collecting firewood
November 18th, 2015 by Off The Grid

If you ever had a solid old wood stove, enjoyed cold winter days inside by a warm crackling fireplace, or went camping long enough to make an open fire hopefully you had the privilege of gathering your own firewood. This weekend was all about collecting firewood. I took a good walk down the path outback of the camper and into the woods in search of downed trees that would be suitable for burning in the off grid camper once the wood stove is put in. After an exhausting time dragging downed branches back to the camper I realized that this was yet another stepping stone in my learning curve here on the off grid journey. Despite your efforts or just how much you think you will get done it is slow going! Yes a lot more firewood will be needed! This weekend’s work made it clear that I have a lot of work ahead of me if I am going to survive the unforgiving winter weather and stay warm until spring. This still being mid November temperatures during the day here in Va. have been very nice and quite mild. In contrast the nights have been getting cooler with the lowest to date in the lower 30s. This next week the at times wildly unpredictable weather man is calling for temps to dip into the upper 20s. Yikes that will be cold! Time to kick it into gear if I am going to stay warm this winter. This weekend’s mini adventure through the woods yielded two bonfires next to the camper under the stars (one on Saturday night & another on Sunday night!!).

“The man who chops wood heats himself twice”

Luckily I have the fortune to wind up with great neighbors and thanks to them I got my work cut out for me chopping and cutting more winter firewood. On Sunday my neighbor invited me over to collect downed tree limbs that were waiting to be found among the camouflage bed of fall leaves on his property. After an hour or so of good conversation and dragging branches out he fired up his backhoe stopping to fill off grid fire pitthe front with the first round of this winter’s firewood. Some of the larger pieces were exhausting and the slow ride down the way back to my camper in the life sized large yellow kids toy was fun to say the least. lol You remember that TV show The Wonder Years? The old theme song came to mind “have a little help from my friends” as I was steadily sawing away at the pile of branches the neighbor brought over. If by chance you are reading this thank you again. It was a huge help and I am grateful! If you ever had the opportunity to find, gather, or otherwise collect your own firewood you know it can be a lot of work. It was a very satisfying feeling as the sun went down looking around at the firewood that had been cut for the off grid camper’s future wood stove. One of my favorite quotes came to mind several times. “The man who chops wood heats himself twice”… between the good days hard work and the quiet time each night under the stars reflecting in front of my fire pit I now appreciate the saying that much more. My first winter here off the grid is coming up fast! I hope I can keep up with the cooler days by at least keeping warm chopping firewood. The colder days will soon be upon us all so now its time to remind myself of the ant and not wake up as the grasshopper! lol 🙂

 

Show notes from today’s Off The Grid Podcast

  • Today’s lesson: Stocking firewood for the winter is a lot more work than you would think but well worth it!
  • Be social! Connect with me and the podcast on Facebook, like the page, and tell a friend! 🙂
  • Please help support this show and the off grid community by checking out Off Grid Singles.
  • Get The Off Grid Podcast on the go with iTunes and Stitcher. Please Subscribe and rate the show!
  • Like to watch videos about off grid living? Please connect and subscribe to my new channel on YouTube.
  • Got questions, comments, or tips about living off grid? Please share your thought below or Contact me!

Posted in Podcast Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

firewood space camper
November 5th, 2015 by Off The Grid

The fact that it is now November is the calender’s way of reminding us all that cold months are on the way and the time to get prepared for winter is NOW! Last episode I responded to some of your questions comments, and feedback but forgot to address one.. Tom emailed and asked about some backstory to this whole journey off the grid thing, guy living in a camper, and with no power or water. After thinking for a moment I realized that I forgot to talk about some backstory so it was added for you in today’s show. If you are new to Off The Grid Podcast then please take a listen to this one for a better idea about my journey from the suburbs to here in the woods away from utilities and civilization to an extent.

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining”

The other main topic for today’s show is all about how I am getting ready for winter out here off grid in the camper. When all of this began it was super cold.. fast forward a few months and then it was crazy hot! This is where my story began with the camper and the podcast beginning a journey smack in the middle of summer months. With the turn of the month November is simply a reminder that despite the warm weather here in Va. the cold months are almost upon us. I am indeed getting ready for winter out here both inside and outside of the off grid camper. What am I doing to get ready for winter you ask?

  1. Firewood – I have a small woodpile going with plans to selectively cull, chop, and collect more wood from the surrounding land.
  2. Pallets – Now that I have a reliable source for pallets I have been recycling those incredibly useful wood things. Why pallets you ask? They are primarily being used for kindling firewood. Pallets are also a great source for building materials Check out episode 67 & watch video of my solar heater project. I also used some of them to complete a small spplace for firewood camperace in the camper to hold reserve firewood. (see today’s featured image) No need to go outside when its crazy cold & let all the heat out!
  3. Insulation – I still need to fill in every single crack, crevice, and hole that might zap my heating efforts with a steady cold draft. Also I am going to try my hand at building a basic frame with either plastic or recycled windows around each of the camper windows. That last idea came from a listener just like you! Thanks for the email Carl!
  4. Painting – I have seriously been thinking about painting the camper. Painting a slightly darker color would allow for collecting more solar heat from the sun, look a lot better, and could be camouflage as a bonus! I will also be putting another 5 gallon bucket of printable rubber on the roof. This would also give me more solar gain because it being rubber.. is black in color so it should heat the camper roof quite nicely.
  5. Solar Heating – I already mentioned the solar heater project that I’ve already started. Yes it is a big one. At about a 45 degree angle with an 8 foot by 8 foot solar collector made mostly from recycled materials. It should provide a majority of my heat needs during the day when the sun is out. The solar heater project will have 2 thermal batteries (55 gallon rain barrels), hold 2 large solar panels providing electricity, and several glass windows collecting solar heat into an air circulating system for the off grid camper.
  6. Wood stove – I recently acquired a small pot belly stove that is technically a coal stove but should work fine for small pieces of wood as well. While not the best way of heating a small camper it should take the edge off the cold for about 3 or 4 hours at a time.
  7. Propane Heater – I forgot to mention this one in today’s show. Brian emailed with great info on the Buddy propane heaters. Yet another great suggestion from a listener just like you that I will be purchasing soon because on their low oxygen sensor cut off feature. Living off grid in a small space like a camper, tiny house, or log cabin means never forgetting Safety First!

 

Show notes from today’s Off The Grid Podcast

  • Today’s lesson: Even if its nice outside in November winter is still on its way so get ready now!
  • As a quick reminder to new listeners. Episodes are posted twice a week: Tuesday and Thursdays
  • Be social! Connect with me and the podcast on Facebook, like the page, and tell a friend! 🙂
  • Please help support this show and the off grid community by checking out Off Grid Singles.
  • Get The Off Grid Podcast on the go with iTunes and Stitcher. Please Subscribe and rate the show!
  • Like to watch videos about off grid living? Please connect and subscribe to my new channel on YouTube.
  • Got questions, comments, or tips about living off grid? Please share your thought below or Contact me!

Posted in Podcast Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

pallets for pallets
October 27th, 2015 by Off The Grid

Making good use of a plentiful resource like recycled pallets for heating and for building solar projects just makes a lot of sense when working on a budget. Many times when you are starting something new on a budget all of the materials may not be immediately available. The number of pallets being used in the U.S each year are staggering. Amazingly there are an estimated 2 billion pallets in circulation within the U.S. alone. A majority of those wood pallets are replaced each year putting a major drain on hardwood resources. (Dick McCarrick. Analyst, Foresight Science & Technology). After recently finding a local resource for free recycled pallets my creative juices were now kicked into high gear. Let the building of solar heating projects to provide warmth during the frigid winter months begin! This weekend I was looking at some of the best weather to date out here off the grid. With the colder months coming up fast I wanted to take full advantage of this beautiful couple of days by building something. Something cool, something hot (radiant heat from the sun), and something solar had begun being built out of recycled 2 X 4s and pallets out here in preparation for winter.

“Its good to have less than you need and its good to have more than you need to figure out what you actually need.”

About a month ago my brother gave me a lead on a perfect sized pot belly stove for the off grid camper. Two weeks later I had it in the back seat of my car with a seat belt on the way out to its new home. I was grateful to have found such a solid and sturdy heating source. Aside from the heat this cast iron pot belly stove would give me the ability to cook as well. There was only one problem. I needed fuel to feed this hungry pot belly stove. Recycled pallets seemed like a good option so this last week I managed to find a good source for free pallets. After visiting twice this week I was able to building steps recycled palletsscore 3 heavy duty pallets for building along with another care full of recycled pallet pieces, kindling wood, and yes.. more wood (8 foot long 2 X 10s) for building. Needless top say last week was a good one and I was really looking forward to the weekend off the grid. Saturday I spent the day cleaning in and around the outside of the camper. Saturday’s highlight was cleaning the kitchen and reclaiming the meal area from the grip of countless items that made their way for storage. If your a regular listener you know I love to cook. The last year has been frustrating with not having a kitchen or refrigeration. This was one small step for man.. and great leap for me! lol I celebrated by firing up the rocket stove for several hours until the sun went down. As the sun waved good night through the trees I started dinner on the rocket stove. It turns out that recycled pallets burn really good! Splitting up some pallets into pieces was easily done with a hatchet and hammer. The split pallet wood fit perfect for the rocket stove allowing just the right amount of airflow. Ahh. Another perfect end to a perfect day with the satisfaction of work done during the day, the anticipation of a good meal, and the smell of wood smoke out here off grid among the chirping crickets.

Waking up to the promise of another beautiful fall weather day out here off the fall leaves off grid campergrid meant one last opportunity to make good use of the day before heading back to work tomorrow (Monday). I wanted to make the day a productive one so I started building a new solar project for the camper. Observing the sun as it rose in the morning, graced the sky at high noon, and set in the west in the evening gave me the opportunity to figure out the best placement for my new solar project. I had been wanting to build some solar projects ever since arriving out here off the grid but the unrelenting summer heat made it intolerable. The fall and winter months turned the tables on the whole heating / cooling issue and meant that I could go full on with my solar projects. My recent finds with recycled pallets gave me new inspiration for some off grid solar projects. As of now the camper has no heat. The only thing I have been using are candles for a minimal heat source. 4 – 6 layers of clothes don’t really count! lol Using pallets for firewood is a great free option but again they burn fast. I gathered several 2 X 4s, some deck screws, a cordless screwdriver, the video camera, a couple of free recycled pallets, and some ingenuity. By days end I had the basic framework of an 8 foot by 8 foot wooden frame for my new solar heating project. The nickle sized mosquitoes started coming out like vampires on Halloween night so I called it a night. Quickly gathering my tools with the mosquitoes giving chase I felt a sense of accomplishment with the days work on the start of my new solar heater. In the end it was a great weekend with awesome fall weather. Forcing yourself to work with what you have is a good exorcise for critical thinking skills. I would suggest everyone give it a try once in a while even if you do have all the materials you need for a new project!

 

Show notes from today’s Off The Grid Podcast

  • Today’s lesson: Sometimes you need to work with what you have in order to build your solution.
  • Here is the link mentioned in the podcast to the site with cool pallet furniture.
  • Be social! Connect with me and the podcast on Facebook, like the page, and tell a friend! 🙂
  • Please help support this show and the off grid community by checking out Off Grid Singles.
  • Get The Off Grid Podcast on the go with iTunes and Stitcher. Please Subscribe and rate the show!
  • Like to watch videos about off grid living? Please connect and subscribe to my new channel on YouTube.
  • Got questions, comments, or tips about living off grid? Please share your thought below or Contact me!

Posted in Podcast Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,