One Absurdity of Gun Registration: Criminals Are Exempt –

I found this interesting.  It’s an interesting discussion pertaining to the current gun control debate.

One Absurdity of Gun Registration: Criminals Are Exempt –


Lessons Learned

We have lived on our homestead for about 6 months now. We still consider ourselves newbies to the homesteading lifestyle, but we have learned many things in our short time up here. I wish I could say that all of these lessons were learned easily, but I can’t. Most of these were learned the old fashioned way – the hard way.

So, I’ve decided to put some of the more important lessons we’ve learned out there for everyone to see. Maybe it will help somebody someday. Maybe not. Maybe it will make somebody laugh. Probably.

Many of you have undoubtedly learned some of the same lessons. We’d like to hear any lessons you have learned on your homestead. The more interesting the better.

Here they are, in no particular order:

If it’s gotta go, it’s gotta go.

All bets are off once we get off the highway.

Keep your water wet and your wood dry.

Always check inside your boots – and your gloves.

If it could never happen, it will.

You can always use one more bucket.

If you think you might need it in the next week or two, better get it now.

Anything is possible – probability is another matter.

Even the best thought out plan will not survive contact with the homestead.

Have a backup for your backup.

A 100% chance is still just that – a chance.

Alcohol doesn’t warm you up, it just makes you care less about being cold.

Sunsets are best viewed from your front porch.

I decided to list that last one because for all of its simplicity, it was one of the hardest to learn. Jen and I have lived in many places where we have seen many sunsets. It’s almost beyond belief that the best ones I have seen have been on this front porch.Image

Don’t forget to share a lesson or two that you have learned on your homestead.

Homestead Vehicles

The Gray Homestead sits about a mile off the highway.  Well, the road into our place is about a mile long.  I’m not really sure how far we are from the highway because of the way the ridge meanders around.

What I am sure of is the fact that the road in is very rough.  It’s almost scary.  Not only is it rough, in some places it’s almost a 45 degree incline or decline – depends on which way you are going.  And not only are there steep hills, the roads also cant very steeply.

The road has a street sign and we have a street address, but it is a privately maintained two rut road.  That means that the road only gets worked on when our neighbor works on it.  It is rough in the best of conditions.  It is treacherous with ice or snow on it.  It really feels like we are going to slide right off the edge of the mountain.

Before moving to the homestead, we had an F350.  It is a 4 wheel drive.  It’s powered by a 7.3 liter Powerstroke Diesel.  We had bought it to pull our camper, which we have only pulled one time.  It has four doors and a full size back seat.  It’s great for hauling things.  It has taken us anywhere we have wanted to go.  Because it is so long, it isn’t good for tight places.  It doesn’t turn very sharp.  It has a lot of ground clearance which is great for climbing over rocks and going through deep mud and water.

On the downside, it doesn’t get the best fuel mileage.  It has two fuel tanks, but they each hold only 15 gallons.  It has a manual transmission, and one of us has to get out to manually lock in the hubs when we need 4 wheel drive.  But we paid cash for it, so it is ours and there is no payment.Image

I drive the truck.  Jennifer drives a 1990 Jeep Cherokee.  It’s a 4 wheel drive.  It has an inline 6 cylinder gas motor.  That little Jeep will crawl up and over anything we have pulled up to.  We bought it off of Craigslist.  We had to get a bonded title since the person we bought it from didn’t have a title for it.  He told us he had it, but it turned out he couldn’t find it.  We had already bought it from him when he realized it was lost, so he paid the fee for applying for a bonded title.

The Jeep cost a whopping $750.  So far we have had to do some minor engine work and we have replaced the radiator.  It leaks oil, but it doesn’t smoke and it always starts.  Jennifer drives it 60 miles round trip 3 days a week to go to work and back.  We are planning to use the vehicles to recharge our marine batteries during her weekly commutes.


Pre homestead, we also had 3 Mustangs, two of which were 1991s.  The plan was to sell two of them.  While trying to sell them, one of the ‘91s was totaled while sitting in my mother’s driveway.  An F350 travelling down the highway in front of her house lost control (the State Police measured the skid marks at – wait for it – 500 feet), went through the ditch and hit the Mustang.  It knocked the Mustang into our truck.  Then the truck went through her fence.  Nobody was hurt.  We had a buyer lined up for it.  He was going to pick it up two days after the crash.  He ended up buying the other ’91.Image

ImageThat leaves us with the F350, the Jeep, an ’84 Mustang GT, and a ‘97 Yamaha FZR 600. The GT and the motorcycle are useless on the homestead.  The GT is at my mom’s house with a busted transmission (which seems strange since it has a manual transmission).  The FZR is at the homestead, but it has to be carried in and out in the bed of the truck.  The FZR is a work in progress, as you can see by the pic.  I need to finish painting the fairings, but it seems pointless since I don’t get to ride it very often.  Maybe I will get to ride it more often in the spring.Image

Everybody has their own opinions about vehicles.  Our opinion is that it’s silly to pay for new vehicles when the old ones get us around just fine.  Sometimes they break down.  When they do, it’s up to us to repair them.  I have spent quite a bit of time working on them, but it’s satisfying to know that I’m saving money by doing so.

Would we like to drive new vehicles?  Yes and no.  We would like to drive them on the highway, but around the homestead we wouldn’t trade our old ones for new ones.

Smart Meters, Dumb Government

Today (2-10-12) was about a 5 out of 10 overall.  All goals accomplished, but the goals weren’t very ambitious.

I’m really surprised that anything was accomplished.  Helo’s desire to get an early start screwed up our system.  It seems that Boomer’s digestive system is pretty regular.  Feed him earlier than normal one day and he needs to go out earlier than normal the next day.

I woke up at 1:00 am.  It wasn’t really a surprise.  I went to bed way too early.  I was tired.  After all, Helo did get us all up pretty early yesterday morning.  My sleep had been fitful.  Boomer was tossing and turning.

Sometime around 4:00 am, Boomer decided he needed to go out.  It was wet and cool outside and I really wasn’t feeling it, but he had to go.  He took care of his business in about 45 seconds and we were back inside.

I finally went back to sleep at about 5:00.  I’m not sure when the storm started, but at one point I felt sure that I heard a tornado.  Both of the dogs were huddled up against me.  I wish I had someone to huddle up against.  I didn’t because Jennifer was at work.  It was pretty scary.  I went back to sleep before it was over.

When I woke up again, the storm was gone and the temperature was quite mild.  I had to pick Jen up from my mom’s house.  That involved me having to move the Jeep so that I could get the truck turned around.  It seemed more complicated than necessary.

With the dogs loaded up, I headed for Mom’s.  Jen was still asleep when I got there (she had worked overnight).  We had a bite to eat, loaded the truck up, and headed for home.  We stopped by Taco Bell for some burritos and Wi-Fi.

I found a video on YouTube of a woman who was arrested in Illinois.  It was a long, complicated story, but I’ll try to be concise.  The city she lives in owns the electric company.  They are replacing all of the regular analog power meters with new “smart” meters.  The woman did not want the new meter at her house due to some questions about safety and privacy issues.  She filed a lawsuit to prohibit the installation of the new meter.  Even with the open case, the electric company sent workers to her house with an armed police escort to replace the meter.  They cut the lock off her gate when she refused to allow them on her property.  A police officer arrested her, although the charges weren’t exactly clear.  Her neighbor was arrested for videotaping the entire incident – even though she didn’t interfere.  The charge was eavesdropping.  This entire incident was videotaped by a news crew called to the scene by the two women.  The news crew was not arrested.

Smart meters are the subject of health, safety, and privacy concerns.  They communicate wirelessly with some household appliances and the electric company.  The electric companies say this is a good thing because they can monitor and regulate electricity usage better efficiency.  Some opponents of the meters say that all of the radiation produced by the wireless communication – which some estimate as much higher than the radiation produced by cell phones – poses a health risk.  Some object to being monitored by the devices.  It is reported that the devices can monitor everything from the temperature in a house to the movies that are played on the TV.

Isn’t it ironic that the police arrested a woman for eavesdropping while they were assisting in the installation of a device that will be used to eavesdrop?  I think both women should sue the police. The homeowner should also sue the employees of the electric company who trespassed on her property, and the city government.

The city government used force to handle what is, to me, clearly a civil matter.  In doing so, the homeowner was denied some of her civil rights.  The woman who videotaped the incident was not physically involved as far as I could tell from the video.  She kept her distance.  I understand she wasn’t even arrested until the police saw the video on YouTube.  Since when is it illegal to videotape the police when they are in public with no expectation of privacy?

Watch the video.  Let me know what you think.  I watched the video after I heard about it on Alex Jones’ radio show.  That guy is a riot, but sometimes he actually makes some sense.  Please don’t think I’m a kook.  He makes some good points once (or if) you get past the yelling and the constant, consistent, repetition of “globalists”, “eugenicists”, and “white papers”.

I don’t think I would want something like that monitoring me.  But I guess I don’t have to worry about it, since I don’t have a power meter.  That’s some drama that we don’t have to worry about out here off grid.  We are thankful for the level of liberty that we enjoy here.

Community Water System – Off Grid Style

Until we get our water catchment system up and running, we will use creek water for everything except drinking and cooking.  We have a neighbor who has a tractor, a trailer, and a gasoline powered water pump.  He is nice enough to deliver water to us when we need it.  We supplied the pictured 250 gallon water container, which we were given by a friend.  This setup supplies water to 3 off grid homes.  In a pinch, it will serve as the local fire truck.

As you can see, being off grid doesn’t mean no water pressure.  That’s 1” pipe!

Off grid doesn't mean no water pressure!

Off grid doesn’t mean no water pressure!

Hey, why am I in all of the pics?  Where’s Jen?

If a Tree Falls in the Woods… – 12/10/12

We survived our first night of the season in the cabin.  It was pretty cold, somewhere around 20° F.  I say “around” because I wasnt gonna get out of bed to investigate.  I do know that we have been colder when we were in the camper.  Not that we don’t have heat in the camper, it’s just that the furnace requires propane and some form of electricity – either from the batteries or from the generator.  Those resources aren’t exactly scarce, but we have to do a lot of planning to make sure we don’t run out.  Therefore, we don’t run the furnace when we are asleep.

In the camper, the cold is pretty aggravating when we have to get up, but with enough blankets, both of us, and both dogs in that little bedroom, it gets warm enough to be tolerable – until we have to get out of the bedroom.  Our heat source in the cabin is wood.  Since we have an almost unlimited supply of wood here on our homestead, we can heat the cabin all night.

It still got down pretty cold in here last night – cold enough that we decided that I would divide the cabin in two by hanging plastic.  We had bought a roll of 6 mil plastic a couple of weeks back for just this eventuality.

Well, I have read that someone much wiser than me once said that no battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.  Today was no exception.  Plan was to hang plastic while Jen finished up the work from her second job.  Then she was going to drive into town (44 mile round trip) to upload and download her files.  As we were enjoying a cup of instant cappuccino, we heard a loud noise and immediately the cabin shook.  I stuck my head out the back door and noticed a rather large tree had fallen across our driveway.

I have known for 6 months that the tree needed to come down.  It was rotten and woodpeckers had turned it into something resembling a fiberous and fungus covered stick of Swiss cheese.  A good rain over the last two days followed by a night of high and persistent winds did the tree in.  Two things had prevented me from taking it down: procrastination and imagination.  Procrastination as in I just never got around to it because I always had something else that I would rather be doing.  My imagination kept me from taking it down because I could see the tree being used to block off our driveway in a pinch.

It turns out that my imagination was right on the mark.  That damned tree fell directly perpendicular to the driveway and wedged itself into a stand of trees.  It fell over roots and all, making it all but impossible to move even with our F350.  Luckily, the chainsaw started on the 3rd pull.  Not bad for a 22 year old saw.  Two cuts later and I was hooking it up to the truck with a chain.

I’ve been trying to get around to building a raised bed on the south side of the cabin for quite some time.  This 15 foot (more or less) section of log was perfect for the foundation of the bed.  I pulled it close to the cabin and started winching it into place.  Our neighbor drove up on his tractor unexpectedly, but just in time to save me a lot of manual labor.  I hooked the log to the tractor and he pulled it into place with surgical precision.

Necessity jump started my raised bed.  I will post more on the bed as I work on it.  I did get the plastic up before dark, and Jen was able to get into town.  Now we are enjoying a much warmer cabin.  Can’t wait until we get the insulation up!Tree Across Driveway after being cut

Here is the tree after I cut it up and removed the section that was blocking the road.  I didn’t  think to take a pic BEFORE I cut it up.  Oh, well…

Little Accomplishments – 12/11/12

I didn’t accomplish much today.  By the time we were warm enough to get out of bed it was well into the morning.  By the time we finished breakfast, it was after 11:00 am. 

Since it was cold last night (low 20’s to upper teens), we had to check out the water lines in the camper.  They all seemed fine at first.  We have learned to leave the on board water pump turned off and to leave the cold water on in the sinks and showers.  That essentially drains the exposed lines, and allows for a little expansion if anything does freeze.  The lines to the bathroom actually froze after we tested them and that was around 11:00 am. 

I brought in a small container garden last night because I knew it was going to get really cold.  There are some turnips, carrots, and radishes in the container – all of which had just come up.  I really thought that I had probably waited a day too late to bring them in.  But they still look good today and even appear to have grown.  I guess that it is possible to grow some of your own food all year long.

My goal for the day was to install a new capacitor on one of the generators.  It runs, but it doesn’t produce electricity.  Turns out it wasn’t the capacitor.  Next step is to replace the diodes.  I have no idea what they look like or where they are, but I’m sure I can get it figured out.  Suggestions, anyone?

I also took some time to work on draining some water off of the driveway where water crosses it during wet weather.  And I also played with Boomer for a while.  Also I cut up some of the full size sticks of wood so that they will fit easily into our smaller wood stove.  Again, I can’t believe how easy that little old saw starts. 

Then we went over to the camper and I cooked an entire meal for two for $3.50.  We each had 3 helpings and there is more than enough for tomorrow.  While I cooked, Jen fed the dogs and I poured her a vodka.  We ran the furnace and watched some TV (while running the good generator) while we ate.  Our theory is that we get the camper good and warm and maybe the tanks won’t freeze.  We hope.  Now we are back in the cabin where we are nice and toasty.  Tomorrow is laundry day.  That’s always an experience.