Fire and Water

Wood-burning stove, check.

Water supply tank, check.

Still working to bring our basic off-grid utilities into service a month after arrival, so here’s an update on how the pieces are coming together.

Meet FATSO!! We picked her up from Craigslist and she was not looking very shiny. With a good wire brushing and a fresh coat of stove paint, she’s pretty sharp now and almost ready to start cooking!! We didn’t need a large stove because the farthest we’ll be at any point from it will be nine feet. It is important, however, to install the double-walled chimney pipe at the roof exit (now on order). In case you were wondering why the stove is female, it’s because she’s warm and voluptuous… Thinking of calling her ‘Ostaf’ out loud so she doesn’t get a complex!! ;P

Wood stoves: Making puppies and people cozy since 220 AD


Any good stove will need plenty of wood to do its job, so we spent the Fourth of July holiday cutting small pieces around camp. If we can keep working ~15 loads per week through Summer, we should have enough on deck for Fall and Winter. (The neighbors tell us there was nine feet of snow up here last year!)

To cool things off during these ninety-degree days, our two* water tanks are now operational and offer a direct and clean supply to camp through the 250 feet of heavy duty garden hose (after replacing the first purchase that we discovered to be a 3-hole style hose, aka apparently slit by a boxcutter upon arrival at the store). From there, we are going to work to put some more long-term point-of-use systems in place both inside the yurt and out. Insulating the tanks and hose are going to be critical in making sure the water doesn’t freeze when the snow flies, so we’re still kicking around ideas about how to do that.

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* The second tank came at a price… First thinking we found a bargain at 250 gallons for $100 +tax, we discovered the hidden costs later:

  • Almost $100 for HD rental truck (incl. fuel) to pick the tank up since we bought it at super cool CWW Feed in San Ysidro which is 80 miles round trip- Too far for the Ford, and we’re not comfortable asking our new acquaintances for favors of this scale. Yet. ;P
  • Three hours of labor to wash|scrub|rinse over and over again so that all the crusty yet greasy food package adhesive residue was removed from inside.
  • $17.50 in quarters at the car wash and $2.14 for cold drinks.
  • Countless gallons of water (hard cost included in our monthly fill bill from the Village).
  • A bottle of bleach.
Tank #1 came all the way from Florida!!
Just in case you were wondering how to sanitize water with bleach

One of the biggest wins with the water was this little invention known as the Tippy Tap touchless hand washing system. I’m so enamored with this modest appliance and its efficiently ingenious water-dispensing action that I’m already pressing Ben to put in one or two more around camp!!

Tippy Tap is simple to make for smart handwashing
Small seep hole for water-saving Tippy Tap
Foot pedal for hands-free Tippy Tap


Finally (as you may have noticed in the last post), for a little fun and help navigating the grounds in the dark, we put up some solar LED string lights at a few places around camp to brighten things up after the sun goes down. These little suckers are so cool, and pretty!! I can find my way to the potty without incident now, and it’s nice the lights help us to see if there are any creatures mingling nearby (or at least help to dissuade them from coming closer). I’m conflicted, though, because light pollution is a very real and serious malady on our earth. Any chance that Google Earth will be picking up our little blip on their nighttime maps?!

NOTE: Yes, these pictures suck. I’m trying to get up the nerve to set my Nikon SLS on a tripod and work on some low-light time lapse shots of the night sky to share. Not sure if/when that will happen, but I assure you that the sky view here at night is nothing like you’ve seen in typical residential areas. The only way I’ve found to explain it is by saying that when you look up at night, the shimmering blanket above just falls on you and surrounds you in an amazing cosmic embrace. Might sound funny until you see it yourself!!

11 thoughts on “Fire and Water

  1. Oh my goodness!! Deb, this is a beautiful sentiment!! I agree completely, and think we should all continue to look at the night sky and share stories with our loved ones. <3 <3

  2. … what a great view of the milky way you must have! I think Greek mythology started out as bedtime stories when mother’s gave the stars personalities and made up stories to tell their children.

  3. Good eye in spying the little pup!! 😉 The Tippy Tap works by stepping on the foot pedal. The pedal pulls the rope which tips the pitcher to let water out the seep hole. Insert soapy hands under water, and VOILA!! We’ve saved a good amount of water by using this contraption.

  4. Great picture of “Ostaf” and a certain little Miss in the upper right-hand corner of the first photo all curled up on the futon!! I’m still not quite clear on how the Tippy Tap works. Does the water just wick down the rope??

  5. Ugh!! So sorry about the trouble to comment! :/ We are just having a great time here, and are so happy we can take you along with us!! ;D Glad you made it through this time! <3 <3

  6. For the billionth time (perhaps a slight exaggeration) I am trying to “comment.” For some reason my phone seems to send off my comment into the cosmos and it never arrives at your blog😜
    I SO enjoy reading each post and living vicariously through your adventures! I admire your tenacity and commitment and adore your spirit! Keep them coming….

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