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, April 30, 2012

Egg-cellent Layers...

41 degrees - 8:50 pm - on and off light showers with 50+ mph wind gusts...

Out of 10 laying hens, we are getting 7-10 eggs a day with an occasional double yolker thrown in.


{Side note: We are now down to only 10 chickens.  About two weeks ago we finally decided to get rid of Captain.  No he didn't end up as chicken nuggets - he really did go to someone who was wanting a rooster.  Two days after Captain left, one of the girls passed away - no really sure why.  So that leaves us with 10 happy laying hens.}

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nearby Logging...

54 degrees - 2:21 pm - overcast with on and off light showers...

Living in the mountains, there is bound to be some logging near us.  Along the gravel logging road that leads home there is a lot of land that is owned by a very large timber company and they are getting ready to log.

Saturday on my way into town I ran into this...

'TIMBER FALLING AHEAD' --- 'ROAD CLOSED'

This barricade was blocking my only way on or off the mountain so I snuck under it and got to see a feller buncher in action (which is pretty impressive by the way).  The feller buncher had been busy since early morning so it was already safely away from the road when I went by.

stopped to take a picture of the feller buncher on my way home
 the guy was already done for the day

If you don’t know what a feller buncher is or what it does – it is a type of harvester used in logging.  It is a motorized vehicle with an attachment that can rapidly cut and gather several trees before felling them.  The attachment is a tree-grabbing device furnished with a chain-saw, circular saw or a shear that grabs trees and cuts them off at the base.  The machine then places the cut trees in a stack to later be transported out.

The feller buncher is usually the first big piece of equipment sent in before the logging even starts.  Its job is to clear the timber off of the right-a-way so the timber company can come in and build the logging road.

the beginnings of a new logging road

Things are sure going to start looking a lot different on the drive home once they start logging.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

First Colors of Spring...

48 degrees - 11:30 am - foggy...

Even though there was a light rain falling this morning I wanted to take a quick stroll around the yard to snap some pictures of the first colors of spring...

Red Huckleberry

When you think of a huckleberry, most people envision the Evergreen Huckleberry with its dark purple berries, which look like mini blueberries.  But did you know there is also a Red Huckleberry?

The Red Huckleberry is not as common as its sister the Evergreen Huckleberry but around here, they are everywhere.  In a few more months its pale pink urn shaped flowers will have turned into little red berries, which are sweet and good to eat.

White Trillium aka White Wake-Robin

Trilliums are a favorite wildflower for many people (me included).  Right now they are popping up everywhere, covering the woodland floor with white blossoms that will turn to a dark pink with age.  They bloom just about the time that robins appear so they have gotten the nick-name of “Wake-Robin”.

Western Skunk Cabbage aka Swamp Lantern

Even though we live on a mountain ridge, we have a lot of water up here and the Skunk Cabbage to prove it!  The stinky plant likes swamps, small streams and wet woods.  Even though they have a pretty color to them, they have an unpleasant odor as well, hence the name Skunk Cabbage.

Out Of Control...

48 degrees - 9:55 am - foggy with a light rain...

Whether you are living on or off the grid, I am sure most of you with active little ones can relate to the story below.  I thought it was so cute that I just had to share it with all of you who keep it all together on a daily basis...

'Out Of Control' ~ Heath Robbins

One afternoon a man came home from work to find total mayhem in his house.  His three children were outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard.  The door of his wife’s car was open, as was the front door to the house and there was no sign of the dog.

Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess.  A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall.  In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing.

In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.

He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife.  He was worried she may be ill, or that something serious had happened.

He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door.  As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor.  Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls.

As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel.  She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went.  He looked at her bewildered and asked, “What happened here today?”

She again smiled and answered, “You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world did I do today?”

“Yes” was his incredulous reply.  She answered, “Well, today I didn’t do it.”

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Visit From The Tooth Fairy...

54 degrees - 8:52 - a gorgeous day...

Last night Caitlyn lost her 4th tooth.

{Update:  6 days later while we were in Newport, Oregon for the weekend, Caitlyn lost yet another tooth.}

Just back from the hotel pool and tooth #5 comes out!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Real Incredible Edible Egg...

46 degree - 12:28 pm - raining...

As we continue to learn and grow on our journey towards eating healthy REAL food, we continue to make changes that impact what we eat and what we purchase.  Once I know what goes into most conventionally grown food and products I can no longer make those food choices and have to go a different route.  One change that we have made is in the eggs that we eat.

eggs laid by our chickens

If you have never had the pleasure of eating an egg fresh from the farm, boy are you missing out!  I had no idea how bland and tasteless those (insert major brand name here) eggs were until we got our own chickens and started eating our own “farm fresh” eggs.  The yolks are brighter and creamier, and they are just bursting with flavor. 

Besides just tasting better, I could throw facts at you like... free range, farm fresh eggs may contain six to seven times higher Beta Carotene, two to four times higher Omega-3s, and three times higher Vitamin E than conventionally farmed eggs (aka store bought eggs).  I could even tell you that free range, farm fresh eggs have one-third to one-half less cholesterol and one-fourth less saturated fat than store bought eggs.  Would you listen?  What if I told you that by raising your own chickens and eggs (or buy from a local friend or farm) you could eliminate added hormones, anti-biotics, preservatives, other medications and pesticides?

Chances are most of you know this, but continue to buy regular store-bought eggs for your family.  Sometimes seeing is believing right?

the brown egg on the left was laid by one of our chickens
the white egg on the right was store bought

There is a pretty stark contrast in the colors of the yolks when you compare a farm fresh egg with a store bought egg.  If the difference to the naked eye is that significant...what do you think the difference is when you take a deeper look at the health benefits?  You decide.

One other warning about those conventionally farmed eggs (aka store bought eggs) – even if they are labeled “cage free” or “free range” I would still tread very carefully.  Most commercial grade chicken feed is made from GMO corn... and that translates directly into the eggs and meat you are consuming.  Also “cage free” does not mean organic.  This is just another case of marketing ploys meant to get your dollars.  Just some food for thought.  Below is a link to some facts about labeling on eggs – just click on the cow!


{For more fun facts about eggs click HERE and HERE}

Monday, April 16, 2012

First Flower Of The Year...

46 degrees - 10:23 am - rainging...

White Trillium - found near Tony's burn pile yesterday

Work Weekend...

46 degrees - 9:50 am - raining...

All the snow is finally gone so it was time to do some spring cleaning outside, with a little bit of landscaping mixed in here and there. 

I spent the weekend working on building some rock retaining walls and a pathway up to the chicken coop.  After transplanting a huge fern that was right in the middle of my pathway (which I broke another shovel on – I think we are now up to three broken shovels), I had Tony use the excavator to move a small boulder.  The rest of my time was spent picking up the debris, doing some basic clean up and maintaining my small burn pile.

The start of the pathway up to the chicken coop -
before the fern and boulder were moved - still a work in process.


We are going to be putting in a foot bridge to go over the drainage ditch.
Tony cut down the pathway a bit so it's not such a steap incline.

I just had to put in a few waterfalls in at the end of
one drainage ditch before it enters the other
drainage ditch.  I love the sound it makes!

Tony spent the weekend putting the track back on the excavator that fell off shortly after he moved my small boulder.  Then he was moving a large pile of stumps further away from the house so they can be burned later, broke a hydraulic hose in the process.  So off to Napa we went to get the hose fixed with a quick side trip to Home Depot to pick up a few more supplies for our next big projects.



After our not so quick trip to town, it was time to get back to work.  So while I was working on my small burn pile Tony was working on his huge burn pile.  He then decided that a few trees needed to go to let more light into the garden area... so away went a stand of Vine Maple.

Tony just starting his burn pile.  He is standing next to a ginormous stump -
I don't think that thing will ever burn.  Not sure what we are going to do with
it - it's too big for any of the excavators to move.

the end of our work weekend...

The whole area looks much better.  The garden area now looks like an extension of the backyard instead of a random little clearing.  It has really opened things up.  The backyard is really starting to look like a backyard.  I love it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kids Outdoor Play Space...

48 degrees - 8:02 pm - cloudy...

Our kids spend a lot of their time outside (when weather permits) and we currently don’t have any kind of designated play space outside for them.  So when Jack decided that he was going to use his digger to dig holes in the backyard (which we are getting ready to seed) and then in the flower beds (where I am building stone retaining walls) I decided that they do need their own space that is just for them.  Now all I need to do is come up with a creative play space that will suit both a 3 year old boy and a 6 ½ year old girl. 

Okay, dream a bit with me here... I am wanting something that offers both safety and more flexible playing options that both kids will enjoy.  I am thinking tunnels, slides, wooden huts, ladders, swings... something where they can climb on and around, maybe a private area where they can play games, read and watch nature... something that can entertain a group of kids for hours... is all of this possible or is it just a dream?

Here are a few photos that are inspiring the kids play space {that have been kid approved of course}...










Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Orange Creamsicle Fruit Dip...

52 degrees - 7:08 pm - cloudy...

I love, love, love this fruit dip!  I found this recipe online and decided to try it out for our family Easter get-togethers.  I’m very happy to say that is was a huge hit and I had numerous requests for the recipe.

It’s a refreshing and light orange flavored dip that pairs perfectly with fresh cut fruit (the strawberries with the dip were my personal favorite) and it’s very addicting.  It almost tastes like an Orange Julius in dip form!  You must definitely try this out for yourself!


~Orange Creamsicle Fruit Dip~
 
1 8-oz container whipped topping
1 small pkg instant vanilla pudding mix
1 6-oz container of frozen (concentrated) orange juice
Fruit for dipping (strawberries, mangos, grapes, pineapple, etc.)

Mix the whip topping, vanilla pudding mix and orange juice concentrate.  Add a little water to thin out to desired consistency, if needed.

Wash, cut and prep the fruit.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Then savor the orange dreamsicle goodness!

---Enjoy!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Snowshoeing For Easter Eggs...

44 degrees - 8:04 am - blue sky, partly cloudy, really windy...





Happy Easter Everyone!

Friday, April 6, 2012

April Snow...

34 degrees - 10:47 am - snowing...

Drip, drip, drop little April showers?  Hmmmm...not quite.  This morning there were snowflakes kissing the windows rather than raindrops.  The only drip, drip, drops we hear are from the drops of melting snow falling from the trees.  Spring, you’re such a tease.  I thought we agreed that Winter was over.  Hopefully this will be Winter’s last parting gift.

It’s snowing so hard right now…it’s weird.  We had very little snow left on the ground when we left for the beach earlier this week.  Now we are back home and the ground is once again covered in a blanket of white.

With Easter just a few short days away... we might just have a white Easter.  The kids may just have to snowshoe around while they are out hunting for Easter eggs.  That could be fun.

Here are some pictures from this week...

For Spring Break we escaped to Long Beach and...

...fed the birds...

...enjoyed running around on the sandy beach...

...we snuck away for a few hours to go to Cape Disappointment...

...my niece Joslyn tried to fly with the birds...

...it was a bit windy out...

...we gathered up some driftwood to take back to the beach property...

... the kids played 'Don't Break the Sugar Bowl' - Caitlyn won...
... and now we are back home again...
...and it's snowing.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

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