Nocking Arrows Off-Grid in the Rain

The weather Gods are playing their tricks again. I’m wondering if I should start building an ark and gathering animals… rain, rain and still more rain. I think we should build a water pipeline from the tipi to California. I made the mistake of going to town and leaving the door open during our latest 28hr. downpour. Let’s just say I’m glad I bought indoor/outdoor carpet and have plenty of towels. The front of the tipi got a little wet. I am also getting some water dripping in from the stove pipe. I need to find a way to seal the canvas around the pipe so that the water has no way to sneak in. The back of the tipi where the bed is set up, and the side of the tipi where the T.V. and battery bank is, stays completely dry… thankfully. The wind can really whip the canvas and it’s quite impressive listening to the storms raging outside. As I explained to my Dad, I don’t have to worry so much about the wind because of the conical shape of the tipi, it’s not a flat wall like a house and the wind simply goes around me. I also have a rope that is lashed around the top of the poles and can be anchored to the center of the tipi if we get any serious straight line winds.

Yesterday we finished getting the wind generator lifted into place and wired up. We wound up blowing a fuse bank when we attempted to connect to the batteries. The wiring for the generator is three phase and the instructions were sketchy on how the two systems (battery powerhub and wind generator MPPT) connected together. A simple phone call to the manufacturer got us on the right track and everything is connected properly now. Of course yesterday there was no wind, and today the wind is blowing so hard that the over-speed protection on the wind generator has shut down the blades. Tonight I’m disconnecting from the main power and will be running completely off-grid… an experiment that is sure to present some issues that will need to be problem solved. EVERYTHING is a learning experience.

Today I picked up my new Hoyt Charger compound bow from Itasca Archery Supply (http:www.itascaarchery.com). I’m telling you, the people in the Northland are about the most friendly and interesting folks you could wish to meet. Gary, the shop owner, set me up with a great bow package. I’ve never felt more comfortable about making such an “investment” in my life. I was even able to get a free archery lesson with Arne Moe, who is a level 4 USA Archery Coach. To top it all off, Gary’s son is going to connect me with some local bee keepers in the Itasca area. Northland networking at it’s finest! I have faith that I’m going to get a deer this season… cross your fingers and wish me luck, I’m hoping to brain tan some buckskin this fall.

Well, the rain has died down a little. I think I’m going to find a spot to hang my target and practice my form. Nothing like nocking arrows off-grid in the rain. Stay dry!

Everything Falling into Place.

Every day I wake up, I have to pinch myself to make sure that I’m not dreaming. Life has never been this good or this exciting. I’ve never felt so “connected” to the world around me. At night I fall asleep to the croaking of frogs and the hooting of owls, I wake up to the chirping of birds and the cool blowing breeze. Life in a tipi is… amazing. I’m at a loss for words, it’s something that must be experienced to be understood.

I’ve managed to solve my mosquito problem. Nothing a bug zapper and a bit of mosquito netting can’t handle. Of course, now we have a new problem… army worms. The damn things are everywhere and they spin a line from the tops of my tipi poles and come inching down, only to be squished in my carpet. If you are not a fan of bugs, you should just stay in your comfy pre-fab house! Just sayin’. The winter will be cold yes, but at least there won’t be any damn bugs!!!

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The composting toilet is hooked up and running. So far I’m very happy with how it operates. There is no smell unless I forget to empty the urine bucket (which is part of my daily morning ritual now). If you want specifics on it’s operation check: http://www.natureshead.net.

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I also managed to hook up the kitchen sink… with running water! The stove is also hooked up properly now. I purchased a 2ft. length of double wall insulated stove pipe to go out the front of the tipi through the lacing pins. This allows me to close the smoke flaps when it’s raining heavily and during the winter months. I have to figure out a way to plug up the small holes that were created when running the pipe out this way… EVERYTHING is literally a learning experience.

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After much debate on how to best hook up the wind generator, I finally broke down and ordered the tower kit. Gene and I were trying to figure out if we could save money by building a tower ourselves, but decided in the end to just go with the kit. Sometimes it’s best pay the extra cost to make sure that things aren’t going to come crashing down… it’s an investment. We got the tower up yesterday and will be installing the wind generator later today after we pick up wire in town. I’ve already been using the battery bank and inverter, pulling power through an extension cord from the house. The batteries seem to be able to keep everything running for a few days before they drain. At some point I may need to install a few solar cells to collect power on those rare windless days. I’ll know for sure how everything is going to hold up by the end of next week.

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I’ve cleaned up twice now in the new outdoor shower. There is something freeing standing naked in a field, under a warm shower with only God looking at your naughty parts. I picked up a Triton on-demand propane water heater from the interwebs for a reasonable price. The thing works like a charm and can put out some seriously HOT water. The hook-up was simple and it only requires a garden hose, propane tank and 2 D cell batteries. When the unit senses the water flowing it immediately fires up and starts sending hot water. As long as the propane doesn’t run out, the hot water continues to flow without interruption. It also works great for cleaning my dishes… and laundry at some point (LOL).

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The garden is about as planted as it’s going to get this year. I didn’t get everything that I wanted to plant in the ground. The grains and carrots and wheat will have to wait till next year. Apparently I’m not the only one who had a late start in the garden this year, so I don’t feel so bad. I’m hoping right now that everything comes up. I’ve got some serious clay in my garden and I’m afraid the seedlings are going to have a difficult time pushing through the soil… time will tell.

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In preparation for the heat of July, I broke down and bought a pool… live simply yes, but one still needs “toys.” I don’t have the luxury of air conditioning and I’m not a fan of swimming in mucky lakes. Gene is fixing up an old hot tub in the garage, so soon we will have that up and running too. This place is turning into a 5 star resort!

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Lastly this week, I pulled out 7 of my frozen rabbit hides and started to tan them… I’ll post pictures when they are finished. Again, thank you internet for providing me the information to learn all these new skills.

Well… I have lots of work to do. Hopefully life is treating you well and you are having a better time with mosquitoes and bugs than I am. Till next time!

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Mosquitoes and Sweat… Still Think This is Fun!

On Friday May 23rd. I began living full-time in the tipi. My friend Erin came up to visit for the weekend from the cities. She was supposed to help me move everything out of the cabin and into the tipi, but I was bored and eager, so everything was already moved when she arrived. I can not describe how awesome of an experience this is! I have my bed, a sink, two stoves, a dresser, a book case, a cedar chair, a refrigerator and toilet… and there is plenty of room for all of it, plus more for storage. The guests that have come over to see inside have just stood in awe. There is something magical about living in a round home.

The tipi stays about 6-8 degrees cooler than the outside temp. I use a fan to keep the air circulating. The last two days I’ve gotten a taste of wet weather, so far everything has held up. There have been a few small drips here and there, but nothing I’d consider even close to serious or annoying. I went shopping in town and got some rugs for the floor and some paver bricks for under the stove area. I hung two strands of Christmas lights up around the interior and they provide just enough light to complete the ambiance. Hopefully the pictures can convey the “feel” of the living space. I’m waiting for Erin to e-mail me some panoramic photos she took during the visit. I’ll post them soon. Clothes pins come in handy for hanging things up along the inside liner (a tip for any tipi enthusiasts out there).

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The biggest problem that I have right now, is the damned mosquitoes. I’ve been bathing in bug spray and burning sage to help keep them out. Sometimes they just DGAF and bite right through the strongest bug spray I can find. I woke one morning to a swarm of the pesky buggers hovering over my bed. I’m considering buying a bug zapper and a mosquito net to go over the bed at night. Anyone from Minnesota knows what a bunch of crap “mosquito season” is. There are other bugs too, but I don’t really mind as long as they keep to themselves. I’ve had no problems with mice or other animals trying to get inside… I’m pretty sure the dogs have something to do with that. Another issue is dirt… I have to sweep everyday… I’m pretty sure the dogs have something to do with that too. Despite these few things, I still have no regrets and I’m having the adventure of my life. I couldn’t be happier! I’m slowly becoming “that guy that lives in the tipi.” I have no problem just sitting in the tipi with the dogs, watching a movie (or reading) and enjoying the peace and quiet.

Gene and I started on the outdoor shower (which will have to be used when the mosquitoes aren’t around), we ran out of boards and will pick some up on Monday to finish it. The sink is in, but I still have to run a water line. I have a Berkey water filter that I use for my drinking water. Currently with the heat, the dogs and I go through about 3 gallons of water a day. Also, I still need to hook up the wind generator. Right now I’m pulling power from the barn. Hopefully I will be “off-grid” in the next week. There are tons of little projects to accomplish… including a not so little project; splitting and stacking wood for the winter. Yes, I still have faith that I will be able to make it through the winter!

The garden is late in getting started. I planted about 14 tomato plants last week, and yesterday I planted some raspberry bushes. Next year will be much better because we won’t need to plow up sod and put up fencing; just a quick tilling. I met another neighbor yesterday and he kindly gave me 24 pepper seedlings, some onion and potato sets, and some seeds. The people are so friendly in the country!

The honeybees are doing awesome! I’m getting ready to put my second hive body on. The bees have been busy gathering pollen and building comb. I can’t believe how docile the bees are. I’m not even wearing gloves anymore! Next time I check on them, I’m going to wear just the veil and no suit. Yep, living life dangerously I am!

The baby chicks are doing well and should be big enough to join the other girls in the yard next week. I lost one of my Buff Orpingtons I’ve had for 3 years now. My friend Erin went to check for eggs and found her laying in the corner of the coop. There were no obvious signs of injury; her death is a mystery. Velvita the duck has started to venture out on her own more… doing less “chicken” things and more “duck” things. She obviously would like to spend all day near the pond, the chickens not so much.

The rabbits are doing awesome, even in this heat. The new outdoor cages are on the shade side of the barn and are working better than I could have hoped. No more emptying litter pans!!! I have a gravity fed watering system which saves TONS of time not having to constantly fill up smaller water bottles. The first litter of 8 kits is 5 weeks old and another doe just kindled another 8 kits on Wednesday. I remember watching the movie “Roger and Me” by Michal Moore with my Mother when I was younger. There is a scene with this lady that sells and butchers rabbits and has a sign in her yard that says: “rabbits for sale. pets or meat.” I hope she doesn’t mind me stealing her sign idea 🙂 Hopefully I can make a few bucks selling them.

The work is hard and sweaty and never ends. It seems like once I finish one project, five more take it’s place. On the nice days… I love it! On the crappy days… I still love it, but I complain a lot 🙂 The dogs are slowly adjusting to the changes too. Sometimes they forget that “go inside” means go into the tipi and not the cabin. Myles keeps sneaking out when I leave and going over to the neighbors (bad dog), obviously some training is in order. He will get it eventually. Rusty developed another ear infection and both dogs are getting bit by flies. The vet gave me some fly repellent cream to test out, so far it seems to be working. Myles is an indoor dog and I wonder if this transition is stressful to him. Rusty loves being outside and seems to not care at all. Gene has been amazing in helping me with all this. He’s very clever and has had a few great ideas. He always has input and makes me think about things.

Surprisingly I’ve been off the computer for well over a week now. Let me tell ya… I don’t miss “not knowing” all the “extra stuff” going on in the world. I can concentrate on what’s around me and what effects me directly. I will run cable out to the garage so I can get wireless in the tipi… eventually. Right now it’s not on my list of “priorities” and that should tell you something. So again, thank you dear reader. Hope you stay cool and dry and follow your dreams!