting an access road running down our property line which would run through our coop site.  So we have found a new location for our permanent coop but there is still excavation work that needs to be done before we can build.  In the meantime the chickens are around 20-21 weeks old now and should start laying eggs anytime now so we had to build them a temporary coop until the permanent coop is completed.  {Are you still with me?  I hope I haven’t lost you yet…}  The temporary coop is almost completed, we still need to finish the nesting boxes; cut out the egg door on the outside; attach the chicken door and the main door; attach the run; and paint!  Cannot wait for the chickens to get up here!

temporary chicken coop

Well there you have it… a little glimpse of our weekend that went by in a blur of activity.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pictures Speak A Thousand Words...

67 degrees - 7:18 am - clear blue sky, east wind...

Last night's sky was lit up with millions of twinkling stars and once again
Ursa Major aka The Big Dipper was sitting above the mountain.

Woke up this morning to a beautiful blue sky with winds finally
coming out of the East; the hot weather is now on it's way!

Friday, August 19, 2011

More and More Firewood...

52 degrees - 7:07 am - overcast...

This past week has been all about cutting, splitting and stacking firewood.  We have only gotten about one-third of the cut rounds split which equals out to be about 4 cords of firewood. 

We are putting down black plastic with pallets on top for a vapor barrier.  Then the split firewood gets stacked on top to dry out.


Tony has been cutting down the trees and cutting them into rounds so they are easier to move around and load onto the load splitter.  In the meantime, I have been busy splitting and stacking the firewood while the kids are running around and playing.  They will occasionally come over and try to help stack the firewood but the attention span of a 6 and 2 year old aren’t that long when it comes to “chores”.  Instead they would rather be running around playing with their tractors, catching bugs, picking wild flowers, making forts, or playing ‘King of the Mountain’.

Jack: "King of the Mountain!"

Yesterday Tony and my dad were able to help me do a little splitting and stcking.


First load of cut rounds are split.  Just need to put down some more plastic and
pallets to finish stacking the firewood and then onto the next load of rounds.

We are off to do some more firewood today and let me tell you, that is a serious “workout”!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saturday Evening Post...

56 degrees - 11:44 am - cloudy...

A small glimpse into our lives as we live off-grid… sort of like eves dropping.  It may be a thought, quote or a conversation; funny, sweet or sad; but it will always be true.  We will see if it resonates with you…


Who needs to go to the gym when you are landscaping and building a house?  Everything from installing insulation to cutting, splitting and stacking firewood to picking the rocks out of the backyard is a workout in itself.

Climbing up and down ladders = elliptical/stair master
Chasing kids around = treadmill
Moving bags of concrete, small boulders, lumber, firewood = weights
Picking bucket loads of “gravel” out of the dirt = squats 
Bending, twisting and stretching = aerobics

After two days of working out in the yard moving rocks and boulders and picking the small “gravel” rock out of the yard, my arms and legs are really feeling the “workout”.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Landscaping The Backyard {part 2}…

54 degrees - 11:24 am - foggy and misting...

We are taking advantage of the recent dry weather to do a little landscaping in the backyard.  We have an abundance of rock; everywhere you look there is rock of all shapes and sizes.  Everything from ”small” boulders the size of large garbage cans, all the way down to grapefruit sized rock that Tony has dubbed “gravel”.  Since we have some much rock everywhere we have been trying to come up with creative ways to use it, any this is one of them…

When you walk out of the back of the house, you will step onto the back patio, which is 40’ wide x 16’ deep.  Off the patio there is a 50’ wide x 14’ deep flower bed that has an 8’ wide walkway down the 4’ slope to the grassy 50’x50’ backyard.

A 50’x14’ flower bed is pretty large and we really didn’t want to have to transplant/buy that many plants.  We knew that we were wanting to use some of the rock that we have been putting in stash piles around the yard for future use.  So we talked it over and tossed around some ideas, then came up with a design.  Since there is an 8’ walkway that separates the flowerbed we wanted the to make sure the design would match size wise so put the design on a grid and marked it out. 

We came up with a star design that we marked out with spray paint.  Tony
thought a star suited the area, if you know the area, you know what I mean.

Tony then jumped into the excavator and started placing some large boulders around. 

Our 12'x12' star in progress.

Once the really large boulders were placed, we started filling in with smaller boulders all the way down to the “gravel” sized rock. 

The star doesn't look that big, but it 12 feet by 12 feet
and the center boulders are about 500 lbs each!
We still had a couple dozen large boulders left over that were too large for our design that we placed around the outer edge of the yard.  One of my favorite boulders is a perfect “bench” where three people can sit comfortably.  It is placed in the far corner of the yard surrounded by other large boulders looking back at the house. 

From start to finish it took a full day and I think it turned out pretty cool.  It is definitely not something you will see in other backyards that’s for sure!

Our two stars are completed and ready to be surrounded by plants!
Each star is in a staked out area that is 14'x14' with a 8' walkway between.
Now that the rocks have all been placed, we need to spread out the topsoil and do some transplanting!  Cannot wait!  The backyard is actually starting to look like a backyard!!!

To be continued...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saturday Evening Post…

52 degrees outside - 9:31 am - foggy...

A small glimpse into our lives as we live off-grid… sort of like eves dropping.  It may be a thought, quote or a conversation; funny, sweet or sad; but it will always be true.  We will see if it resonates with you…


Last night on our way home there was a gorgeous red-orange sunset that made the mountains glow…

2 Yr Old Son:  “Fire! Fire! Fire!” as he is pointing out the car window
Me:  “Wow, it really does look like the mountains are on fire.”
Hubby:  “No Jack, the mountains are not on fire that is just the sun setting.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Firewood...

70 degrees outside - 7:40 pm - clear blue sky, sun is slowly slipping down behind the mountain...

The firewood cutting for this coming winter is underway.  We are going to have a minimum of eight cords and hope to have the majority of it cut and split in the next couple of weeks so it will be ready to start drying out.  Tony has been falling the trees and cutting them into rounds so they are easier to move around.  We have then been taking turns using the log splitter (I love the log splitter, it saves so much time!) and stacking the firewood.  The kids even jump in now and then helping to stack firewood but their attention span only last for a short while before they are off running around and playing again.


We had been hoping to have all of our firewood cut and dried by Memorial Weekend, but with this years crazy weather that just hasn’t happened.  So we are running a little behind schedule, but better late than never!

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