Living off the Grid: Month Three of Our Homestead Development

Well, we’ve made it yet another full month on our off grid homestead! While the first month and second month of our homesteading journey were full of finding reclaimed building materials, picking up tools, getting our septic installed, paving our driveway, setting up our portable RV garage, milling lumber and even building a cabin, month three was a much different pace! We actually slowed down for once!

When we were first preparing for our move to Idaho, we talked frequently about how we only had a couple of months to “get settled” before winter would arrive. That meant that we had a lot of work to do to have a shelter over our heads, a way to keep warm, a way to keep things from freezing, and a lot of other important things.

We worked our butts off for the first 10 weeks of our homesteading journey. Not only were we trying to get ready for winter, but we were trying to make as much progress as we humanly could on our property before the weather shut us down for the year.

Now that we are well in the month of December, winter has officially arrived. We weren’t sure what winter would be like because the past couple of years have been fairly warm with little snow, but this year seems to be cold and wet!

living off the grid - winter

We’ve had nothing but cold temperatures, rain and snow. We’ve had a couple of days of sun in the past month, so we figured it was time to take things indoors and work on our businesses a bit.

Here is a summary of what we accomplished in month three, during the first month of winter!

Finished Winterizing Our Travel Trailer

Our first priority as soon as the temperatures grew colder was winterizing our travel trailer. If you are not living off the grid, then winterizing a travel trailer is fairly easy. However, when endless power is not an option, it means that you need to get creative.

We built a small off grid cabin that is 3-sided and attaches to our portable RV garage. We heat this with a wood stove and use a couple of air movers (run by our Honda Handi generator) to push the air to the back of the portable RV garage. We don’t run the fans throughout the night, but we do run the wood stove while we sleep so our shelter does retain enough heat so far.

small off grid cabin homestead

When the stove is ripping, we’re able to keep the cabin portion at 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit, and the back of the carport is around 56 degrees which isn’t bad when it’s 20 degrees outside!

winterizing rv while boondocking off the grid

In addition to building our cabin addition using the reclaimed materials that we gathered from a demolition, we also insulted the carport with fiberglass (mostly salvaged but we bought one roll as well) and put high density foam in the top of the carport (salvaged).

winterizing travel trailer off grid

Gathered 5 Cords of Firewood

As soon as our travel trailer was winterized, our next priority was collecting firewood! Ideally, we would have done this over summer, but we were too busy trying to get settled.

We found a man on Facebook that had a bunch of rounds leftover from building his timber frame house, and he was willing to let us cut them up in his yard for $50/cord. Since cords of firewood go for $150-$200+, we considered this a substantial savings over buying a done-for-you cord. This was also easier than going into the forest to cut down our own tree.

gathering firewood for off grid homestead

We made five trips to this man’s house over the month to collect all of the wood. It was a combination of fir, pine and even some tamarack. We weren’t too picky this winter.

pic9

Optimized the Burning in Our Wood Stove

As I understand it, every wood stove has its own little personality, and ours is no different. We had to do a bit of practice to get the wood stove burning reasonably clean, learn how to use an appropriate amount of wood, and learn how often and how much to stoke the fire, how often to clean our chimney, and even what size to cut the firewood into.

woodstove

We got our wood stove to the point where it is running as efficiently as possible.

We did, however, have troubles with our chimney so watch this video to learn all about that, and what we did to solve the problem!

Had Our Off the Grid Internet Installed

As soon as things calmed down a bit and we felt that we were more or less set for the winter, it became obvious that we needed to have internet at our propertyIMMEDIATELY! While we have 4G service on our phones, all of the work we do is online, and when we work, we can work 13 hours a day with intensive data usage, so internet through our phone companies wouldn’t be affordable.

We called up a local company and they were able to provide us with 1MB of internet for $65/month. There are cheaper options out there for folks in town, but we aren’t exactly in town! What we have is much better than satellite, and it seems to be pretty reliable so far.

off the grid internet service

Check out this fun video and blog post of getting our off grid internet installed, and to learn more about why having this done was so important to us!

Survived an Unusual Pacific Northwest Windstorm

Right at the third month mark of our homesteading journey, an unusual windstorm ripped through the northwestern part of the Untied States, and that caused a lot of trouble for us!

After working in a coffee shop all day with freakishly high winds, we came home to a carport that was completely mangled.

Learn about our windstorm carnage here >>

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Had Fun Cooking with Our New Solar Stove

We got a solar oven (a GoSun Stove) a couple of months ago but because we were so busy trying to get ready for winter, we didn’t have much of a chance to use it! The past month has been extremely NON-SUNNY, but on the sunny days I did whip the stove out to have a little bit of fun!

Check out the unboxing of our GoSun Stove here!

I was able to successfully cook a couple of omelettes, chocolate chip cookies and a delicious batch of PERFECT chocolate, gooey brownies!

Watch a short video of me cooking up the brownies in the GoSun Stove here >>

best solar oven - gosun stove sport edition - chocolate chip cookies sun oven - gosun stove - brownies

Re-Visited Our Online Businesses

While we love nothing more than working on our property, and while we’re working towards needing less money, the reality is that do still do need an income. We’ve taken the past six months off from work so now that it’s winter, it’s time to get back in the saddle!

We’ve spent almost a solid two weeks re-visiting our online businesses and there has been a lot of cleanup to do! We have big plans for our businesses in 2016. In taking six months off from work, it’s given us a lot of time to have revelations in the direction we want to take our online income so we’re now working on overall strategizing and implementing our new strategies. Lots of work ahead but we’ve never been more confident with our income path.

In case you missed it, here are six ways we make an income online while homesteading >>

pic7 working

Bought a Couple More Tools

While we spent A LOT of money on our homesteading tools in month one and month two, month three has slowed down a lot! We still did have to make a couple of purchases but again, we consider our purchases to be investments and not simply frivolous spending.

Because we knew we would want to stay put throughout winter and not leave our property daily, we invested in a few more of these 6-gallon water jugs. These are easy for us to lift, easy to transport, and now that we have eight of these guys or so, it means we can only go to town every 5-7 days for water, depending on how conservative we are being.

water

We also purchased two of these air movers to put by the woodstove to push the hot air to the back of our shelter / front of the RV where the water tank is.

I (Alyssa) was chronically cold on the chilly fall days, and since we were working hard and I only had one pair of long underwear, I decided to purchase a second set. I’ve finally learned how to dress warm in winter, and the key to my warmth are these SmartWool merino wool long johns!

Did Some Property Clean Up

Because we were moving at such a rapid pace during months one and two, we had very little time to do clean up on the property, tool maintenance or even vehicle maintenance. On a couple of the warmer days this month, we were able to do some cleanup on the property so that everything continues to look tidy, and so that all of our tools and vehicles run as efficiently as possible!

Watch a short YouTube video of our property clean up here >>

cleanup

Going Forward: Goals for the Remainder of Winter + Spring 2016

Stay tuned for our progress! If you’re not already, be sure to subscribe to our blog, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube where you can keep tabs on our project real-time!

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.

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Comments

  1. says

    Wow,
    I am so impressed by your tenacity, strength and courage. Reminds me of the early pioneer days with a touch of more modern tools. We are buying a little cabin in the woods as you have motivated us. I have ideas for my RV shelter and a possible garage down the road. We also have 1/4 acre of pine trees which may provide some wood if we can get past the HOA. We will have to remove a couple in order to build our garage. A teacher friend of mines husband has a portable mill so I think we could get some decent timber. I would only cut down the area for our garage and maybe select cut and thin out the remainder. We do hope to have a green house as it is so cold up here with the exception of June, July and August. We are getting used to the minus 0 degree weathers and my wife wants Carhart Jacket like yours. Still debating on a gas stove or propane but wood works without power incase of an outage. I prefer wood but the wife thinks I won’t go out and cut it. We’ll see. Glad to see you have some cable connections.
    Keep up the awesome work. Kathy and I are so proud of your awesome project.

  2. Gordon Deisting says

    Well it looks good to see you folks still hang in there. :-) .I read that you bought some air movers ,well I tried them no avail here.They work but it a 12 volt fan would out do it.I see the wood stove is still close the wall ,I’d move it about 6 inches outward then put another tin between the stove and the outside tin with 2 x 4’s between then to create a space,with the inside tin 4 inches off the floor to above the stove about 2 feet ( the inside tin just be straight up ) while the out or backside tin must have be about 6 inches with a curve bent to wards the stove for about 6 to 8 inches,it will give the air a chance to create movement,And walla you have air movement no need for fans or anything.I just wish I had a picture to show you folks or even be next door.Well GOOD-LUCK & happy new year also.

  3. Aleta Geer says

    I love your site! I love what you are doing! I have had a somewhat similar experience homesteading but I haven’t been as willing to part with modernization as you have. I admire your steadfast bravery, for I know, at times, this life style must get you down. But you have each other and that counts for a very great deal.

    Thanks for posting your great movie clips and your write ups. Both are very informative and fun. I wish you had been around more than 20 years ago when I first moved to my homestead.

    • says

      Hey Aleta, glad you’re enjoying our site! It is difficult at times not being able to take advantage of modern luxuries, but to be honest we haven’t missed them all that much yet. The days that are hard are hard for entirely different reasons, and often times during those days, we’re simply happy to have a warm place to sleep. We’ll see how we feel as time goes on, but yes it’s also helpful to have one another to lean on for support. Glad you’re enjoying our blog!

  4. shannon says

    Thanks for the pots/updates. You are an encouragement to me. We are about 10 days away from moving off grid, also in a trailer until we can build something more substantial. Good idea aboout the stove to help keep the trailer warm, I’ll keep that in mind if our plan isn’t sufficient. We will be in a much milder climate……..however we have had a wet and cold winter to date. Hubby will be on the homestead full time, I’ll continue my career as a real estate agent. Well, Good Luck and I look forward to more posts.

  5. amber and rivers says

    it is cool what you all are doing we have been on our journey to go off grid for a long time we are are living in our house but still don’t have our all done it takes time we like your videos

  6. Patricia says

    I have watched all of your videos of your journey. I feel inspired and joy for the both of you <3. I have just possibly come into a little land through my family and I have always thought about doing what your doing. Your right though… there are so many critics…but DOING it is clearly the difference. Thank you for posting your time and efforts. I think the inclusion of the monthly financial component is also valuable because it creates a window of what to consider. I would have liked to see the videos in more of a chronological order…however I get the jist of them all. Happy new year and again… thank you for your the time to share how your putting your developments together. :)

  7. says

    I live in Northern California at 3,000ft ( 1- 1/2 hour away from South Lake Tahoe) . I have a 7 acre 1 horse -horse ranch. Some notes on clothing for 24/7 outdoors( at least it feels that way in winter): I wear fleece linned leggings (found at Grocery Outlet Store) under a pair of L.&L.Bean men’a Snowboarding pants.
    Snowboarding pants are great. You Can KNEEL Down in mudd & plod along in rain or ice pellets or snow= Not ever cold.
    Another item( which truly helps with controlling mud) that’s highly rated here: Geotextile Woven fabric. Comes in rolls of 3 ft to 6ft widths. Buy it on line-not Home Depot.
    Lay it on graded ground& pin to ground.
    Try to use good ‘U’ 3″pins bought on Amazon.com. Home Depot sells only cheap, light weight landscape fabric pins-lousy.
    Fabric salvage edges need to be turned under 4 -6 inches so raw cut edge does Not unravel.
    After the polypropelene woven Geotextile fabric is laid down & pinned- put down your crushed rock 3 inches thick.
    Geotextile fabric does Not allow soil-Mudd to seep through to top.
    Used for driveways ,roadways, livestock gate areas, on ground where water drains onto,
    I also use it under large 40 ft x 40 ft sand area for horse.
    Great blog you have.

  8. says

    You folks strike me that you are going places for sure and I really enjoy your videos and you folks are making wonderful progress for what you two have to work with I sure take my hat off to you both keep up the wonderful work and hope to see more of your kick butt videos I love them all!”
    I live in the Vancouver Washington area I lived here most of my life was born in the Netherlands
    Been in the States sense 1955 born in 1947 do the math to old to start now and yes I too had a dream as what you folks are doing but life will go on and most of I am proud of you folks being able to putting your heart and sole into this journey your on!”
    By the way Kudos on your music video of phrozen as you folks said you put a lot of work into it and who knows next thing your making records on the homestead but all and all hang in there Okay?

    • says

      Hi There Alyssa & Jesse;

      Say I sent you folks an Email on the tenth of January of this year 2016 and I think I forgot to check the box to reply if I understand if you don’t check it will be skipped sorry about it if you folks don’t have enough to do in chasing Emails down but still keep up the good work I know you folks have a lot on you plate and I look at it this way you folks can burn yourselves out and please be careful so you don’t overdo it enjoy the journey and all the fun of learning you will have on the trip to the Finnish Okay?

      Yours truly Jaak The Dutchman;

  9. Brian says

    In one of your videos you mentioned the possibility of selling your RV Trailer once you have a permanent structure completed. I might be interest when that time comes. I believe I am close to you if you are located where I suspect you are. I am also originally from Oregon with my journey bringing me here via an 8 year stop over in the interior of Alaska where I built my own homestead. If you are interested I might have some ideals that might be helpful to your own pursuit.

    Brian

  10. Thomas says

    Hi Jesse and Alyssa, very nice blog! I adore your adventure spirit, I adore your way of thinking the life, an how you do things.

    greetings from from the Italian Alps

    Thomas

  11. Peter says

    Hey guys, you are using your common sense as I also use whatever wood is available ( never look a gift horse in the mouth )and as long as the wood is dry, properly seasoned and not green then it won’t leave too much creosote & gunk on the inside of the flue. The wetter and greener the wood then the faster your chimney flue will block up. Oh & by the way, if you end up buying a chimney brush set ,then avoid purchasing the nylon brush = always buy steel/wire types as they last much longer and will not melt if one needs to clean ones flue when it is still warm due to shortage of time. Get plenty of wood & extra food in, for the word is that this coming winter of Dec 2016 and into the New Year of ’17 is to be colder than last year! Love your blog. keep up the good work, wish you well from greenthumb in Oz.

    • says

      Thanks for the tips! I have heard that this winter will be colder / wetter as well but I don’t believe that for one second… hah! Hope I’m wrong and that it IS a cold winter. Then again, if it’s warm, that could be better for us this year. Thanks for the kind wishes!

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