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Off-grid doorbell

It was a Sunday morning around 7am. The gate rattled. A mile and a half away from the pavement on a dead end 4-wheel-drive road, we were just coming out of our nightly slumber.

It had been three months since moving into the yurt and we were sure to expect some unsuspecting visitors who were more familiar with our place than we were. I heard the intruders first and Ben lit up in action to put on pants and grab the pistol.

As he snaked his way up the path toward the gate, I put on some clothes and quickly retrieved the little .22 that I first shot with my dad in our old Colorado backyard. I watched him from behind the trees and listened in…

He questioned the visitors – two rough-looking men standing outside of the green Chevy pick-up, the driver with one hand on the gate and the other holding a can of Bud Light. The passenger, watching warily by at the hood of the truck, coddled his own beer.

“What are you doing?” Ben asked over the gate with an authoritive tone and posture that emphasized the accompaniment of his sidearm.

“Oh! We were just out 4-wheeling and got lost,” said the driver in a slowly slurred accent with his arms raised, moving closer to the truck door. “We’re out drinking beer all night and took a wrong turn,” he said in a shabby half-smile.

Both men climbed into the truck with their blue cans and the driver tried to reverse. The passenger got out to put the hubs in so they could roll out in 4-wheel drive, and they lumbered on back down the road.

Ben and I hung back for about a 30 minutes to make sure all was clear before we went to see his mom in town who was staying at the B&B that weekend. It was a great way to start the day and gave us a dramatic tale to share over breakfast!

Since then, we’ve had a few more visitors rattle the gate, but most have been friends and neighbors showing up unannounced. The others are the subject of another story yet to be written…

Do you have any stories of unexpected guests – good or bad – to share? Tell us how you answered the door in the comments below. Thanks for reading and sharing!!

Groovy Yurts Super Ger Review

I mentioned ‘tipi’ with an air of seriousness, and the discussion wobbled clumsily off of the Airstream. (You can read more about why a yurt.) From viewing the enticing collection of nomadic structures at Colorado Yurt Co., to drawing out a footprint 20′ in diameter in our Florida front yard, our plans for long-term temporary shelter at Sahalee came full circle with Groovy Yurts.

Continue reading “Groovy Yurts Super Ger Review” »

A half a kilo

We started with three, but that just wasn’t enough. Make it four. Okay, keep it coming… Double it! Eight- Eight it is!!

After nearly two years and a two-stage 500 Watt upgrade, our gruesome little 300W start-up stick-mount PV system has been elevated to its proper form and function to meet our off-grid power needs. (HUGE thanks to Mark for being our indispensable consult along the way… We’re waiting to see what’s next for the little yurt!!)

Continue reading “A half a kilo” »

So you wanna be an off-gridder…

In case you don’t frequent SahaleeOffGrid  on Facebook, we wanted to make sure you knew about the wonderfully amazing crowdsource for people pondering a move to off-grid life, currently learning the ropes of living off-grid, or those who have perfected the art (or not) by having many years of off-grid living experience to share… 

The So you wanna be an off-gridder group on Facebook’s social network was our attempt at raising a real-talk informational forum that fostered collaboration and knowledge exchange to explore the myriad of  challenges and creative solutions to maintaining a self-made livelihood off the traditional utility grid. 

Power generation, food production, water and waste management, employment, construction, childcare, legalities, health and safety… Every possible aspect of self-sufficient living was fair game for people to explore from novice to expert.

Well, the notion caught on like wildfire and our little social chat of a couple dozen quickly grew to over 6K in a matter of several weeks!! It was amazing and truly humbling to see the rapid growth and rich conversation that developed with people sharing openly, honestly, and respectfully with another about the possibilities and limitations of off-grid life.

Not being prepared for the demands of moderating such a large group, in addition to some general feelings of discomfort with being on Facebook altogether, we opted to pass the torch in managing the passionate online community to our compatriots whom we know will carry on the same spirit of beneficial dialogue for the greater good. We are thrilled to see the group thrive with an ever deeper encyclopedia of off-grid living, and can’t wait to see more of what folks come up with next! We hope you will enjoy, as well!!

Yeah, It Sucks.

For those of you who have been following us since Florida, you’ve been invited to see our transformation from the conventional corporate climb to our guided-by-the-stars #yurtlife in New Mexico. We’ve tried to be open and honest about the challenges we face in making the transition we instigated, and part of that honest story reveals how we actively redefined our values and expectations from what we thought we ‘should’ be doing to what we really wanted to be doing in this world (like updating our solar power plant).

Since making the move, we’ve found ourselves on an exciting journey of small business ownership and self-employment as part of managing our off-grid finances. Along our way, we’ve had the good fortune to become acquainted with the dear Dina Louie who generously and kindly invited us to share more with her ‘Real HUMAN Resources’ initiative, Yeah, It Sucks, on the topic of making active life choices. Read the Q&A…

Life Choices: The Decisions We Make…

 

Suncloud Duet Rose Stripe Sunglasses Review

As John Conlee reveals, rose-colored glasses show only the beauty…

My rose-colored glasses save me day after day, backed by psychological research reinforcing the therapeutic effects of viewing life through lenses tinted with Baker-Miller pink.

Beyond vivid UV lenses, the other requirement I have for my sunglasses is that they have to be constructed of a no-frills lightweight solid frame with an inset or molded nosepad. This design has fewer entrapment points to catch and pull my hair, and make the gear easy to wear and store while living an active lifestyle.

BONUS: Made in the USA!!

After going through one incredibly stellar designer pair made in China that caught me in a retail therapy splurge when I had a lot of money to spend, then a well-functioning no-name sport design from China for $40 on special at a race expo, and finally desperately seeking a made in the USA option that was less expensive than these “unstoppable” Oakley’s, I was incredibly pleased to stumble upon the Suncloud Duet Rose Stripe sunglasses for UNDER $30!They are super lightweight with stable hinges and a comfortable fit around the ear. The lenses are happily clear and polarized, helping to better define the horizon and distant figures in an expansive landscape. The pink lens is bright but not too disruptive. A subtle wood-grain design akin to tiger stripe adds a little flair to the translucent rosy frame.  Along with the glasses came a satiny storage pouch in the same color with a smooth black flat ribbon cinch, all delivered inside the minimal clear plastic zipper bag packaging.

I’ve been lucky enough to take them out in a variety of conditions in places near and far, and I am completely smitten with my new specs. When I wear them, I feel like I know a secret about life that only those in the rose-colored club can truly understand. I still might follow my urge to buy just one more pair as a back-up before I can’t find them anymore!!Adding just a little bit of color to life…

 

 

 

The Firewood Meditation

The pile is dwindling. It’s probably only a third of the size it used to be. Every load taken away to burn begs the question, ‘will we have enough to make it through?’

I figured I touch each piece at least four times on its journey from its natural state to its final incantation. The tree it belonged to is a character. I want to properly recognize it for what it was, and what it is providing.

Warmth. Security. Connection.

I study the details of grain and bark. The different textures of solid and brittle, dark and light, grooved and smooth, old and older make each section a treasure not like the one before.

The weights, shapes, and features are varied. This directly affects the way the flames behave when they’re set ablaze. Each one hand-selected for a specific purpose stove side.

We aim to start cutting and hauling on July 4th when the breeze is warm and ground is soft. The dust flying from the saw fills our nostrils and lands on our lips. The sounds of cracking wood remind me of impermanence.

I cradle the forest’s gifts for the value they hold and imagine how they started as a mere fleck of green all that time ago. What has passed beside, below, and overhead I will never know. 

The work is quiet on the inside. Gathering and couriering across the rising and falling topography. There is assurance in the collection that results. A wide open space marked with chips is where the memories pass through and fade away.

Some split easily, and others twist and shred around hidden knots. You think you know what’s inside until the wood shows you something different. I save the ones that are too rare for civilian duty to remind us of what we can’t make ourselves.

Each season I think I’ll remember where the severed pieces came from when I put them in the hot iron hole. In the end it doesn’t really matter. Some embers glow brighter and fly farther than others. They all turn dark and gather in the low spots.

It is a cycle of cycles. Repeating but different. We change and age like the pine, oak, and juniper. Some will notice but we will all forget. The smoke lifts what was once underground and then itself fades to leave us all wishing for a flight as light and with a cause so noble.

Will we have enough to make it through?

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…

Continue reading “Resolute. Or something like that” »

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.