Today was a banner day, it was a beautiful day, sunny, slight breeze, warm , the high was 75 f. After lounging around most of the morning into the afternoon, we got up and started working on concrete. We poured about a foot in depth and about 10 feet long, we are pouring a three sided wall, we pour, allow it to set for a few days, remove the forms and reattach them higher on the wall and pour again, this keeps the forms from bulging out too much, concrete is heavy. Bob mixes the cement powder, local soil, local gravel and a little water in the cement mixer, pours it into a bucket and brings it to the wall, he pours it into the wall cavity, I tamp it down and smooth it out as best as I can with a stick. We also throw in fist sized rocks and poke them into the wet concrete.
After that, Bob got out the powered post hole digger, my Dad gave it to us, so far, digging has been so easy that Bob hasn't felt the need to use the auger, but he tried it tonight, and was very impressed, he dug 3 holes a few feet away from the south side of the cabin, he set some long 2x6 boards in the holes, filled the hole back in with dirt and a little water and tamped it down. His intention is to make a scaffold structure so he can work safely on that side of the cabin. While he was doing this, I made dinner, I was instructed to post the recipe on my blog, so I will. It's a recipe I made up when I was a teenager, it's extreme comfort food.
4 slices of bread (your choice-white or wheat)
4 wieners (hot dogs)
1 can chili
1 can cream corn
shredded cheese (your choice)
Heat the cream corn and the chili in separate pans, you can heat the wieners in the chili if you want or heat them separately, leave whole or cut into bite sized pieces, your choice. Take 2 slices of bread for each serving, place it on a plate, slather each slice with a thick layer of mayo, I like Miracle Whip, my hubby likes real mayo, make it thick, pour the chili with the wieners) over the bread, place some shredded cheese over this, as much as you want. Next pour the cream corn over the top. Eat. This serves 2 hungry people.
I don't have a name for this, anyone want to name it? When I made it as a teen, I didn't add wieners or cheese, I add this now to make it more of a meal. It may sound like a strange combination, but it's very good, have lots of napkins. Don't ask about the calorie count, if you have to ask, then you probably shouldn't eat it (grin!), we aren't worried about calories out here, as hard as we work, we burn off more than enough. Walking up and down the property with buckets of gravel and dirt in this thin air is a super workout!
Before we moved out here, we did a lot of research on how to build and live off grid, I found a lot of websites boasting about how green they are while spending lots of money and using heavy equipment and lots of hands helping them. It can be discouraging to the average person who wants to do this but doesn't have much money (or equipment or help). I am here to tell you that it CAN be done, we have done everything with very little money and mostly by hand. The most expensive part was buying the land, before we moved we started buying a few thing here and there, the deep cycle batteries, the solar panels, yes I know those are expensive, but they are coming down in price, and if you are willing to live a more simple life, you can make it with a few batteries and a few solar panels, we are doing it, and we are doing it very well. We would not be able to power the same amount of stuff as we used to have when we lived in the city, but living out here, in a small cabin, using the bare minimum of lights, a radio, a small cube refrigerator, cell phone, computer and the water pump, our little system is working great. We don't watch TV, it's just a time waster and an energy hog, I don't miss it very much at all, but then again I didn't watch it much before.
We have built out home ourselves, with hand tools and sweat. It's not the Ritz, but it's ours, free and clear. We get a lot of material for free by doing things like Bob did the other day, a neighbor around the mountain from us was tearing down a building, he gave us the material as long as we took all of it, we ended up with a lot of good, usable wood, some of it is no good, but for a half a day's work, we got a truck load of wood for free. You gotta network with the local people to find out what they need and what you can offer, the barter system is alive and well. If you have skills, especially out here where it is remote and costs a mint just to get someone to come out to your property, and that is before they start doing any work, you can go a long way toward getting the things you need. Bob is good with his hands, he can repair most any appliance, motor and is good with carpentry, electronics and a hodge podge of other things, it has come in handy for us as well as for a few neighbors who help us with other things.
For anyone who really wants to do this, let me say that it CAN be done, and you don't have to be wealthy, you just have to be willing to do the proper research, learn from everyone, and be willing to work hard. It's not a vacation, but it has been worth it. It has been worth everything we have given up, which by the way hasn't been much:
Close by stores
Close by neighbors (packed in like sardines)
City codes (building, parking...)
There is more than I can list, the main thing is the noise level, it's so quiet out here, and the air is so clean, you can see so many more stars. I do have to collect wood for heat, for now I have to tote water, I have to be aware of my power usage, but I don't get a monthly bill for my electricity or heating, it's a trade off, and I don't mind it at at all.
I am thinking about what I am going to grow for food this spring, we will have to decide where to put the garden, and we will have to protect it from the animals who would like to eat our veggies as much as I would. I plan on planting carrots, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers (hot and mild), beans, peas, spinach, kale, okra, lettuce, garlic, herbs... and I don't know what else, I ordered some seed catalogs, I can't wait to get them.