Hmmm… It’s 2021. The Earth tilted over a year ago and we managed to hang on. How about you? What’s been your handhold?
We gave our last update about off-grid life at Sahalee last May (though we will continue to add post-dated content to help maintain a chronological timeline). That now seems like another Universe and in a lot of ways it is. Last February marked a major transition for us, not just because of COVID, but because we essentially left Sahalee for Ben to pursue his fire career and for us to renovate a traditional adobe home to be a rental property and office in town. You can catch up on that news at https://www.sahaleeoffgrid.com/blog/2020/05/01/on-again-off-again/.
Have you ever been to the Forest at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe? The feeling of walking on the floor under the big tree there is something indescribable… Maybe something like random mounds of spring-loaded marshmallows underneath the carpet. Well, that is how the floor of the porch on the south side of the casa felt when you walked on it. There were layers of dirty musty carpet on top of who knows what that gave way under your feet in certain spots. It was very unsettling.
This post has been a long time coming… A topic of high interest for many people wanting to live off-grid, we are now legally addressed and can reveal our methods without fear of negative recourse (we gamble). While our solution may not work for everyone depending on location and circumstance, we hope to give some ideas and advice for setting up an off-grid address. Feedback is welcome and encouraged.
Editor’s note: This post is ceremoniously post-dated to mark the occasion of Pete’s homecoming.
The sky was hot and blue with a warm breeze. A Friday. Dusty with no rain in sight. The day was long and the travelers had an urge to cover some ground. The rolling pastel landscape beckoned them to a new place.
In and out of sage brush and around the looming mesas they meandered until they found the destination. An outpost. Familiar to few. A destination for many. On the borderlands. A safe harbor for all flags. Offering the promise of new agreements and the finality of settlements passed.
The group didn’t know what was in store. They waited patiently. Seemed there were some happenings that weren’t part of the expected scene. Being strangers themselves, the strange was familiar. These days, even the familiar had folks feeling out of sorts.
Once inside, treasure-seekers have a sense where to look. It’s the getting there that can raise a challenge. Prying eyes in forgotten corners. Navigating disorderly order. Finding the unpolished gem, an exchange is made. Albeit lopsided. New parcels in hand, the companions make their way back to cross the arroyos begging for rain.
The blur of pink, gold, green streak by. Bright white clouds marching across make moving shadows on the ground. A jet black flash just at the right front fender. The rear view reveals opportunity for disaster. Small furballs and 18-wheelers don’t blend well on the asphalt.
The potty is an essential feature of any off-grid scenario. There are many, many options for how to set-up the facilities for long-term success to include a traditional outhouse, composting toilet, incinerating toilet, and others. We chose to go with the ‘bucket system’ for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest reasons was that it allowed for us to move the toilet without digging any new holes. Here is a brief review of our outhouse design evolution, and the steps we took to move the building last summer.
Hello, All! We’re ashamed to admit it’s been a whole year since our last post… Here we are in 2020, and wow! Just, WOW!! April 2019 seems like a lifetime ago with all that has taken place for us personally and in the big wide world we all share. At this time, we are sending our sincerest heartfelt wishes to everyone for good health and happiness while the planet and all of humanity endures the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m sure there is plenty more to say here on the topic of global health crisis and the virtues of off-grid living, but we’d like to instead focus on a personal recap as a reflection and, we hope, as a much-needed distraction… So, here goes our year-in-review!
After we returned from our adventures in Ireland, life changed pretty dramatically for us at Sahalee. Namely, we started playing with fire. (Insert maniacal laugh here.) Thinking about the fire risk in our local forests and more closely on our fifteen acres around the yurt deck was terrifying as we headed into the Spring season. We knew we had to make wood clearing an active priority on our property to reduce flammable materials, and we wanted to become better educated about how we as landowners could work more closely with local fire agencies in the event we did have a wildfire start nearby. As it so happened, the opportunity came up for us to take part in a 2-day Prescribed Burn Workshop for Landowners hosted by the Forest Stewards Guild at the enchanting Fort Union Ranch in May. That was the tipping point to a series of unexpected and significant events that will be shared over the course of this post…
Knowing that we want to build a more permanent structure, we were interested to learn more about traditional adobe construction using the materials that we have on-hand. Ben lead the charge after we watched a variety of how-to videos on YouTube.
The first step was to figure out if the native soil had the correct sand/clay composition. All of our samples from the immediate area turned out to be a reasonable mix. Next, Ben built a traditional 14″x20″ form for two bricks. (Full-scale production would require many more forms with 6-8 bricks in each.) Instead of the traditional straw addition to the wet mix, Ben opted to use the plentiful local pine needles and under-tree ‘duff’. Finally dried in the sun for several days, Ben had one very good brick and one that didn’t hold up so well.
The topography of our property is ideal for a sledding park since its all downhill. Over the past four winters, we’ve carved out several chutes between the trees and trialed a variety of sleds and saucers. This past season was the best yet since we had a decent amount of snowfall and found the perfect slippery discs to ride.
Well, we made it back from our overseas adventures in Ireland and have plenty of stories to tell… First and foremost, we are pleased to say that Sahalee was as we left it (minus the snow), which relieved the tremendous amount of anxiety that develops whenever we venture away from the homestead. As for the trip, well, it was. And, we’ll do it again.