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If I had a voice I'd sing
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7,138 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Howdy all. I don't post here very often but I thought I'd put up what I am doing at my 20 acre property. A lot of this beginning part is history which you might find boring; feel free to skip it.

My wife and I are both libertarians. I've been a prepper for years which is why I moved to Montana in '06. I store food, load my own ammo and cast my own bullets. I do some gardening and have a few animals. Over the years my wife became a prepper as well. It was inevitable; she's a smart woman.

To make a long story short, a couple years ago I got laid off and even though I got a crappy job to stay off unemployment, we lost our house and went through bankruptcy. My wife had a good job as a nurse, but we simply bought too much house and couldn't afford it. We stayed in our camper at my wife's parents back yard while we figured out what to do. During that time I did a lot of reading and research. We started learning about Monsanto and big agriculture and the ever more oppressive government in terms of the food we eat.

I realized that storing up food is good, but its a band-aid for the real problem, which is that I need to supply my own food. And I felt like we could supply better food that didn't have GMOs, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, and hormones. I discovered permaculture and we decided to give it a go. But for the record, I'm no where near that today; I'm just getting started.

I had a 401k from my old job. I cashed it in (with enormous penalties) sold my truck and bought an older diesel 3/4 ton truck. I also bought a 40 year old backhoe and a 1954 farm tractor. With the rest of the money we paid cash for 20 remote, off-grid acres in the mountains of Montana. The land is heavily timbered, came with a 520' well (with no pump) but no surface water. Land with springs, creeks, or other water is way too expensive and I did not want a mortgage. So our land is not perfect, but it is ours and it is paid for. It is miles from the nears electrical or phone hook-up, which made it more affordable. There is occasionally a cell phone signal which is a plus.

There is an easement road that leads to a neighbors house about a mile away. They are a like-minded older couple. They garden but don't raise livestock. They are actually perfect neighbors, as they are libertarian, we get along well, and I don't see them very often!


 

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If I had a voice I'd sing
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7,138 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
The first thing we did was put in a well pump. I bought a Grundfos 1 hp with a soft start feature so I could run it from a generator. That was a big job, with just my wife and I. I didn't take any pictures but its in and it works. I also put in a water line with the backhoe, and 3 water hydrants.

Then I cleared an area and we brought the camper to the property and fenced in an area around it for the dogs. I could let them run loose (and a couple of them I do let loose) but the two Jack Russels like to kill chickens.

Yes that is me. Yes that is a beer in my hand.


Pardon the finger!


Then I cleared more woods in an area about the size of an acre and fenced it in. I didn't want treated posts because of the chemicals, so I got untreated posts and charred the bottoms.



Then I brought out the two goats and some chickens. Notice the charred fence posts. In the background is the log cabin chicken coop/goat shelter I started.

 

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If I had a voice I'd sing
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7,138 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I worked all summer on the chicken coop. I made it a log cabin because we are going to build our house that way and I wanted some practice. I used coped logs which took a long time to cut out the notches. If I had to do it again I would use butt-and-pass. My wife helped by peeling logs and she helped me put the roof on. I still need to chink it and frame in the windows and doors.


We spent a LOT of time peeling logs. Here is my son helping out last July. He is gone to Notre Dame University now to study chemical engineering. I prefer a draw knife; he prefers a hand axe.
 

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If I had a voice I'd sing
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7,138 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
One problem was I didn't like dragging the generator to the well every time I had to water the livestock. Plus I have this really cool watering bowl fount for the chickens that I wanted to use.

My in-laws replaced their water heater because it filled up with calcium deposits from the hard water. It took me half a day but I got most of the gunk out of the old tank. Then we built a raised platform and I somehow got that 60 gallon tank up there. Now when I fill the camper water tank, I fill the water heater at the same time and have 60 gallons of (somewhat) pressurized water for the animals.

I started painting it but got distracted haha. It looks crooked in this picture, but its not. Well, mostly not.
 

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If I had a voice I'd sing
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7,138 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
When living in a camper in the woods, the question comes up: what to do with your waste? As in, poop and pee.

I've been keeping all the valves open and we were just dumping onto the ground. We didn't poop in the camper because ya can't just mix poop with pee and dishwater and dump it on the ground. I don't think dumping sink and shower water and pee (in the amounts that two people put out) on the ground would do any harm. However it did begin to smell after awhile, so I thought I should do something.

I have Art Ludwig's Greywater Oasis book and had been studying up on greywater disposal systems. Basically you divert all your greywater (sink, shower and pee) to pits filled with wood chips. This is environmentally safe, as the wood chips react with the pee to create some biological action that breaks down the nasty stuff. I did something different for my greywater.

I dug a 2 foot deep by 2 foot wide hole. I didn't have wood chips but I had plenty of tree bark from building the log cabin chicken coop. I ran a short PVC pipe to from the camper drain to the hole. Then I covered it up with the top part of a 55 gallon blue water drum I had lying around. I sealed all cracks with dirt and crumpled up a fir branch and stuck it in the hole on the plastic drum to act as a screened vent. Its been about a month now and there is no smell, even if I pull the branch out and take a big sniff. So I think its doing the job.

Shiva is like "WTF are you doing, dad?"


But we don't poop in there. So I'm building an outhouse with a composting toilet inside. I've already made the pooper, but the outhouse isn't finished yet.

 

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If I had a voice I'd sing
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7,138 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
We have a bunch of chickens. They have an acre to range in so they eat bugs and are supplemented a little bit with organic store-bought feed (more so now that winter is coming). Once in awhile when money is tight we get a bag of non-organic food.

We have about 30 layers, but also some meat chickens. I've slaughtered a bunch, but still have 4 left.

Here is the home-made chicken plucker that I built.
 

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If I had a voice I'd sing
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7,138 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
We have a small wood burning stove in the camper. I put a sheet of cement-fiber backer board on the nearest wall, spaced one inch from the wall. The floor has 2 sheets of backer board set on bricks to keep them elevated. The stove goes on the elevated backer board. The stove is about a foot from the wall/backerboard. This all keeps all nearby structures from getting too hot in such a cramped space. Double wall pipe up to the ceiling vent with a regular stovepipe ceiling adapter and 3 feet of triple wall pipe above. This is not really recommended by most people because you can burn your camper down, so that's why all the backer board and double wall pipe. This will be our second winter with this set up and last winter it did fine. I often checked the walls and floor to see if they get hot and they don't. But for the record, I don't recommend anyone put a wood stove in a camper!

Yesterday I finally got around to building a woodshed.
 

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If I had a voice I'd sing
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7,138 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for looking guys. I guess I posted this for two reasons:

1. It sucks! Its hard work. Yeah people think "hard work, I can handle that", but it never ends. I rolled a log on my big toe and broke it, so I limped around and kept working. I lost 10 lbs over the summer. I thought I was going to build a house over the summer and money and time made it not happen. My only power is from a generator. My only internet is over a cell phone that I tether to my computer. I need to run a cell phone repeater just to get a signal. I am a long way from the city. Everything takes longer to do than I thought. Things break down. The backhoe has a broken crankshaft. The goats ate the spark plug wires on the farm tractor. Feel like taking a shower? - too bad, water's low - I have to drag the generator to the well 200 ft away, start it then run around filling up tanks. Then drag the generator back so I can run the hot water heater for awhile. Money is always tight. For Christmas I got a chainsaw and for my birthday I got nothing. Winter is coming and I have to cut firewood. How am I going to keep my water from freezing? Sometimes its like camping everyday. When money is tight (often) I have very little gas for the generator.

2. Its awesome! And its paid for. I live frugally but its worth it. I look around and all I can see is my woods and my animals and mountains in the distance. Bear, elk, deer and turkeys all thrive here. I saw a moose the other day. I hear the peace and quiet. In my mind I picture my future cabin and gardens and livestock. Haha and when the zombies come they'll never find me!

In the end, I wouldn't have it any other way.
 

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Adventurer
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655 Posts
You're absolutely living the dream, man. Money is tight here too and a lot of times I wish I could just sell the place and move on up to our place in the mountains. When you start from nothing like that it makes the view that much sweeter when you turn around and see all the work and ingenuity you put into the place. Keep it up and keep us updated. I actually just had a client who is in a very similar boat.
 

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hermit
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1,686 Posts
Thanks for looking guys. I guess I posted this for two reasons:

1. It sucks! Its hard work. Yeah people think "hard work, I can handle that", but it never ends. I rolled a log on my big toe and broke it, so I limped around and kept working. I lost 10 lbs over the summer. I thought I was going to build a house over the summer and money and time made it not happen. My only power is from a generator. My only internet is over a cell phone that I tether to my computer. I need to run a cell phone repeater just to get a signal. I am a long way from the city. Everything takes longer to do than I thought. Things break down. The backhoe has a broken crankshaft. The goats ate the spark plug wires on the farm tractor. Feel like taking a shower? - too bad, water's low - I have to drag the generator to the well 200 ft away, start it then run around filling up tanks. Then drag the generator back so I can run the hot water heater for awhile. Money is always tight. For Christmas I got a chainsaw and for my birthday I got nothing. Winter is coming and I have to cut firewood. How am I going to keep my water from freezing? Sometimes its like camping everyday. When money is tight (often) I have very little gas for the generator.

2. Its awesome! And its paid for. I live frugally but its worth it. I look around and all I can see is my woods and my animals and mountains in the distance. Bear, elk, deer and turkeys all thrive here. I saw a moose the other day. I hear the peace and quiet. In my mind I picture my future cabin and gardens and livestock. Haha and when the zombies come they'll never find me!

In the end, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Know exactly where you're coming from.

You have to do three of four things in order to accomplish the main thing you started out doing. :eek:

But at the end of the day I very much agree. Wouldn't have it any other way. :)
 

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If I had a voice I'd sing
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7,138 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
That's awesome! Keep it up , n keep the Picts coming!
Yup I intend to. Thanks.

...I didn't think it was possible in the lower 48, to get far enough away from the government regulators to do that.
Oh yes it is. My acreage has no covenants and no zoning, except the state wants to inspect your plumbing and septic system. That is, if I tell them when I build my house. And I will if I want them to increase my property taxes, which are less than 100 bucks, haha. But seriously, they don't go around looking and they don't care unless its a problem. Not to mention, I am so far out in the woods they have better things to do! THUS I take it upon myself to build things in such a way that they are safe and there is no negative impact on the environment.

You're absolutely living the dream, man...
It ain't always a dream, but I do feel good every single day, even when life here sucks. A good dog helps.

But at the end of the day I very much agree. Wouldn't have it any other way. :)
Heehee it'll be our secret!

Very very cool -inspiring.
Thank you sir!
 

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If I had a voice I'd sing
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7,138 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
How does your wife feel about the whole situation? Be honest please...
Wife understands. Puts up with me, maybe. She is into the whole thing, but not physically ready for most of it. She has a bad back but she does what she can. Keep in mind we are a little older, I am 47 she is like 39, I think. Yeah 39.

For her it might be a food thing. She feels very strongly about eating good food and we both did a lot of research about food you buy in the Super Wal-mart. And all the stuff that comes with it. So she wants good food. She is into the idea of growing it. She is why we have so many damned chickens.

We got a satellite TV system installed out here. I don't mind cause I like it too. I think she does wish for more of a social life, but I've never been that kind of a guy anyway. No big change, there.

Also, while it sounds great what I'm doing, its much harder for a city girl like my wife. She likes parties, and something like a social life.

We have other stuff going on as well. Our son is gone in the Navy 2 years now and our other son just went to college, age 16. Its tough having your kids leave. Our daughter is second year high school and doesn't want to stay out here with us because the nearest town has about 15 kids in each grade and she doesn't want to change schools. So she's at grandma's. (I miss her terribly, but I see her at least once every couple weeks.)

Money problems plague us always. Money is the root cause of most of our disagreements. But that could be anyone.

Lately the wife has been dividing her time between staying here and at her parents, with our daughter, an hour away. I don't push for her to come out here because I know its harder for her, and there's my daughter to think about. I hate leaving her there alone with the grandparents. They're not evil or anything, but they are not LOVING either. They are kind of old fashioned.

Bottom line is this: the wife is into the whole idea. But the idea of pooping into a bucket outside in an outhouse in the winter is a horror. And like I said, we don't want to leave our daughter alone with the grandparents.

So we have some adjusting to do. And yeah, you bring up a good point. The situation is less-than-optimal.
 
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