Forest Breath

Discussion in 'General Homesteading & Building' started by TechAdmin, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

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    I would love to know more about your homestead.

    What do you do about electricity and Internet access?
     
  2. Forest Breath

    Forest Breath Unci

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    I just found this thread right before I am preparing to leave work today. What I don't answer today, I will try to get to tomorrow.

    I live in Southeast Tennessee. I was approached by the elderly neighbor couple early this year. They have no children or grandchildren. Initially they wanted to leave us their 22 acre farm when they passed with several agreements made and I pay them a set amount of money each month. Sadly the man died as the papers were being drawn up and it is likely we will only end up with 5-10 acres. This will be enough to sustain us however, so we are not going to fret over it.

    We began checking into costd for septic permits, utility lines, and on and one, wells and such and it was going to cost us almost $12,000 just to get the chosen site ready to begin a home. I had always had a dream ofa one room home with no electric or plumbing. Not because I think the world is coming to an end really, but just because I wanted to live that way. It is no secret the world is headed for bad times, but my heart just was pulled to the old ways of things and so me and my fiance' decided, hey...live the dream for awhile. If we cannot do it, we go back on the grid, if we can...yay for us.

    So I talked to Jimmy and I told him what I wanted in a house. EVERYONE said there was no way to build us a house for less than $10,000. I was shocked as I was thinking $5000 sounded better. So we began.

    We chose the site up on the back hill. We searched for salvagable items for a home. Me (46), my fiance (35), my youngest daughter (27), Jimmy (71) and my 3 year old grandson set out to build us a home. We had never built anything before (except for Jimmy). We had no electric, so we nailed everythign by hand, sawed all the wood with a chainsaw and hand saw. It was interestingm exciting, tiring and a learning experience. Sadly Jimmy found out he had cancer 3 weeks into the project. Terminal cancer. We were so clueless when he went into the hospital and somehow managed to figure out how to get a roof on and move in. Jimmy got to sit inside the house oen time before he died just a few weeks later. We built the home in a month, well...to a livable level in a month and moved in. We finsihed the walls, insulation, porch and more after we moved into the home. We currently have a little over $5000 in the home, we only like the inside walls and siding on the outside.

    We are completely off the grid. We have no electricity at ALL. We use oil lamps for light, we cook on a propane grill outside and a propane stove at times. We heat with wood and got the heater off of Freecyle. We cut all our own wood. I wash clothes by hand. We can and dry all of our food and are now in the process of building the root cellar. Future plans are a Spring House, smokehouse, small barn, workshop, muscadine vineyard, large garden, pigs for meat, we already have chickens. We forage for some foods and I get several deer a year to process for our meat.

    As for water, I designed the house in my head to be as self sufficient and able to utilize the seasons and weather to our advantage. Most windows are in the east and west side. Few in the north and south side. During the summer, with the home facing west and the porch on with a roof, we get a good breeze flowing through and it stays cool. In the winter it stays warm. I also wanted to roof to provide us with all the water we needed. It is a total slant style roof, the home is 28'x28'. We have a gutter in the back with 2 downspouts. We collect the water in containers, several have spigots on them. 1/2 inch of water gives us over 200 gallons. 200 gallons will last us a month is used wisely. It is just me and my fiance' living there with our grandson there 9 hours a day and the other 2 grandkids stay some on weekends. We carry water in for the dishes, heat it as needed for baths inside in the winter and during the summer we take baths just off the back porch. I do all laundyr by hand and recycle water as much as possible.

    I will see what pics I can find and post them in another post.

    I access the internet at work before and after work when I wait on my daughter to pick me up on the way home. We have one solar lamp we use for the outhouse and it works well. We have no TV, music or anything like that. I quilt, read, write, paint, crochet when I have time. Most of our time is spent working on the house and getting ready for winter.
     

  3. Forest Breath

    Forest Breath Unci

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    [​IMG]
    the back porch area where we take baths and collect water

    [​IMG]
    wood shed and outhouse

    [​IMG]
    front porch

    [​IMG]
    one of the water collection systems in action, we have the overflow that runs into a molded pond
     
  4. Forest Breath

    Forest Breath Unci

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    [​IMG]
    solar food fryer (apples and blueberries)

    [​IMG]
    kitchen sink, we recycle the water

    I will post more pics and tell you more tomorrow. I will be heading home in a few minutes, but will try to get back here while at work tomorrow.
     
  5. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

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    Amazing! Very inspiring story, thanks for sharing all that.

    It seems like a huge jump to move to a life without electricity. Do you often find yourself wanting it or has life been just fine without it.
     
  6. Forest Breath

    Forest Breath Unci

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    I have a lovely story to tell you about that but the answer is.....

    I never want it again. I miss NOTHING about it and would just cry if someone told me I had to have it again. I am loving life at 46 years old. My fiance's missed his music, so for his birthday I got him an MP3 player. But in reality....we miss nothing at all about having electricity. I even tried to shower at my daughter's last week and was so confused and felt like I was smothering. LOL....I gave up and finsihed at home.

    More later, have a great evening.

    more pics are here....

    BushwhackerJohn/Home Site - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
     
  7. Washkeeton

    Washkeeton Well-Known Member

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    I love the front porch, and really love the slide off the back porch... that is a great idea.
    Curious do you have a loft in this house or any part of it underground as in a celler?

    When in the bush cabin we use to run rain water off the roof into a 300 gal barrel then would pump it into the house with a small 12 volt pump that ran off the generator... This gave us the ability to have running water in the sink and shower water. The hot ran through an on demand propane water heater. We had 5 gal buckets that we caught the water under the kitchen sink with and then poured them into the toilet (until the pipes froze in December at 50 or so below) We then started using the outhouse and tossing the sink water out the side of the house.

    The trailer we lived in we had to haul the water for everything and just heat it on the stove. We poured enough into a solar shower bag to take a shower. The drain system that the guy that owned the place created was for the gray water to go into a 3 barrel system underground.. he dug out a hole and connected 3 metal barrels together and drilled numerous holes in them, more in the last than in the first 2... covered them over top with a piece of plastic and burried them in rocks and covered in the hole... he then brought his travel trailer up and hooked the water drains to this. It only froze once at 60 below and was easy to unfreeze by running hot water over the drain hole in the sauna area.

    I have often thought about dropping a drain off the roof into a 1000 gal cistern burried in the yard. Using a hand pump or small 12 volt pump as needed. There by I have back up water to water gardens, greenhouse, wash dishes, wash cloths, etc. Setting up a composting toilet (sawdust actually to be specific) and then off the greenhouse to set up the same as by the house...with a deep cistern that is burried. To alieviate water worries. Where I am now I have a 50 foot well that is in an underground stream. The water in it is the second best flavored water in the world... Still havent found any better than at the Fox Spring out of Fairbanks.

    I have thought about running all the gray water from the house into a cystern also there by having that to use to water my garden and greenhouse area.

    There are a few options for satalite internet... Some are better than others. My friends that are out 80 miles from the nearest road system have a satalite system set up. I dont know enough about this new wireless set up to be able to say anything about it at this time. Dean if your interested I can pm you some web sites and let you know who to talk to.

    As far as elec, generator, solar, wind and hydro if you have a creek somewhere... that would be about it.

    Great pictures on your site there Forest Breath... enjoyed seeing the project from begining to end... Great job... I know how you feel about going back to the grid. I came back only cause my daughter wanted running water... Im now sorry I did... Wanting to go back to living like you are... Thanks for the inspiration.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2008
  8. lisat

    lisat Well-Known Member

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    Oh how wonderful! If you haven't already you should start a blog and write your daily life there. I would read it every day! Would love to hear your trials and tribulations. We may build a cabin in our woods for future use and just to have the experience in building it. I know my 4 boys would never forget the experience.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Amateur Radio call sign KM4GDU

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    I understand the need to be able to support your self like this. but I would only do it if I had to. not by Choice. I would always be headed back to the way life was before if at all possible. But that is just me. you house looks great and I am glad your happy with your life as it is.
     
  10. solaceofwinter

    solaceofwinter Guest

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    i think that is the absolute coolest thing ever.
    How do you recycle the water exactly?
    what if you get no rain for a month?
     
  11. Forest Breath

    Forest Breath Unci

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    I do have a blog, a live journal here Unci

    Thanks for the replies and I apologize that it has taken me awhile to get back here. With Winter arriving, we have been extra busy with things.

    If we get no water for over a month we carry water from the spring on the other side of the property. So far, even in the worst part of summer, we never ran out of water. We really conserve it and use only what is needed.

    As for recycling. I use very earth friendly detergents. I have two buckets under the sink. One for rinse water, one for wash. When the rinse water bucket gets full, I recycle that water into wash water. When the wash bucket gets full, we use it to water things needed outside (like all of the plants we put out this Summer). We have learned to take a bath with less than 2 gallons of water each. When I think about all that is needed for a good bath, I cringe at the way I wasted water before when I filled the tub with hot water.

    Right now we are focusing on making sure we have everything ready for winter. We are insulating our water collection system, cutting more wood, finishing up the floor and such.

    There is a bear hanging out in the area now, black bear. It somes through of a night. That makes trips to the outhouse of a night very interesting, so I am considering a night time pot inside that can be emptied each morning.
     
  12. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

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    What detergents do you use?
     
  13. highwayman

    highwayman Guest

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    What do you do if the black bear attacks?
     
  14. northernontario

    northernontario Well-Known Member

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    fight back.
    carry bear pepper-spray.
    kill it before it can kill you.

    Recently heard a story about a man sitting on his dock enjoying a cold beer. Hears some rustling in the woods, then a blackbear comes out of the woods, attacks him, and drags him back into the woods. He is able to get out his knife and start attacking the bear... thought he had cut it's ear off. Bear let him go and he got back to his house.

    Couple days later, after some of the locals had heard about it, someone shot a blackbear... with one ear half fallen off.

    While you may not be allowed to legally hunt bear in your area because of restrictions on season or whatever... typically, local authorities look the other way during situations like this.
     
  15. Washkeeton

    Washkeeton Well-Known Member

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    Actually I hear they are kinda tasty...at least the ones up here in AK are.
     
  16. StevieBean

    StevieBean Guest

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    I agree with ya, Ridgerunner.....but hey, that's us. To each his own! Very cool though, ForestBreath!
     
  17. StevieBean

    StevieBean Guest

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    Oh also, I bet night trips to the outhouse are a bit scary! Do you walk your son out there if he has to go at night? I think you should definitly consider putting a pot of some sort inside , at least for the harsh winter months...or as long as the black bear stays around!
     
  18. Forest Breath

    Forest Breath Unci

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    The bear does not actually concern me too much. I taught wilderness survival skills for years in this area and I see the bear as nothing more than a nuisance right now.

    Speaking of bear, I am getting one for free next week. So I am excited about that.

    The middle of the night outhouse trips have actually been enjoyable. I love cold weather and the only thing I have found annoying is the extremely cold seat. LOL While my fiance' is gone, I may use a chamber pot at night. Not because of the bear, but the tons of coyotes that are around the place.

    I got 2 deer Monday, so this week will be spent making jerky and canning the meat. Considering it takes an hour and a half to process one load in the pressure cooker, it will take me a lot of time to get all of the deer canned. I am looking forward to the smell of the jerky drying over the wood stove however.

    As for detergent, I will get the info from the bottle when I get home and post it in the next day or so.
     
  19. Washkeeton

    Washkeeton Well-Known Member

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    Stirofoam seats... never have to worry about a cold out house again. We had it up here at 70 below and it was warmer than any in house seat I have sat on, except the batterie opperated heated ones. :D
     
  20. Blissness

    Blissness Guest

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    Damn, 70 below....shoot, I'm glad I live in the South.
    So you are getting a bear for free? As a pet? What will the bear do for you around your homestead?