30 days at Sahalee

We are used to hearing people ask us, “Why?” by now…

“Why a yurt?” they asked us.

“Why New Mexico?” they asked us.

“Why thirty days?” is the most recent inquiry.

There are several reasons for our self-imposed sequestration:

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Off-grid kitchen and scullery

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!

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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.

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Stairway to Heaven

Sahalee is heavenly, and the big deck is our perch over the world. For the past year, we’ve been without a formal staircase and gained access by the lowest point on the uphill corner.

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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.

 

 

A power house fit for the birds

Our little solar power system here had another makeover this weekend, and has been much improved from where we started last summer.

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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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