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Friday, December 19, 2008

Simple Solar Homesteading Book Review

Before our big move off the grid, I did a lot of research to learn everything I could about living off grid. I used the internet as my main source of information. I quickly found a great source of info at LaMar Alexander’s website. In following with my Off Grid – On The Cheap message, this is a very practical, hands on approach to how to get off the grid without having to spend lots of money. Who is LaMar? I can tell you that LaMar is genuine, he is one of the few people talking and teaching about living off grid, who is actually living the off grid lifestyle. I’d say that LaMar knows what he is talking about. LaMar has taken all of his experiences and put it all together in an ingenious book called “Simple Solar Homesteading” This book comes as both a hard copy and in digital format. It is written in a down to earth language, complex ideas are broken down into easy to understand solutions. You don’t have to be a professional to understand and follow the directions found in this book.
The book is well laid out and easy to navigate. It covers a myriad of subjects ranging from how to build your own cabin to dehydrating food and many other great ways to live off grid and be more self sufficient.
Here are a few of the how to projects in this book:
  • How to build a solar cabin
  • How to build a solar panel and generator power station
  • How to build a solar composting toilet
  • How to build a rain water and gray water recycling system
  • How to build a solar oven
  • How to build a food dehydrator

LaMar’s Cabin
When you open the book, the first thing you see is a picture of LaMar’s cabin. This cabin was designed and built by and for LaMar. He lives here full time, so it has to be functional, yet it is also has a simple charm and style that easy to customize to fit your own needs and tastes.
The book is full of step by step directions as well as lots of pictures. LaMar includes many tips and tricks to help you get things done quicker and cheaper. Not only does he show you how to build your cabin, he also helps you to figure out the best location and proper orientation. The price of this book is incredibly inexpensive, both the hard copy and the digital, it would be a bargain at any price though. It’s very clear that LaMar is more interested in passing on his knowledge than getting rich.
The book also contains LaMar’s history, how he became interested in living off grid, he discusses his childhood living in his grandfather’s and father’s homestead. It certainly is clear where he got his inspiration and interest in cabins and being independent.
What is my favorite project in the book? It has to be the solar composting toilet, or is it the solar oven? What, you expect me to pick just one???
I was able to talk LaMar into taking a few minutes out of his day to answer some questions, a small interview if you will. :)

Why did you decide to build your own cabin, of your own design and go off grid?
I was raised by homesteading parents so this lifestyle was in my blood. Since I was a teenager I have had a dream to build my own small solar cabin and when I quit teaching high school and moved back to my home town the timing was perfect.
When did you do this?
I started living off grid about 15 years ago in RV campers and small cabins but I built the solar cabin I live in now about 5 years ago.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My grandparent and parent who were true homesteader that lived in cabins and supplied their own food through 3 wars and the great depression.
Is your cabin complete or are you still working on it?
My cabin is always a work in progress as I add things all the time. I recently rewired my lights for fluorescents and will be building an extension next year.
What are you working on now?
I am busy getting www.homesteadernews.com up and running thru winter and in spring I plan to build a deck and room extension. Lots of stuff to do!
What is your next project?
see above
What is the hardest thing about your off grid lifestyle?
Going out in the cold to feed and water animals. I am working on self feeders and waterers.
What surprised you the most about living off grid?
Peoples reactions to my cabin as they think it looks small from the road but once they get up close and see the inside they are amazed at how much room and all my amenities.
If you had this to do all over again, knowing what you know now, what (if anything) would you do different?
I don’t think I would do anything different as I am very happy!
Is money were no object, what would you like to do?
Money has little meaning to me and isn’t a desire but it would be nice to travel to foreign countries.
What do your friends and family think of your off grid lifestyle?
At first they thought I was crazy but after seeing my cabin they were impressed and two of my brothers want to build one for vacation homes.
How far is your property located from your nearest neighbor? Town?
I am ten miles from a small town and a mile from neighbors which are family.
Living in your cabin, space is a premium, what do you do to combat clutter?
Throw stuff away that I don’t need. I give away stuff all the time and keep my necessary items to the bare minimum.
What do you do for fun?
I play guitar and write songs, write books, hunt, fish, play pool, and spend time with Patty and the dogs.
What would you like everyone to know about you?
I enjoy helping people to simplify their lives.
Learn more about LaMar and his book here:


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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Survival Chick, where are you?

Hey, does anyone know what happened to Survival Chick? A week or so ago, her blog was running just fine, now it's blocked except for those who are invited only... I miss my Survival Chick! Hello? Anyone?



Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Off Grid - On The Cheap

It seems that the “green” (or brown) movement is growing faster and faster. It used to be the realm of unwashed hippies, tree huggers and other so called “degenerates” who lived off the grid, in the wild, on the fringes of society.

Lately, I keep reading about how more mainstream people are jumping in, purchasing solar panels, adding passive solar rooms, collecting rain water. I read about people who build $300,000+ green homes, that price doesn’t include the price of the land it sits upon! It’s all fine and dandy for those who have lots of readily available cash sitting around, or worse, they get loans to bankroll their ubergreen homes.I have no complaints about those who can afford the extravagant green homes, if you are wealthy and can afford to do it, then by all means go for it. But what about all of the rest of us, living on fixed or small incomes? Is it possible to live the green dream if you don’t have a cool million sitting in the bank? The answer is YES, you can!...

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Thursday, December 11, 2008


…are worth a thousand words, or so they say, I thought it would be fun to post some pictures of myself, I know that when I have been following someone else’s blog for a while, any time I can see a picture of the blog author, it’s a treat, so here’s my treat for you. Some of you have been following my ramblings for a year, some for not as long, either way, here I am, now you have a face to go with the words...

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Got Hot H2O

Living off grid, on the cheap, requires sacrifices, you do give up some conveniences. Some of the things I didn’t have when I first moved to my off grid home were running water, unlimited electricity, heating, much in the way of furniture, refrigerator, internet, phone, solid walls (grin)… and hot water...

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stocking Up On Spam

I’m not talking about those unrequested emails that seem to always clog your inbox. It seems that Hormel is having to work overtime to make enough Spam, lately there has been a big run on Spam. The different news sources say it’s because of hard times, but I have to wonder how many preppers and others are seeing the writing on the wall...

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Our First Thanksgiving…

…in our off grid home. As far as I’m concerned, this was the best Thanksgiving I have ever had. we have been here for nearly a year now, a few days before Christmas will be one year, it’s been a challenging time, but we have done it, and with style!

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

3 of 100 Things

…that you may not know about me. … This is a continuation of a list 100 things that you might not know about me. Well, let me start out by saying, YEAH I finally got my memory installed! I have waited a long time to get this memory, and I must say, it’s nice to have...

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Green Laundry Soap

No it’s not St Patricks Day, but I do have green laundry soap. Actually I make it myself and it’s so simple, even a leprechaun* can do it. I have been making my own laundry soap long before I moved off grid, it started out as a desire to make and use something that cost less and worked better than the stuff I could get from the grocery store. I found recipe after recipe on line, some are so complicated that it’s not worth the time or trouble. I settled on a simple recipe and I have been very satisfied with the results...

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Baking A Loaf Of Bread pt 2

Hey, were you curious about how that loaf of bread turned out? If you have been following my messages and read the comments then you already know, if you haven’t followed this thread, then you will have to keep reading to find out. ;)

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happiness Is A Warm Co-op

Being independent means doing things for yourself, seeing a need and instead of waiting for someone else to take care of it, the independent person would get creative and find a way to fill that need. I would like to introduce you to a wonderful lady and independent soul. Her name is Diane, I found her blog a couple of days ago and was thrilled at what I found.

Read the rest of the story here:

Direct link to Diane's site, go here to order from Diane.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Baking A Loaf Of Bread...

…the hard way.

Living off grid isn’t always easy, but it is almost always interesting. We are having a test kitchen today, last night we tried to use the bread maker to bake a loaf of bread. The way it’s supposed to work is it mixes the dough, it kneads the dough, it allows it to rise, it stirs it again, allows it to rise again, then it bakes the loaf of bread. Well, everything went well until the first rise. The heating element turned on and stayed on, that’s not supposed to happen, a short time into the first rise, the machine gave me an error code and beeped. I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, but it soon became evident that things were going wrong...

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Monday, November 3, 2008

A Gift Of Bread

I thoroughly enjoy cooking, I am very passionate about it, to the point that going to restaurants is a bit of a challenge to me. I can’t just enjoy the meal, I have to know how it was made, and then I am thinking about what I could do to make it even better.

Since moving to my mountain/desert home, my kitchen arrangement is dramatically different, depending on how you look at it, my kitchen has either shrunk to a mere few square feet, or it has grown tremendously. We only have 2 rooms in the cabin (originally started with just one), the main room is 16×16, this room contains the bedroom, dining room, bathroom, sitting room, utility room, home office AND the kitchen. So I could consider the whole room my kitchen area or just the corner where the small propane stove, wood stove, food storage and sink reside.

The other day, one of my friends out here, the lady who owns the Country Store, was going through her storage room in the store, she ran across a bread machine and asked me if I wanted it. I said “Sure!” and took it home. I wasn’t sure at first if I would be able to use it at my place because of the power requirements. Generally any electric item that generates heat, will suck up a lot of power (that’s why my counter top sized, professional convection oven is still sitting in the back of Bob’s van instead of in the house).

I turned the bread machine over and checked the wattage, this would determine if I could use the machine at my house or if I would have to use the machine at my neighbor’s house. Good news, its 430 watts for the heat coil (75 watts for the paddle), well under what my power setup is capable of running. I plan on testing it later today, I will not make a load of bread, but I will use the dough setting to make tortilla dough. I had been doing this by hand, it’s not hard, I have the tortilla mix already, all I have to do is add 1 cup of tortilla mix to 1/4 cup of water, that’s the ratio, I just increase it as needed. If I am making tortillas for just Bob and myself, I usually do 2 cups of mix to 1/2 cup water, generally 1 cup of mix per person. It also depends on how large the tortillas are going to be. I usually make about 7 inch tortillas. I prefer to roll them out by hand, I have a tortilla press, I actually have 2 of them, but they don’t work, period. They don’t make the tortillas flat enough for me, I like my tortillas really thin, so it works out better for my sanity to roll them out by hand.

I said that making tortilla dough is not hard, but since it’s such a stiff dough, kneading it is harder than kneading softer doughs. Add the fact that I don’t have any counter top space or even a table, I have to knead this very stiff dough in a bowl, not the easiest thing in the world to do. So today I will play test kitchen and do the dough in the bread machine. It will test my machine (I’m sure it will do just fine) and it will test my power setup (it should do just fine too).

I’ll try on another day to make a whole loaf of bread. One of Bob’s favorite breads that I used to make is a chocolate bread, it doesn’t really taste like chocolate, it’s not sweet, it uses rye flour, graham flour and white flour, I add the white flour so it’s not so heavy. I’ll have to find my recipe again, that should be fun, I haven’t baked this bread in a long time.

Several hours later…
Good news, the bread machine seems to work with my power system. When I plugged the bread machine in, my inverter beeped for just a second (EDIT- it was not the inverter that beeped, it was the bread machine), then went quiet. The digital numbers on the control panel lit up like it is supposed to. I don’t have a manual for this bread maker, but it looks pretty self explanatory. Before I tried the machine with dough, I tried some of the settings with the machine empty. I didn’t want to find out that my power system would not power this machine after I had tortilla flour and water in the pan! :) I punched a few buttons, set it on the dough setting so that the heat coil would not come on. The paddle in the bottom of the machine began to spin, YEAH! I canceled that one, and tried a couple of more times just to make sure. It ran just fine, I checked my inverter to see what it was doing, it seemed to be dealing with the load just fine. I had my computer on at the same time, if need be I will turn everything else off, but it appears that the load is not too much.

So I placed 3/4 cups of water and 3 cups of tortilla mix in the pan. I chose the dough setting (no heat), the timer on the top said 14 minutes, the paddle started turning, but it acted differently than it did when the machine was empty, oh horrors, what was wrong? The paddle would spin around one revolution, then stop for a few seconds, then repeat. It did this for a couple of minutes, then it began to spin consistently, I suppose that is how it’s supposed to work. I let it mix and knead the dough for about 5 minutes. The dough was well mixed and looked like a happy dough, you bread makers know what I am talking about. I stopped the machine and removed the dough. It was elastic, homogeneous, and generally looked like it is supposed to look.

I pulled off golf ball sized chunks of dough and rolled them into balls. I placed these in a plastic container and covered with a lid. In about half an hour, I’ll roll these out and make tortillas with them. I suspect it will turn out great, the dough looks great. (EDIT-the tortillas turned out GREAT!)

I don’t believe in coincidences, when I went to visit my family (500 miles east of my location), I brought back some of my kitchen stuff that I had left behind at my Dad’s house. The most important thing I found was my electric knife. I had purchased this many years ago specifically to be used for my homemade loaves of bread. Anyone who has ever tried to slice a loaf of fresh, homemade bread will appreciate what I am talking about. Even with a really good bread knife, often you will end up with squished bread. With the electric knife, it slices cleanly through the freshest loaf of bread without pushing and mashing your bread.

Nothing smells better than freshly baked bread, soon, very soon my house will smell like a wonderful bakery! I hope my power system will be able to handle the heating element inside the bread maker, I haven’t tested that yet, I’ll let you know how it works, if it doesn’t, I’ll be baking bread in my cast iron pan on the stove top. :)

Added 11-26-11
I have since discovered that the bread machine cannot be run fully on my off grid system, the system will handle the power requirements, but since I have a modified sine wave inverter, the digital timer in the bread machine does not function properly and it will not make a loaf of bread, I would need to have a pure sine wave inverter with a sufficiently high enough power rating to do that, even though those have come down considerably in price, they are still pretty far out of my price range, so for now, I'll just have to dream about getting one of those :)

I do however make all of my kneaded doughs in a food processor, I just put in the blade attachment, the dry ingredients, I put on the lid and start the machine, then I slowly add the liquid until it forms a ball, by the time it has formed a ball, the dough has been sufficiently kneaded, no troubles at all.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

As Seen On TV

How many times have you seen those wonderful gadgets advertised on TV? These infomercials tend to air early in the day, or late at night, enticing you to part with your hard earned money, if you would just order within the next 10 minutes, your life would be so much easier… but wait, there’s more!...

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2 of 100 Things

... that you may not know about me. This is a continuation of a list 100 things that you might not know about me. With this being October, late October, nearly Halloween, so this should be pretty appropriate.

I enjoy listening to a late night radio program called Coast to Coast am (Wiki for C2C), I have listened to this program for years. In my previous life, pre-off-grid, when I had to work a regular job, I couldn't stay up all night to listen to this show, I used to subscribe to the show and I received a download of the previous night's program. I would listen to podcasts of the shows on my mp3 player. Now that I don't "work", well, not a regular job, two things have happened, without a steady income, I can't justify paying a monthly fee to subscribe to C2C to get the podcasts, and the second thing is, without having a steady job, I CAN stay up late and listen to the shows I have an interest in. I don't get into all of the shows, so there is no reason to listen to each show from every night.

What is this show? Well, it's a combination of "things that go bump in the night", hard science, fringe science, psychics, UFOs, ghosts, hauntings, paranormal, history, odd things, conspiracies, medical alternatives, astrology, astronomy, economics, time travel, politics, mysteries of all sorts, mythology, and much, much more.

I believe this is just another side of who I really am, I tend to be an alternative thinker, and living what most people would consider an alternative lifestyle (NO, not like that!), you have to admit that living in a homemade cabin, off grid, pooing in a bucket qualifies as alternative living. :)

Well, this is another secret pleasure of mine, if you are interested in this sort of thing, or would just like to know what it is all about, you can go to C2C's website and find out what radio stations broadcast the show, you can even listen on the internet if you can't find a local radio station that broadcasts it. I listen here, KLIF. The show airs from Midnight until 4am (central time).

Happy Halloween everyone!


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Monday, October 27, 2008

Back In My Mountain Home

Things are getting back to normal, at least as normal as it ever gets around here... :) I am so glad to be back home, sleeping in my own bed. The temperature is definitely changing, we had a hard freeze the other night, it got down well below 30 degrees F, what was left in the garden is now dead. I harvested a bunch of lettuce seeds, I'll have more than enough for next year, I'll put them with the other seeds I harvested from my garden.

When I left, everything was green, now everything is noticeably not green, the grass looks like straw, there are big puffy seed heads on long stalks of straw, some of these are waist high, they nod back and forth in the gentle breeze. Fall is definitely here and winter is not far behind.

Now to the main part of this message, a couple of months ago, I was contacted by Nick Rosen, the owner of Off-Grid.net, he invited me to start writing on his site. I took some time to decide whether or not I wanted to do this, I pondered the pros and cons. The biggest con is the fact that the site isn't mine, (mine, mine, all mine!), how much control would I have over my work? Would I retain the copyright? Well the good news is that I do have complete control and maintain all rights to my works. The really good side to all of this is I have a larger audience, (more people to leave comments!). So, from this point on, you, my loyal readers will need to go here: http://www.off-grid.net/section/wretha/ to continue following my ramblings. The entire archive of this blog has been moved there, come on over, read the new messages, leave a comment to let me know you are still with me. At least one of you has found my new place, thanks Seth for posting a comment!


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Monday, October 20, 2008

Funny, that's all I can say, this is funny!

Remember the dancing baby and hamster dance of internet past? Well, now that I have put those images back into your head again (and you thought you had buried those deep, HA!) forget about them, now we have... the DANCING WALRUS

Hey, I had to do SOMETHING to pass the time until the sun came up...


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Why Is It Still Dark Outside???

Dannnng, is the sun up yet??? I just heard the clock in my Dad's living room strike 6am, I've been awake for more than an hour and a half, but I've stayed quietly in my room, even though my brother in law SAID to wake him up early so we can get packing and LEAVE!

Let's go back a bit, I am at the tail end of my visit to my Dad's house and for my son and DIL's birth of their first baby (and my first grandbaby). I had planned on staying about a month, and it's been a few days past that. My Dad had doctor's appointments through the 15th, we were supposed to leave right after that, we decided to wait until the following weekend, oh, OK, I can handle a few more days, I thought to myself... and besides, travelling on the weekend would mean less traffic to contend with. So we chose to leave out on Saturday. My brother in law (Bob's brother) has been wanting to come out to where I live to check things out to see if he would like to live out there too, so he asked if he could follow us out there, sure we said, no problem... So it was going to be my Dad and I in his truck, and my BIL in his truck following behind. My BIL was supposed to come over Friday night, spend the night so we could get an early start on Saturday. My other BIL (my late sister's hubby) expressed an interested in seeing our place, so we invited him to come along, he agreed, GREAT news, this meant that I could ride with Bob's bro to the property, and my Dad wouldn't have to drive back home all by himself (it's a 9-10 drive). This was getting better and better, although I had no idea where we would put everyone, we would have worked something out. Well a few days ago my nephew (my late sister's son) who is the same age as I am (long story), had to go into the hospital uexpectidely, so his step-dad (my late sis's hubby) decided he couldn't come with us, he needed to take care of my nephew (his step son). OK, plans change, that is part of life... so then, my Dad decided maybe he shouldn't go either and asked me if I could just ride out with my BIL (Bob's bro), I called him and he said OK, he has a small truck so my stuff and his stuff would not all fit in the bed, fortunately he has a small trailer, but it needed some work, could I wait a couple days while he worked on it... Oh bother! Yes, I can wait, I hoped we could leave on Sunday, but it didn't work out that way, we/he agreed on Monday morning.

Inhaling and exhaling loudly... I want to be HOME.

OK, I had quite a bit more stuff to take back then I had when I came out with my Dad a month ago, between buying clothes from the thrift stores, buying 2 new pair of boots, 2 pair of quilted coveralls (Walls Blizzardproof, mmmmm warm), a 25 lb bag of salt from Sams, plus the things I got out of storage from my Dad's house, plus the other things like 2 propane tanks and such... I didn't know how much of this stuff I would be able to take in my BIL's small truck, I had everything already packed in boxes and plastic totes, but I had to wait for him to get over here yesterday, the plan was to pack the truck yesterday (Sunday) and see what I could and couldn't take. Well (breathing loudly again) are is the traditions of our families, he didn't get over here until after 11 pm. The good news is I got to watch Britcoms, the bad news is we couldn't pack anything, so we backed his truck and trailer into the backyard for security purposes, came in the house, fed him a late dinner, watched the rest of the Britcom I was watching, and got to bed about 12:30 am this morning.

I was able to go to sleep with no problem, it's staying asleep that seemed to be difficult, I woke up early, went to the porcelean, fresh drinking water wasting, flush potty (sorry, I had to say that...), came back to my room and turned on the laptop, mainly to see what time it is. I could try to go back to sleep (fat chance), I could be mean and go wake up my BIL, after all he TOLD me to wake him up early (hehehe), but I'll wait until the sun comes up before I start waking everyone up, so now we will be playing Jenga on a large scale to try to fit as much as possible into his truck bed, we will probably have to go to the hardware store to get straps and such, unless he already has some (I hope, I hope, I hope).

Dannnng, is that sun up yet???


Last I heard, my nephew was getting better, we still don't know what the problem was, he was coughing up brown gunk and had a spot or cyst on one lung, he is on antibiotics and seems to be getting better, we pray everything will be OK and things seem to be looking better for him.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Miss Manners

Hey everyone, I have a Miss Manners type of question and would like your honest input. Here's the situation, I am about to be going on a 9-10 hour car ride with my brother in law, he is driving me from the DFW area across Texas to my home, he is coming to stay with us to decide whether or not he would like to live out there. Here is the quandry, I know we will not be talking solidly for the whole time, I'm not much of a talker and neither is he, oh we will talk, just not the whole time. I have a MP3 player, I don't listen to music on it, I listen to talk shows that I have downloaded, things that I'm pretty sure he would have no interest in listening to, would it be rude to pop in my earbuds and listen to my MP3 player while we are traveling? I don't want to exclude him or make him feel like he is interrupting something if he wants to talk, at the same time, it's a very long drive and there will be gaps of time, where there will most likely be little chit chat and I would like to catch up on some of my shows. It's funny, I would have no problem reading a book or working in my Sudoku puzzle book, but I can't do that while riding in a car, it makes me nauseated. So what do you think? How would you feel if you were on a long car trip and your passenger was listening to their MP3 player with headphones, would it bother you?

I suppose I'll just play it by ear (pun intended) and see what happens, I'll have my MP3 player ready, I have no idea how much chit chat will be going on, and if there are long pauses and it's clear we will not be chatting, then maybe I'll just ask if he minds if I listen with the understanding that I can turn it off any time...


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Friday, October 17, 2008

Mind Games pt 1

If you want to participate in a small experiment and start on the road to improving your mind and body, before you read any more of this message, take a few minutes to write down a few goals you have (please tell me that you HAVE some goals! If not, it's high time you did!), it can be a short list, but try to have at least 4 or 5 things on it, these can be personal, business or finance related, anything. Also write the time frame when you would like to achieve each goal, today? Tomorrow? Next week? Next month? In the next year...? Whenever...

Writing them down is important, if you choose not to write them down, and try to just remember them, the experiment may be less effective.

Now, continue reading.

A big part of survival, in any situation, has to do with your mindset, what is going through your mind? What are you thinking? Are you mentally sabotaging yourself or are you doing yourself a favor? Before you think this is sounding like new age BS, or worse, think about it, the very thoughts you are thinking, on a daily basis does have a great effect on your mind and body. Unfortunately, many of us are playing rather negative "tape loops" in our heads without even realizing it, often these are long term tape loops that you may have been playing for most of your life, for example if you find yourself exposed to someone with the flu or some other contagious malady, what are you thinking? Is it, "Wow, I'm going to get sick now..." or are you thinking, "I'm NOT going go get sick..." or "I can't afford to get sick now...", which one do you think will do the best and which one will do the worst for you? What if I told you that NONE of those are good thoughts? Of course you should get that the first one is the worst one, you are accepting the fact that you will get sick, the second one is just as bad, and the third one is also not good. Why you ask are 2 and 3 bad? Because they are in fact NEGATIVE, just as negative as the first one. Your brain, that wonderful organ in your head that processes each and every thought we have, and dutifully goes about making what you think into reality, in this case it computes those last 2 statements as "I'm going to get sick" and "I can get sick", it hears "sick" and boom, you are very likely to get sick.

How can we change this? By simply changing the statement from a negative (not, can't, shouldn't, couldn't, wouldn't...) into a POSITIVE statement (can, will, am...), like this: "I am healthy." or "My immune system is strong.", see how I removed the word "sick", that is the power word here, replace it with what you WANT to have happen, "strong, healthy..." that is what your brain hears and computes. Instead of saying what you DON'T want, say what you DO want, use positives instead of negatives.

How do I know this works? I use it, and often, I use it in every part of my life, and it does work! Take a few minutes to review your goals that (I hope) you wrote down, how did you write it, is it in the positive or in the negative? Are these things you want to happen or things you don't want to happen? If you wrote anything in the negative, now is the time to rewrite that same goal in the positive, for example, here is one of my goals written in the negative:

"I don't want to be fat." (brain hears and computes FAT)

Now written in the positive:

"I want to be thin." (brain hears and computes THIN)

Now written in an even better form:

"I am healthy, I am fit." (brain hears and computes HEALTHY and FIT)

Write what you WANT instead of what you DON'T WANT.

I'll be writing more on this subject in the weeks to come, digest this for now, try to implement it in your day to day life, remember, you are what you think! Here is a mantra I wrote several years ago when I worked for Curves (a gym for women):

I am happy, I am healthy, I have everything I want.

another version goes like this:

I am happy, I am healthy, I have everything I need.

Either one works, I like to say both, I try to say it at least 10 times in a row on a daily basis, and say it out loud, verbally with your mouth! :) Does it work? Yes!


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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Attack Of The Stats

I use a tracker to determine how many people come to my blog each day, I am continually amazed at the number of people who visit and the ways they find me. Just for grins, here are some stats:

Period: 259 Days Tracked
Daily Unique:
Today 101 / 14 Oct, Tue, 2008
Unique Visitors 16190 - 77.74%
Yesterday 108 / 13 Oct, Mon, 2008
Visits incl. Reloads 20825
Average 62 Visitors per Day (this number is actually higher, this is being counted from day one when I didn't have many visitors)
Reloads 4635 - 22.26%
Highest Day 201 / 06 Oct, Mon, 2008
Visitors via Referrers 7898 - 48.78%

Weekly Unique:
Website Referrers 793
Current Week 209 / Wk 42
Javascript Enabled 16012 - 98.90%
Last Week 870 / Wk 41
Average 426 Visitors per Week

Most accessed:
Highest Week 913 / Wk 37
Browser MSIE 7 - 39.57%

Monthly Unique:
Operating System Windows XP - 67.29%
Current Month 1649 / Oct
Screen Resolution 1024x768 - 44.66%
Last Month 3242 / Sep
Screen Color 32 Bit (16.7M) - 85.86%
Average 1619 Visitors per Month
Searchengine Google - 7.40%
Highest Month 3242 / Sep
Keyword off - 5.33%
Highest Hour of the Day 20:00 - 20:59 - 6.15%
Country United States - 92.59%
Highest Day of the Week Monday - 16.88%
Continent North America - 95.73%


Top 50 Keywords from Search Engines

242 5.33% off
239 5.26% grid
219 4.82% water
209 4.60% solar
185 4.07% diy
106 2.33% filter
98 2.16% jack
96 2.11% magic
94 2.07% freight
92 2.02% panel
89 1.96% harbor
85 1.87% rocket
79 1.74% the
66 1.45% living
65 1.43% stove
65 1.43% texas
61 1.34% tilapia
51 1.12% kit
50 1.10% purifier
45 0.99% cabin
44 0.97% wrethas
43 0.95% offgrid
42 0.92% how
40 0.88% plans
40 0.88% panels
38 0.84% farming
38 0.84% for
36 0.79% adventures
33 0.73% kits
31 0.68% watt
27 0.59% inexpensive
26 0.57% wretha
23 0.51% house
21 0.46% small
21 0.46% homesteading
20 0.44% west
20 0.44% oven
19 0.42% cheap
19 0.42% blog
19 0.42% well
19 0.42% desert
17 0.37% pot
17 0.37% stoves
16 0.35% berkey
16 0.35% propane
15 0.33% build
15 0.33% filters
14 0.31% survival
14 0.31% homemade
14 0.31% canned
14 0.31% fridge


Top 50 Website Referrals

556 8.61% http://www.survivalistnews.com
469 7.27% http://www.adventuresinbloggingtoo.blogspot.com
452 7.00% http://mayberry-keepitsimplestupid.blogspot.com
391 6.06% http://circleoftheoroborous-dragon.blogspot.com
357 5.53% http://www.possumliving.com
346 5.36% http://thesurvivalistblog.blogspot.com
333 5.16% http://selousscouts.blogspot.com
295 4.57% http://wretha.blogspot.com
185 2.87% http://johnsonfamilyfarm.blogspot.com
110 1.70% http://texaspreppersnetwork.blogspot.com
106 1.64% http://www.treasuregift.com
84 1.30% http://www.johnsonfamilyfarm.blogspot.com
84 1.30% http://www.blogger.com/publish-confirmation.g
84 1.30% http://wretha.blogspot.com/search
72 1.12% http://mayberry-keepitsimplestupid.blogspot.com/2008/07/local-woes.html
56 0.87% http://www.blogger.com/home
48 0.74% http://www.bloglines.com/myblogs_display
47 0.73% http://rubysbigadventure.blogspot.com
46 0.71% http://hillbilly2be.blogspot.com
46 0.71% http://www.blogger.com/comment-moderate-confirm.g
45 0.70% http://shmoopywood.blogspot.com
45 0.70% http://shesurvives.blogspot.com
44 0.68% http://www.blogger.com/profile/04941116263529261885
38 0.59% http://www.thesurvivalistblog.blogspot.com
37 0.57% http://www.selousscouts.blogspot.com
34 0.53% http://www.off-grid.net/forum/topic.php
34 0.53% http://adventuresinbloggingtoo.blogspot.com
33 0.51% http://stealthsurvival.blogspot.com
33 0.51% http://www.mayberry-keepitsimplestupid.blogspot.com
29 0.45% http://www.possumliving.com/2008/05/cheap-windpower-experiment.html
28 0.43% http://survivalchick.blogspot.com
28 0.43% http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch
25 0.39% http://www.blogger.com/rearrange
25 0.39% http://thesurvivalistblog.blogspot.com/2008/02/cabin-retreat-water-system.html
24 0.37% http://groups.yahoo.com/group/12VDC_Power/links
24 0.37% http://survivalistbloglinks.blogspot.com
20 0.31% http://search.peoplepc.com/search
19 0.29% http://wwwstayalive.blogspot.com
17 0.26% http://mayberry-keepitsimplestupid.blogspot.com/2008/07/federal-government-purchased-entire.html
17 0.26% http://eweremembered.blogspot.com
17 0.26% http://selousscouts.blogspot.com/search
17 0.26% http://wretha.blogspot.com/2008_01_01_archive.html
16 0.25% http://www.blogger.com/moderate-comment.g
16 0.25% http://wretha.blogspot.com/2008_02_01_archive.html
16 0.25% http://foragingprepper.blogspot.com
15 0.23% http://amyandjoshscabin.com/cabinblog
15 0.23% http://circleoftheoroborous-dragon.blogspot.com/search
15 0.23% http://www.sitemeter.com
14 0.22% http://thesurvivalistblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/breaking-chains.html
14 0.22% http://forum.bloggerbuster.com/topic/make-comments-show-on-the-main-page
14 0.22% http://wretha.blogspot.com/2008/05/propane-fridge-wind-power-experiment.html


Last 20 Days Unique Visitors
25 Sep, Thu 77
26 Sep, Fri 89
27 Sep, Sat 71
28 Sep, Sun 94
29 Sep, Mon 99
30 Sep, Tue 86
01 Oct, Wed 93
02 Oct, Thu 155
03 Oct, Fri 118
04 Oct, Sat 96
05 Oct, Sun 108
06 Oct, Mon 201
07 Oct, Tue 128
08 Oct, Wed 115
09 Oct, Thu 122
10 Oct, Fri 105
11 Oct, Sat 80
12 Oct, Sun 119
13 Oct, Mon 108
14 Oct, Tue 101

Last 20 Weeks Unique Visitors
Week 23 424
Week 24 316
Week 25 414
Week 26 430
Week 27 436
Week 28 515
Week 29 506
Week 30 620
Week 31 656
Week 32 663
Week 33 717
Week 34 690
Week 35 654
Week 36 840
Week 37 913
Week 38 703
Week 39 601
Week 40 755
Week 41 870
Week 42 209

Last 20 Months Unique Visitors
Jan 8
Feb 597
Mar 708
Apr 1091
May 1796
Jun 1722
Jul 2395
Aug 2982
Sep 3242
Oct 1649

Hours of the Day Unique Visitors
00:00 - 00:59 451 2.79%
01:00 - 01:59 308 1.90%
02:00 - 02:59 206 1.27%
03:00 - 03:59 176 1.09%
04:00 - 04:59 168 1.04%
05:00 - 05:59 239 1.48%
06:00 - 06:59 495 3.06%
07:00 - 07:59 569 3.51%
08:00 - 08:59 727 4.49%
09:00 - 09:59 786 4.85%
10:00 - 10:59 870 5.37%
11:00 - 11:59 862 5.32%
12:00 - 12:59 838 5.18%
13:00 - 13:59 815 5.03%
14:00 - 14:59 857 5.29%
15:00 - 15:59 868 5.36%
16:00 - 16:59 812 5.02%
17:00 - 17:59 884 5.46%
18:00 - 18:59 874 5.40%
19:00 - 19:59 960 5.93%
20:00 - 20:59 995 6.15%
21:00 - 21:59 946 5.84%
22:00 - 22:59 838 5.18%
23:00 - 23:59 646 3.99%

Days of the Week Unique Visitors
Monday 2733 16.88%
Tuesday 2476 15.29%
Wednesday 2284 14.11%
Thursday 2248 13.89%
Friday 2098 12.96%
Saturday 1996 12.33%
Sunday 2355 14.55%


Countries Unique Visitors
United States 14990 92.59%
Canada 352 2.17%
United Kingdom 193 1.19%
Mexico 155 0.96%
Australia 110 0.68%
Sweden 32 0.20%
Philippines 22 0.14%
Malaysia 17 0.11%
South Africa 16 0.10%
Netherlands 16 0.10%
Spain 15 0.09%
France 15 0.09%
Europe 14 0.09%
Switzerland 13 0.08%
New Zealand 13 0.08%
Nigeria 13 0.08%
Germany 12 0.07%
Belgium 10 0.06%
China 10 0.06%
Brazil 10 0.06%
Thailand 9 0.06%
Singapore 8 0.05%
Indonesia 8 0.05%
Pakistan 7 0.04%
Italy 7 0.04%
United Arab Emirates 6 0.04%
Iraq 6 0.04%
Portugal 5 0.03%
Poland 5 0.03%
India 5 0.03%
Luxembourg 5 0.03%
Puerto Rico 5 0.03%
Ireland 4 0.02%
Norway 4 0.02%
Asia/Pacific Region 4 0.02%
Honduras 4 0.02%
Taiwan 3 0.02%
Israel 3 0.02%
Argentina 3 0.02%
Japan 3 0.02%
Finland 3 0.02%
Turkey 3 0.02%
Trinidad and Tobago 3 0.02%
Denmark 3 0.02%
Greece 3 0.02%
Ecuador 2 0.01%
Ukraine 2 0.01%
Estonia 2 0.01%
Romania 2 0.01%
Russian Federation 2 0.01%
Vietnam 2 0.01%
Korea, Republic of 2 0.01%
Slovenia 2 0.01%
Cayman Islands 1 0.01%
Bahamas 1 0.01%
Colombia 1 0.01%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 0.01%
Maldives 1 0.01%
Algeria 1 0.01%
Yemen 1 0.01%
Slovakia 1 0.01%
Ghana 1 0.01%
Panama 1 0.01%
Nepal 1 0.01%
Kenya 1 0.01%
Paraguay 1 0.01%
Anonymous Proxy 1 0.01%
Guatemala 1 0.01%
Kuwait 1 0.01%
Albania 1 0.01%
Nicaragua 1 0.01%
Latvia 1 0.01%
Montenegro 1 0.01%
Jordan 1 0.01%
Croatia 1 0.01%
Austria 1 0.01%
Senegal 1 0.01%
Bermuda 1 0.01%
Papua New Guinea 1 0.01%
Chile 1 0.01%

Continents Unique Visitors
North America 15498 95.73%
Europe 374 2.31%
Asia 125 0.77%
Oceania 124 0.77%
Africa 33 0.20%
South America 18 0.11%
Central America 17 0.11%
Unknown 1 0.01%


Browser Totals Unique Visitors
MSIE Core 9427 58.23%
Mozilla/Gecko Core 5878 36.31%
Other Browsers 767 4.74%
Opera 95 0.59%
Mobile Browsers 19 0.12%
Netscape 4 0.02%

Browser Details Unique Visitors
MSIE 7 6407 39.57%
Firefox 2 3368 20.80%
Firefox 3 2378 14.69%
MSIE 6 2375 14.67%
Safari 710 4.39%
AOL 9 526 3.25%
Opera 9 95 0.59%
AOL 8 90 0.56%
Mozilla 1 51 0.32%
Firefox 1.5 41 0.25%
Chrome 0.x 39 0.24%
MSIE 8 27 0.17%
Other/Unknown 15 0.09%
Firefox 1 12 0.07%
SeaMonkey 1 12 0.07%
PDAs 11 0.07%
iPhone 8 0.05%
Netscape 7 7 0.04%
Flock 1 3 0.02%
Firefox 0.x 3 0.02%
Netscape 4 3 0.02%
Netscape 8 3 0.02%
Konqueror 3 2 0.01%
Googlebot 1 0.01%
MSIE 5 1 0.01%
Netscape 3 1 0.01%
WebTV 2 1 0.01%

System Totals Unique Visitors
Windows 14666 90.59%
Apple 1096 6.77%
Linux/Unix 288 1.78%
Other Systems 121 0.75%
Mobile Systems 19 0.12%

System Details Unique Visitors
Windows XP 10894 67.29%
Windows Vista 3378 20.86%
Mac OS X 1094 6.76%
Linux 280 1.73%
Windows 2000 195 1.20%
Windows 98 186 1.15%
OS/2 102 0.63%
Other/Unknown 17 0.11%
Windows ME 12 0.07%
BlackBerry 11 0.07%
iPhone 8 0.05%
FreeBSD 5 0.03%
SunOS 3 0.02%
Macintosh 2 0.01%
Windows NT 1 0.01%
WebTV 1 0.01%
Googlebot 1 0.01%

Javascript / Java Unique Visitors
Javascript Enabled 16012 98.90%
Javascript Disabled 178 1.10%
Java Enabled 15442 95.38%
Java Disabled 748 4.62%

Screen Resolutions Unique Visitors
1024x768 7230 44.66%
1280x1024 5258 32.48%
800x600 1010 6.24%
1440x900 942 5.82%
1680x1050 668 4.13%
Other 408 2.52%
1152x864 296 1.83%
1920x1200 228 1.41%
1600x1200 94 0.58%
1400x1050 39 0.24%
640x480 13 0.08%
1366x768 2 0.01%
2048x1536 2 0.01%

Screen Colors Unique Visitors
32 Bit (16.7M) 13900 85.86%
24 Bit (16.7M) 1230 7.60%
16 Bit (65K) 869 5.37%
Other 182 1.12%
8 Bit (256) 9 0.06%


Thanks for visiting, I love comments (but not spam), you may leave anonymous comments (you do not need to sign up or sign in). I do moderate/approve each comment, if your comment doesn't show up within a day or so, try to leave it again, if you still have trouble, email me.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

1 Of 100 Things...

... that you might not know about me. I have decided to start a list of 100 things you might not know about me, the plan is to write something once a week, no promises on the frequency, but I'll do my best. I have been thinking about this for about a week, the first thing on my list needs to be a good one, as I sit here, at my Dad's house, watching my favorite weekend PBS shows, I have to choose this is the first on the list of 100 things. I like watching Britcoms. It's something I have enjoyed for many years, in no particular order, here are my favorites:
  • Are You Being Served
  • Are You Being Served Again
  • Mulberry
  • Keeping Up Appearances
  • Only Fools And Horses
  • The Vicar Of Dibley
  • Yes, Minister
  • Yes, Prime Minister
  • Mr. Bean
  • Black Adder
  • The Thin Blue Line (it's OK, that's the best I can give it)
  • Fawlty Towers
  • The Young Ones (yes, I know, but it's good for a laugh...)
  • 'Allo 'Allo (I didn't like this one at first, the second time around it grew on me)
  • The Royle Family
  • Open All Hours
  • Dad's Army
  • Last Of The Summer Wine (I'm watching this one as I type)
  • Red Dwarf
  • Father Ted
  • Coupling (another one I didn't like at first, but grew to like it)
  • Supernova (a fairly newish one)
  • As Time Goes By (a particular favorite)
  • Chef! (yet another I despised at first, but it became another favorite)
  • Goodnight Sweetheart
  • Kiss Me Kate
  • To The Manor Born
  • Waiting For God
  • My Hero
  • Good Neighbors (also called "The Good Life")
Wow, I didn't realize the list was so long until I started listing them, some of these shows air frequently on PBS, some I have only seen one season's worth. Bob and I used to watch several Britcoms together, it was one of our weekend rituals, he tells me that he really didn't care for most of them, but he enjoyed "our time" watching them together, that made it all the more special to me. Some of the ones he liked were Keeping Up Appearances and As Time Goes By.

Sitting here watching Britcoms is a bittersweet activity for me, we don't get Britcoms in our new life, while it's fun to watch them again, but it would be so much better if Bob were here, sitting next to me, enjoying all of these shows. :)

So there, that's my first of 100 things you might not know about me, but now you do. :)


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Monday, October 6, 2008

Canned Butter

Did you know that you can CAN butter? The really great thing about this is you don't have to refrigerate it, even after it has been opened (as long as you use it in a reasonable amount of time). Here is the link to the wonderful blog that has detailed directions, complete with pictures on how to do this, it's really easy!



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Sunday, October 5, 2008

More Q&A

More questions from you and my answers.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Your adventure sounds wonderful! I've read almost every post in your blog in the last two weeks and that has rekindled my desire to either move to the country OR try mobile homesteading in an RV.
Here are my questions:

Since you're on such a glorious hillside, did you consider building an earth-sheltered house overlooking the valley?

What was your reasoning in not building an earth-sheltered house similar to the ones at this Link?


Rick Brentlinger


Thanks for your comment & question! In answer, yes, we have thought about building into the hillside, and it's still an option, the reason we didn't do it right away was time, it was faster to build the cabin like it is, for the future, it is something we would like to do, but it takes equipment, something we don't have readily available to us. It could be done by hand, it would take a lot of time, and we have big (huge) rocks to contend with. We will be digging a root cellar for cold storage, hopefully this winter.

I'm glad you have had fun reading my blog, it's been a joy living it and writing about it.


Blogger seth said...

Hey Wretha, thanks for Q&A session.
I did have a couple of other questions in regards to Texas. Do vehicles need to have a inspection sticker? What is the sales tax(vary from county to county?) State income tax? Am getting really anxious about all that is going on and looking to get out of here asap. I bought another 5 acres not far from my other property, but this one is paid for in full, so if and when i can bug out of here i can. Thanks, Seth

Thanks for your questions. Yes you do need an inspection sticker for your car in Texas, here is the site for the info: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/vi/Misc/faq/insp_faq.htm
If you have an older car (I can't remember if it's 10 years old or 20 years old) you don't have to have the smog test, just the safety inspection, it's cheaper and easier. Sales tax in the DFW area is 8.25%, that is the maximum you will be charged in any city, you might get lucky and find it less. http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/local/index.html
There is no state tax in Texas. You will pay income tax (of course) and if you own property, you will have property and school tax.

Paid in full, that IS nice isn't it! I am soooo glad our property is PID, just have to pay the taxes.

I believe that in the state of Texas, you are required to own a minimum of 5 acres in order to have a well AND septic on your property. Just something to keep in mind.


Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hi Wretha,

Look into Ferro cement. Basically, dig a hole, put plumbing in place, ferro cement to seal out dirt etc, and it makes an underground water storage system. AKA cistern. Then you can pump it, filter, and do whatever you need to do with it. It can be filled from the rain or whatever you put in it. Pretty easy to make a 2,000 plus gallon underground storage system. It won't freeze if you have it below the freeze line too!

Always love to get the day-to-day info on how you do things specifically. What you eat, how you deal with limited electricity etc.

On the batteries, most off grid batteries die an early death due to chronic undercharging. It is a good idea to have a generator to help with the charging. Check out www.homepower.com for LOTS of wonderful info. There is lots of free info, but you can subscribe for the electronic .pdf version for pretty cheap. Really worth it too!

Good Luck!

Skip in Kansas City Missouri

Cross your fingers, we have a bid in on 3 acres and a manufactured home in the country


Thanks for your comment, we know about ferro cement, it's GREAT! That's one of the ways we will collect water too, again, that is something that takes time... Bob did dig a hole (by hand) that was deeper than 6 feet and about 6 feet across, it took him a while to do that, including the 300 pound boulders that he had to dig out. That hole was to be the beginning of a water catchment system, unfortunately we had to use it for something else, so we will have to dig a new one sometime.

What we eat, a lot of canned goods, my kitchen really isn't up to par yet. I really enjoy cooking, especially from scratch, I can't wait until I am able to really cook again. I don't really have the ability to bake in an oven, so I have gotten pretty good at making biscuits in my cast iron skillet. Let's see, for breakfast we like skillet biscuits and gravy, or scrambled eggs & bacon. Lunch is usually something quick like sandwiches. Dinner may be a canned ham cooked with brown sugar, or canned chicken with noodles and sauce, bean burritos made with homemade tortillas. I sometimes take a can of chicken, a can of soup, and some egg noodles and make a meal out of that. On weekends when our neighbor is home, I cook for all of us and I use my neighbor's kitchen, that's when I can really cook, spaghetti, stews and such.

The limited electricity is always a challenge, we have gotten pretty good at estimating how much power we will have based on how sunny the day is and how much power we use. Since we don't really use that much, a few lights, a radio, the water pump, my laptop computer, it's not too difficult until we get a cloudy day, if it's cloudy for more than a few days, it's very difficult, we just don't use the computer and radio, the lights and pump don't use much power. Once we get the other solar panels up, we will be able to better charge the batteries. We have a couple of generators, but have never used them to charge the batteries. I've been on homepower.com, thanks for the reminder though, it never hurts to brush up on knowledge. :)

Good luck on your bid, hope you get it!

BigBear said...
Your setup is almost identical to mine. I use two 30 gallon tanks in the house one next to sink one in bathroom that can be heated.

It really is easy you only need to watch power consumption. I use 11 watt florescent bulbs. Using the one over the table right now. I do need a couple of outside lights don't have them yet.

Take care

Big Bear

Big Bear

I have a question for you, how do you heat your water? We are looking into getting a propane tankless water heater, of course in the winter, we always keep a big stock pot full of water sitting on the wood stove, as long as I remember to keep enough water in it, we nearly always have hot water.


Thanks for visiting, I love comments (but not spam), you may leave anonymous comments (you do not need to sign up or sign in). I do moderate/approve each comment, if your comment doesn't show up within a day or so, try to leave it again, if you still have trouble, email me.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Questions From You

Here are a couple of questions from my wonderful readers, and my answers, enjoy!

Mayberry said...

I'd like to know the background story to how y'all wound up where y'all are. Where did y'all live before, how did y'all get from there to where y'all are now, and how much better is life now versus "the old life".....


Thanks for your question, I'm not sure how far you want me to go back, let's see, I do want to maintain privacy, but I can tell you some things... we used to live in the DFW area (Texas), we both pretty much lived there all of our lives. We have both been married previously (to other people obviously), I had one child, Bob had 2, they are now all grown. We met just before Y2K. When we met each other, we had no idea that the other wanted to live off grid and everything that goes with it. I certainly wanted to but didn't know that he did, he had his own business, plus his family was nearby and I didn't expect that he would want to do such a thing. I had been getting "itchy" about the way the world was going and was wanting to get out of Dodge before the SHTF. One of my "secret" pleasures is listening to Coast to Coast am, many of the people who are interviewed on that show talk a lot about the year 2012 and the changes that are supposed to happen then. Good or bad, things are changing, and like many changes, it can get pretty rough before it gets better. Either way, I wanted to be in a safer place, somewhere where we can survive for longer period than we could living in the city. Little did I know that Bob also wanted to get away, not necessarily for the same reasons (he isn't into C2C am).

Bob knew about the area where we now live since he was in his 20s, had a friend out there and spent many summers exploring the deserts and mountains of west Texas. He was a desert/mountain man in training.

I too had my training, from my early teens, I had been learning about solar cooking, canning, cooking from scratch (really from scratch, like our grandmothers did), organic gardening, surviving, all the things I would need to to survive where we are now.

About a year before we moved, Bob started making comments about wanting to move to west Texas, I didn't think he was serious, or maybe I just didn't take it seriously, at first... but once I realized how serious he really was, I agreed to check it out. We looked on line for quite some time to find property and had a couple of likely places lined up. We took a week off and left out for west Texas. I didn't know what to expect, I had been near this area, but not in this exact area, it was beautiful! Any apprehension I had vanished, well most of it did... it IS scary to just up and move from your life, your family, your friends, your work, everything I knew was about to be left behind. Well we got very lucky and found a place on the first try. The property was raw, undeveloped, perfect for us. We made an offer and a month later it was ours. It only took Bob 2 weeks to build phase one of the cabin (all by himself I might add!), it took a couple of months to get all of our stuff moved out there. We wrapped up all the loose ends on our lives in the DFW area and moved to where we live now.

As far as how things are better, yes, things are definitely better! It's not a life that everyone would enjoy living, but for us, it's perfect. Remember a few years ago, PBS aired several shows where people would be put into period times (Frontier House comes to mind), they had people live with the items. clothes and tools available during that time, they had to make it 1 year (I think it was a year, it may have been less) without using any modern day stuff. We would watch these shows and say to each other, we could do that! Since we aren't under the rules of not being able to use modern technology, we get the best of both worlds. Right now I'm sitting in my son's house with my DIL and new grandbaby, all I can think about is getting back to my cabin and my life, I am daily reminded about how much safer, quieter and better my way of living is compared to living in the city. Yes, we will have to burn wood to keep warm, I'll have to cook on a small stove using propane, yes my toilet is a 5 gallon bucket that has to be dumped out once a week, yes I have to get water from 300 gallon tank outside my house, that and everything else we do and don't do, it's all worth it for me and for us. I am counting the days until I can get back there. We don't have to worry about the electricity getting shut off for non-payment, nor the water, we don't have to lock our stuff up, we don't have to worry about who is driving up our street or lurking about... yes, life is good. :)

seth said...

i like hearing about the practical things, like about your solar set up, what you are doing for water storage. Personal topics are nice too, but that is at your discretion.
I always look forward to your posts.

Thanks for your question, our solar setup is very simple, right now we have four 55 watt Siemens solar panels, we got those on Craigslist for a pretty good price (got real lucky, and had the cash on hand to snatch them up!), these sit on the roof in a homemade stand that swivels to track the sun, we have to manually move it though, someday we will have a powered setup so we will not have to climb up on the roof 3 times a day, for now it's fine, at least until the winds start blowing, you will not find me up there adjusting the panels when the wind is blowing a gale! Unless it's an emergency, such as my batteries are going down and my laptop needs juice (grin). We had a set of Harbor Freight 45 watt panels up there, but we took those down to work on the roof and haven't put those back up. When my Dad came to visit, he brought out 3 more sets of the Harbor Freight 45 watt panel kits, as far as I know they are still sitting in their boxes at our neighbor's house, haven't had a chance to put them up. The panels on the roof are wired into a cutoff switch inside the house, that in turn goes into a Xantrex C35 charge controller, we got that new from eBay. Next it goes to the batteries, we have 4 Trojan deep cycle batteries, these sit on a chest of drawers in the house, I know that's not the safest place inside the house, but our house is anything but tight, eventually we will make a better place for these, for now, they happily sit bubbling and gurgling away, the house is ventilated enough to keep things safe for now. From there, it goes into one of two 1000 watt (2000 peak) inverters, I got these just before I quit working for Best Buy, along with the heavy wires to hook everything up in the car-fi department. From there, we have several heavy duty extension cords that have the plug in strips and most importantly, each one has a switch to turn it off as needed. We have them strung around the rooms so that we can plug in the things that need power. We don't really use much power, we have 5 total lights, 3 are in the main room, (we only use one at a time, each one is a different wattage and gives off different amounts of light), one light in the bedroom, two lights outside. We only use the lights we need at the time, two of the lights (one in the main room and one outside) are 12 volt so they are hooked up directly to the batteries, these came with the Harbor Freight kits.

We have a radio so we can listen to our one radio station and the occasional music CD, I power my laptop computer, and the 12 volt water pump for the sink. Bob has a drill that can be run off electricity for when his cordless drill battery goes dead and we don't have another one ready. We also have a small dorm sized cube refrigerator, but we so rarely use it, mainly because it sucks so much juice that I can't use my laptop if we have been running the fridge all day, hopefully that will change once we get all of the other solar panels hooked up, plus it's going into fall with winter soon to follow, we will not need a refrigerator during that time. So far, with the panels we have hooked up now, we have never completely charged the batteries, I am looking forward to seeing the Xantrex charge controller letting me know that the batteries are full. :)

Water storage is very important, and something we definately do not have enough of. For drinking purposes we have a 300 gallon plastic container, it's one of those white translucent plastic things, a cube shape with a metal cage around it. It is recycled, it used to have Hawiian Punch concentrate in it, we got it from a feed store where we used to live, we cleaned it out, but the first 5 or 6 batches of water we stored in it had the faintest scent of fruit, not a bad thing, most of the time I made Koolaid or tea with it so it didn't matter if the water started out fruity! ;)

We have three 1000 gallon metal water tanks, all of them were given to use, most people are going to the plastic water tanks and don't use the metal ones any more. These all have holes in them, some are in better shape than others, we plan on patching the holes, or even better relining the tanks, there is a company nearby that sells liners for the tanks, but I haven't contacted them yet to find out the prices, I hope they are reasonable. We also have a 55 gallon plastic drum, that sits next to the sink inside the house, we have it plumbed to the 12 volt pump and that goes to the faucet on the sink. We have to fill that about once every week and a half, depends on how frugal we are with the water.

Right now we get our water from our neighbor's well, we have several long hoses going from our neighbor's faucet in his backyard to our house, we fill the 300 gallon tank and the 55 gallon drum as needed, we don't leave the water on but turn it on as we are filling what needs to be filled, then we turn it off, can't take the chance on springing a leak and burning out the pump in the well, or draining it dry. We didn't plan on doing it that way originally, getting water from our neighbor, we do have a community well where we can get water free, we would have to go get the water ourselves, it's not too far from us, but we would have to have something to carry a large quantity of water in and be able to get it to the well and back to our place, or we could have it delivered by one of several people who live in our community, it's about $50.00 per 1000 gallons delivered. There are people who live near us that collect rain water and use it year round, it's quite possible to collect enough rain water during the rainy season to take care of us for the whole year, but you have to have enough storage and right now we just don't have it, but we are working on getting enough storage. All the concrete work Bob has done this summer has been done with water collected from the rain, every time it would rain he would place trash cans and 5 gallon buckets around the downspouts from the roof, within a very short amount of time, everything would be overflowing.

We are very grateful to our wonderful neighbor for allowing us access to his well. We do things for him too, which leads me to another way we get along out here, we do things for people who either don't have the skills or don't have the time, in return, we get things we need, building materials, a helping hand, things that we need to survive and make life easier for us, even something as simple as a ride into town, or get them to pick something up we need when they go into town. There is a lot of sharing, things from the gardens people plant (ours included), who hasn't planted too many zucchini? Anyhoo, we have a lot of wonderful friends who help us and we help them. It's not uncommon for one of our friends to stop by and take Bob away for the day to help them do a job when they need an extra set of hands, I don't mind, it gives me some necessary "me time", and Bob shows back up a few hours later, tired, dirty, with beer in hand (no he doesn't drink much) and happy as a clam. He usually gets "paid" with scrap materials from the various job sites, things that either were removed to be replaced, or just stuff that was left over from the job, it helps us, it helps them, everyone is happy.

I can't think of anything else, if there is something else you would like more clarification on, or just have anything else you would like to know, just ask, don't be afraid to ask more personal questions, I don't get offended very easily, and if it's something I don't want to answer, then I just won't answer it. :)

Thanks for the questions, keep 'em coming!


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