Tuesday, November 10, 2015

bob the builder 1


Today, and as many days after as I can manage as I’m having a heck of a time coming up with article ideas again ( the ones I have either have been already done or close enough or just don’t gel in my brain ), which I think we just did like a week or two ago so you can tell my continuing real problems are not like yours, sad pathetic overblown ones like a month away from bank foreclosure or divorce, I’m going to cover ways in which I could have cheaply or at least cheaply enough in the great scheme of things greatly improved my off-grid life style.  In other words, if I had to go back out to the homestead prior to the collapse of western civilization, what improvements could I do to make my life far more luxurious?  What cheap items would elevate me above a “camping with a rigid tent” level of living?  If the new girlfriend actually decided she might move out there, what would I be willing to promise her to lure her out there?  She would of course be helping financially, but since I’d be paying half ( the land is already paid for, as is the Jeep she would be using for her transportation ) I would be unwilling to promise too much as I can’t decimate my saving below a certain level.  The comfortable spending level is cash on the barrelhead with a minimum of savings used.


I’m not sure if you can tell from my writing, but I tend to suffer ( well, OTHER people tend to suffer from it ) from diarrhea of the mouth and brain.  I can talk anything I’m knowledgeable about into the ground, on and on and seemingly without end, so much detail that usually the sweet release of death is preferred.   So you can imagine how I regaled the new Old Lady on living off grid, how I lived off grid, how we could live off grid, why we should live off grid and every variation thereof.  Finally, and I don’t delude myself by pretending it was for any other reason than to shut me up, she agreed that we should build a small weekend camping shelter and give it a trial run.  Emphatically NO further promises were made, and I honestly don’t expect anything to progress past that.  The structure will be very small to minimize cost, as this is just a back-up to the back-up ( we are going to build on the lot further down the road as the land with the B-POD is too crowded in with neighbors.  The other lot is much more “backwoods-y” with less noise and build-up.  No electric lines and the elevation probably means no one will ever drill a well, so only redneck roughers are nearby.  And far fewer of them than on the old lot which is cheek to jowl, compared to when I first moved there ).  So, the thoughts on this and subsequent articles is not what I plan on doing to the cabin, just ideas I’ve been floating by the old lady as what would happen if she ever did decide to go full time off grid living.  I thought it would clarify my thinking to ink them, and perhaps give you all an idea or two.

Of course, continued next post.


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  1. I think you should expand your horizins more and concentrate on ways to bunker up in town and you'll probably get the old ball and chain on board quicker.

    1. She doesn't care about prepping, but loves camping.

  2. Here's a dirty dozen of article ideas for you:

    The importance of having ______ at the beginning of the collapse even though it will be useless during and after the die-off.

    The basic supplies needed to stay in your Yuppie suburban home during a short term disaster. (Think about what you would need at the New old lady's home if you had no electricity or running water.)

    The importance of layering clothes and what clothes are needed for cold climates.

    Not all water needs to be potable. How you can use your "clean enough" water for household use and only purify the water you are going to drink.

    How I keep spiders, snakes, scorpions and other creepy crawlies out of my B-POD?

    What approach/argument has worked best to get the new old lady on board.

    How math doesn't lie. Running the numbers when thinking about charity and adding members to your group.

    Basic 1st aid supplies that everyone should stockpile.

    How to keep books in useable shape when not stored in a climate controlled environment.

    Rainwater collection in a dry climate.

    Women don't care for "bottle showers" -or- how to keep the queen happy in a low water situation.

    'The Walking Dead' tv show - What NOT to do if you want to survive the zombie apocalypse based on the mistakes made in the show.

    You're welcome ;)

    Idaho Homesteader

    1. As I already used 4 of your last 7 ideas, this list is well timed. Of course, many, MANY thanks.

  3. I can think of 6 people I know of with the same experience you describe here. Bought remote land and 5-10 years later it was crowded and no longer feeling like a place to escape town.

    1. OK, most of us are old enough that in our lifetimes the population has doubled. So why does it feel like more than double are wanting to live next to us?

    2. I've been searching in vane for that answer for a long time. After researching for years my wife and I bought some property in an area of Florida where no humans had lived since the 1100's and we built the *last house we were ever going to live in*. The closest habitant was more than 3 miles away.

      We moved in in mid 2002 and do you know that in late 2003 someone started to build a house on property right next to ours? WTF

      We were grief stricken, and immediately started making plans to sell and get out.

      Why in the hell would someone want to live way the hell out there, yet right up against someone else? I just don't get it.

      Looks like that's happening again where we're at now, so we're looking.....

    3. It makes you question the Fates, those little bastards.

    4. Elko land minion here James. This is also a concern of mine as well. The original plan was to acquire around 40 acres as a buffer zone, and place the homestead in the middle. But a growing concern about the future of my employment (which ended up coming true) resulted in my getting that 2.5 acres for cash, as opposed to financing something larger. It wasn't a perfect purchase, so I plan to place any construction as close to the center of the square plot of land as I can, and also plant a few of the fastest growing trees (Probably Eucalyptus) that I can find in close proximity to anything constructed, as a privacy shield for future newcomers.

      The one positive (Or negative depending on how you look at it) is that there is no water or power for a good distance from the land. As such, I'm hoping that this keeps future development at bay?

      Gary's suggestion of the small above ground pool sounds like a good one.
      Maybe you could sink it to ground level, find some clever and inexpensive way to cover it, and you have a cistern on the cheap that would be easy to replace when or if it goes bad. You can also possibly find a used tank at a farmers market or livestock auction. Right up the street from me there's a tank sitting in someone's yard for $750.00, and it's been sitting for a while, so I'm sure they would take less. It pays to keep your eyes open for such deals.

    5. I think the best thing keeping fools away is a bad road. If it is county maintained, beware. Also, I believe Eucalyptus is a mild warm tree only.

    6. According to the realtor, it's all overgrown, except for the section road, or rather the perimeter road that goes around the entire development. And yes, unfortunately my land borders that road, but is the northern most section of the development. I actually thought that I had the entire place to myself until I spotted another about a half mile off from my place.

      Bummer if that's true about the Eucalyptus, since a healthy specimen of the right sub-species will shoot up 15' per year. I'll have to look into that.

  4. Jim,

    We lived for 5 years with a pitcher pump and heating water with kettles on the stove (wood stove in winter and propane stove in summer).

    A big improvement in our lifestyle came by adding a running water system. We have a 1200 gallon buried plastic cistern, 12-volt Sure-flo pump, instant on-demand propane water heater all plumbed in with RV plastic tubing.

    It's pretty basic and only one person can be using water at a time. But it sure beats lifting heavy kettles of hot water.

    We use more water than before but it is totally worth it.

    So if it was me, I would save money and make it a priority to install a nice sized buried cistern on your place. 1200 gallons or more would last you a long while and give you a little more flexibility in your water usage.

    Yeah, you will have to rent a backhoe for the day but have him dig a basement for your little cabin while he's there.

    You can use the new old lady's jeep to haul batches of water out initially. Later, you can set up a rain water collection system. Only save water in the spring and fall. Summer rain is scarce plus it has dust and pollen.

    This water doesn't necessarily need to be potable, you can treat what you want to drink. Use it for showers and washing dishes.

    Idaho Homesteader

  5. On the other lot, especially if there is a woman involved, you should seriously consider your water options. Women use a LOT of water, even under dire circumstances.

    Couple months ago our county water went out for 9 days and I hauled over 100 gallons (it weren't free neither) and that was in addition to the 30 gallons I already had on hand. See, I just go outside and shake it in the trees. Wimminz ain't gonna do that. You can talk em into NOT flushing for every 3 or 4 uses but she will flush.

    What about rainwater roof collection into a cistern supplemented by large scale deliveries? I know a guy outside Vancouver and he and his wife do that - says he has to get outside delivery of about 400 gals twice a year, the rest of the time they live off their roof rain cistern. Remember, even in an ideal climate water is right next to air as a requirement.

    I have the same problem here but have no inexpensive solution just yet. (I've heard a well or pond will cost $10k and up - and it's true-money don't grow on trees!) It seems a matter of trying to figure out which expensive solution to choose, and fearful of choosing wrong - thus nothing gets done. sigh

    1. There will be much more water, just from the car ownership. I've written 6 posts on this topic, haven't got to the water yet. Still giving it some thought.

    2. We were able to buy our 1200 gallon potable plastic underground cistern for a little over $1000. It cost around $500 for the backhoe. Though, why the backhoe was out here we had him do some extra work. The big cost for the backhoe is travel time so have a couple of other projects lined up.

      The cistern looks similar to a plastic septic tank - quonsit hut shaped and ribbed. Even though we don't use it for drinking water, we still got the food grade, potable water plastic. We bought it from a local farm supply store. We hauled it home in the back of our Ford Ranger pick up. Make sure you have rope and ratchet straps.

      Because we live in the north, we bought one collar for it so we could bury it a little deeper.

      I ran a 1-1/4 black plastic tubing from the cistern underground up through the floor of my house to a pitcher pump that sits on the counter next to the sink. The cistern sits behind the house so the hose runs approximately 30 feet with a 15 foot lift.

      The pitcher pump is just a cheap $35 Harbor Freight one.

      Total cost should be around $1500 but it is so worth it.

      Idaho Homesteader

    3. The dream budget is already at $1200 for solar panels so I might as well throw in some real water storage too.

  6. This sounds like a really great topic for a new series. Life is all about learning from experience and applying it.

    Maybe you could raise some start-up funds by selling the lot with too many neighbors. Those same neighbors might be your best prospects to sell to. Tell them you have an offer from some recent Somali immigrants who are looking for a place to raise their goats and perform ritualistic halal slaughter. Tell them that you are just getting a bad 'vibe' from these folks and would rather sell to anyone else but them. 0.K. maybe that's just a bit over-the-top but it would have to be tempting for them to want to have your lot for some 'breathing room'.

    1. By waiting this long, til after the neighbors put in electric poles, I'm sure I could get a good price. Something to think about.

    2. Your bunker lot may be worth some major coin once Elko co does whatever with their lots. Keep your second lot. Whats another 2 miles in sub zero on a bicycle?

  7. Running water is a big one for my spouse, it can be a cistern, we don't mind conserving it, but it can't be non- flowing for any period of time.
    Electric for lights and laptops/radios is required for more than a day or two.
    Bucket for bowel movement is acceptable as long as TP is included.
    We must have a stove- propane or wood or ??? with optional oven the longer term we are staying the more an oven is needed as well.
    A mud room/changing room prior to going out/in is also a long term must too keep the outside dirt out of the living area.
    Maintaining a temperature of 60 to 85 during in at least one room.
    All of these are doable with a minimal budget.

    1. Oops, almost forgot the oven-one of the first things I tried bribing her with as she loves cooking.

  8. Jim if you like this woman and don't want her running off it will cost you. For water get a small above ground pool and cover it with plastic pay to have a water truck fill it. Gutters will make it last. filter drinking and cooking water. Make a small septic field under a garden spot. Do a decent solar system and quality batteries . Buy you a few 100 lb. LP tanks plus what you got for heating and cooking. If it was me I would do a large BPOD with a sleeping and sitting area with the cabin/shed with kitchen bathroom above. If she is a keeper spend a little !!! Remember past performance IS a guaranty of what you may wind up with if she cuts and runs !!!!!

    1. Preaching to the choir. Before I knew there were decent women out there ( no, I didn't truly believe ya'all ) I was just taking eventual abandonment for granted. Now I can act different.

    2. It may be worth while to get a temporary part time job to build a nest egg for property development. Especially, since you are based in town now and don't have to worry about commuting.

      Work part time during the winter at a convenience store or something. Something that brings you in $500 or so a month for a total of $1500.

      Then in the summer, put in the cistern and have the backhoe dig the pit for the future bpod.

      Work next winter and make another $1500. Use that money to build walls in the bpod and to frame in a simple shack over it.

      Work a third winter and use that $1500 to finish the shack with lots of insulation, some cupboards for storage, sink, etc.

      Yeah, the world may end before then but you have the original property to fall back on. So you can take your time and do it right on the second property.

      Plus, you can write about it.

      I have spent the last four years building a little cabin on the back 20 using all the knowledge and skills I have picked up over twenty years of living the backwoods life. It's been fun and I have been able to take my time and do it right because it's more for fun than survival.

      Idaho Homesteader

    3. This is my underpaid second job. Still spending a minimum of 20 hours a week on it. The plan would be to spend some savings I have now to backhoe, build minimally, then from the savings not paying rent in town, buy and build monthly.

  9. For inspiration you need to check out the Cabin Porn site at cabinporn.com. Thousands of photos of mostly all very small, inexpensive, homemade cabins from all over the world. An unbelievable treasure trove of ideas for the frugal minded. Many, many 'outside the box' ideas that I've never seen anywhere else. The foreign ones are especially interesting.