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    LIVING OFF THE GRID

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    Carol
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    LIVING OFF THE GRID

    Post  Carol on Wed Dec 29, 2010 12:28 pm

    This is a very interesting blog from someone who did this.

    QUOTE:

    Let me start this post with a small bit of history. In May 2010 business went to hell, couldn't pay the rent, put tools and furniture I wanted to keep in storage, loaded up the camping gear, and here we are. At a goat farm in the middle of nowhere, totally off the grid, milking goats and making cheese, making peanuts for a wage and loving every minute of it. That was the short history, and the long of it was a crash course on survival.

    At first we camped (me, companion, 2 dogs, a cat, and a Parrot (yes, parrot who warranted his own tent)). The camping was a great first experience in that it mentally prepared us for future potential hardships, and 30 days of camping will do just that. Lessons learned:

    (1) There is never enough Coleman fuel for the lantern so learn to use it sparingly, alternative sources like Tiki Torches using citronella oil burn just as long, help keep the mosquitos away, and the light is more pleasing (it will also start wet firewood quite readily). Use the Coleman lantern for intense repairs of equipment. Another thing, spend the five or so bucks neccessary for a few of those LED headlamps, and a huge box of batteries to fit them. The headlamps are a godsend, as both hands are free to perform a task, the light is always where you are looking, and they are not so bright as to kill your night vision.

    (2) Water....Here in New Mexico water is precious as gold, and pure water is even more precious. We maintained 2 Six gallon jugs and a 5 gallon "cooler" with spout as our drinking water. Mind you, we cheated on the drinking water by scrounging "pure" sources from various places on a city main, but whatever purification method you use, do not waste it on uses other than drinking and cooking.Rain water was collected via tarps (we did have an unusually wet summer) which became the means to enjoy what became that greatest of pleasures, a warm shower! A 5 gallon potable camp shower with 2 gallons of boiling water from the fireside pot and the balance of cold will give the most enjoyable shower, especially after two weeks without one (you will know you need one when the dogs begin to shy away from you). Rain water was also used to wash dishes, wash the crude off your hands, and the occasional sponge bath.which brings us to

    (3) cooking utencils....We were fortunate to have an over supply of cast iron pans and pots without which open fire cooking would have been difficult. We also had a 5 1/2 Gallon stock pot that was perfect for maintaining an adquate supply of hot water for daily use (it also served as a rainwater catch basin). Due to the extraordinary cooking abilities of my companion we enjoyed meals that many would cringe to try at home with a fully stocked Kitchen. Fresh baked breads and biscuits were common (after a few misfires getting the hang of the altitude and heat source), as were many other innovative meals. Practice does in fact make perfect. Lest I forget, since we traveled and built numerous campfires, we learned that every firepit MUST have a cooking rock extending into the coals. Use any large igneous or metamorphic rock with at least one flat surface that will collect the heat and distribute it evenly to your pans and pots. Pull the coals toward the rock to heat it up, and the rock will regulate the heat going to the pan (it's perfect for baking ) and voila!...no more burned food.

    (4) food storage....this (during our camping phase of this adventure)was the most difficult aspect to control with respect to fresh foods and meat. Fresh veggies did fare well in the warm temps of summer in or out of an ice chest and we did augment our diet with those wild herbs and plants we were able to identify as safe (note: There is no one single edible plants book that will identify what is safe or not, so ensure you have as many titles as possible, it really helps). Most problematical storage issue was meat. Since attempting to store fresh meat for long periods was tantamount to throwing money at a meth head, we solved the problem by cooking all the meat at once, bagging it while warm (Ziplock freezerbags), and letting it air cool through the night. After placing it in the ice chest, the meat seemed to last a few days longer than it would fresh, and since I am writing this, obviously not dead from food poisoning, it appears that my assumptions were correct. Do not get one of those 12v electric coolers and expect it run off your car battery and keep your stuff cold (cool), you will wake up with a dead battery, no transportation, and warm food. If you have one of those 12vdc coolers, keep in mind it will only cool about 20 dsegrees less than the ambient temperature. Also, buy or steal (did I say that?) a minimum 80 watt Solar Panel and some wire and 12 Vdc Outlet to run it, do not run it off your car unless you are driving somewhere.

    Ok....I have gone through 4 main aspects we learned during our first 30 days of freedom from the grid. This is not by any means a complete list. I just hit the aspects that I thought were important and could be utilized by those of you less experienced. We were tent camping which is almost as primitive as you can get without building a birch bark wigwam, or dragging tent poles stacked with buffalo hides though the forest to the next location for your teepee. We also had two vehicles (an F150 2wd Pickup and an AWD Subaru) and we can tell you that while not the perfect choices for vehicles, they got us to places even 4 wheelers hesitate to go. We also had a trailer (4 x Cool that had a top built on to it (I used it for my tools) and we converted it into a modern day chuck wagon (yeah we had a two burner propane stove and 40# propane tank as well), that served to carry all our food, tent, coolers, a small generator, dog, cat, and bird food, tarps, poles, well you get the idea, basically anything that would fit in it and we needed. We carried extra cans of gas in the truck, as well as the propane tank, water jugs, in essense anything that may require filling or emptying without having to unpack the trailer. Oh yeah, the parrot rode with me and the cat in the truck cab.....yes...the Parrot still talks, and the cat had a slight limp after the first day which by now has faded into memory.

    When I started this.....I thought I would be able to discuss, describe and brag about the many hurdles my companion and I encountered in the past six months of off grid living in one pass. But my obvious verbosity has worn out my fingers, and probably bored the living crap out of those of you brave enough to read this. I am also suffering writers block which some of you may really recognize is just another term for Brain Fart. So, I am entertaining the idea of making this a sort of continuing saga type of thing, with tidbits of my silly humor intersparsed with actual knowledge, and the rest just plain BS and conjecture.

    So I'll leave this in your hands, If you want to hear more, or actually have questions you would like answered, cool. If you think I should take a long hike and never return, well bite me! While six months off grid doesn't qualify me for much, at least I'm trying to offer some insight to those of you who could use it. Anyway, hope to hear from at least one reader and I'll close this with Love and Light to you all.

    http://poleshift.ning.com/profiles/blog/show?id=3863141%3ABlogPost%3A260864&xgs=1&xg_source=msg_share_post


    _________________
    What is life?
    It is the flash of a firefly in the night, the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

    With deepest respect ~ Aloha & Mahalo, Carol
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    Carol
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    Re: LIVING OFF THE GRID

    Post  Carol on Wed Dec 29, 2010 12:36 pm

    QUOTE:

    When I wrote the first "Grid" blog, I didn't know what I was going to say, just that I had to say it. Then of course when I realized that I couldn't get all the lessons learned on one posting without losing the audience, I began to worry about the reception the membership would give to my rambling. Now, after reviewing the commentary, it appears that I must change the direction from the "continuing saga" aspect, to one dedicated to filling in some experience gaps "weekend warriors" tend to miss out on. So thank you all for the kind words of encouragement, and the questions which actually key me to things I have come to accept in everyday practice, but which may be foreign to those of you still attached to civilizations umbilical cord. I say that last having been there myself.

    A couple of questions in the comments on the first "grid" blog (herein after referred to as Page One) do need to be addressed:

    Vicky - We make FETA, Manicotti, as well as a Pasteurized Cultured Cheese spread that is flavored using various organic herbal blends. All the cheese here is 100% organic and we use organic practices in al aspects of the farm here. We use Forms for the hard cheeses and hang the soft cheeses prior to blending and jarring. We also make our own yogurt and buttermilk for use here on the farm. But this blog is to help others fill in the gap on off the grid living and the pitfalls they may encounter when forced to relocate pre or post shift, since I make as well as cut the cheese, we best not dwell here to long.

    What to do with the cold and wet as "SurvivalGirl" asked. First response is tough it out.......if you goof and it rains and you get wet and cold......life really sucks!! You can't dry anything out at night, so you might as well get up, stoke the fire into bonfire proportions, make some coffee, and spend the night bitching at the weather. Of course if you really goofed up, you didn't cover your supply of fire wood with a tarp or other water impervious covering, so stoking that fire to bonfire proportions will mean tapping into that supply of Tiki Torch oil to get a small fire going that will dry out the wood so the fire then will become large enough for you to thaw out those exposed appendages you forgot to bring a jacket and long pants for because........ "it's Summer". What, no Tiki Torch oil you say? You can then be thankful that your attempts to get the fire going will take your mind off the fact that you are cold as hell. DO NOT use coleman fuel to get that fire going. It's vapors will flow along the ground to that point directly beneath your car and as you ignite the fuel, it will catch all manner of twigs, grass, old grease and oil, as well as a tire or two on fire. If you do try this, be thankful that your blood got circulating and warmed you up as you frantically extinguished those remaining bits of melted tire, grease, and possibly a plastic trim piece or two.

    It only took one night of the above to convince me that proper planning can make for wonderful evenings regardless of the weather. For the record, our tent is an eight man tent from Sears that was purchased over 14 years ago, and as such has seen better days, and aside from the Gorilla Taped bullet holes (whole other story there), is in sound structural condition. It has an integral floor consisting of the typical woven tarp material so often found in hardware stores. But I digress. When I set up camp, the tent goes on the highest bit of ground on the campsite (Major rule )so that rainwater drains away from the tent, and I lay down a super deluxe PREMIUM heavy duty tarp as added protection from ground water seepage, then I erect the tent. If you must improve the drainage, dig a trench around the tent to carry water AWAY from the tent, do not, I repeat , do not run the trench under the tent, it just won't work that way. The Major rule is that no matter what, the tent must stay dry, as it is your refuge and your safe spot . Next thing, set up your bed! Now having done my share of rock bed snoozing during my stint in the BoyScouts, I was (and still am) dead set against sleeping on the cold hard ground. So if you don't have one, go to wally world and procure a nice queen size inflatable mattress. They are less than $100 and worth every penny. The one we have uses a built in Battery powered inflator so you smokers don't even have to huff & Puff. Now we don't use sleeping bags but instead brought a plastic tub loaded with sheets and blankets (it takes as much room as sleeping bags). Big note here: use a thick blanket or matress cover on the inflatable mattress before you sleep on it. Trust me, the Mattress is quite comfortable but it will get cold and you will sleep restlessly as the numbing cold evening air chills your mattress to -40 degrees while your top half roasts from all the other blankets , dogs, and cats you have on top of you. To top it off, all the animals prevent you from rolling over to freeze the other half of your body so you lie there in temperate purgatory, waiting for dawn.

    Rain, it really sucks when you are camping, so think ahead about where the water is to go if it does. Since we had our "chuck wagon" I rigged up a large tarp to act as an awning to cover the cooking and eating area, rainwater was then collectedin assorted buckets, empty tubs, and stock pots. Note: when it rains it is ok to seek shelter under a tarp or in the tent, but do not under any circumstances touch the walls of the tent unless it is to zipper closed windows, otherwise you will be bathing inside.

    Speaking of bathing, we developed a system, usefull especially in crowded campsites. Take your camp shower at night, out in the wide open, under the stars. If any campers are located around you, your entire shower area will soon be ablaze in a glorious montage of light sources, saving you the trouble of feeling around for the soap. Don't be shy, be proud and save batteries.

    Now I have come to the question posed by KM. Sanitation and disposal thereof. In response to this I say "what does a bear do?" But seriously, I recommend everyone go to Joseph Jenkins website on "Humanure", buy the book, or download it and Print it. I am a firm believer in what he says and in fact practice it religiously here on the farm. We have a humanure compost pile that is added to regularly for the ultimate purpose of fertilizing our vegetable patch. As part of my preparations for PX I constructed a loo following the plans on the Jenkins website and modified it slighly for on the road use (I put a bottom on it), and at every campsite I erected a tarp enclosure for the toilet. We carried four Home Depot Buckets with lids so when we traveled the lids were snapped down and all was secure. When we visited primitive camp locations, a single deep hole would allow us to empty the buckets and bury the contents. BUT THE HOLE MUST BE DEEP!!! We camped at one site that truned out to be gross because the previous campers had been lazy. the hole they dug was only a couple of inches deep, and our dogs, having a fine set of noses, found and excavated these shallow graves to our consternation. If you got room, take a set of post hole diggers, and you will easily get that hole to the 2 or 3 foot mark, perfect to keep the area disease free. Oh yeah, almost forgot, you can never have too much toilet paper. You will need it, believe me, especially eating camp cooking....LMAO!!!

    So here we are at the end of another waltz through the land of ZT. Hope this bit of info helps some of you cover your bases. I do appreciate the good comments posted on Page One and hope I can maintan the energy needed to put more of these missives together. To all of you I bid adieu, Sending Love and Light.

    http://poleshift.ning.com/profiles/blog/show?id=3863141%3ABlogPost%3A261552&xgs=1&xg_source=msg_share_post


    _________________
    What is life?
    It is the flash of a firefly in the night, the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

    With deepest respect ~ Aloha & Mahalo, Carol

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