Adios Mr. Debt Collector

Well it’s finally over… the house is sold and the new tipi is on it’s way! I can’t believe that this “chapter” in my life is over. No more calls from the bank threatening to take my house; a clean credit history and some cash in the “bank” incase I need to call on “plan B”. Owning a house has been the greatest gift and my greatest burden. I’ve struggled for the past 7 years to keep from losing everything… I’ve lost sleep and taken some serious medication to fight the stress. On a happy note, the new owner said she plans on raising chickens! Whoot, whoot!

I was lured into the “great American debt scheme” the second the bank found out that I had equity in a home. I made the mistake of taking out a line of credit on the house when I first inherited it… biggest mistake of my life… I will never listen to a banker again! Of course this all happened right before the “Great Recession”, which I could never seem to pull myself out of… even with a good paying job. It amazes me how deep into debt one can sink… especially with all the crafty ways the credit companies have devised to keep you a slave. They don’t like it when you do finally pay off that debt and they are quick to attempt to lure you back in… they even charged me a $25 “settlement fee” for paying off and closing the account. You should see how hard the bank is working to try to keep me from withdrawing my money 🙂 They are pretty much having the equivalent of a six year old temper tantrum… “Well sir we understand that it is your money, but you should consider investing it” and they even made the statement “we will need to report this to the IRS.” Nothing like having big brother keeping track of YOUR MONEY and how you chose to spend it. Personally it’s none of their damn business and that is exactly the reason I don’t want it in the hands of the bank… Sorry I don’t mean to sound like a weirdo, but I like my privacy… which is why I don’t use Facebook anymore.

So life goes on in the Northland. We finally have some warm days where we can take the snowmobile out… it gets depressing sitting inside hiding from the bitter cold. Netfix can only do so much to cure boredom… I’ve already seen damn near every movie they have. My fingers are sore from crocheting and playing the guitar… thankfully the lakes are almost frozen enough for some ice fishing; change of pace. I’m no fool and understand that times in the tipi next winter will be tough… I’m sure I will have days where I’m severely depressed and may even question my decision… but I’m not going to give up until I have at least tried it. Were I to listen to my friends, I wouldn’t be here right now… I’d still be struggling with house payments, working at a stressful job and sliding deeper into debt.

On a different note, Gene has decided that heating with wood is just too damn much work so he is installing a new propane heater (bigger version) along with electric baseboard heating that is tied to an “off-peak” meter, which gives us a discounted rate. The problem with the cabin is that it’s just too damn big to efficiently heat with wood- now my tipi on the other hand, will be a great candidate. All this tipi talk is getting me excited again… COME ON SPRING!

Well that’s enough of an update for now… I need to go check on the chickens and let these dogs out. Stay warm and drive safe!

Some expensive eggs!

Well… this is a learning experience, no doubt about it! So, after posting about how wonderful the chickens were doing in the “barn” aka “boathouse” we pulled a 180. We just got the electric bill for the month of November and found out that the bill rose by $240! Yep… $240!!! Talk about some pretty expensive eggs!

The reason for the increase is because the heater in the barn was pulling 4000 watts… it’s been very cold up here in the Northland and that barn was pretty damn drafty (despite copious amounts of spray foam and plastic tenting) to say the least! I was even running the heater on the lowest setting which was keeping things at about 40 degrees… I was still dealing with frozen water bottles and frozen eggs. I was doing a water change about 3 times a day and becoming very frustrated with the whole situation. After seeing the bill and realizing how this was “clearly not working out”, Gene and I decided to move the animals.

We spent about 7 hours yesterday building an insulated partition wall inside the garage (which is already heavily insulated from the previous owner who used to work out there all year round) and moving the chickens/duck/rabbits into their new home. They are now happily situated and currently enjoying 60 degree temps (with outside temperatures of 32 below) with only two 250 watt heat lamps. I woke up this morning and didn’t even have to deal with frozen water bottles! I’m pretty sure I can get by with just one 250 watt lamp on the warmer days and may put the second lamp on a timer or thermostat controller just to save even more $. I’m much happier with the new setup and I can tell the animals are too. Next year the whole thing should be on solar/wind power so I wont give a damn about how many lamps are running- within reason of course… I’d be pretty jealous if they were warmer than I was 🙂

We will just count this experience as a lesson learned! In the summer the animals will move back to the boathouse… where I’m sure they will appreciate the draft!

Answers to questions

Q: A question….how is the place where your keeping the animals? Meaning is it warm enough for them?

A: The animals are currently located in an old boat house that has been converted into a barn. The chickens have a separate area from the rabbits and are caged in with chicken wire, but they both share the same “space”. The barn is 10×20 and we used foam insulation on the walls to provide an extra barrier. We also used some plastic sheeting to “tent” the area so that the warm air would not just go straight up to the roof. I purchased a small heater and the temperature stays at a balmy 40*, just enough to keep the water bottles from freezing. The chickens huddle together for warmth and the rabbits have a nice winter coat to help keep them warm. I chose “cold weather” chicken breeds that are better adapted to our Minnesota climate (Buff Orpington and Silver Laced Wyandotte). The boat house isn’t the best place for them because there are a lot of cracks for cold air to get in and the walls are thin plywood, but it worked in a pinch. Next summer I will look for a better option.

Q: So I have been wondering. Your closing on the house so you will get some $$$ from that.. and I am sure you have some savings or something… but when those things run out… How do you plan to buy things? Barter? Trade?…… lol, late night black ops missions..? Just curious….

A: This seems to be the most popular question. Most “city folk” just can’t understand how cheap it is to get by when you don’t have utility bills and a mortgage to worry about! When I was budgeting in the cities these two areas were 87% of my expenses.

For an income I will be working part-time doing odd jobs for the local resorts and selling some homemade goods. I’ve got a good deal with the land owner and will be working around the property to “pay” for the land I’m staying on. I have ZERO utility bills once I’m in the tipi: heating with wood (no gas bill), solar power (no electric bill), water comes from a well (no water bill), composting toilet (no sewer bill), local dump (no garbage bill). tipi for a home (no mortgage).

I’m growing/raising the majority of my own food… I eat mostly beans, rice, rabbit,chicken, eggs, bread, fresh and canned vegetables/fruit. In the summer I am putting in a greenhouse so that I will have fresh produce over the winter and I will also have a root cellar for storage for next years harvest. I’m also growing grains this summer so I can mill my own flour. I will have to buy sugar until the bees start producing honey, which will take a year.  I’m tapping maple trees in March and will harvest wild rice from the local lakes. Once I get through the first year I will know roughly what I will need to make during the summer to keep things going… Right now the rough estimate is about $200.00/month: animal feed, gas, cell phone bill and a few odds and ends and some food I can’t grow myself… but I’m sure I’ve forgot to include something 🙂 I’ll have a better fell for things around this time next year! I have back-up plans in place in case things don’t work out!

Let it SNOW!

Wow! We just got a TON of snow… like waist deep. Snow is much prettier up here in the North-land let me tell you. I used my new Polaris 500 to plow the driveway and it works like a dream, much better than a snow blower… much funner too. Gene took the photo above last week when we were out on one of our “adventures.” We’ve been having a lot of “adventures” lately. 4-weelin late at night is the best… you wouldn’t believe how cool the trails are at night. The trees creep in from both sides and the smell of pine needles fills the air. I keep waiting for a bear or some other sort of wild animal to jump out in front of us and maul Gene. Tonight we took an adventure on the new snowmobile. The trails are not groomed yet and this sled cut through the waist high snow like a beast. I told Gene that I just wanted to go for a short ride, like an hour or so… 4 hours later we arrived back at the cabin 🙂 I’m not a fan of the heated seats as all the snow melts and soaks into my snow pants… nothing worse than having a wet butt.

Projects at the cabin also continue. I put in slate tiles around the fireplace and started tiling the kitchen back-splash. I also installed a few electric heaters to supplement the wood stove on these cold Minnesota nights. We’ve still to tackle the kitchen floor… Genes “to do” list never seems to end. That’s okay because it keeps me busy- sometimes too busy.

I created the YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/returntothewild. I haven’t posted any videos yet, but I did add some videos to my playlists. Like I’ve said before, most of what I learn comes from either Google or YouTube so I linked some videos that I’ve found helpful in the past. At some point I will put up some of my own videos- first I need to get a better camera (I’m thinking a go pro).

I made a trip to the cities over the weekend. It was very stressful and I will say I’m not a fan of my Mothers driving, especially when it’s snowing. I asked her to please not pass the plow… she didn’t listen. I was in a pretty traumatic roll-over when I was in my “teens.” I don’t talk about it much, but I witnessed my friend sitting in front of me go out the open window as the car rolled… he popped out the window and then right back in. Miraculously no one was severely injured. I had blood all over my shirt and changed at a friends house before I went home in an attempt to hide the accident from my parents… it didn’t work because the parents of the kid who was driving called to make sure that I was okay. Long story short… I still freak out in cars. I just keep it to myself and I’m pretty sure nobody knows that I have this fear of flipping over every time I’m driving with someone. The drive with Mom gave me some pretty white knuckles!

Next Friday is the closing on the house… can you tell I’m excited… except for the fact that I have to drive to the cities for the closing. I can’t wait to close that chapter in my life. It has been a struggle owning a house… even with two roommates and a good paying job. I’m not sure how people do it- well… scratch that… I know how. It’s called credit. The biggest thing about selling the house is that I will no longer be in debt and there is now nothing “material” wise that creditors can threaten to take from me. If I can’t pay for something with the cash in my pocket then tough. Credit in my opinion, will be the downfall of this country. Wait till those Government backed student loans start to go into default. I would rather live in a tipi in the woods growing my own food, than slave away at some job sliding deeper into debt. I believe with all my heart that a storm is brewing… a paradigm shift that is going to cause some serious chaos. I want to be as far away from large groups of people as possible. If I’m wrong and things continue to trudge along… I’m still in a much better place. Okay, enough of that.

I haven’t heard any word from Christopher. I’m not sure I want to know… sometimes not knowing is better. I did find out a few more things that he wasn’t being honest about and it only strengthened my belief that I did the right thing in asking him to leave. I think a few of my friends are worried that I will wind up a “lonely hermit” out here in the middle of nowhere- rest assured that will not happen. I may not find another partner anytime soon, but I”m totally fine with that. I have Gene, the dogs, the rabbits, the chickens and a duck- you are never really alone when you think about it. I’ve even made a few new local friends and have been invited to try spear fishing. Also, a couple that has a cabin near by wants to go sledding with us next week.

The animals are doing well. A few weeks ago I noticed that one of the rabbit kits hadn’t opened it’s eyes yet. I could barely tell where the eyelids were supposed to be and it seemed like they were fused shut. I felt the lids with my fingers and could tell that there were no eyes that had developed behind them. I’m not sure what caused this; just a fluke or something worse. I was pretty saddened by this discovery and I’m not sure how I will handle butchering this poor creature. Other than the fact that it was born blind, I don’t see any other health issues with it and, despite it’s disability, is eating and drinking just fine. It even get’s inside the feeder and pushes the other rabbits aside. Mother Earths creatures are amazing some times.

Well, enough for now. Someone should ask me some questions… I like questions 🙂 I will leave you with this cute picture of Gene with his dog Shay. They like to cuddle!

"Dogs Best Friend"

“Dogs Best Friend”

What a waste

There are few things that piss me off more in life than seeing an animal going to waste, especially now that I raise my own food. I’m going to take a few minutes to just vent. There is a family that lives across the street from the cabin. Total trailer trash IMO and should have CPS called on them (this family would not last one day in the city without raising eyebrows). They live in a shit hole of a house and there is garbage (literally) all over their front lawn. There is also a deer carcase hanging from a tree… it’s been hanging for a week now! The deer was shot, gutted and hung from a tree… and there it remains. How does this make any sense? What a waste. Why kill something if you have no intent on using it for anything other than a morbid lawn ornament. Apparently this is an all too common thing for this family. I left the city so that I could find peace in my surroundings and now I get to witness this. Human beings can be so pathetic and I’m often surprised that the Earth puts up with us… actually it seems like the Earth is finally catching on as of late.

Things are continuing to move forward on the sale of the house. All the minor repairs have been made and the buyers bank appraisal was done on Friday. I still have a few things to pick up from storage in the basement and I think I may be coming down with my Mom sometime after Thanksgiving… I’m not sure if I will have time to see anyone but I will do my best to make some visits.

The animals are doing well. I was dealing with some frozen water bottles during the cold spell and may need to hang some plastic sheeting to help hold the heat. I do have a heater in the barn but it’s set on low (just above *40). I don’t want to raise the electric bill any more than I need to, and it’s not a good idea to get the animals used to warm temps in case of a power outage. Next year I will insulate the barn better, we were in a bit of a rush to get the animals settled and cut some corners when we threw the walls up. The “barn” is actually a boat house that Gene (my roommate) built some years back- it wasn’t designed to hold animals, let alone hold heat in 50 below weather. The rabbit kits are doing well and gaining weight rather quickly- probably because there are only five of them this litter and there is plenty of that rich milk to go around. Their eyes are open and they are starting to explore the confines of their cages- I feel a bit sad because they won’t be able to experience the wonders of the outside world… at least they wont be strung from a tree to rot!

Not much to report this week. We cut down some trees and split the logs- there is something about the smell of oil, gas and wood that gets my blood going… chainsaws are so” manly” and I admit feeling sexy when using one! Gene bought another four wheeler at auction (I’m going to buy his old one for a reasonable price) and he got me an awesome deal on some snowshoes… thanks buddy! I also busted out the cross country skis earlier this week and spent a great deal of time attempting to use them- until I realized that they were the waxable kind (facepalm). I did get quite a ways down the road and back… it was a workout to say the least. I have another pair of cross country skis that were my grandpas and they don’t require waxing… I will use this pair next time! All the snow has since melted and I find myself wishing for more… probably won’t have the same feelings once December arrives. We still need to gather more wood before we can raise the “mission accomplished” banner but we definitely have a good dent made.

Gene and I went into town on Friday and saw Ender’s Game. The movie was okay, but more and more I find myself disappointed in what I find on T.V. and at the movies lately. I’m not sure why this is. I’d rather prefer to spend time watching Youtube videos or reading books on subjects that help grow my knowledge base- be it gardening, hunting, fishing, self-sufficiency etc. I think I’m enjoying life more these days and don’t need to suppress myself in fantasy based works. I have a few novels (including Ender’s Game) that I plan to get around to sometime this winter… probably during bath time.

I’ve been eating more healthy (no processed foods and added sugars) since Christopher left (it’s not all up in my face)… okay maybe a coke when we went to the movies, but hey I deserve a treat now and again. I’m losing weight again and feel better physically. Since Christopher left it’s also easier to get up and get going in the morning… I no longer have the luxury of saying “I thought you were going to take care of that.” My workload hasn’t gotten much larger either, despite Christopher’s claims of having done everything… I have added cooking and laundry back to my list of chores, but seriously it’s not any more difficult than everything else I do and I like to hear Gene saying, “this is the best _________ I’ve ever had,” when I cook him a meal. Speaking of dinner… it’s time to go cook. Hope all is well with you dear reader and I will leave you with this awesome picture of me being “sexy”…

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And poor Gene…

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Changes

I’ve been holding off on updating the blog… just to make sure that I’m secure in saying this. Christopher and I have decided to part ways. I know this may be a bit of a shock to some of you… I sort of saw it coming. All that I am going to say publicly about the situation is that honesty is the key to any relationship, and there were some honesty issues. I wanted to make sure that the decision was final before I updated the blog. It is what it is!

Now that I’ve stated that… I’m doing fine and I intend to continue with my original plan and will continue to document my adventures on this blog. Christopher left with his dad a few days ago and I’m not sure where his travels will take him… I wish him well.

The sale of the house is going according to schedule and I’m looking forward to closing out my final ties to city life. The woods are filled with blaze orange and echos of gunshots… hunting season has arrived. I’ve started to plan the summer garden and will be ordering the seeds from a wonderful company: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com)- They have a catalog that will blow your mind! The garden will certainly be a sight to see and will be filled with interesting and unusual varieties. I busted out the crochet and whipped up a few dishcloths to get my fingers back into the rhythm… kind of like riding a bike. Maybe Mom will finally get her shall that she’s been waiting 2 Christmas’s for (I have no excuse for not having the time now). Well… I think this is enough for now, I’ll let you all digest the situation as I’m sure you probably need it. Thanks for following!

Oh yeah!

sold-signs

We got an offer on the house today… if everything goes as planned we will be closing on December 13th. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers… they obviously worked 🙂 The next step after closing will be placing the order for the tipi, wood stove and composting toilet (our most expensive items), this way everything is on site and ready for spring!

As for Christopher’s hasenpfeffer… the recipe calls for three days of brining so we will be having that for dinner on Tuesday night. Photos and taste results to follow… Christopher is finally going to start learning wordpress and  writing posts.

Goodbye facebook!

Well… we deleted our facebook accounts.b

I love how Facebook attempts to guilt you into staying by showing you all the people that will “miss you”. It was weird waking up and not logging on first thing in the morning to see what everyone’s status updates were. I realize now how much time was wasted “click, click, clicking” away. Granted, it did have it’s perks… but I’m glad it’s gone; less distraction.

One of our rabbits kindled this week. The first litter this doe kindled she had 10 kits. This time around there were only five. We saved two does from the last litter and will breed them in January. According to what I’ve read and been told by other breeders: 3 does and a buck is a good number to start with. The meat is tasty and is similar to a cross between chicken and pork. Christopher has hasenpfeffer brining right now… can’t wait to try it! I will eventually create separate pages for “rabbits, chickens, garden and honey bees” that will have more specific details for those that are interested in the individual “processes” behind those subjects. I’m going to keep the posts pretty general and more along the lines of a diary so if you are interested in the more DIY aspect check out the individual pages.

One of the awesome things about this move is that now we are only an hour away from my parents and other family members. We’ve been taking advantage of this opportunity and spending some quality time with Ma and Pa. Tomorrow we are going over to help them pull out their dock, we’ve already helped them put the house “back in order” after the remodel. The projects around the cabin continue and should keep us busy for the most of the winter. Here are a few pictures of  Barn and the cabin we are staying in:

Rabbitry

Rabbitry

Barn

Barn

Coop

Coop

Barn interior

Barn interior

Porch

Porch

Bathroom

Bathroom

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My favorite spot

My favorite spot

Living room

Living room

Kitchen stores

Kitchen stores

The loft

The loft

Loft sitting room

Loft sitting room

Christopher's favorite chair

Christopher’s favorite chair

The loft

The loft

I also found out this week that my prediction was correct… I left my job at just the right time. I feel bad for my coworkers and wish them the best of luck finding new employment- something has been pulling us in this direction and I’m confident now that the correct choice was made… not that I had any doubts.

On a happy note… we got some good feedback on this last showing… “interested and will sleep on it” was the comment made. Please cross your fingers that the house will sell soon- it’s the last thing that is keeping me from feeling “free.”

“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” -Christopher McCandless