August 2, 2010



Tonight I took a few minutes to sit in my recliner, sip on a cup of coffee and puff on my pipe.  I got to thinking about how much we have got completed on our Off-Grid home over the last year.  A year ago last April we were just getting started with the finish sanding of the drywall mud.   Next came the plumbing, sewer system and black pipe work in the crawl space. That next weekend we started buying the unfinished oak kitchen cabinets, bathroom and kitchen sinks.  Oh yea, we had the well put in also.

Suddenly we wanted to have a mud room added and the porch extended.  In September I ordered the solar system and within a couple of weeks we had a back hoe digging trenches and running 10 gauge power lines in PVC pipe.  Panels installed and inverters and converters working in the electrical room we suddenly had power before Halloween.

Had to prep the water pipes to keep them from freezing and wire up a temporary back-up generator in the event of short winter sun shineless days.  That winter was a lesson learning session from hell but we make it through everything anyway.

Spring came in a hurry and we got the barn built and the garden planted, summer slipped in right behind it along with a chicken coop, wood shed and our root cellar.

Within a week or two, we will be canning about 2 million tomatoes.



July 19, 2010



The root cellar build is finally completed.  Ronald, Vickie, and their grandson Paul came early this morning to put the final pieces of the root cellar together.

All Done

They installed R19 insulation batting in the rafters and then covered it with sheeting to make the ceiling. Then they put on the roof vent and gutters.   Ronald built five rows of 19″ wide shelves with 14″ spacing between the shelves. That will leave enough room to stack two quart jars on top of each other if I need to.  It’s a bit intimidating to look at all that shelving and wonder if I will be able to can enough stuff to fill them.  I think my few jars of pickles and conserve are going to look lost in there right now.  Ronald who is forever thoughtful, built me two step stools from leftover lumber so I will be able to reach the top shelves.

Empty Shelves

It will make it a whole lot easier than trying to climb the shelves like a monkey.  I think I might be too old for that anyway.  Might break a hip or something.   Last but not least the door was installed.  Now it actually looks like a building instead of a tomb.  The only thing Sonny and I will have to do is paint the ceiling and and the outside block.  Oh, and can, can,can….and hope and pray that our potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins do well.   I think the completion of the root cellar was a little bitter sweet for Ronald.  After all, it was him who has overseen and built every building on this property.  Don’t worry Ronald, you don’t know it yet, but I have a few more projects up my sleeve.


July 1, 2010

Today the big red concrete truck arrived.  They poured 10 yards of concrete for the garage floor and the Root Cellar.  Sometime next week we will order the block needed for the walls and get the blocks layed.

The Floor is Poured

Below is Root Cellar

Root Cellar Floor


June 29, 2010


June is typically the early cut month where many in the East start bailing hay.  We will be back in September for the second cut.  Some make square bails and other do rolls.  John raised miniature donkeys so square bails suit him.  They typically stock about 500 or so in his loft to make it through the fall and winter each year.  I think the trailer handled about 75 bails stacked on it.

John bailing

On Tuesday he cut the hay field and afterwards there were several good sunny days for curing.  John went out a couple of mornings when the dew was clear to ted for even better drying.  Then on Thursday he changed out the tedder on his Ford tractor for the rake and about 2pm got to the field and started raking his windrows in the field.  On Friday morning the tractor was ready to go with the bailer hooked up, by mid-day John was making rows.  Linda and I showed up mid afternoon to give him a hand.  Now with the rows cured and ready to go, John got busy.

Loaded Down

Linda and I grabbed John’s other tractor that was already connected to the car trailer and we started stacking the bails from the fields.  While Linda and I got started loading the bails on the trailer, we noticed John and Carol on the far side of the field behind the bailer.  Seemed the twine broke several times and the knotting thingy (a technical term) was hung up.

Using pliers, a knife and a couple dozen bad words they got it fixed up and were back to bailing.  After a couple of trips to the barn we got the hay in the loft we were finished.

John worked me until I was exhausted.  I was toast.  I quickly gained a new respect for what John and the farmer goes through.  I thought to myself…this was just hay today.  Thinking back I think John still had plenty of gas left in him.

Insert Technical term here


June 3, 2010



The sun was shining early this morning when the Green Goblin turned into my driveway.  I wasn’t sure if Ronald would come by to build the wood shed since the weather man predicted rain and thunderstorms through out the day.  I guess he figured he might as well get something done between raindrops.

Blair didn’t come with Ronald and Vicki today.  He had to take his dog to the Veterinarian for it’s yearly checkup.  I tried to fill in as best as I could being a “tote”.  A “tote” is below a “go for”.  You help the “go for” carry boards, and ladders, of which you are always trailing on the back end.  You hold up boards to be nailed when the “go for” can’t handle it themselves.  When two ladders are in use you must control one making sure it is ready and in it’s proper position as the boss needs it.

Leveling the garage ramp

The first order of the day was to finish the foundation of the garage ramp.  A few weeks ago we had shoveled in the gravel.  Today Ronald put in the side foundations to hold in the concrete when it is poured in the garage and the ramp.  We had to make sure that the gravel was four inches below the the top of the foundation ascending up the ramp.  There was too much gravel so we had to shovel some out and then rake it until it was level.  Now the garage is ready to have the concrete poured.  That will happen a couple of weeks from now.

Thunder rumbled far off in the distance.  We moved to the wood shed project to get as much done as possible before the weather changed.  The sun was still shining but the air was thick with humidity and we were wet with sweat.

Wood Shed Frame

Ronald dug the four corner post holes.  He hit a few rocks but none that were so big they couldn’t be removed.  Then he put the 4x4x10 corner posts into the holes and poured in the sacrete. It needed to set up so we took a break and tried to cool off on the porch.

The thunder got closer and the rain came.  It lasted about a half hour and moved on.  The sun popped out and the air was more humid than before, but we trudged on.  Things seemed to move pretty quickly as we put on the side boards, fascia and rafters. It helps that Ronald has a nail gun and has probably built a hundred of these structures in his lifetime.  More than likely we will use this same pattern to build shelters for our goats when we get them.

The last thing Ronald did was to measure the coop and wood shed for the metal.  If he orders it tomorrow it should come in on Monday.  Hopefully by Tuesday afternoon our coop and wood shed will be ready for use.  All in all it was a productive day.  I am a little worried that Ronald may never be the same after working with two women who are opposed to being bossed all day.


June 2, 2010


Ronald, Vicki and Blair have worked hard today.  They showed up at 7:30 to start work on the chicken coop. The temperature was cool at that time of morning but by about 9:00 when the sun reached over the trees the sweat started to fly.

The coop is attached to the back of the implement shed.  This way we only had to buy materials for three walls.  The bones of the structure are finished.  It measures 10’x6′ and will have two chicken doors to allow them to either go free range or hang out in the fenced yard.  The choice will be theirs except in certain situations such as when we are gone for a few days and someone has to take care of them.  Then they will be relegated to the fenced yard for their safety.

Construction of the chicken Coop

We decided at the last minute to leave a 2 foot roof overhang on the front.  The overhang will help keep mud from splashing up on the building when it rains and also provide some shade for the chickens.  Since we already have guttering on the shed roof we opted not to put it on the coop.  I will also put a few low shelters in the fenced yard for them to take cover under in case a hawk comes around.  We do have hawks that like to hang around here and they will really be interested when the chickens show up.  There are plenty of hidy-holes for the hens to flee to when they are outside of the fenced yard if danger should come from overhead.  At night they will be tucked away safe and sound in their coop.  That is the plan anyway.  We have the usual array of predators, including coyotes and bobcats.  Since there are coyotes about we may have to use a heavier gage wire for the fencing instead of the traditional chicken wire.

The skin of the building will be the same green metal roof and white sides as the rest of our buildings.  Sonny and I are going to build the nesting boxes and roosts inside.  That should be interesting.  Hope the chickens aren’t squeemish.  All in all I think the chickens will have a great home and hopefully give us plenty of eggs.

Building of the Barn

May 5, 2010

Finally the barn has build has begun. After saving all winter getting by on bread and water our builder Ronald and his faithful assistant Vicky (his wife) was almost ready to get started. Ronald and I worked out the best location and discussed how many bays and even talked about putting a cement floor in one along with a garage door. That turned out to be a great idea. I could use it to change the oil on the cars and store the tools there allowing me to clear out the electrical room. The open stalls can hold the tractor, mower and most other things.

Ron staked out the 25’x36’ outline with a line and a 50’ tape. Once things were squared up he marked where the 4”x6” main posts will be placed. Linda’s cousin John has a old Ford 4060 tractor along with a new post hole attachment on the rear. He offered to come over on that Friday to start putting the holes in. After everyone left Linda and I were looking at all the handy work that went on that afternoon and suddenly noticed a pretty big tree near the stream that had a pretty pronounced lean. After a second glance it was clear that if that tree roots were washed out many more times it would more then likely hit go down and could hit the corner of the barn doing some serious damage to Ron’s handy work. I quickly grabbed the Homelite and got busy. As I dropped cut the tree it began to drop and it hit exactly on the corner of the staked line that would have eventually been the corner of the barn. Linda got started dragging the brush away and I got to cutting that big boy cut up. We got the brush removed and stacked in about 3 hrs.

On Friday John completed putting all 13 holes in the ground. Ronald returned on Monday to estimate the lumber, screws, J-channel and the metal for the roof and sides and associated 2×4, 2×6 and 2×8’s. He submitted the order and set a delivery the following week. After the delivery they got their generator running and started at it hard and fast. It rained a few days here and there but in no time they got it framed out and ready for the metal to be hung.
The green tin (actually it is not tin) went on the roof and they finished it off with a ridge vent. The white metal went on the sides pretty quick until Ron figured out he was shorted on the white screws. Lucky for us Ron has some extra’s left over from a earlier job he recently finished.

By the next Friday, Ronald started the install on the garage door. He wrapped up that project in just a few hours. A week later he got the delivery and used the wheel barrel to haul and spread the 5 tons of gravel he needed to level out the floor before the concrete gets ordered. It is nearly finished (see below).

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