Idle Time.

We’ve taken to spending a lot more time reading during this Winter season. I read this cool book titled Twelve By Twelve, about a guy who lives in a 12×12 off-grid cabin in North Carolina for a Summer. Our cabin is only slightly bigger than that, and we live in ours year-round, not just during the comfortable seasons. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty fascinating book by William Powers that I highly recommend. He talks a lot about Idle Time; time with which you do nothing. It’s a very Zen way of spending time. Just like meditation. He talks about people in other cultures around the world who plan their days around having hours of Idle Time, just to sit with Nature and be. It struck a chord with me.

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R caught me outside getting some vitamin D and reading.

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We live in the woods. And while we have a project list that’s never-ending and there’s always things for us to be doing and working on, I absolutely enjoy my Idle Time here at the ranch. Last Summer on days off from work, my favorite thing in the morning was sitting outside in the sunshine with a cup of coffee or tea and just watching the birds and squirrels wake up for the day. Watching the energies of the wildlife as the morning matures is both fascinating and energizing in itself. I have grown to really love my Idle Time.

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I think animals are naturally Zen Idle Time Masters.

My Dad is a Taoist, and I grew up with that Zen way of thinking. You spend quiet moments simply observing Nature to prepare for your day. So during our nicer days towards the end of this current Winter season, I’ve been spending more time simply sitting outside, with Loki at my feet, reading or just being. As the days have been warming up and the snow has started to melt, we have a lot to do outside, and while we do spend a lot of time working on the ranch, we make time for Idleness too. We even had our first couple of outdoor bonfires last week.

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First bonfire of the year!

I read an article recently about Forest Bathing, which is essentially being out in the woods, soaking up all the energy from Nature, and how beneficial it is for your health. People who regularly participate in Forest Bathing have less anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Trees are so good for your health; the ions they emit will heal what ails you. Since we live in the woods we reap the benefits of being in the forest every day. A couple of weeks ago we took a short vacation to Northern Arizona (Flagstaff/Sedona/Williams area), and stayed in a motel near downtown Flagstaff. Let me tell you, I could absolutely sense the difference between staying in a city and living in the woods. We stayed up later than we normally do, didn’t sleep as well, and felt a lot more drained.

I literally couldn’t sleep one night because the mini fridge in our room was making too much noise. That humming was too much for me. We unplugged it. While the getaway was nice, we were happy to get home to the woods!

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Cozy.

The weather was looking up as far as Winter maybe winding down, then it started snowing yesterday, and it hasn’t stopped. We have almost a foot of fresh snow on the ground! I guess February wanted to go out with a bang. So our weekend projects have been put on hold for the day at least. It’s supposed to be back up warm and sunny tomorrow for the rest of the week. For today, we’ll just be cleaning up, cooking, reading, and I’m going to attempt to bake bread in the woodstove. More on that soon.

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Loki is a pro at Idle Time. We call this Loki Pose.

What a miserable place to be snowed in.

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This morning!

Staying Warm.

Family and friends text or call us all the time with, “hope you’re staying warm up there!” When we first moved here, staying warm was definitely a main priority, and we made our house a home with our awesome woodstove: Johnny.

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Warmth and dinner; spaghetti squash!

Last Winter was a learning curve with fires and woodstove heat, plus we had to purchase our firewood and some of it wasn’t seasoned completely. We often had nights last year that sweated us out of the cabin! Because once he’s all fired up and hot, that stove gives off heat for hours and hours without even adding any more wood to it. Since we had little control over our firewood situation last year, as far as how dry it was, the length and size of the pieces, and what type of wood, we had a harder time keeping our heat consistent, though we still stayed nice and warm.

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Snuggler in the sunshine.

This Winter has been much better. We cut, split, and seasoned all of our own firewood, so we had control over the size of the pieces and we know exactly how long and how well each batch has been able to dry. I used to work for the Forest Service, and fought wildfires for a couple of seasons, but I feel like I’ve learned more about fire just from having a woodstove than I did fighting fire. We have a good routine for building and maintaining our fires every night to keep us warm and comfortable: not cold and shivering OR sweating and miserable! Ok, every once in awhile we still sweat ourselves out…

How we keep ourselves warm:

  1. I have learned never to underestimate the importance of various sizes of good, dry, and plentiful kindling. From newspaper to cardboard to small split pieces of firewood. There’s no easier way to start a good fire than to have a succession of kindling of all sizes. You can’t put a big piece of wood on a crumpled piece of newspaper, just like you can’t just light a match under a piece of wood and expect it to go. Kindling is the shit. Especially when you’re just getting home from work and it’s cold in the house.
  2. Type of wood is very important. We have figured out a pattern of types of wood throughout the evening to heat the cabin quickly, then keep it warm through the night. We start our fires in the late afternoon with pine. Pine burns hot and fast. We’ll leave the damper on the stove completely open so that fire gets nice and hot right when we’re starting to warm up the house.
  3. Depending on how cold it is outside, we’ll burn pine or juniper while we’re still awake, adjusting the sizes of pieces to keep us warm but not sweating. We always have three windows cracked; two downstairs and one upstairs. Helps with oxygen flow. We also do all of our Winter cooking over the woodstove, so burning pine gets it hot quickly so we can make dinner and warm the house at the same time.
  4. Right before bed, we’ll add oak to the fire. Oak burns slow, and we are fortunate to have a ton of it around our property.  So we were able to harvest a ton of it last Spring. Buying cords of oak is very expensive ($250/cord), twice the amount that pine costs ($125/cord, and that’s early in the season, during Fall and Winter it’s more like $175/cord), so being able to cut and split our own is awesome. And we will go through approximately 2 cords this Winter.
  5. I have an alarm set on my phone for midnight every night, and if it feels chilly in the house, one of us *might* get up to add more oak to the fire. Those few pieces of oak pretty much keep the cabin cozy all night long. If we don’t have to go to work, we’ll get up around 5 or 6am to start the fire back up and put the kettle on, crawl back into bed for an hour or so, and by the time we get up we have hot water for tea or coffee and the cabin is warm and comfortable. It’s a good system.
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And this is why we also cover our firewood with tarps.

So we find it kind of amusing when people almost sarcastically ask us, “so you freezing up there?” or “are you staying warm up there?”, like we live in an ice box or something. Or like we live so primitively that we couldn’t possibly be comfortable in the Winter. I have friends who keep their homes at 55 or 60 degrees because otherwise their heating bill is too expensive. I remember when R and I had $200/month heating bill during the Winter in Utah.  Now, we keep our cabin at a comfortable 70 or 75 (whatever we want, really), for free.

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This particular firewood stack we probably won’t even touch this Winter. Also, note Loki chillin’ in the sun with his classy splint.

And let’s be honest, you just can’t beat the atmosphere of sitting in front of a woodstove fire with a glass of wine or whiskey, while dinner cooks over the fire, and zero manmade sounds outside. Just the woods. So yes, we are staying quite warm, thank you 🙂

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I sneakily caught R in the background working on snow removal.

Wonderland.

It is a veritable Winter Wonderland here at the Ranch!

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We have multiple feet of snow covering everything right now. It has snowed most days for the past couple of weeks or so. Last Saturday we got a solid foot of fresh powder. The berms on the side of our road from the plow is nearing 5 feet. And the plow doesn’t even come until the rest of the county is plowed first (I’m only exaggerating a bit here). It is absolutely beautiful out here. Quiet. White. Cold.

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Our awesome woodsy-cabin.

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Can’t even tell there’s a house to the right of the truck!

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The current greenhouse situation.

Now-wouldn’t ya know it-SUN is actually in the forecast for the next several days! We haven’t had a full day of sun in over a week, which is extremely unusual for SW Colorado. Late today the clouds burned off, and those big beautiful blue skies showed themselves! And with that comes… COLD NIGHTS. Low last night was a whopping 1 degree. Low tonight: -2. You bet we’ll be keeping Johnny Woodstove stoked all night. He’s already been going all day. While it’s really damn cold outside, we’ve been keeping the cabin at a comfortable 70 degrees. Woodstoves are the best.

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Note the indoor firewood pile, the tea kettle, the winter boots, the fire going…

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Looking at all the animal tracks in the snow has been pretty entertaining. There’s a long trail that goes down through Amelia’s Meadow, obviously made by a large creature. Probably a deer, but the prints we saw in the road are pretty big… maybe an elk? There’s definitely some rabbits that live under our lumber pile. Loki’s cast stump makes some pretty funny prints too.

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Buddies by the bird feeder!

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Definition of Beautiful.

While our driveway isn’t super long, it is a lot of shoveling to do by hand. Honestly, getting out of the driveway in the mornings is the most treacherous part of our drive into town. Just a few inches off to one side, and we’re in the danger zone. The Cliff Side, if you will. So far we’ve been ok, but we did take a snow day from work the other day when it was just too much to deal with that early in the morning. We had lots of fresh snow from the night before, and well, sleeping in and not shoveling at 5:30am sounded pretty rad.

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I love that this is where we call Home.

Also, my birthday was on Tuesday, and it snowed big beautiful snowflakes that morning! R doesn’t particularly love Winter like I do, but my happiness rubbed off. My Mom sent me this AMAZING scarf for my birthday that I now can’t get enough off. Good find, Mum.

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At Sunset in my new amazing scarf.

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And we did.

We’ve been spending our snow days mostly by the woodstove, drinking wine or beer, or bailey’s and coffee in the mornings, watching the snow pile up and dreaming up plans for Spring and Summer. We have some lofty goals for this year. Just a few: root cellar, deck, move the cabin, sun room, rainwater collection system, outhouse, solar shower, garden expansion, ducks & chickens, and pizza oven. Yep, just a few things we want to accomplish. Anybody want to come stay for a few days and help?! We’ll happily provide beer, food, and a free place to camp! In any case, one of my personal goals for this year is to keep up with this very blog more. So, you’ll be able to follow our progress right here 🙂

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The view from our loft window the morning of my birthday!

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For now though, our firewood supply is plentiful, our cabin is cozy, our land is so beautiful I can’t even believe it’s ours sometimes, and we have a pretty solid handle on surviving without electricity or running water in the dead of Winter. Seriously, what’s not to love?

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Super Broken.

Loki update!

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So we decided to take him to our local vet, who we haven’t visited before. And we have previously chosen not to take him to the vet for various reasons, namely: Loki’s an asshole with strangers, and we like to practice holistic healing with both ourselves and our animals. But, he did have a busted leg, so we thought it best to take him in. We muzzled him before bringing him in the office (for everyone’s safety, really), and the vet wanted him straight back to the x-ray table.

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Cute cast.

R and the vet put Loki on the x-ray table, and they took the first picture of his leg. From my standpoint, just outside the door, I watched both the vet and the tech cock their heads simultaneously as the image came up on the screen. Then the tech asked, “what’s that?” Followed by the vet asking R, several times, “how long have you had him?” Then we got to see what they were seeing. Loki has a huge metal plate and pins in his leg. One long pin that runs the length of his leg. We had no idea he had metal in his leg!

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All we know about Loki’s past is that he was in a “house that was raided,” and showed up at the sanctuary with multiple gunshot wounds. He’s missing two front toes, and has scars all over his legs and one on his nose. His really-scarred leg is the one that’s broken. So apparently when he had surgery after being shot, he was made part-bionic too!

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The vet took another x-ray from a different angle, and you can clearly see both of his leg bones snapped, just below his knee, that metal pin is BENT, and the plate has slid out of place. Whatever happened to him (I’m really thinking hit by a car now), really busted up his leg! Our options were: knock Loki out, vet tries to bend that pin back straight, crank his leg back together, and cast it. Or: drop $2000 in surgery to open up that leg and fix everything. Even the vet was all, “I’d just cast it.” That sounded good to us. So he knocked Loki out with a quick shot, tweaked his leg into place, and casted it. While he was out, I asked the vet to go ahead and give him his rabies vaccination (which has been expired, and we haven’t taken him to get it renewed because – see first reason above), and he got his nails clipped. Then a shot of morphine for good measure.

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Loki was STONED for the remainder of the evening! Happy boy. Lucky for us, this vet practices Chinese herbal medicine, and prescribed a strong bone-regeneration herb for Loki, as opposed to antibiotics or pain meds (which we really didn’t want to give him). So, a cast for 6 weeks, 4 herbal pills a day for 6 weeks, and he gets to come to work with us everyday. He’s been sleeping a lot, chewing on his cast a bit, and has even seemed a bit depressed at times, but he has a little more pep now and has started eating more regularly. He didn’t eat breakfast for over a week, until a few days ago. R and I realized that he’s probably had this EXACT cast before, and that’s gotta bring a pup down…

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How he sleeps now. Also, writing on his cast says, “Roki Roo!” and I added Hearts for Healing 🙂

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Classy plastic bag.

So now we’re a week and a half into this cast business, 4.5 more weeks to go. It’s actually been kind of nice bringing him with us during the day; it’s a good excuse to to take a walk to check on him, and when it’s cold and blowing snow, or raining, it’s comforting to know he’s not locked up in his run outside by himself. He’s warm and cozy in the truck.

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Cloud collar of shame.

The vet told us that Loki is one tough dog. Not only snapping two bones, but doing that much damage to his leg, metal plate and pins and all, had to hurt. And he hardly whined or cried at all after it happened. Now let’s just hope the cast holds up for 4.5 more weeks… it already has duct tape around it!

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Isn’t he just the cutest.

Broken.

Loki had an incident.

While we’re at work during the day, Loki stays outside in his 10×10 dog run. He’s got a nice insulated doghouse and besides the weather being really cold in the mornings when we leave him, we haven’t had any problems. Sunday when we got home from work, the door to his run was off the hinges and inside the run, and Loki was curled up inside his doghouse, not wanting to come out. R eventually coaxed him out, and he limped his way into the house, not at all using his back leg.

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His run when we first put it up… it has a roof on it now. And the door is knocked off.

Once we got him inside, he got up onto the couch in front of the woodstove and I started a fire. I was watching him closely, and noticed that he was showing symptoms of shock. Shaking, cold, sticky gums, unresponsive. We wrapped him up in a blanket and I texted my former boss from the animal sanctuary in Utah where we used to work. She helped walk me through what to do for him, but both her and I had this sinking feeling that Loki might not make it through the night. I’ve worked with animals for a long time, and I’ve seen animals in shock not make it more than a few hours. We were concerned. And you have to deal with the shock before dealing with any injuries, so we weren’t even thinking about his leg at this point.

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Getting warm. Surviving shock.

We spooned water into his mouth and made sure he was as warm as possible. I also managed to get a hold of a 24 hour emergency vet in town (who was busy with a sick horse), who gave me an ibuprofen dose for Loki and said to call him in the morning if he wasn’t any better. After a couple of hours in front of the fire, Loki was looking brighter and more responsive.

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Splint and bedrest.

He made it through the night and we brought him with us to work the next day so he could have a nice R&R day in the truck. The shock was gone and he was tired but more himself. He even barked at strangers. Since he was feeling better I was able to feel up and down his hurt leg, and felt a break. R felt it too. Loki’s leg is definitely broken. Thank goodness he’s not a growly, bitey nightmare when he’s in pain.

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My buddy.

So today is our Saturday from work and we’re home all day. Besides doing normal off-grid-Winter-stuff, like moving firewood around, shoveling, and generally keeping the house warm and tidy, today has also been a good day for Loki to just rest and we can keep an eye on him. We also splinted his leg. He got a little grumbly when we started messing with it, but he was ok. He’s been really tired and sleeping a lot. Poor guy. He’s summoned to bedrest!

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Sleepy and healing.

It’s going to be a long few weeks. He’ll be coming with us to work everyday for the foreseeable future, mostly so we can keep an eye on him and his movement will be restricted. I’m just happy he survived his night of shock. And no, we have no idea what happened to him. Maybe he just got tangled in his run door, maybe he got out and got hit by a car… who knows. There was no blood or punctures or anything like that. Whatever happened, if he was out, he managed to limp his way home.

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Feeling better the next night.

Things can always be worse! Loki is home and alive and ok. With a broken leg, but he’s managing. Dogs are good on 3 legs. He can even get himself in and out of the truck still. So keep up some good thoughts for our Loki Monster… Poor broken pup.

And with the animal losses we’ve experienced this year–Sweet Amelia, Archie, and Zeppy from last year–we just couldn’t handle Loki not making it!

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Feeling nostalgic… We miss our sweet duck, and still have hopes that Archie will make it back home.

Off-the-Grid-mas!

This was our 2nd xmas off-grid, but this year my family came to visit! They stayed in our neighbor’s cabin, but we mostly hung out in our little cabin. It was so fun, and everyone got to experience living off the grid in the Winter! We cooked every night over the woodstove, including an awesome turkey xmas dinner and green bean casserole, and made jell-o shots in the snow. We all tried, and very much enjoyed, nog-a-sake’s (egg nog and sake) with a dash of cinnamon, and whiskey, red wine, and ciders. Delightful.

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Fam at the cabin.

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Jell-o shots in the snow!

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Bro making green bean casserole.

We’ve had a few snow storms, leaving a few inches of snow at a time. The layers of snow build on each other and leave beautiful white blankets all over the trees and the roads and the landscape. Our house is holding heat a lot better than last Winter, and we usually only have to re-stoke the fire once during the night to keep the place warm. We get it going before bed, then throw a couple pieces of oak in there around midnight, and it’s usually in the 60s when we get up in the morning. It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes to get out of bed when it’s warm in the house. Getting ready for work seems not so terrible at 5.30am when it’s warm inside.

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Snow blankets.

One thing I really love about this season is xmas lights. Since we don’t have electricity, or a solar system, I figured I’d have to miss out on this particular joy until we could afford it. Then I did some searching online, and what do you know, solar xmas lights exist! So I took it upon myself to buy two strings of xmas lights, one white and one blue, to decorate outside. Each strand came with its own little solar panel. On a full-sun day, the lights will last all night, and even still be on when we get up to leave for work in the morning. They turn on automatically when the sun sets, and back off at sunrise. They’re AWESOME. They make my little heart so happy. We’re the only ones out here that have xmas lights. We’ve already gotten, “did you guys get electricity…??” Nope! Just another awesome solar gadget for me to get obsessed with!

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White lights to the left, blue to the right, along the driveway.

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My white-light pine.

Loki’s been having a blast in the snow, the snow shovel is his favorite Winter toy. He even runs outside and hits it with his front paws, because we apparently need to be told what he wants! His life kind of sucks during days we have to work, since we leave him outside in his run before the sun even comes up. By the time we get home, the sun is going back down, but he survives. His doghouse is small and cozy and full of fluffy blankets. And lucky dog gets to snuggle with us in front of the fire at night.

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R playing with Loki.

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Snowy new year.

Overall, life has been really good to us this Winter. Compared to where we were this time last year, we have few complaints. We’re taking the quiet of Winter to plan for projects in Spring and Summer, and work at our silly day jobs and save money. We’ve only had to dig the truck out of a snow bank once… maybe a guard rail alongside our driveway might be in our future. That snow piles up fast, and it is hard to get out of. The side of our driveway trapped the ol’ Subaru last Winter, and got a hold of Maximus last night. Not fun. Guard rail.

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My lights at sunset.

But here we are! Still smiling through the snow and the cold. Living off the grid has its challenges for sure, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world. Xmas was awesome here at the ranch, and here’s to a bright and beautiful 2017! Snowy and cold here on this side of the world.

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Sleepy buddy.

 

 

Kitchen Remodel.

Our “kitchen” (AKA: one corner of our cabin), has been remodeled! Before, it was this non-functional, crowded, weird-shelves-we-built-once, space that we couldn’t really use. There wasn’t much useable storage, and no counter space. And quite frankly, it has driven both of us pretty nuts. But we sort of just dealt with it until we could design something better. Up until this point, unless we’re cooking over the woodstove, we’ve been cooking over this little camping thing that uses those single-use propane tanks. It had a single-burner attachment, which meant just single-pot meals. Then, at one point when R went to change out the propane tank, something cracked, and now the burner leaks.

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For about a week it was alright, because we just started storing the thing outside and only using it outside, but not too long after that the weather turned and it was just too cold to do that, but almost not cold enough to fire up the woodstove just to cook. This is when the kitchen remodel was decided.

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I did a ton of research online for a good propane cookstove, and our neighbors offered us a free propane tank that was brand new, that they no longer needed. I settled on a two-burner cookstove on amazon that got great reviews. And yes, it is run off of propane… and yes, we all know how I feel about propane. But, it is going to be a good addition to our house in the long run.

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View from the loft.

This particular stove is labeled “outdoors only,” however, after my extensive research, I made the decision to have it in the house, with the two closest windows cracked all the time while it is in use (we always have two windows cracked in the house anyway: the one by the woodstove, and our window upstairs), and we turn the propane tank off when not in use. We also made the decision not to use the stove if the woodstove is going; we only use one or the other. Open flame + propane is a recipe for disaster, so the propane tank valve outside stays closed.

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Tiny house looking spacious!

So far we haven’t had any issues with it. It looks great, it works great, there are no leaks in the line, and now that Winter has hit and we are using the woodstove for all of our cooking, we really don’t use it that much anyway. I joked with R that we’re probably the only people who will use more propane during the Summer than the Winter.

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A quick Loki-snuggle.

The new shelves R built are much more functional for storage, and have really opened up that whole corner of the house. We are pleased. It doesn’t make us twitch anymore. He also built an awesome hook-shelf behind the woodstove to hang some of our cast iron goodies, and a pretty rad spice rack that sits above the new cookstove. More shelving: more space: more organized tiny house!

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First squashes, but now it’s filled with spices.

 

Winterizing.

It’s so close! The weather stayed at a consistent sunny 60s for almost a solid two weeks after we got back from Cali. I’m not saying that doesn’t make for beautiful days and all… but… it was the end of October. Growing up in CO you come to expect the cold and snow before, and particularly ON, Halloween. Nope, sunny and 60s!

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Then, finally, on November 4th, it got cold! Rainy, cold, muddy, wonderful-Fall-ness. Snow in the higher elevations. FINALLY, fires in the woodstove, cooking in the dutch oven, cuddling in the warm coziness of our tiny house. I love Winter, and being fully prepared ahead of time this season, as compared to a year ago this time, makes it that much better. This time last year it was colder, and we didn’t have our woodstove installed, a toilet inside, or any lights. We were scrambling to get firewood. Our ceiling wasn’t finished. We have come a long, long way in a year, and are totally loving our off-the-grid living. We are Off-Grid Vets (as my brother calls us); though I also like Professional Hippies.

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Showing some love for Max.

Here are a couple of over-due pictures of when we swept our chimney:

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A couple interesting things happened at the ol’ homestead while we were gone for 10 days. Two days before we got home, our neighbor, who had been keeping an eye on the place for us, texted me telling me he found our front door open that morning on his way to work. Said he didn’t see anything out of place or missing, but that he closed the door and would check on it again on his way home. It was a little alarming, but we have also had to re-level the house twice in the last year, and it has been so bad before the front door won’t latch. So it is entirely possible that it popped open. We also don’t really have anything of value in there anyway. I had him check the place again, he said everything looked fine, and he re-locked the door.

So we get home a couple of days later, go inside, and remember my wonderful mammoth sunflower seed harvest? My hundreds of sunflower seeds? Knocked over and all of them eaten. Some roseberry seeds R had harvested, also gone. Our dried asparagus, eaten up. Ok, so obviously an animal got in. There were also a few pictures knocked over on a shelf, up high. Also, rat turds and a big ol’ rat nest on our porch. Most probable scenario: wind or something blew the door open, and the rat had a hayday, but how did the pictures get knocked over? Other possible scenario: a large animal like a bear or deer came in, started eating, bumped into the wall–knocking things over–spooked, and left. Either way, I’m glad the front door didn’t close behind it! Can you imagine a big spooked deer STUCK INSIDE our tiny house?! No thank you.

The other interesting event was what happened inside our greenhouse. When we left, we had 3 tomato plants and a zucchini plant that were all producing quite well. Then we were gone, so, zero care, zero water, all that. We come back to this!

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Ok, we already had the garlic… but look at that zucchini!

So that was pretty cool.

The cold rainy weather didn’t last long though, and now it’s back to 50s and 60s and sunny. No snow in the forecast yet. With the weather being so weirdly nice, we’re still working outside when we can. We also replaced our squeaky brakes on Maximus and are generally preparing for Winter. Nice to feel so prepared. Now where’s that snow?!

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Loki’s ready.

Autumn.

Summer is over. Autumn is here!

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Look at that beautiful tree.

It’s considerably chillier in the mornings. And darker. We are up way before sunrise to get to work in the mornings, and it has become the yearly “dressing in layers” season in CO. Beanies and sweaters in the morning, sunglasses and short sleeves in the afternoon. We even already got our first SNOW. Usually we’re well into October before snow is here. One day last week it was in the forecast for snow above 9000′. We’re at 7600′. Sure enough, we got a dusting. It was cool. We even had a small fire in ol’ Johnny. Just to get the chill out of the house.

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Sunflowers!

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Mammoth Sunflower harvest.

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Sunflowers & Acorns.

Now we’re in winterizing mode, we cleaned out our chimney, started putting things inside and out of the elements that have been outside all summer, giving Loki some straw and extra blankets for his run in the mornings. We’ve now harvested our sunflower seeds – which is super rad – and are still picking tomatoes and zucchini. The chives are still growing too. But we can also tell that food is just starting to get scarce for the season, deer and skunks are eating a lot of the plants around our house. Thistles are disappearing… our kale disappeared… the chives are considerably munched down… They need to eat too.

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Still drying. So pretty.

I love this time of year. The colors in the leaves, the pine cones falling to the ground, the crisp chill in the air. We pretty much spend our days (after long days at work) playing with Loki, drinking beer, enjoying the woods, cooking, and relaxing. It feels good to take a break from big projects. Next week we’re taking a road trip to CA for my Aunt’s Celebration of Life, so we’ll be out on the road, seeing family, and going to some pretty rad places along the way and back, for 9 days! We’re looking forward to the break from reality here, and I’m sure we’ll be refreshed and rejuvenated when we return. 

Here’s to Autumn!

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Our cozy cabin.

One Year!

It has been a busy Summer. Both R and I have been working a lot, sweet little Amelia passed away, as well as my Aunt, Archie wandered off (we’ve taken some hits), and life has just been… busy. And now, just yesterday morning, we noticed the leaves starting to change color on the oak outside of our little cabin, and we realized that Fall is here. The full Harvest Moon was just a few days ago, and that typically signals the end of Summer. It’s official.

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How we celebrated our year off-the-grid-versary!

A year ago at this time, we had just gotten here. August 29th marked our first whole year off the grid in our tiny house. So this time last year we were scrambling to get ready for Winter. We didn’t have our woodstove installed, a toilet inside, or even any source of light. We barely had our walls insulated, and stairs to the loft. It’s totally crazy to think back to a year ago and see where we were. We’ve accomplished so much in a year. This building went from an empty shed to a home.

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Old pallets make awesome building materials.

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The rest of our firewood.

Right now, a year later, we have a comfortable house that’s mostly finished (just the bathroom is still in progress). We have all the firewood we need for the Winter already split and stacked outside; none of which we had to pay for. All of it came from a few trees that we fell ourselves here on our property. Last year we spent around $500 for three cords of wood, some of which was wet and unusable. Our “utility bill” for heat this year will be a whooping $0. Yeah, there’s the cost of the chainsaw, fuel, maintenance, day-rent for a log splitter, and our time, but all of that compared to paying someone else for wood and delivery, makes it totally worth it, and more rewarding. We’re only making ourselves that much more self-sustaining.

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My sunflowers.

The watermelon, zucchini, and tomato plants are still taking over the greenhouse. The zucchini is doing awesome, we’ve gotten quite a few delicious veggies off it it. The tomatoes are slowly but surely growing fruit. The watermelon plant is seriously taking over, but not really fruiting. We get little tiny watermelons, like, the size of a peanut, but they don’t seem to get much bigger. Our swiss chard and collard greens are still growing outside, with very little care from us. My sunflowers bloomed beautifully! And now are all yellow and wilty. I still have small cilantro and thyme plants. Things are winding down in the ol’ garden. We have some serious work to do on the fencing and the raised beds themselves before planting any more.

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Carrot harvest. I like the little stumpy one.

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Zucchini and watermelon taking over!

We’ve been taking some conscious time to relax these days too. We have managed to accomplish SO MUCH in a year, and we have decided to give our bodies a break and take time to just sit and enjoy living in the woods. So on our days off we can sit outside in the mornings, drink coffee, fix breakfast, play with Loki, and enjoy the outdoors, without feeling like we’re avoiding some big project or wasting time before Winter. We’re planning some big projects for next Spring and Summer, so we’re resting up now in preparation.

Here’s to Fall!

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Relaxin’. Or as we call it, “Loki Pose.”