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Resolute. Or something like that

Thirty-one days into the new year and most resolutions have already flown out the window. I’m not really one to make resolutions, but I am one to hold myself to high expectations of achieving. Something. My quandary over the word ‘resolute’ in light of time’s passing, i.e. the new year, has me further reflecting on my decision to achieve in this relatively new off-grid lifestyle. Or more to the point, succeeding at life in general.

According to my dictionary.com app, words like ‘bold,’ ‘courageous,’ and ‘firm’ are acceptably interchangeable for resolute, and actually lead me to further puzzle over my standing in relation the goals I set for myself and the actions I take thereafter. These days, to be honest, I’m not apt to describe myself with any of the aforementioned synonyms. I’ll explain…

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Offgrid Water Filtration–Ceramic Dome Water Filter Review

Happy New Year everyone!!

We hope that 2017 was a great year for you and we hope that 2018 is even better.

Unfortunately, we have had some shifting priorities and this blog fell to the bottom of a long list for the past few months.  For that I apologize and am committed to doing better in this new year.  If you are not following our blog, give us a follow.  We don’t (and will never) spam and we try to provide useful information with regards to things we are doing, some of them work and some of them are truly disastrous, but we have been and will continue to be as completely open and honest as possible.  In full disclosure, we have built relationships with some of the companies that sell the products we use and are Amazon affiliates–so the more links you click and the more things you buy from this blog the more money we will make and the more time we will have for spending time with this.  All this being said, we are not in it to make money–we are in it to share our experiences and let you know what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t work for us.  We will NEVER recommend something we do not have first hand experience with!

Today I want to talk about what we use for water filtration—It’s important to note that all of our water comes from “trusted sources,” our current sources are a city spigot and water catchment.  We aren’t using standing or stagnant water, we also aren’t taking any water out of streams so we don’t have to deal with the potential contaminated water issues that come with those.

We researched many ways, some cheap and some expensive, some intricate and some simple.  I’m a big fan of the KISS method, so I went with the cheap(er) and simpler way.  For us, that was using Ceramic Dome filters and two (food grade) five gallon buckets.  We started with a kit similar to this that included a Dome filter and a spigot.  We used these food grade buckets, now I don’t know what the difference is between food grade and non-food grade but, in my mind, some things just aren’t worth questioning and this was one.

We started with two ceramic filters, I have a link above for the kit that included the spigot and here is one that goes to the individual ceramic filters.

Lesson learned with regards to Ceramic Water Filters: Make sure to  get the ones that have a “pre-filter” or “sock” to cover them–we made the mistake of buying one without the pre-filter and immediately regretted it.  The pre-filter really helps to keep the actual filter clean and helps to lengthen the time in between cleaning the filters.  A quick fix for us when we realized that we really needed that sock was just to use some ground or garden cloth to fashion a sock that fit over it and used rubber bands to hold it on.

We bought two food grade buckets, with lids.  The first step was to install the filters in the bucket.

The Ceramic Filters have a shaft that extends down an inch or two with a nut and washer that you can use to secure it—all we had to do was drill a hole the size of the shaft, we did start with a pilot hole. The hole went through the bottom of what would be the top bucket and through the lid of what would be the bottom bucket.  So now the two filters are locking the top bucket and the lid for the bottom bucket together.

Alternative configurations:  We decided to just use two ceramic dome filters, however with the buckets that we used we could have used anywhere from 1-4 filters.  The more filters you use the faster your water will filter and the more water you can filter before having to replace your filters.  When it is time to replace the filters we have we will go to the four filter configuration.

Once that was done, it was as easy as drilling a hole in the lower section of what would be the bottom bucket and fitting the spigot in.

Spigot tip: We recommend installing the spigot a couple inches (give or take) from the bottom of the bottom bucket.  This will give any debris or sediment that may get in the water a chance to settle to the bottom.

We clean the whole system–just washing the buckets and using a green scrubby on the filters ever month or so—it is readily apparent to us when they need to be cleaned–depending on the amount of water you are filtering and the cleanliness of water you are filtering you may need to clean it more or less.  The filtration rate certainly slows down when the filters get dirty which is an indicator that you need to clean your filters.

In short, this system works great for us.  There are two “what I could’ve done better” lessons for me on this one.  1. I should have just invested in the extra filters and set it up as a 4 filter system. 2. I should have bought a filter that came with a sock or pre-filter for our second ceramic filter.  As soon as it is time to change the two filters out I will be rectifying both of those deficiencies.

Take a look at the slide show we made, let us know your thoughts in the comments–if you have any questions or tips or better ideas, please let us know.  We are always looking for ways to help but are also always looking for better ways.

 

 

Who knew the Bug-A-Salt could provide such a profound lesson

Carey and I had to take a trip to town for some groceries, the laundry and to take the dog to the vet (don’t worry, she is fine!). We decided to stay the night and since we did we figured it would be great to go get some dinner. We have stopped at Turtle Mountain Brewery in Rio Rancho a few times, they have a great patio for Radar, great beer and we always get in great conversations with the patio people. Check them out on FB here and while your there make sure you check out Sahaleeoffgrid on FB also!!

So we go to the patio, Carey gets us a table and I walk in to grab a couple pints and some menus. As I come back out I see a group of people sitting at a table laughing, joking and just having a good time. One of them looks up as I am standing there with a dumb look on my face and two pints in my hand and says “you wanna shoot it”–Well, if you know me, you know that I don’t care what it is, if someone says “you wanna drive it” or “you wanna shoot it” the answer will ALWAYS be yup…and this is what he hands me!

bug-a-salt review

Well, in New Mexico flies are a real problem. I solved that problem for the Turtle Mountain Patio—I massacred the flies to the point that about 10 of them grabbed a piece of napkin and started waving it in surrender. “What is this magical piece of plastic that with which I just add salt and destroy the flies”, I ask. They tell me that it is the Bug-A-Salt. Well I guess I need to by an assault rifle–a Bug-A-Salt rifle!!

Got back to the room, jumped on the laptop right away and got that thing on its way. $40 dollars is nothing for the amount of fun and value this could provide right?!?!?!

O man—It finally arrived, break that baby out and let’s kill some flies!! The first day was a blast—literally. Second day was still fun. Third day I set it down and just couldn’t be bothered with fly patrol. Had a buddy visit so I just had to show it to him and let him shoot a few flies, my dad visited so I just had to show it to him and let him shoot a few flies. Cool, now I’ve massacred some flies and impressed two people with my majestical salt filled piece of plastic.

Let me tell you all something—we came here to get out of our materialistic, impress the neighbor mind set. As I’m sitting here showing off this (no longer majestic) piece of plastic I have to question, “how far have I come in this journey”. Here I am spending my hard earned money on something I don’t need and here I am showing off something I don’t need to important people in my life. What the hell was I thinking? Yes, it was only $40 and we will not go broke over such a silly purchase. However, I got caught up in the moment. I got caught up in the mob excitement. I got caught up in the fact that I would be able to take it with me and show my friends. I got caught up in the consumerism mentality. The very same mentality that drove me to move here. The very same mentality that put us into the debt that we have had to pay off since we got here. The very same consumerism mentality that I have been fighting for 18 months now.

There is no do-over, I can’t (won’t) take that purchase back. It was a bad decision that I need to own. This silly piece of plastic will stay with me for a while to serve as a reminder, just how much is shooting a house fly with a blast of salt worth to me.

The paragraph that included the link for you to click to go buy a bug a salt for yourself and if I’m lucky I may even get a few pennies for contributing to your consumerism, is now deleted. I can’t do it, not this time. Don’t buy it, it’s not worth the money. It’s not worth the effort. It’s just a silly little piece of plastic that leaves salt all over your house!!

Thanks for letting me vent! Give us a like and a follow with the big follow button the right. We are sure that most of us have made a silly purchase like this and would love to hear your stories in the comment!

 

Beautiful monsters

See more of featured image artist Sonia Orbin-Price at FineArtAmerica.com.

No, I am not talking about the Lady Gaga variety, albeit with MAD respect. We have inadvertently coached a hoard of hummingbirds to swarm the grounds with hangry Jetson car-like chirping in demand of more sugar water. They have been so keen on the new eatery that one brazen bird actually entered the open doors of the yurt to coax me into serving more!!

The little buggers are becoming more intrepid as they get to know us better, often hovering at eye level and sharing little chirps. One silly bird even flew into the outhouse and couldn’t find its way out, so I had to sneak in and put a soft hand around it to send it back outside. I feel like I am back teaching Pre-K with all the needy little critters!

According to HummingBirdWorld.com, the Aztecs came to believe that every warrior slain in battle rose to the sky and orbited the sun for four years. Then they became hummingbirds. Some of them seem oh-so familiar.

It’s been fun watching the R2D2-sounding antics around the handful of new feeders, and we look forward to plenty of cheap entertainment on the yurtdeck for years to come.

Here are seven of the “25 fun facts about hummingbirds” from The Spruce:

  • Hummingbirds are native species of the New World and are not found outside of the Western Hemisphere except in a few zoos or aviaries. There are no hummingbirds found in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia or Antarctica.

  • Many hummingbird species, including Anna’s, black-chinned, Allen’s, Costa’s, rufous, calliope and broad-tailed hummingbirds, can breed together to create hybrid species. This is one factor that makes identifying hummingbirds very challenging.

  • Despite their small size, hummingbirds are one of the most aggressive bird species. They will regularly attack jays, crows and hawks that infringe on their territory. Backyard birders often have one dominant hummingbird that guards all the feeders, chasing intruders away.

  • The rufous hummingbird has the longest migration of any hummingbird species. These hummers fly more than 3,000 miles from their nesting grounds in Alaska and Canada to their winter habitat in Mexico.

  • A hummingbird must consume approximately 1/2 of its weight in sugar daily, and the average hummingbird feeds 5-8 times per hour. In addition to nectar, these birds also eat many small insects and spiders, and may also sip tree sap or juice from broken fruits.

  • A hummingbird’s maximum forward flight speed is 30 miles per hour. These birds can reach up to 60 miles per hour in a dive, and hummingbirds have many adaptations for unique flight.

  • A hummingbird’s brilliant throat color is not caused by feather pigmentation, but rather by iridescence in the arrangement of the feathers. Light level, moisture, angle of viewing, wear and tear and other factors all influence just how bright and colorful the throat may appear.

Be sure to hit the green  “Follow” button on the right to receive notice of more videos and fun facts from Sahalee Off Grid! 🙂

 

 

Movin’ on up

We’ve had a couple of weeks to settle in now to the new routine upon the big deck. It’s been longtime in coming since we endured a mud-laden summer, fall, winter, and spring in our old roughed-out location buoyed on cinder blocks down the hill. (Quite literally, we have had to shake off our sea legs from walking upon our very poorly platform for the past 12 months.)

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The American Way

Whether you’ve sold cookies and earned merit badges or not, there is no denying the impact of the Boy and Girl Scouts on the American Way. Enterprising girls clad in green, and boys with bright smiles, open doors all over the nation and leave an indelible mark on the people of the United States, and have done so for over a century. As a measure of their influence, notable American Scouts include household names such as Sandra Day O’Connor, Neil Armstrong, Lucille Ball, Bruce Jenner, Sally Ride, and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a common rite of passage in the early grades, Ben and I recited the Scout’s oath with two fingers- he as a Cub Scout and Webelo, and I as a little Brownie. There is something special and sacred about donning the gold emblems and making a promise out loud to do your best, help others, and be a true patriot. While we didn’t follow the full course of the programs (probably a little too regimented for us as boundary-pushers), there’s no doubt we can be proud to have participated in those formative years.

Beyond those basic activities as school children, we both had a more personal connection to the internationally-recognized youth leadership associations. For Ben, he lived next door to the Girl Scout’s Camp Elliott Barker where he helped tend the grounds as his first summer job. He passed by the esteemed and picturesque Philmont Camp everyday on his way to school where Scouts from all over the country go to push their limits and achieve personal bests in the great outdoors.

Turns out that northern New Mexico hosts several Scout camps to include a property just down the road from Sahalee, Rancho del Chapparal. A little more far removed, the family lore on my mother’s side claims that my great grandfather, Lewis Hay from Baltimore, had a hand in operating a Boy Scout camp in Eagle Pass, TX in the early 1900’s. He is buried there, and we are hoping to research more and make a visit at some point to connect with the outpost.

These indirect touches with the Scouts have colored our lives in ways we hadn’t really thought of until recently. When you think of Eagle Scouts, specifically, you think of capable and trustworthy men groomed for excellence and public service. There is no better example than the young man I am privileged to know who is now a high-achieving cadet leader in his third year at West Point. I marvel at BJL’s new undertakings since I spent many days with him and his three sisters (also Scouts) as their nanny while he was an energetic and curious boy in the primary grades. I’d like to think the times we spent day-camping and bushwhacking at Wickham Park in Florida influenced him to purse outdoor adventures as a proud member of our United States military. It was truly humbling to join his family at the Eagle Court of Honor, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this bright young man and his siblings.

While Eagle Scouts are turned out into the world prepared to endure life’s toughest challenges with grace and determination, there are events for which one can never fully prepare. This happened to be the case for Eagle Scout, and member of the Order of the Arrow, Jackson Leslie Beam.

My eldest nephew, a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, disciplined banjo picker, and missionary for his church, was snatched away from this earth on June 24th after suffering an unforeseen and tragic health complication.

He just graduated with his high school diploma the weekend before, and celebrated his 18th birthday on May 5th with his twin sister in Fort Wayne, IN. Jack grew from a sweetly enchanting little boy to be a model citizen with the guidance of his mother as Den Leader of his troop. At Scouting events and within his wider community alongside his father (a graduate of the US Air Force Academy), soft-spoken blue-eyed Jack proved himself to be a leader among his peers, and was compelled to attend to the needs of others to include his adopted little sister. All who knew him expected great things from his pending two-year mission to Taiwan and future studies in computer science at Purdue University where he was recently accepted.

An Eagle Scout in the truest sense, going above and very much beyond the rigorous requirements, this young man gave us hope that the future would be in the best of hands long after the older generations are gone. Now, Jack serves as a reminder of what can be accomplished in just a few short years- to live a life of purpose that is full of genuine love. Jack’s legacy lives on in the hearts and memories of others, and there is no doubt he will be remembered in the Scouting community for a very, very long time. Claiming the legendary ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic‘ as his favorite song, I don’t believe anyone would fuss at adding Jack’s name to the list above of notable Scouts for their positive impact on the world as a true American.

Jack and his cousin, Wyatt, in 2016

In this year’s celebration of American Independence, we honor those here and gone who have made their own pledges to follow their faith, honor their county, and help others for the good of all.

During a White House visit by Scouts and Explorers in 1961, President John F. Kennedy shared how Scouts “learn the qualities of perseverance … you come to understand something about nature and something about our country.”

“After years of observation,” he continued, “I really believe that the experience you have … is the best possible training you can have to equip you for later life.”

“What you are doing now will prepare you to play a significant and responsible role in maintaining the freedom of the United States.”

Scouting Magazine

Be safe, savor the moment, and hug a Scout this Fourth of July!!

Happy Sahaliversary!

On a bright and sunny June 4th last year, we pulled our happily weary caravan covered in Florida salt spray into Cuba, NM with the rest of our lives ahead of us. We had no idea what lay ahead, but we were eager to jump in with eight feet to realize our long-time dream of living off-grid in the New Mexico mountains.

No one could say if we would make it through the first year, let alone the first monsoon season, first snowy winter, first encounter with wildlife, first yurt-raising, among other character-building firsts. Well, we did (despite the bets against us), and we are so much better for it!!

This year, we celebrate all that we accomplished at Sahalee in our inaugural year with you cheering us along the whole way. The occasion was marked by a two-night camping trip on the ‘Back Five,’ where we explored the property we usually only gaze upon from a distance. We climbed chalk hills and rocky ravines to spy the yurts between the trees and name all the towering Ponderosa Pines we live underneath. We saw the sun rise and set from a different vantage, and were able to behold new blossoms and leaves, trails and markers, and feelings that we hadn’t experienced before. It was like our first day all over again!

Sahalee Off Grid New Mexico
Can you spot the yurt? It’s there, we promise!

As we sit on our new deck above the ground where we once camped out in the tent, and plan to move the yurt to the main stage, it’s still quite surreal. We haven’t stopped pinching ourselves, believing that it is still really too good to be true. Now, we look ahead to years two to twenty and are thrilled to bring you along with us as we continue to learn and define the ‘Sahalee Way.’

With that being said, please do save the date for our First Annual Sahalee Off Grid Open House on Labor Day Weekend. We’re hoping to make this a standing event where all are welcome to stop in for an hour – or a week – to enjoy all that we love about this place. Feel free to revisit our Guide to the Land of Enchantment for more information about the area, and let us know if we can help you plan your trip for September.

Finally, since you are reading this from our newly upgraded site, please do take a second to hit the Follow button and ensure you are on the list to be first to know about any new updates via email. We expect to be giving all our loyal followers some bonus material and special little extras in the near future.

From the very bottom of our hearts, thank you, and Happy Sahaliversary!!

 

 

Farewell, Old Friend

Today marks the end of an era and the start of a new chapter. Three years ago, we were formally introduced to “Ol’ Skraggly” as the ancient Ponderosa Pine greeted us on our first visit to Sahalee. Such an impressive feature, the woody elder is an immediate attention-grabber and landmark, and was a delightful surprise to us upon learning we’d be sharing the same space during some very precious moments.

Ol Skraggly Sahalee Off Grid ponderosa pine
Our first encounter c. 2014

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