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.Continue reading “How to move an outhouse/storage shed” »
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…Continue reading “On again, off again” »
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.
Since this little experiment, we have come to know about these extremely helpful resources:
We will continue to add more as we learn more about this low-cost building technique.
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.
Mark was the first outsider to try the runs when he visited in January. With all the enthusiastic up-and-down, we quickly figured out that we had a new wintertime social club which we dubbed ‘The Sahalee Sluicers.’ Over the long weekend, we trimmed trees, piled snow, and perfected our technique to achieve the fastest and longest rides. The breakthrough moment occurred when we tried a 2-seat configuration with excellent results for speed and maneuverability, which then prompted us to ramp up to an interlocked 3-seat bobsled style.
Making everything we do into a competition, we started to craft a schema for badges that would inspire new sluicers to compete. (We also spotted the area that would fit a nice tiki bar to refresh before hiking the hill back up for another run!)
- #1 The Main Drain – longest, pretty straight shot to the bottom, good potential for speed, two intersections for crash course
- #2 Whoopdie Do – coming in to The Main Drain from the right near the top, a nice high drop-in at the start with a sharp right turn to merge
- #3 Last Pass – coming in to The Main Drain from the right near the bottom, a short-but-quick drop is perfect setup for crash course
- Complete all three runs single
- Complete all three runs single at night
- Complete all three runs 2-seats
- Complete all three runs 2-seats at night
- Complete all three runs 3-seats
- Complete all three runs 3-seats at night
- Survive a ‘crash course’
- Survive both ‘crash courses’
We still have a few improvements to make ahead of next season (including cooking up some t-shirts), but we are really looking forward to sending even more smiles and shrieks of joy through the hills. Are you up for the ride?
As I sit here thinking about what I want to pack for my trip to Ireland and how excited I am to go, I can’t help but think about Spring…
I can’t help but think about building my shop
I can’t help but think about getting a garden started
I can’t help but think about getting firewood going for next winter
I can’t help but think about all the vehicle maintenance we need to do
I can’t help but think about “shelter after the yurt”
I can’t help but
Carey and I have always been explorers, wanderers
We have worked hard to see and experience most of the states in the US as well as Mexico a few times, Italy, Spain, Canada and now Ireland and the culture and peoples that make these places so very special and unique. From the little Italian boy who threw one of our friends toy helicopter in the fountain simply because his dad wouldn’t buy him one (if I can’t have it no one can!!, damn that was funny!!) to a whirlwind weekend in Madrid to see the one and only Sturgill Simpson, to the frozen cliffs of Niagara falls to the hiking trails in Washington and the capitol in the other Washington. From meeting my Italian relatives to hiking the red rocks of Moab. From seeing The Avett Brothers in St. Augustine to seeing Margo Price and The Dead South in Phoenix—Travel has brought us great enjoyment!! Follow @sahaleeoffgrid on Instagram to see all the pretty pictures from our travels.
Understanding all the enjoyment that travel has brought us—at what point is enough enough. At what point do we start investing that money into Sahalee upgrades, at what point will we realize that we have everything we need right here on our 15 acres. At what point will our “traveling bug” be satiated!!!
Well, let’s hope it’s after
The days are at their shortest now. Sliding into the Winter Solstice, we definitely notice how limited our time is under the sunlight.
The dawn stirs us from under the cocoon of covers in the morning with a soft bluish glow through the wedges of the toono, and encourages the start to the day. Seemingly just a short time later, the multicolored late afternoon skies and falling shadows indicate the pending darkness and a brief anxiousness to steel ourselves against the drop in temperature.
This led me to reflect on how we’ve adjusted off-the-grid and the rewards for the sacrifices we’ve made over the past two and a half years to live where we love.Continue reading “Fire, Water, and Puppy Dogs” »
Most people couldn’t imagine doing dishes in the snow or cooking in the rain. Since we started with bare ground here, we’ve done both. Often. We’re thrilled to say that is no longer the case (for the most part). Two years in the making, we are now settled in to our more permanent arrangement with an efficient compact kitchen inside the yurt, and a full-featured utility sink and storage area within steps on the deck. Read on to see a review of our progress in photos!
Every now and then we run a web search of ‘Sahalee’ to see what pops up. Since starting our blog a couple of years ago and promoting it more over the past year or so, we’ve noticed a much higher frequency of the posh Sahalee Golf Club in Washington. (We’re still not sure if they were feeling squeezed since we came on the web, or coincidentally hired a better marketing firm. haha) While our high desert Sahalee is worlds away from the lush greens of the Evergreen State country club, we admit the inspiration came from their neighborhood.
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!!